Farrinstitute is reader-supported. We may receive commissions on purchases made through links on our site.

Top 10 Testosterone Killing Foods: Role of Diet and Lifestyle in T Levels


Top 10 Testosterone Killing Foods: Role of Diet and Lifestyle in T Levels

Healthy testosterone levels are essential for keeping active, having a great sex life, and feeling overall healthy. If your testosterone levels drop, you may start experiencing the opposite of these effects. 

Often testosterone levels drop because of aging or injury, but your recent deficiency may also be due to your diet. 

This article dives into the top 10 foods that kill testosterone production and how you can boost your T levels naturally. 

Key Takeaways: Foods That Lower Testosterone 

  • Testosterone production may be affected by various lifestyle choices, including diet, stress, and sleep quality.
  • A balanced diet high in foods containing vitamin D may help in maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
  • Trans fats, sugar, and alcohol are some of the foods that kill your testosterone production.
  • You can boost your T levels naturally by using dietary supplements or ascorbic acid treatment.
  • Low testosterone levels can cause adverse effects in both men and women, including reduced energy and sex drive.

Can Diet Affect Testosterone Levels and Testosterone Production?

Your diet can significantly impact your body’s testosterone production and, subsequently, your overall testosterone levels. 

In men, a low-fat diet, or a diet in which most of the fats were unsaturated, lowered both serum and free testosterone levels [1]. However, these effects may vary from person to person. Further research showed that decreasing testosterone due to low-fat dietary choices is more significant in men of European descent [2].

Bread, pastries, dairy, and processed foods also fall into the category of foods that kill testosterone production and lower testosterone levels [3].

10 Testosterone Killing Foods

Top 10 testosterone killing foods include:

Testosterone Killing Foods

  1. Processed foods
  2. Sweet treats and baked goods
  3. Mint
  4. Licorice root
  5. Vegetable oils
  6. Sugar
  7. Alcohol
  8. Flaxseed
  9. Some types of nuts
  10. Diary

There is no doubt that your diet and lifestyle choices can affect your body’s testosterone production and T levels. However, some foods may do so much faster than others. 

1. Processed Foods

Processed foods that kill testosterone levels include:

  • Fried foods, including fried chicken and fish, donuts, fries, and chips [4]
  • Processed meat like sausages and bologna [5]
  • Foods with higher concentrations of trans fats [6]
  • Diet soda containing aspartame [7]

Processed foods often contain large amounts of sugar and trans fats. These ingredients can cause an increase in your body fat due to a calorie surplus.

High percentages of body fat are directly linked to reduced testosterone levels, especially in men.

2. Sweet Treats and Baked Goods

Sweets and baked goods that could lead to reduced testosterone levels and production include [3]

  • Cakes and cupcakes 
  • Croissants and other sugary pastries
  • White bread
  • Desserts like ice cream and other sweet treats
  • Muffins

Baked goods, especially white or other processed grain breads, can lead to weight gain and loss of muscle mass [3]. This usually indicates an increase in body fat percentage, which negatively affects your body’s testosterone production and causes your testosterone levels to drop [8].

testosterone killing foods Total testosterone levels according to quartiles (Q) of dietary pattern scores

3. Mint

Forms of mint that may decrease testosterone levels include [9]:

  • Spearmint
  • Peppermint tea

Regularly consuming products containing spearmint or mint, including sweets and gum, could harm your body’s testosterone production. Peppermint tea can also stimulate the increase in concentrations of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone levels. 

4. Licorice Root

Licorice root products that may lower testosterone levels include:

  • Licorice root supplements
  • Skincare products
  • Candy and black licorice sweets

Licorice consumption has been shown to significantly lower testosterone levels in both men and women [10]

testosterone killing foods How licorice reduces serum testosterone in women

5. Vegetable Oils 

Vegetable oils that can lower testosterone levels include: 

  • Canola 
  • Sunflower 
  • Soybean 
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Margarine
  • Butter spreads

Trans fats are formed when vegetable oils are hydrogenated, like when producing margarine.  Consuming large quantities of trans fats could dramatically decrease your body’s ability to produce testosterone and negatively affect your total and free testosterone levels. 

