A new study has drawn a link between the consumption of less fat to a reduction in testosterone levels in men.
The research, conducted by the University of Worcester and published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology found that men who have less fat in their diets could see their testosterone levels decrease by 10-15 percent.
Optimal testosterone levels are critical to men’s health as they help reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Low testosterone levels can negatively affect athletic performance, mental and sexual health in men.
The research combined the results of six well-controlled studies with a total of 206 participants. These studies first put men on a high fat diet (40% fat), and then transferred them to a low fat diet (20% fat), and found their testosterone levels decreased by 10 to 15% on average.
Particularly bad were vegetarian low fat diets causing decreases in testosterone up to 26%.
The author of the research stated that further scientific investigation needs to be done in this important area. Joseph Whittaker, lead researcher said:
Ideally, we would like to see a few more studies to confirm our results. However, these studies may never come, normally researchers want to find new results, not replicate old ones. In the meantime, men with low testosterone would be wise to avoid low fat diets.
Low fat vs low carb
Dietary fat is a controversial topic in nutritional science, with proponents of various diets often in disagreement.
According to this new research, more studies ought to be carried to weigh the benefits of low fat diets such as reduced cholesterol levels against the potential downsides, i.e. decreased testosterone levels.
Traditional dietary guidelines have focused on limiting fat intake, with the current UK guidelines limiting fat intake to less than 35% of total calories.
However, as more research on the benefits of high fat, low carbohydrate diets is done, this traditional view is coming under increasing scrutiny.