The interesting thing about testosterone is that it’s not just a ‘muscle building hormone’. With testosterone being tied to muscle mass, health, bone density and libido, it’s pretty much a given that we should avoid doing things that drastically reduce our testosterone levels. Unfortunately, one of the best ways to reduce our body fat levels can also negatively affect our testosterone levels. This leads to a bit of a conundrum – Harsh dieting can lead to a reduction in testosterone levels, however, we know from examining large scale (over 1,000 subjects) longitudinal studies (following people for around 8 years) that gaining body fat is correlated with lower testosterone levels, as is just having high levels of high body. From this research we can see that having extra body fat can reduce testosterone levels, lowering your body fat can increase your testosterone levels, but dieting can also decrease your testosterone levels.
If we just left to story right here it would seem that there is almost no way of dieting or getting in shape without somehow messing up your testosterone levels. For starters this research shows us it seems that your diet must be fairly extreme in order to decrease your testosterone levels.
This military research shows pretty clearly that extreme dieting combined with hard training and lack of sleep can significantly alter your testosterone levels.
Case in point: Not only does a slight re-feed rapidly restore testosterone levels after long periods of hard-training and hard-dieting, but your testosterone levels may actually end up higher within 5 weeks after an 8 week period of stressful dieting and training. These findings lead to another interesting conundrum – Extreme conditions can reduce testosterone, but also may cause a nice rebound afterwards. Similar to what we find with Insulin and Leptin, dieting seems to be capable of increasing testosterone sensitivity. Luckily, there may be a way to get the same increases in sensitivity WITHOUT having to go through prolonged periods of chronically depressed testosterone levels.
While longer fasts (56 hours and beyond) will cause notable decreases in testosterone, Short-term fasting does not negatively affect testosterone levels, but do allow for short periods of caloric restriction [v,vi,vii,viii]. Note from Rusty: Brad Pilon uses intermittent fasting to stay lean without lowering his testosterone levels.

These findings all point to the fact that short-term fasting would not cause serum testosterone levels to ever drop below normal, but still allow for a decrease in body fat and possibly even a deficit-induced increased testosterone sensitivity [ix,x].
This might just be the one way to burn fat and get the testosterone boosting advantage of short term calorie deficits, it’s the best of both worlds.
Brad Pilon is one of the world’s most recognized advocates of Intermittent Fasting – You can learn more about his approach to intermittent fasting in his newly revised book Eat Stop Eat. Important Message: Although this site has received 25+ million visitors, I am starting from scratch and abandoning it. I am a senior and would like to know if fasting is recommended and how long (days) is safe.
Some good points to think about if you haven’t delved into how your endocrine system works. Hey Gordon, Fasting is no way a good practice , so i suggest you to stay away from such practices.
After 8 years and 25+ million visitors, I've decided to start from scratch and shut down this site. Testosterone is important for women as well (so don’t skip this article if you are a woman). The truth is testosterone is an anabolic steroid, but it’s one that your body produces entirely on it’s own – no needles required.
In both men and women, testosterone plays a key role in health and well-being as well as in the prevention of osteoporosis, and maintaining libido. Long term calorie restriction CAN lower your testosterone levels, sometimes even as low as those found in eunuchs (a guy who’s been castrated…think about that for a moment). Even more confusing is that the very act of losing body fat is able to restore testosterone back to normal levels in overweight people who were low [i,ii]. Lets take a closer look and see if there is a way to get lean without affecting testosterone in a negative way.

There is consistent evidence that mild caloric restriction (about a 15% calorie restriction) does not lead to reductions in testosterone or free testosterone in otherwise healthy men [iii].
After 8 weeks of extreme multi-stressor environments (very-low-calorie diet, super high energy expenditure, high temperatures and extreme lack of sleep – military training) testosterone levels can drop to almost castration levels…not cool. Most of us aren’t training like we’re navy seals, however let’s be honest- the fanatical way some people approach their diet and exercise can become a little military-ish.
Could it be that short bouts of low testosterone from hard dieting and training are worth it for the big increase from the rebound afterwards? It wouldn’t be illogical to suggest that this may contribute to the increases in muscle mass and feelings of well being that people get after they finish dieting and training for a bodybuilding or fitness contest. Fasting intermittently allows for an overall calorie deficit, while also allowing for periods of calorie maintenance.
Personally, I absolutely love doing intermittent fasting with re-feeds every 1-2 weeks depending on how I feel.
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We can see that mild dieting doesn’t seem to have a negative affect on testosterone levels, but what about people who diet hard, while training hard at the same time? And if hard dieting can in fact lower testosterone levels, then maybe we should start paying attention to how hard we workout when we’re also follow a strict diet. Plasma adrenal, gonadal, and conjugated steroids following long-term exercise-induced negative energy balance in identical twins. Fasting suppresses pulsatile luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion and enhances orderliness of LH release in young but not older men.

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Comments »

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