Trans fat is one of the most damaging to your cardiovascular system and may cause heart disease if used extensively or in large quantities [11]

Another study showed that men who consume polyunsaturated fatty acids also experienced a drop in their testosterone levels [12].

6. Sugar 

Foods containing large amounts of sugar that could lead to lower free testosterone levels include:

  • Sweets and candies
  • Sodas and sugary beverages
  • Fruit juices
  • Desserts
  • Chocolates

Foods high in glucose and other sugars have a negative effect on your body’s testosterone levels [13]. Reducing your candy and sugar-sweetened beverage intake can help bring this unwanted testosterone-killing effect to an end. 

7. Alcohol 

Alcohol consumption may have opposite effects on the testosterone levels of men and women. Drinks that contain alcohol and may affect T levels include:

  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Liquor
  • Spirits

Acute alcohol intoxication has been shown to increase the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, leading to a reduction in serum testosterone levels in men and a slight increase in women [14].

Other hormone levels are also affected by alcohol, especially luteinizing hormone in men. 

For more information on the interaction between alcohol and testosterone, check out our comprehensive article on the topic.

8. Flaxseed

Flaxseed is an ingredient in other foods that lower testosterone levels, including:

  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Whole-grain bread 
  • Crackers
  • Muesli
  • Energy bars

Although flaxseed has many dietary benefits, the food can decrease total serum testosterone levels in both men and women when consumed regularly [15].

testosterone killing foods The effect of flaxseed supplementation on testosterone in women

For more information on the interaction between flaxseed and testosterone, take a look at our article on the topic.

9. Some Types of Nuts

Nuts that could result in reduced free testosterone levels include:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds

Despite many nuts containing healthy fats and other beneficial nutrients, some nuts may increase the levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) which binds to testosterone and can cause a decline in free testosterone levels [16]

10. Dairy

Dairy products that may cause a drop in testosterone levels include:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cream

Several derivatives of cow’s milk may contain natural or synthetic hormones that could interfere with your body’s testosterone production. Many of these animals have a diet heavily reliant on soy, leading to elevated estrogen levels in their milk and negative effects on your total T levels [17].

Soy and Testosterone: Is Soy Bad for Men?

Many articles claim that consuming any type of soy product or soy milk can have devastating effects on your testosterone levels. 

Soybeans and their products typically contain chemicals known as isoflavones or phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens share similarities with the structure of the estrogen hormone. They have been suspected of affecting androgen receptors and may trigger estrogen receptors to produce a feminizing effect in men consuming soy products. 

However, these effects are very weak and will require unthinkable amounts of soy products to be consumed before affecting your body’s testosterone levels [18]

Studies claiming soy to be harmful are done on mice and rats, not humans. However, the few studies on soy that do involve humans show no change in testosterone, SHBG, or free testosterone levels caused by the food group. 

If you’re unconvinced and looking for more information on the question, “Does soy increase estrogen in men?” check out our detailed article.

Which Food Increases Testosterone the Most?

Just as some foods decrease your testosterone levels, certain foods may boost testosterone and your body’s hormone production. These foods may also provide additional health benefits and include:

  • Honey: Honey can increase serum testosterone levels in old or young healthy men [19]. High-quality honey also contains many antioxidants, including flavonoids [20]
  • Garlic: Garlic can increase testicular testosterone production [21]. The herb also has antimicrobial and cardiovascular properties [22].
  • Vitamin D is an essential compound required to boost testosterone levels [23]. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include:
  • Fish, like tuna, salmon, and sardines
  • Milk fortified with vitamin D
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified cereals
  • Oysters
  • Shellfish
  • Beef

Overweight and obese men may experience lowered vitamin D levels and therefore reduced testosterone levels. 

For a complete list of foods that increase testosterone, take a look at our comprehensive article. 

Low Testosterone: Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis

Low testosterone levels can cause various adverse symptoms in men and women. 

