Why Low Calorie Diets Are Bad For Testosterone

You’ve probably seen this several times. Someone wants to lose weight so they practically stop eating. I’m being a bit melodramatic here.

In reality, they lower their calories. But not they don’t just lower them a little; they go to the extreme. In fact, I’ve seen people go on a diet eating less than 1,000 calories.

That’s just STUPID (and dangerous)! And you know what else? It’s the worst thing for maintaining healthy testosterone levels.

In this post, you’re going to learn…

  • Why you’re losing weight but still getting fat
  • The relationship between food and testosterone
  • Ideal amount of calories to support testosterone
  • How much protein you really need to build muscle
  • The truth about healthy fats (they DO NOT make you fat!)
  • Why you SHOULD NOT go on a low carb diet
  • 3 reasons to stay far away from trendy diets
  • The perfect testosterone boosting meal plan

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s jump right in!

Why Do I Gain Fat But Lose Weight?

why do i gain fat but lose weight

People often confuse losing weight with losing fat. That’s a huge misconception.

Did you know you can actually GAIN FAT WHILE LOSING WEIGHT?

If you’re just counting macros and calories, this doesn’t make sense. At least not initially.

You may have heard that muscle weighs more than fat. This isn’t true. However, per nutrition expert Kanika Kohli…

– just like one pound of gold is going to weigh the same as one pound of feathers. While one pound of fat and lean muscle weigh the same, their composition varies immensely.

Muscle is much denser than fat, which means muscle occupies less space (volume) in the body compared to fat. Muscle has a leaner appearance due to its high density whereas fat occupies more space (volume) in the body.

True or False: Muscle Weighs More Than Fat, Kanika Kohli, Compassnutriton.com

Here are some more facts to consider:

  • Having lean muscle does wonders for your metabolism
  • Having lean muscle helps you get and stay lean and toned
  • Lean muscle requires calories and nutrients (muscles have to recover to rebuild after workouts)
  • If you lower your calories, you may not be feeding your muscles enough nutrients to recover and grow
  • If you lower calories too much, you can actually lose muscle mass
  • Losing muscle mass leads to greater potential to gain mountains of fat

Hopefully, now you can clearly see why merely lowering your calories isn’t the answer.

Relationship Between Food and Testosterone

Now that you know how calories can impact muscle growth and fat loss (or rather, fat gain!), let’s talk about the relationship between food and testosterone.

Just like your muscles need calories and nutrients to recover and grow, testosterone can be increased with certain foods. Many of these foods, such as meat and eggs (which both contain test boosting properties), are certainly not low-calorie foods.

On the flip side, if you don’t eat enough calories you can actually hinder your testosterone levels. There are 2 core reasons why:

  1. Not eating enough calories can prevent muscle growth, and also lead to losing muscle (as we just discussed above)
  2. Many low calories diets also restrict fat, which fats are needed to support healthy testosterone (we’ll talk more in-depth about this below)

Super low-calorie diets are an anabolic and metabolic disaster, as described on aworkoutroutine.com. But we’re now going to get into some answers to these problems.

How Many Calories Do You Need to Boost Testosterone?

why low calorie diets are bad for testosterone and building muscle

Calorie intake is not a one-size-fits-all. There are many factors involved such as…

  • Age, height/weight, gender
  • Current health status
  • Current muscle to fat ratio
  • Activity level
  • Family history
  • Body type

For a great source to quickly calculate the number of calories you need to maintain a healthy weight, you can check out the Calorie Calculator on calculator.net.

Once you figure how many calories per day you eat, you can follow some basic rules below:

  • Spread your meals out, 5-6 smaller meals per day (this helps regulate your metabolism, and also your testosterone throughout the day)
  • Eat a balanced diet, meaning healthy portions of all macronutrients, protein, carbs, and fats – we will get more into this below!
  • DO NOT eat until your stuff; rather, eat until you’re comfortable
  • Don’t let yourself go hungry (this can screw up your metabolism and lead to muscle loss)
  • As much as possible, eat organic and cut out processed foods (processed foods can literally kill your testosterone levels)

**To learn more about the rights types of foods you need for boosting testosterone, read my post 7 Foods that Raise Testosterone and Lower Estrogen.

3 Reasons to Stay Away From Trendy Low-Calorie Diets

Before we get into the macronutrients, I’ve got to address something. And this is one of my favorite topics! Trendy diets, or should I say CULTS!

How many times have you had a friend go on some popular diet and they make it their life mission to convert you?

And the worst is some of the trendy low-calorie diets will cut out certain macronutrients. This is a recipe for low testosterone!

Here’s the problem(s) with low-calorie diets…

  • First, there’s no getting around the fact that muscle growth and testosterone are supported by a combination of ALL macronutrients (yes, protein, carbs, and fats…you need them all!). And you need enough of them to support healthy hormone levels.
  • Secondly, you’re not going to get an adequate amount of nutrients needed to function and optimize your health on low-calorie meals.

Now let’s get into the ‘meat and potatoes’ (hey, that’s half keto and half vegan…I know, I’m horrible!).

