Avoid Ruining Your Testosterone Levels

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Altaic Warrior

Testosterone is a hugely important hormone for not only men but women also. We all need it to survive and it is especially important as we age when our levels start to steadily decline if we do not look after ourselves. Besides being a potent aphrodisiac testosterone provides us with a stable emotional state, controlling our mood and allowing us to avoid becoming a “grumpy old man” with age. For Women testosterone helps with decision making and providing general enjoyment of life. Along with this Testosterone holds several other benefits for both men and women:

  • Keeps bones solid and dense
  • Allows you to maintain a good level of muscle mass
  • Fends off excess fat gain
  • Keep disease at bay
  • Provide vigour and mental sharpness

So basically it is pretty good stuff and something we want to keep at a solid level throughout our lives. And while testosterone declines naturally with age there are a few things that can be taken into account……

Avoid Plastic

There is no need to become militant about getting plastic out of your life but every little helps. Studies are showing that the oestrogenic compounds leached by fluids and food from plastic packaging can have a pretty detrimental affect on human health.

“We must have identified just the tip of the iceberg in that plastic packaging may be a major source of xenohormone* contamination of many other edibles. Our findings provide an insight into the potential exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals due to unexpected sources of contamination.”

Now Oestrogen itself is not bad and it is needed to compliment testosterone. The problem comes with the man made Xenohormones which have a testosterone lowering and oestrogen triggering effect. This is bad news for both men and women…. Try avoiding some of the following common sources of Xenohormones:

  • Microwaving or cooking food in plastic containers
  • Drinking water from plastic
  • Plastic cups and plates at home
  • Plastic spoons for cooking food

Remember every little helps in this department so the more you can do to remove plastic from your life the better.

Processed Soy

The oestrogenic effects of processed Soy and well documented, mice have shown to have significantly lower testosterone levels when eating soy products.

These results suggest that in adult males, genistein induces the typical estrogenic effects in doses comparable to those present in soy-based diets.

Sadly processed soy products are documented as a health food, which they certainly are not. Avoid things like Soy Milk, Tofu and pretty much any food with Soy in the ingredients (it seems to be sneaking it into health/protein bars very often now). This point is especially applicable to female readers who are more to likely to be using some sort of Soy products as they are more promoted and aimed toward the female market. Soy is fine used in its traditional context, so things like tempeh, edamame, miso and other natural soy products. These may even hold benefits……


I am not talking about drinking water but rather alcohol, especially binge drinking. We can get away with this to some extent when younger but with age alcohols detrimental effects when over consumed catch up with the human body. Drinking large amounts also has a detrimental affect on the immune system and can de-regulate our sleep cycles and ability to manage body composition (causing stored fat and muscle loss). Studies show that exercising before drinking alcoholic beverages has one of the biggest testosterone blunting effects:

“Physical stress immediately before alcohol administration prolonged the depressant effect of alcohol on testosterone secretion.”

Take into account these subjects drank quite a bit of alcohol. So do not worry about having a glass of wine or a beer with your post dinner run or gym session…… Also let’s not forget that some alcohol has been shown to have an anti-oestrogenic effect to some extent, this is thanks to the polyphenol resveratrol found mainly in red wine. So again this one comes down to a fine balance in that drinking moderatly probably will not effect testosterone and it is binge drinking that we should worry about…..

Over Exercising and Stress

Overexercising is a real deal breaker in terms of hormones. Running your body down in any sense is likely to have a detrimental effect on not only testosterone but your bodies immune function and mood. Essentially exercise is stress on the body, it is something we do to break ourselves down to get stronger and fitter. We need to rest after bouts of exercise especially “High Intensity” stuff which is everywhere now. As the old adage goes “Muscles are made in the kitchen, not the gym” so make sure you get plenty of rest between exercise sessions. If you are exhibiting any signs of overtraining:

  • Feeling “Blah” or down
  • Persistent muscle soreness, taking longer to recover
  • Irritability
  • Reduced heart rate upon waking
  • Constant infections, reduced immunity

Then it is probably a good idea to back off training of any kind for a week. Maybe limiting things to some Long Walks, Yard Work, Stretching and maybe Light Cycling. Once you start to feel better and vigour returns, your body is ready to go again. Remember to eat well during times of stress as calorie restriction (which often happens without noticing when stressed) acts as another stressor on your body.