Testosterone Killing Foods

Symptoms of low testosterone levels in men: 

  • Decreased libido
  • Loss of body and facial hair
  • Increased body and belly fat
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased bone density
  • Erectile dysfunction

Symptoms of low testosterone levels in women:

  • Reduced sexual desire 
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Decreased bone density 
  • Weight gain 
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Reduced lean muscle mass

Causes of Low Testosterone

The causes of low testosterone generally include aging, dietary and lifestyle choices. In men, there may be other factors involved, including [24]

  • Hypogonadism
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Steroid and drug use
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Trauma causing an interruption of blood flow to the testes

Low Testosterone Diagnosis

Reduced testosterone levels can be detected and diagnosed through a blood test evaluating your total and free testosterone concentrations. 

Several measurements may be taken throughout the day to ensure an accurate overall concentration is identified. For each gender, there are specific normal ranges for various age groups. Anything below the normal range may be taken as a testosterone deficiency. 

How To Boost Testosterone Naturally 

There are many ways of boosting testosterone levels naturally. The two most common avenues include taking dietary supplements or making lifestyle changes, which are discussed below. 

Dietary Supplements

T-boosters are a popular way of increasing your testosterone levels, although they are not FDA-approved as they are classified as dietary supplements. 

Some of the most popular options include:

Testogen

Testogen claims to be a natural testosterone booster that provides various benefits like:

  • Aiding muscle development
  • Reducing the occurrence of erectile dysfunction
  • Increasing energy and stamina

Other key facts about Testogen include:

  • Ingredients: Zinc, magnesium, red ginseng, and various vitamins
  • Side effects: Bloating, diarrhea, headaches, muscle pain
  • Dosage: Four capsules taken at the same time
  • Pros: Free shipping, improves sexual function, and all-natural ingredients
  • Cons: Four capsules have to be taken at the same time
  • Price: $64.95 for 120 capsules

Test RX

Test RX is another T booster that offers benefits including:

  • Improved physical strength
  • Increased lean muscle mass
  • Improved mood stability
  • Enhanced libido
  • Weight loss

Other key facts about Test RX include:

  • Ingredients: Zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, fenugreek extract, vitamin D3, among others
  • Side effects: Insomnia, headaches, dizziness, trouble breathing
  • Dosage: Two capsules in the morning and two in the evening
  • Pros: All natural ingredients, affordable, and easy to use
  • Cons: Only sold online and not vegan or vegetarian friendly
  • Price: $66.17 for 120 capsules

Testo Prime

Testo Prime offers similar benefits to other T boosters, including:

  • Increased energy
  • Lean muscle mass gain
  • Improved focus and cognition
  • Weight loss
  • Increased overall strength
  • Improved sex drive

Other key facts about Testo Prime include: 

  • Ingredients: Sarsaparilla powder, pumpkin seed powder, nettle powder, cayenne pepper, L-arginine, garlic extract, and ginseng
  • Side effects: May worsen sleep apnea, acne, and nausea
  • Dosage: Four capsules taken at the same time
  • Pros: All natural ingredients, completely GMO-free, and vegan-friendly
  • Cons: Must be taken with testosterone boosting foods and regular exercise
  • Price: $29.97 for 60 caplets

Ascorbic Acid Treatment

Taking regular doses of vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, may help increase your body’s serum testosterone levels. Ascorbic acid treatment also enhances sperm quality [25].

testosterone killing foods Effects of ascorbic acid on testosterone in rats

Lifestyle Changes

If you’re not interested in taking T boosters or supplements, lifestyle changes can help boost your testosterone levels naturally. 

Diet

As proven in this article, your diet can significantly affect your body’s testosterone production. Eating healthy foods rich in vitamin D and avoiding processed or sugary foods could help your testosterone levels balance out once more. 

Exercise

Although some forms of exercise may boost testosterone levels more than others, simply just moving your body and elevating your heart rate could be enough to give your testosterone levels a boost [26]

Stress Reduction

Stress hormones can cause a drop in your testosterone levels [27]. Reducing your stress levels could help boost your testosterone production. 

Weight Loss

Losing weight through dietary changes and regular exercise could significantly boost your T levels.

