Coauthored by Scott H. Mendelson and Eric Serrano, MD
Dr. Serrano and Scott,
I am dealing with low testosterone at age 32, according to my doctor, and would like to improve my situation naturally with nutrition strategies. I am 225 pounds with 20% body fat according to a seven-site caliper test. I train for strength five days per week with sessions that are 75-90 minutes. I am married with two kids and have the normal stressors, but nothing too bad. I want to gain 10 pounds of muscle, lose 20-25 pounds of body fat, and increase my totals with the bench, squat, and deadlift.
—Michael Berwick PA.
Michael, the right nutrition strategies can certainly lift your testosterone levels, in addition to other benefits to support your performance and body transformation goals. The sample nutrition plan and strategies below can also help people with normal conditions naturally optimize their testosterone levels. Your diet information sent our way by email is, in a word, average. Your testosterone levels will likely rebound quickly when increasing your dietary fat intake from the right organic sources.
Consume the Right Fats
Many hard-working trainees make the mistake of consuming bad fats such as soybean and canola oil, which are common in many foods. These bad fats can lower testosterone and increase body fat accumulation by corrupting fat cells. Fried items are about the worst things you can consume and can have a lingering negative impact on fat cells for years.
Good Dietary Fat Choices for Boosting Testosterone
Saturated Fat Choices:
- Grass-Fed Beef (many different cuts)
- Organically Raised Lamb
- Grass-Fed Bison
- Cage-Free Whole Eggs
- Organically Raised Pork Bacon
- Grass-Fed Butter
- Organic Heavy Whipping Cream
The high saturated fat intake within grass-fed beef choices is very desirable for raising testosterone. Pastured raised animals that are fed grass and not given commercial feed produce beef with a naturally favorable omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio. Organically raised animals are not given estrogen, antibiotics, and other injections, which end up being present in commercially produced beef.
Monounsaturated Fat Options:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (from a dark bottle or can)
- Raw Nuts
Gain Muscle Before Prioritizing Body Fat Loss
Many prospective clients approach us wanting to prioritize body fat loss, as they have gotten out of shape due to low testosterone. However, taking a strict “diet” approach with a low caloric intake can make testosterone levels plummet even more. After six to eight weeks with the approach below, you can consider strategic changes to shift the plan more towards fat burning while still supporting an optimal hormonal environment.
Improve Training Efficiency
You can accelerate muscle growth and improve performance by emphasizing high-quality training over quantity by going from five training sessions each week to three or four. Keeping sessions under an hour will also be very important for keeping stress hormones in check. Improving efficiency by reducing training frequency and session length will help to minimize the risk of overtraining, which is especially important for natural trainees. Overtraining leads to a poor testosterone to cortisol ratio, which is an important marker for anabolism.
Do You Want to Grow Feathers?
The average bodybuilder, powerlifter, and athlete eat so much chicken in a year that they may grow feathers! Reviewing thousands of diets each year reveals that the majority of people with some organization to their nutrition plans eat the same 10 to 15 foods too often. Chicken, while a great food source, is over-consumed and can lead to food allergies, irritations, and intolerances. The metabolic mess created as a result of consuming the same foods too often can lower testosterone levels, negatively impact digestion, cause difficulty with body fat loss and muscle growth, create low energy levels, cause joint pain, and more.
Carbohydrates Can Be Anti-Catabolic
We include carbohydrate intake before training to maximize anabolism heading into the training session along with protein and dietary fat sources. Post-workout carbohydrate consumption is highly anti-catabolic, meaning it drives down stress hormones, including cortisol. This is very important for optimizing the testosterone to cortisol ratio. Carb sources, including a variety of potatoes and rice, have been most effective for our clients, especially those wanting to minimize body fat levels. The carbohydrate intake will typically be lower on non-training days due to reduced activity levels.
Base Nutrition Days
Below is what we call a "base day", which can represent four or five days of the week. The other days will feature macronutrient cycling to prevent metabolic staleness, increase fat burning and muscle building enzymes, and to naturally optimize the anabolic hormonal environment. We will discuss macronutrient cycling in future articles as well.
Macronutrient Cycling Strategies
One of the reasons macronutrient cycling is so effective for improving performance and body composition is the protein-sparing benefits. Feed the body an abundance of protein on a daily basis and the body can adapt to using protein as a primary fuel source. Changing up the amounts of protein, dietary fat, and carbohydrate strategically two to three days per week will teach the body to use protein to build new muscle.
WATCH: Hormonal Evaluation for Optimal Body Composition
Dr. Eric Serrano MD discusses solutions for naturally optimizing testosterone levels using his clinical experience working with thousands of successful patients. Learn about the importance of cycling dietary fat and carbohydrate intake to positively impact the hormonal environment and much more!
- (0:40) High fat intake affecting testosterone levels
- (1:20) Essential carbohydrate intake needs and benefits
- (2:40) Estrogen fluctuation
- (3:50) Evaluation of hormones in isolation
Below is a sample day of eating for a 220-pound active man wanting to naturally increase testosterone levels while improving performance and body composition.
- 4 Cage-Free Whole Eggs
- 2 Cage-Free Egg Whites
- 2 Slices Organic Beef or Pork Bacon
- ½ Avocado
- 2 Cups Berry Combination (Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, and Cherries)
- Coffee with Organic Heavy Whipping Cream
- 3 Alpha Omega M3
- ½ Cup Raw Nuts: Macadamias, Pecans, and Brazil Nuts (No Peanuts)
- 2 Organic Beef Sticks
- 4-6 Grass-Fed Beef Burgers
- Large Salad (with added vegetables such as cucumbers and multi-colored peppers)
- 2 Cups Green Vegetables Cooked in Grass-Fed Butter
- 1 Cup Rice (50g Carbohydrates)
- 3 Alpha Omega M3
- ½ Cup Raw Nuts: Cashews, Almonds, and Pistachios (No Peanuts)
- 2 Organic Beef Sticks
30-45 Minutes Following Training: Dinner
- 8-12 Ounces Wild Caught Fish, Seafood, or Cage-Free Chicken
- 4 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (from a dark bottle or can)
- 1 Sweet Potato (50g Carbohydrate)
- 1 Tablespoon Grass-Fed Butter
- 3 Alpha Omega M3
- Avoid trans fats commonly found in cooking sprays.
- Beware of salad dressings and marinades, as many include canola and soybean, which should be avoided.
- Raw nuts mean nuts with no added oils. Please check the labels. Added sea salt to nuts is beneficial.
Header image courtesy of Anastasia Ivlicheva © 123rf.com
Scott H. Mendelson, director of www.InfinityFitness.com, is a highly regarded performance nutrition and training specialist. In addition to designing customized programs for his celebrity, weekend warrior and executive clients, Scott works daily with professional athletes from the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA and NCAA. Scott has built an excellent reputation providing effective supplements, cutting-edge information, and unmatched service to thousands of clients worldwide since 1999.
Scott@infinityfitness.com Special assistant to Dr. Eric Serrano MD, Scott helps with the design of training, nutrition and supplementation trials to confirm the effectiveness of protocols and expand his expertise.
Dr. Eric Serrano, MD, is the ace sought out by elite athletes and business professionals around the world for help with the most difficult of problems. Dr. Serrano spends a majority of his time promoting the success of his family practice patients in Pickerington; a suburb of Columbus Ohio. Amongst the thousands of patients are elite athletes from around the globe who will travel to the ends of the earth to consult with Dr. Serrano.