Sugar May Lead to Low Testosterone in Men

Excessive sugar intake and a diet high in processed foods (carbohydrates) are major contributors to low testosterone levels in men.

Sugar May Lead to Low Testosterone (Low-T)

In a recent study, researchers found that young men drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and juices, which are high in carbohydrates and sugar, had a high association with low T.

All data used in the study came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The researchers concluded that the primary outcome of low testosterone levels in men between the ages of 20-39 was the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. This is alarming considering the other negative health-related associations of low testosterone levels in young men. Low-T in men also impacts their quality of life.

We often observe similar results in our patients at our treatment centers in Costa Rica and Tijuana Mexico. After treating thousands of patients for many years, our experience is consistent with the researcher’s findings. High sugar and high carbohydrate consumption can induce insulin resistance potentially leading to low testosterone in younger men. In other cases, it may also result in erectile dysfunction. These factors are more prevalent than in prior generations and they are contributing to the high cost of long-term medical care for men and society.

Low-T is more common than ever before in the male population under 40 years of age. Other studies also suggest that testosterone levels have been declining in men more rapidly in recent generations. One study shows roughly a 25% decline in testosterone levels when comparing men from the 1990s to the 2000s.

There is also an association between low testosterone and obesity. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. High consumption of sugary processed foods can lead to metabolic dysfunction, insulin resistance, obesity, and low testosterone levels in men. It seems too simple, but it is highly correlated in much of the research.

Is High-Sugar / High-Carb Feminizing Young Men?

Probably yes. It is well known that high-sugar and high-carbohydrate diets eventually lead to obesity and metabolic problems. Obesity may be caused by hyperinsulinism and insulin resistance. This eventually leads to increased visceral fat. The combination of obesity and insulin resistance can create endocrine abnormalities that disrupt optimal hormone signaling levels. It’s been documented in several research studies that testosterone levels are lower in obese men than in the general population.

Low Testosterone and Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)

It has been observed that testosterone levels are lower in obese men because of decreased levels of sex hormone-binding globulin. This is a marker that should always be tested in men considering hormone replacement therapy. Total testosterone, free testosterone, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) are keys in any lab report prior to hormone replacement and optimization therapy.

Laaksonen et al. Postulates Low-T and SHBG Levels Predict Metabolic Syndrome in Men


Diabetes is also on the rise in recent times. In men, low T is associated with the elements of metabolic syndrome. Laaksonen et al. investigated the association between low testosterone, sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and the development of metabolic syndrome.

Mayo Clinic states that Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

The research performed by Laaksonen et al

  • 702 middle-aged Finnish men participated in the study allowing their total testosterone and sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) to be measured.
  • After eleven years of follow-up, 147 men developed metabolic syndrome.
    57 men developed diabetes.

Conclusions: Low testosterone and out-of-range sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) independently predict the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes in middle-aged men. Low-T is an early biomarker for predicting an increased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Diabetes and insulin resistance are highly associated with heart disease, cancers, and stroke.

What is the Solution?

Our recommendation is to get yourself tested if you are a male over the age of 25, experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Diminished sex drive and/or enthusiasm toward sexual relations.
  • Are obese or have a body mass index over 25, CDC Ref. 
  • Have a history of heart disease or diabetes in your family?
  • Are experiencing some form of erectile dysfunction.

If you fall into any of the categories mentioned, you should contact us to discuss what we can do. Depending on your situation, we will probably want to get you a comprehensive biochemical analysis, which requires a blood draw at our clinic or a Quest Diagnostics center in the US. Once we receive the results, one of our physicians can recommend the next steps.

What if You Have Low-T?

If you have low testosterone levels and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), along with any metabolic issues, we will likely recommend the following protocol, assuming no contraindications are present.

Whole-food / Low-Carbohydrate Diet (WFLC) – Avoid processed foods, refined sugars, and excess carbohydrates. For some with Low-T and insulin resistance, carbohydrates may sometimes need to be reduced below 50 grams of carbs daily in order to control and reverse metabolic factors influencing testosterone levels and insulin resistance. In extreme cases, some may need to restrict carb intake to 20 grams or less until insulin resistance and blood sugars are managed.

Our physicians may recommend a testosterone replacement and optimization program. This will bring your levels up to more optimal levels.

If you are experiencing any form of ED, we may also recommend Pulse Wave Therapy, P-Shot, or simple medications like Viagra and Cialis, or their generic equivalents. In some cases, we also treat it with TriMix or BiMix. These treatments can offer an immediate improvement to the quality of life for those men experiencing erectile dysfunction.

Diet, How to Manage Your Sugar / Carbohydrate Intake?

Follow these tips to manage your sugar and carbohydrate intake if you have low testosterone levels:

  • Eat a whole-food diet.
  • Avoid all processed foods.
  • Eat low-glycemic foods.
  • Avoid fruits in large quantities as fruits can spike blood sugars and insulin levels. 
  • Eat infrequently throughout the day in order to avoid blood sugar rises that spike insulin levels. 

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels After Meals

Low-T Related to Blood Sugars.Monitor your blood sugars even if you are not a diabetic. Purchase an inexpensive glucose monitor and test post-prandial glucose levels 1.5 hours following meals. Keep levels below 160mg/dl. For those on a diet, we recommend keeping levels below 120 mg/dl, one and one-half hours after eating.

By testing and logging post-prandial glucose levels, you learn what foods to avoid in future meals. This will aid in controlling weight and weight loss if you are dieting. 

Reference research:

  1. Sugar-sweetened beverage intake and serum testosterone levels in adult males 20–39 years old in the United States Chen et al. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology (2018) 16:61 <Click here>.
  2. CDC Body Mass Index Levels <Click here>.
  3. Testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin predict metabolic syndrome and diabetes in middle-aged men. Laaksonen DE, Niskanen L, Punnonen K, Nyyssönen K, Tuomainen TP, Valkonen VP, Salonen R, Salonen JT. Diabetes Care. 2004 May;27(5):1036-41. <Click here>.