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Could low-fat diets reduce testosterone levels in men?

A new study finds that low-fat diets slightly reduce levels of serum testosterone in men. At this stage, it is unclear whether the differences are clinically meaningful.

estosterone deficiency occurs when a male’s body does not produce enough serum testosterone. Though exercise and weight loss can combat this deficiency, a study published in The Journal of Urology suggests that the type of diet matters.

The new study finds that men following a low-fat diet may have lower serum testosterone levels than those with different diets.

The effect of less fat 

“We found that men who adhered to a fat-restrictive diet had lower serum testosterone than men on a nonrestrictive diet,” says lead author Dr. Jake Fantus, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, in Illinois.

The mean serum testosterone level for the entire cohort was roughly 435.5 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). Men on a low-fat diet had an average serum testosterone level of 411 ng/dl, and those on a Mediterranean diet had an average of 413 ng/dl.

After adjusting for factors that can influence testosterone, such as age, physical activity, and body mass index, the researchers determined that the Mediterranean diet did not cause a significant reduction in testosterone, whereas the reduction associated with a low-fat diet was small but significant.

The study admits that “The clinical significance of small differences in serum [testosterone] across diets is unclear,” and acknowledges that “Future prospective research is required to corroborate these findings and elucidate the mechanisms by which restrictive dieting may affect serum [testosterone].”

Meanwhile, the implications of the study’s findings may vary depending on other health indicators.

The authors conclude that men with obesity may view a potential slight reduction in serum testosterone to be a relatively minor consideration in comparison with the potential benefits of a low-fat diet.

Men with a testosterone deficiency who are maintaining a healthy weight, however, may wish to consider an alternate diet, if the findings of the current study are supported by more research.

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