Your ability to produce testosterone depends heavily upon your dietary fat intake. Regardless of gender, testosterone production is critical to your health and well-being. Testosterone, is an important hormone for muscle building as well as wound healing and recovery, and it also contributes to motivation, feelings of well-being and libido. Testosterone deficiency can be a contributing factor to decreases in bone mineral density.
Role of Fat
Fat contains cholesterol, which your body converts to steroidal hormones. This includes testosterone as well as estrogen. A diet in which less than 20 percent of the calories come from fat limits your body's production of testosterone. This does not mean that you need to consume a diet loaded with saturated fat, but rather you should consume healthy fats and enough fats to maintain hormone production.
Your primary sources of fats should be unsaturated and monosaturated fats. Foods such as olives and olive oils can form a healthy base on which to build your diet. Try to get at least 20 percent of your dietary intake from fats, according to the "Journal of Steroid Biochemistry." Other good sources include nuts, particularly walnuts, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to testosterone conversion and production as well as muscle protein synthesis. Seeds such as flax seed, sunflower and safflower also provide healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids.
Testosterone and Exercise
Exercise of even moderate intensity can promote muscle protein breakdown, and if your testosterone levels are low because you are consuming a low-fat diet, your ability to recover from exercise training will be compromised.
Other Effects of Testosterone
Testosterone levels are not just a marker of your ability to build muscle, but your ability to maintain lower body fat levels as well. If you lose lean muscle mass due to a decrease in testosterone production, your metabolism will slow down, which limits your ability to burn stored fat for energy. A study published in 2000 in the "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" showed that low testosterone levels correlated with an increase in body fat levels. The loss of bone mineral density is something that everyone experiences with age, particularly if you are a woman. In a 2009 study in the "European Journal of Endocrinology," researchers showed that low testosterone levels were a primary contributor to a decrease in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
- "Journal of Bone and Mineral Research"; Endogenous Sex Steroids and Bone Mineral Density in Older Women and Men: the Rancho Bernardo Study; G.A. Greendale, et al.; November 1997
- "Journal of Steroid Biochemistry"; Decrease of Serum Total and Free Testosterone During a Low-fat High-fibre Diet; E.K. Hamalainen, et al.; March 1983
- "American Journal of Clincial Nutrition"; Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Increases the Rate of Muscle Protein Synthesis in Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial; G.I. Smith, et al.; February 2011
- "Steroids"; Effect of Resistance Exercise on Muscle Steroid Receptor Protein Content in Strength-trained Men and Women; J.L. Vingren, et al.; Nov-Dec 2009
- "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism"; A.W. van den Beld, et al.; September 2000
- "European Journal of Endocrinology"; Measures of Bioavailable Serum Testosterone and Estradiol and Their Relationships with Muscle Mass, Muscle Strength and Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women: a Cross-sectional Study; T.A. van Geel, et al.; April 2009