Sleep

Lower sleep quality can affect your body’s testosterone production. Getting enough good quality sleep could help naturally boost your T levels, too.

Spend Time Outdoors

Spending time in the sun could help your body produce its own vitamin D. Exposing your skin to the sun for a couple of minutes every day could subsequently raise your testosterone levels as well. 

FAQ

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the effect of your diet on testosterone levels and production.

What Food Kills Testosterone the Most?

Foods that reduce testosterone production and kill testosterone levels the most include: 

  1. Processed foods
  2. Sugar
  3. Alcohol
  4. Licorice root
  5. Flaxseed
  6. Vegetable oils
  7. Sugary drinks

Do Tomatoes Lower Testosterone?

Yes, tomatoes may temporarily reduce your testosterone levels, although this effect is not significant enough to warrant not eating them [28].

Do Bananas Lower Testosterone?

No. In fact, an enzyme known as bromelain, found in bananas and pineapples, may help increase your body’s testosterone levels [29].

Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone?

There is no scientific evidence that masturbation decreases testosterone levels, although abstinence from the act may increase your T levels marginally.

Conclusion

Diet and other lifestyle factors can play an essential role in increasing or decreasing your body’s testosterone levels. Avoiding the foods that kill testosterone, exercising regularly, and maintaining a low-stress living environment could help boost low testosterone levels and get back your libido and energy levels.

Natural T boosters or medical treatment may do the same, although they should only be seen as a last resort after improving your lifestyle choices. 

References:

