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Fats & Testosterone

author image Grey Evans
Grey Evans began writing professionally in 1985. Her work has been published in "Metabolics" and the "Journal of Nutrition." Gibbs holds a Ph.D. in nutrition from Ohio State University and an M.S. in physical therapy from New York University. She has worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and currently develops comprehensive nutritional and rehabilitative programs for a neurological team.
Fats & Testosterone
Grilled salmon sits on a bed of smashed avocoado on a white plate. Photo Credit: Elena_Danileiko/iStock/Getty Images

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.

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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.

Healthy Fats

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.

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