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Soy, Balls and Testosterone

In case you lose your attention in the next 30 seconds, here’s the take-home message: Men who value their balls shouldn’t eat too much soy. I understand?

The other day, while killing some time at my gym, I found myself looking at the ingredients of a well-known brand of protein powder that the juice bar uses for all of its shakes and smoothies. To my surprise, soy protein was listed as one of the ingredients. I asked the company that made this protein how much soy was in each serving, but they told me the details of their ‘proprietary formula’ could not be disclosed. Now, soy protein is extremely cheap (much cheaper than whey, for example, which is pretty cheap itself), so the ‘Our formula is a secret’ stance = We’re making tons of money with this product and we don’t want you or our competitors to know how much.

However, aside from having a lower amino acid profile compared to almost any other protein I can think of (maybe other than pea protein!), the main problem for men who eat soy is that several studies like this have been shown to lower testosterone levels (This article from a weightlifting site contains a more detailed article on the effects and lists several supporting studies.) If you value your abilities as a man (whether on the sports field, in the boardroom, or in the bedroom), you’ll want to take note of this. I’m not saying that a little miso soup with your sushi or a helping of soy protein in your smoothie will give you Mr Muscle’s hormone levels, but what I’m saying is that if you consider the estrogenic world you live in and how has been shown to affect your hormone levels (consider the estrogens in the tap water you drink, thanks ladies!, the alcohol you also drink, and the foods you eat), men may want to avoid other easily avoidable things that further reduce plus testosterone.

And for the girls who, for obvious reasons, may not be concerned with this item, instead of wasting your money on a soy protein that has a poor amino acid profile, buy a proper whey or casein protein. Ultimately, you’re getting a lot more for your money.

What are the symptoms of low testosterone?

Without going into excruciating detail, all men understand that as they age, manhood-wise, they won’t be the “man” they were when they were older. And despite what progressive parts of the medical community may say, this is not just normal, it’s a good thing. The other side of the coin of less testosterone and aggression is greater tolerance and empathy for the world and those around you. It’s one of the reasons why many men only seem to recover (either in terms of business or relationship success) until they reach middle age.

Having said this, abnormally low testosterone levels outside of old age are a bad thing that can and should be treated. Symptoms include

  • loss of libido (really? Who would have thought!),
  • reduced energy and increased fatigue,
  • loss of athletic performance
  • difficulty staying awake, especially at night
  • loss of enjoyment of life and perhaps depression
  • increased interest in buying a red sports car (not yet scientifically proven)

What can you do about it?

Assuming you do not have abnormally low testosterone levels (in which case your healthcare professional will advise you on the appropriate form of hormone replacement therapy) for those with normal or low levels, or for those men who just want to maximize what they have, Aside from minimizing soy in your diet, I suggest the following:

  • Do not buy bottled water in plastic bottles, choose glass. Plastics can release estrogenic compounds into the water over time.
  • For the same reasons, NEVER microwave food in plastic containers.
  • If you drink, drink spirits or wine, not beer.
  • Be sure to eat enough healthy fats in your diet; it should be a combination of saturated fat from things like avocados, steak, eggs, and butter, and essential fatty acids from things like fish or fish oil supplements. If you eat like a bird, you will look like a bird. (You can take that however you want to interpret it!)
  • Do heavy compound weight training at least once a week. (A few decent sets of a compound lift (squats, bench presses, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc.) stimulate the endocrine system to trigger the release of hormones, even temporarily, much more than dozens of sets of biceps curls, without matter how much you burn you get.
  • Cut back on the amount of cardio you do, unless you’re an athlete training for an event, you really don’t need as much for overall health and body composition. (Extreme amounts of cardio training can greatly lower testosterone levels; in a study of US Ranger soldiers, the extreme exercise and low food intake of their regimen resulted in most soldiers having the hormonal profile of castrated men).
  • After all this, consider supplementing with herbs like tribulus terris, which can increase testosterone levels.

Your reward for going all the way

And finally, gentlemen, since summer is finally here, the next time your partner catches you looking where you shouldn’t be, blame it on the sun and your hormones, as sunlight also increases testosterone levels.


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