  1. P;, Hämäläinen E;Adlercreutz H;Puska P;Pietinen. “Diet and Serum Sex Hormones in Healthy Men.” Journal of Steroid Biochemistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6538617/.
  2. K;, Whittaker J;Wu. “Low-Fat Diets and Testosterone in Men: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies.” The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33741447/.
  3. Hu, Tzu-Yu, et al. “Testosterone-Associated Dietary Pattern Predicts Low Testosterone Levels and Hypogonadism.” Nutrients, MDPI, 16 Nov. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266690/.
  4. Kurniawan AL;Hsu CY;Rau HH;Lin LY;Chao JC; “Dietary Patterns in Relation to Testosterone Levels and Severity of Impaired Kidney Function among Middle-Aged and Elderly Men in Taiwan: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Nutrition Journal, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31351493/.
  5. Kurniawan AL;Hsu CY;Chao JC;Paramastri R;Lee HA;Lai PC;Hsieh NC;Wu SV; “Association of Testosterone-Related Dietary Pattern with TESTICULAR Function among ADULT Men: A Cross-Sectional Health SCREENING Study in Taiwan.” Nutrients, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33477418/.
  6. Hanis T;Zidek V;Sachova J;Klir P;Deyl Z; “Effects of Dietary Trans-Fatty Acids on Reproductive Performance of Wistar Rats.” The British Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2758008/.
  7. Anbara, Hojat, et al. “Long-Term Effect of Aspartame on Male Reproductive System: Evidence for Testicular Histomorphometrics, hsp70-2 Protein Expression and Biochemical Status.” International Journal of Fertility & Sterility, Royan Institute, July 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7382684/.
  8. TH;, Kelly DM;Jones. “Testosterone and Obesity.” Obesity Reviews : an Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25982085/.
  9. Akdoğan M;Tamer MN;Cüre E;Cüre MC;Köroğlu BK;Delibaş N; “Effect of Spearmint (Mentha SPICATA Labiatae) Teas on Androgen Levels in Women WITH HIRSUTISM.” Phytotherapy Research : PTR, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17310494/.
  10. Armanini D;Mattarello MJ;Fiore C;Bonanni G;Scaroni C;Sartorato P;Palermo M; “Licorice Reduces Serum Testosterone in Healthy Women.” Steroids, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15579328/.
  11. Z;, Karbowska J;Kochan. “[Trans-Fatty Acids–Effects on Coronary Heart Disease].” Polski Merkuriusz Lekarski : Organ Polskiego Towarzystwa Lekarskiego, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21870712/.
  12. H;, Nagata C;Takatsuka N;Kawakami N;Shimizu. “Relationships between Types of Fat Consumed and Serum Estrogen and ANDROGEN Concentrations in Japanese Men.” Nutrition and Cancer, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11525593/.
  13. Caronia LM;Dwyer AA;Hayden D;Amati F;Pitteloud N;Hayes FJ; “Abrupt Decrease in Serum Testosterone Levels after an Oral Glucose Load in Men: Implications for Screening for Hypogonadism.” Clinical Endocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22804876/.
  14. Frias J;Torres JM;Miranda MT;Ruiz E;Ortega E; “Effects of Acute Alcohol Intoxication on Pituitary-Gonadal Axis Hormones, Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Hormones, Beta-Endorphin and Prolactin in Human Adults of Both Sexes.” Alcohol and Alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11912073/.
  15. Nowak, Debra A, et al. “The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Study.” Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2752973/.
  16. Kalgaonkar S;Almario RU;Gurusinghe D;Garamendi EM;Buchan W;Kim K;Karakas SE; “Differential Effects of Walnuts vs Almonds on Improving Metabolic and Endocrine Parameters in Pcos.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21157477/.
  17. K;, Maruyama K;Oshima T;Ohyama. “Exposure to Exogenous Estrogen through Intake of Commercial Milk Produced from Pregnant Cows.” Pediatrics International : Official Journal of the Japan Pediatric Society, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19496976/.
  18. Barrett, Julia R. “The Science of Soy: What Do We Really Know?” Environmental Health Perspectives, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, June 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1480510/.
  19. Banihani, Saleem Ali. “Mechanisms of Honey on Testosterone Levels.” Heliyon, Elsevier, 4 July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6612531/.
  20. NJ;, Gheldof N;Wang XH;Engeseth. “Identification and Quantification of Antioxidant Components of Honeys from Various Floral Sources.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12358452/.
  21. Oi Y;Imafuku M;Shishido C;Kominato Y;Nishimura S;Iwai K; “Garlic Supplementation Increases Testicular Testosterone and Decreases Plasma Corticosterone in Rats Fed a High Protein Diet.” The Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11481410/.
  22. E;, Tattelman. “Health Effects of Garlic.” American Family Physician, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16035690/.
  23. Pilz S;Frisch S;Koertke H;Kuhn J;Dreier J;Obermayer-Pietsch B;Wehr E;Zittermann A; “Effect of Vitamin d Supplementation on Testosterone Levels in Men.” Hormone and Metabolic Research = Hormon- Und Stoffwechselforschung = Hormones Et Metabolisme, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21154195/.
  24. Cohen, Jordan, et al. “Low Testosterone in Adolescents & Young Adults.” Frontiers in Endocrinology, Frontiers Media S.A., 10 Jan. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6966696/.
  25. II;, Okon UA;Utuk. “Ascorbic Acid Treatment Elevates Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Testosterone Plasma Levels and Enhances Sperm Quality in Albino Wistar Rats.” Nigerian Medical Journal : Journal of the Nigeria Medical Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27185976/.
  26. Kumagai, Hiroshi, et al. “Increased Physical Activity Has a Greater Effect than Reduced Energy Intake on Lifestyle Modification-Induced Increases in Testosterone.” Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, The Society for Free Radical Research Japan, Jan. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4706091/.
  27. Daly W;Seegers CA;Rubin DA;Dobridge JD;Hackney AC; “Relationship between Stress Hormones and Testosterone with Prolonged Endurance Exercise.” European Journal of Applied Physiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15618989/.
  28. Campbell JK;Stroud CK;Nakamura MT;Lila MA;Erdman JW; “Serum Testosterone Is Reduced FOLLOWING Short-Term PHYTOFLUENE, LYCOPENE, or TOMATO Powder Consumption In F344 RATS.” The Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17056806/.
  29. W;, Jebur AB;El-Demerdash FM;Kang. “Bromelain from Ananas COMOSUS Stem ATTENUATES Oxidative Toxicity and TESTICULAR Dysfunction Caused by Aluminum in Rats.” Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology : Organ of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32763766/.
Share this article

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get our weekly newsletter about the most recent publications and reviews in the world of medical research