Everything in Moderation including Moderation itself….

These 4 points should serves as an indication of things that have a detrimental effect on not only testosterone but probably our general endocrine system having a knock on effect on many hormones. Like everything do not get too caught up. Use this post as a guide as to what to avoid to maintain a healthy hormonal system. Unfortunately many of these things are hard to avoid in todays world especially plastics. So just keep things in mind and do the best you can…..

Post Written by Chris of Zen to Fitness. Please checkout my new e-book by clicking the image below:


  1. Grok says

    Great post! I ditched the soy and plastic some time ago and don’t drink. No doubt my test levels have gone up. I went from storing fat on my ass in my teens an 20s, to now storing it in my gut (like a man). I also started growing darker fuller facial hair and even chest hair. I’m the hairiest in my family now.

    I want to think it was about 6 months after I demonized soy that I noticed the changes. I’m a believer! I’ve since seen stuff on super high estrogen levels in formula fed baby boys. That crap is full of soy.

    @ Grok: Interesting what you say about fat gain switching from ass to gut. Explains a lot about fat I gained a while back while drinking soy protein shakes (way back before I knew better). Cutting plastics as much as possible is really essential, probably the key to keeping testosterone at a good level.

  2. Hans Hageman says

    These are things I need to start paying attention to. I’m better than the average 50-something guy but I suspect those stubborn 5-10lbs of fat have to do with managing hormone levels.

    @ Hans: It is not only the last 5-10lbs to fat that hormones are affecting but possibly several other factors. For most men it is a case of reducing consumption of food from plastic packaging plus stress management is a great tool. Another thing you may want to look into is some kind of sweat inducing activity like Hot Bikram Yoga or using a Sauna to slush out the toxins…. I have a gets post coming at my friend Megha’s site with some details on a good lymphatic drainage technique that could also help…

  3. Ayla says

    Such good advice!! A lot of people really dont realize what effect hormones have on everything including the effectiveness of workouts. I love this post!! And your blog in general-

  4. Robin says

    Hi, thanks for the great post! I read the abstract of that article…so it sounds like testosterone secretion was inhibited when alcohol was consumed directly after exercise. I haven’t read the actual article, but I’m wondering how long these effects last…until your body burns the alcohol? I’m also wondering how much alcohol that was? I weigh about 75kg…so I’m guessing it was close to 8-10 drinks, but I may have made a big mistake in the conversion somewhere along the line.

    I tend to have 1-2 drinks with dinner in the evening, and based on your analysis I feel like that is probably not too detrimental. Also, I usually workout in the morning, so my alcohol consumption is usually well after exercise. It is always great to hear of ways of ways we can increase natural testosterone…and not inhibit progress to our goals.

    @ Robin: You are pretty much right, for someone your height it would take 5+ drinks to have a significant effect on testosterone. So the warning really goes out to avoid heavy drinking soon after a gym session. Last night I had a pretty strenuous workout in the gym then went for dinner with friends in which I had just over a glass of wine and I believe the benefits of alcohol in moderation every now and then outweigh the disadvantages. Michael Pollan talks a lot about this in his books….

  5. Hugh says

    Now this is a headline that’ll get any guy’s attention. My wife and I gave up plastics about 6 months ago and made the switch to glass. There are just too many warnings about microwaving in plastics especially.

    I’ve certainly noticed a decrease in testosterone levels (judging on how I feel) due to drinking, over-training, and also due to mental stress. Our bodies are really amazing.

    Thanks for the good tips.

