By Dr. Doug Kalman, Nutrition Editor
When you are into bodybuilding, when you are into working out and seek to make muscle gains, most know having normal testosterone levels or even elevated testosterone levels aids in the muscle response to the stress of exercise. Part of the hormonal response in the body to resistance training is to respond with increased testosterone levels. The increase in testosterone typically is related to the effort and intensity of the exercise session itself. As it seems, the young and the old do not always respond the same to a weight lifting workout. What typically differs in the younger lifter is that they experience a more robust Growth Hormone and Testosterone effect as compared to an older person.
All of this adds to concerns when wanting to get the most out of the workouts as one can. In other words, when wanting to build muscle, maintaining as normal or even high normal testosterone levels helps the program. Nutritionally, we know that certain vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals can have either a transient (brief) effect on hormones, while other elements may have a more prolonged effect. A recent review article covered the science behind such “pro-testosterone” nutritionals such as Tribulus terrestris, D-aspartic acid, DHEA, Maca, Catuaba, and others. I refer the reader to this academic paper if of greater interest (see reference link number two).
The purpose of this blog update is to actually share nutritional compounds, agents, spices that may just lower your testosterone or impair your sex life and ultimately leave you deflated and not able to enjoy all that you can from your workouts.
As we are humans and need calories in order to grow, foods will often include spices and the like to enhance flavors and or to help the food be more palatable for eating. Many bodybuilders, power-lifters and others engaged in sport often eat chicken, turkey, fish, red meat, eggs and related foods (protein powders aside) as main sources of protein. As we all know, protein is needed in the diet for muscle recovery and certainly for muscle gains. But, what happens if the spices you put on your chicken or other foods actually can impair or lower Testosterone? Did you just waist your time in the gym and Cross-fit for no good reason?
Have you ever heard of the spice Cumin? If you haven’t, perhaps your culinary mate has. In any event, a recent study looked at cumin and how it may affect hormones as well as the process of making sperm (important for males who want to be ready to have kids some day). Well, the study found that cumin, a spice typically used with chicken, turkey and other meats can have the ability to act as a male-contraceptive. Yup, you read that right, ingest more than a ½ teaspoon cumin and you can lower not only your testosterone levels, but also the ability of the cells in the male body that make testosterone to work (negatively impacts both Sertoli and Leydig cells). Cumin at a human dose of ~1/2 teaspoon is all it takes to stop testosterone production right at the cellular level! In addition, to Cumin, did you know that certain versions of the awesome fruit papaya may also lower testosterone levels? Concentrated doses of papaya have been proven effective as male contraceptive agents. One way it works besides making sperm immobile is by lowering testosterone production.
For the bodybuilders here at Digital Muscle, the take-away from this blog is that if building muscle is your goal and you also care about what you put into your body, understanding basic culinary nutrition becomes of importance. Yes, cumin as a spice in high amounts and ingested quite often is not congruent for those seeking muscle gains, and it also seems true too that the seed of the papaya can also neuter a male.
Not fun, not macho. There are other spices and herbs that can negatively impact our testosterone levels and quite possibly also affect estrogen levels. If interested in learning more about this aspect of functional nutrition, stay tuned to this blog. More to come! — Any questions? My contact info is listed above.
Related Story: Cardio for Muscle Contraction? – By Ben Pakulski
Dr. Kalman has been involved in over 100 clinical trials within the pharmaceutical, medical and nutrition fields, having published over 50 abstracts & more than 25 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Dr. Kalman earned a Doctorate in exercise and nutritional biochemistry and is an active member or spokesperson with many organizations (ISSN, NSCA, APS, ACSM, etc.) and a co-founder of The International Society of Sports Nutrition.