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It’s fairly common for men to discover their vim and vigor flagging in middle age, as testosterone levels tend to decline in later years. What’s less common are dietary treatments for the condition.

Research suggests that over­weight men may boost their testosterone by shedding some pounds, but as Randi Hutter Epstein, MD, reports in the New York Times, research focusing on specific diets offers ­counterintuitive — albeit inconclusive — advice. Citing three small studies, Epstein notes that low-fat diets have been associated with lower testosterone levels.

A British research team observed that testosterone levels among 206 study participants  who maintained a high-fat diet were 60 points (or nanograms per deciliter of blood) higher on average than those of their counterparts on a low-fat regimen.

Another study involving 25 younger men (18 to 30 years old) produced similar results: After 10 weeks on a high-fat diet, testosterone levels increased by an average of 118 points. And a larger analysis found that testosterone levels among those on a low-fat diet were about 30 points lower than the levels of their counterparts eating higher-fat diets.

“The moral is that healthy men who are of normal weight with no significant comorbidities are unlikely to benefit from restrictive diets,” says study coauthor Richard Fantus, MD. “I don’t think there is a way to game the system to get really large increases by changing the diet.”

Craig Cox
Craig Cox

Craig Cox is an Experience Life deputy editor who explores the joys and challenges of healthy aging.

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