Many bodybuilders seem to have gotten this idea in their heads lately that carbs are bad. Gone are the days when being a bodybuilder meant eating everything going â now most lifters seem more concerned with avoiding ‘simple carbs’ and trying to eat like their ancestors.
That’s all good and well but before you go cutting out all that bread, bear in mind that it could be having a devastating effect on your testosterone. Which is pretty much the most important thing that a bodybuilder needs in their body. Many lists of ‘how to boost testosterone’ claim you should cut carbs out your diet but actually the science really doesn’t back this up.
Why People Think Carbs Are Bad for You
There is one way in which a low-carb diet will boost the testosterone levels of your average Joe and that’s by increasing their intake of protein. Eat less bread and you’ll be forced to eat more ham to compensate. Makes sense right?
But it’s not actually cutting the carbs itself that’s increasing the testosterone and actually if you were to eat more protein and more carbs then you would probably see some impressive muscle gain. Another point to bear in mind is that low carb diets help you to lose fat, which is good for testosterone increases. Again though, it’s not the carbs themselves that are the problem here â cut carbs out your diet and you are eating less, thus losing weight. But there are other ways to lose weight (like exercising more and cutting back on sugary treats) that will be much better at maintaining and increasing testosterone levels.
In one study (1) researchers split subjects into two groups and put one on a high carb, low protein diet and the other on a high protein, low carb diet. Guess what happened? Ten days in the high carb group actually had more testosterone than the high protein group â goes against what you were expecting right?
In another study (2) researchers looked at men who exercised regularly and found that cortisol increased a lot when the men were low on carbs. Cortisol is one of the big contributors to low testosterone and also encourages weight gain. Another study found that gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) increases on a higher carb diet compared with low carb (3). When there’s low glucose in the body, it appears that you produce less GnRH and this in turn leads to slower testosterone synthesis.
All in all then, it appears that glucose in the blood as caused by the consumption of carbs works hard to tell the body to produce more testosterone. Go low on carbs and you’ll have more cortisol and the exact opposite effects.
It’s also key to remember that carbs are the main source of energy for our body. And we need energy to get through our workouts and even for our bodies to perform numerous crucial functions while we sleep. If you cut back on your carbs then you’ll feel lethargic and certainly like less of a virile and powerful man.
Do remember though that not all carbs are created equal. Spaghetti, sugar and hamburgers all increase blood sugar too rapidly which causes a lot of the problems that carbs have been demonized for. Eat organic, whole-grain carbs and you’ll enjoy a steady release of energy to encourage testosterone production and power you through your workouts.