  6. Shara says

    I still don’t get why soy is so bad for you, I always thought it was important for women with low estrogen levels. Is it the same for women, I’m a vegetarian and use soy as a protein replacement, I’ve been having a problem loosing the 10 lbs I want to loose, I will do an experiment and cut it out and see what happens. Very interesting article. I don’t use plastic but probably too much soy, they put it in alot of things these days.

    very interesting article

    @ Shara: It is more about refined Soy being a problem and being estrogenic. When soy is used how it is meant to be:

    Soy is fine used in its traditional context, so things like tempeh, edamame, miso and other natural soy products may have health benefits.

    So jusy steer away from refined, processed soy and you will be fine. The reason the stuff is oestrogenic mainly comes down to the processing.

  7. Lynne says

    Hi, does melamine pose the same risks as plastic? We have children, so it’s a practical option for us to use melamine water cups…thx, Lynne

    @ Lynne: I have recently been researching Melamine and it seems to be some pretty hazardous stuff. If you can I would try to find an alternative to the water cups regularly. Saying this so long as you do not use them for hot drinks or leave them in the sun with liquid inside they will probably be fine in terms of Xenoestrogens leaking…..

  8. Daniel says

    Hi. Thanks for your post. I agree with your point that we should avoid plastic and soy if possible.

    Do you think we avoid all plastic in our food? I usually buy frozen steaks wrapped in plastic. I am not sure if there is any compounds that are leaked into my steaks from the plastic wrapping.

    Also, is vitamin D status important to keep our testerone level? I think i read somewhere it is also a vital component.

    @ Daniel: Plastic packaging is somewhat unavoidable these days and while I am sure it doesn’t help it is not the primary problem. The primary problem seems to be heating things in plastic (microwaving etc) or even leaving bottled water out in the hot which will cause the chemicals to leak into the water….

    Vitamin D is hugely important to hormone levels and Vitamin D deficiency can certainly affect hormone levels across the board, not only testosterone. So make sure you soak up the sun this summer ;-)

  9. Robin White says

    I would say that it’s not a good idea to”soak up the sun”. I feel that most people erroneously feel like the sun “rejuvenates” us. It has been shown that taking Vitamin D is good, but activation of the D from the sun only requires 15 minutes per day to hit your retina. There is no evidence that your skin needs to bake out there. In fact that much sun is definitely not good as previously believed. We end up with lots of wrinkles, skin cancers in light skinned people and it actually can be a stressor on the body, bringing out herpes sores, etc. So I need to disagree with you on that one.

    I think as long as the plastic is not under heat, it should not be a major contributor to bad estrogens. Supposedly Sheryl Crow believed she got breast cancer from the bottles of water that were constantly stored in her car. Who knows. I guess it’s better to be careful until further studies are done.

  10. raymond says

    Does the plastics concern extend to hot water pots. My wife and I boil water for her tea and my coffee press in a pot made of some sort of plastic.

    @ Raymond: Yes it would be a potential source of Xenoestrogens. Definitely consider switching to a glass pot if you can…..

  11. Stefan says

    It seems that processed soy foods (tofu, soy milk etc.) DO NOT decrease testosterone levels in humans.

    I found a meta-analysis that summarizes the results of 32 clinical studies that looked at this. The authors summarized their results as:

    “The objective of this meta-analysis was to evaluate in men the effects of soy protein or isoflavone intake on T and other indicators of bioavailable T[estosterone], such as SHBG, free T[estosterone], and FAI as reported in clinical trials. The results indicate that neither soy protein nor isoflavone intake significantly alters any of these measures.”

    Hamilton-Reeves et al. (in press). Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: Results of a meta-analysis. Fertility and Sterility.


  12. John says

    Non-stick surfaces are coated with teflon. Not sure if they use FEP or PTFE but it is a plastic… Cooking with it of course heats the plastics… do you feel this should be avoided as well?
    Also, I didn’t see any mention of soy sauce… processed from soy… would it also have a negative effect on testosterone?


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