Why Your Oatmeal is Killing Your Libido
Have you noticed that there are a large number of advertisements in the media about checking your testosterone or “Low T” Syndrome? It seems like this is the new advertising trend on the radio and late night TV.
Suddenly, everyone’s testosterone is low and men are complaining about their libido, . . . or are they?
If you practice medicine long enough, you’ll see a trend that seems to have arisen as our waistlines have expanded. About half of the men in my office with insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or diabetes have low testosterone levels. But this shouldn’t be a surprise. Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are all driven by an over production in insulin in response to a carbohydrate load in the meal. Patients with these conditions produce between two to ten times the normal insulin in response to a starchy meal. A number of studies both in animal and human models demonstrate that insulin has a direct correlation on testosterone suppression in the blood. This has been demonstrated in both men and women. In fact, glucose intake has been shown to suppress testosterone and LH in healthy men by suppressing the gonadal hormone axis and more predominant testosterone suppression is seen in patient with insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.
In fact, to put it simply, insulin increases the conversion (aromitization) of testosterone to estrogen in men (it does the opposite in women). Interestingly, Leptin resistance has a similar effect. I tend to see the worst lowering of testosterone in men with both insulin and leptin resistance.
How to you improve your testosterone? Supplemental testosterone has been shown to help, but it comes with some risks, including prostate enlargement and stimulating growth of prostate cancer. The most natural way to improve your testosterone is to change your diet.
A low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet turns down the insulin production and allows the testosterone to be available for use by the body. A ketogenic diet has the effect of reducing leptin resistance as well through weight loss. A simple dietary change of this type is frequently seen in my office to increase testosterone by 100-150 points.
What is a ketogenic diet? It is a diet that restricts carbohydrates to less than 50 grams per day, thereby causing the body to use ketones as the primary fuel source. So, for breakfast tomorrow morning, hold the oatmeal (1/2 cup of Quaker Instant Oatmeal is 31 grams of carbohydrates) and have the bacon and eggs. And, rather than have the cheesecake for desert this evening, have an extra slice of steak butter on your rib-eye and hold the potato.