How Much Protein Do You Really Need to Maintain Muscle?

how much protein do you need to build muscle

Most every diet program, whether trendy or traditional, has a focus on quality protein. But it’s important to understand why we need protein.

If you’re an avid weightlifter or bodybuilder, you’re going to already know the role that protein has with muscle growth. If you’re new to building muscle and boosting testosterone, just know that without adequate protein, your muscles will not recover from workouts.

Here are some great sources of protein that will boost testosterone and help you pack on muscle mass:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Whole eggs
  • Whey protein powder
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Milk

The real question becomes how much protein do you need to build muscle? There are many theories about this.

Many seasoned weightlifters and bodybuilders tend to overdo protein intake (some up to 2 grams per pound of body weight). The problem with that is you don’t gain more muscle by taking in more protein that’s required. You’re just adding calories.

On the other hand, if you don’t eat enough protein, you simply won’t make muscle gains. And you’re probably not going to get enough protein on a low-calorie diet.

Christian Finn suggests the most simple calculation. You should aim for about .7 grams of protein per pound of body weight, stated in his article on muscleevo.net.

I personally eat a little over a gram of protein per pound of body weight. I’ve found that this keeps me strong and I can maintain muscle with good body composition (at the time of writing this, I’m 220 lbs).

Healthy Fats Don’t Make You Fat

I was joking early about the different types of popular diets, but there’s one good thing about the keto diet; you’re going to eat plenty of fats.

Now, it’s important to note that eating fats are the opposite of a low-calorie diet. Fats are more calories per gram than protein and carbs. And it’s important to have enough fats because of the below…

Fats, including saturated fats, are essential for boosting testosterone, as explained by Dr. Mercola on fitness.mercola.com.

Some of the fats Dr. Mercola recommends include:

  • Grass-fed beef (and other meats)
  • Raw almonds
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Coconut and coconut oil
  • Organic cage-free eggs

Some trendy diets will say that fats are bad for you, or that they cause you to gain body fat. This is true if you’re eating unhealthy foods.

For example, if you’re eating a fatty burger from a fast-food restaurant. But understand that it’s not so much the fat content, it’s a combination of issues eating those types of foods (one of them being unnatural sources).

I’ll also note that some of the bodybuilders will eat mostly protein and carbs. Some people do respond best with high carb diets.

But keep in mind that bodybuilders typically eat way more than average people, and my default is still getting enough healthy fats (through protein sources, like eggs and meats).

Do You Need Carbs for Testosterone?

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap, especially in some of the popular diets like Keto. But the truth is you do need carbs building muscle and boosting testosterone.

Per Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS on GQ.com,

Scientists found a high-carb diet generated higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol than a low-carb diet over just 10 days. And when combined with intense exercise, low-carb diets actually increased stress hormones and lowered T levels.

Anthony J. Yeung CSCS, You Need to Eat More Carbs, My Dude, GQ.com

The important thing to know is that the source of carbs matter. Some healthy testosterone boosting carb sources are:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Bananas
  • Dark berries
  • Apples
  • Chickpeas
  • Whole grains
  • Oranges

One technique that has worked for many bodybuilders and physique competitors is carb cycling. As stated on kingofthegym.com, this is an advanced technique that will help you gain muscle while dropping body fat, often down to single digits.

At the end of the day, it’s probably best for most to eat a moderate amount of carbs in their diet. Enough to keep your energy levels up, but not so many that you’re gaining fat.

And with eating moderate amounts of carbs along with healthy protein and fat, you’re going to be eating a moderate amount of calories, not low calories.

Sensible, Balanced Meals NOT Low-Calorie Diets

After going through the macronutrients that your body needs, you can clearly see that you will not get enough to these nutrients in a low-calorie diet.

Simply put, low-calorie diets do not work for boosting testosterone or building muscle. In fact, a calorie diet will do just the opposite.

If your goal is to lose body fat, you need to first build more muscle. And to build muscle, you need enough nutrients to recover and to support your testosterone levels.

My Favorite Testosterone Boosting Meals

Now I’d like to share some of my favorite meals that will help you build muscle and boost testosterone naturally. null

Meal 1 – Mass Building Energy-Boosting Breakfast

  • 3-4 whole eggs (cage-free)
  • 1 serving of grits
  • 1 serving of organic oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup of blueberries (I put them in my oatmeal)
  • 1 piece of toast
  • Coffee

Meal 2 – Lean Muscle Dinner

  • 8-10 ounce sirloin steak
  • 2 Sweet potatoes
  • 1 serving of Spinach

Meal 3 – Post Workout Recovery

  • 2 scoops of whey protein powder
  • 6 ounces of almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup of frozen mixed berries
  • 1/2 serving of natural peanut butter

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you have any questions, please comment below. And if you found this to be interesting, please share it!

**Be sure to check out my full test boosting diet plan that you can start today in this post: 3-Day Testosterone Boosting Diet Plan


Jason has been consistently weight training since his mid-teens (started back in the early 90's) and has helped countless others reach their fitness goals. At Top Testosterone Booster, his desire is to help you educate yourself with tips and the right supplements that can boost your performance.

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