Desperate weight-loss tactics, such as skipping meals, extreme low-calorie diets or taking strenuous exercise with little fuel in your body, are perhaps the most useless ways of trying to get back into shape.
That’s because if you repeatedly gain and lose weight you will end up with a slower metabolism, which makes it easier for your body to gain weight and harder to lose it in the future.
I see many victims of crash dieting in my wellness clinic – and in a minute I’m going to reveal a great Italian secret to losing weight that’s worked wonders with my patients.
Few doctors, though, have any idea about the special danger these crash diets pose to men and their masculinity.
Many of these instant-weight-loss systems – usually based on 1,200 calories a day or less – can slash men’s testosterone levels by more than 30%.
Testosterone is the hormone that gives men their masculinity, and it literally turns boys into men.
When boys reach puberty, six million years of human evolution thunders through the young males’ bloodstreams, driving them to mate, hunt, kill and dominate. In the modern world, men channel that primal energy into work, sports, dating and marriage.
Testosterone is what makes you strong, smart, quick and aggressive. It’s what makes you a potent and virile lover. It’s what gives you the drive to succeed – to win at sports, profit at business and romance the ladies.
So when your body fails to make enough of it, you feel… well, less than a man.
In a 2008 study, 18 world-class wrestlers, ages 17 to 31, agreed to participate in an intense weight-loss program that lasted about three weeks.
When it was over, the wrestlers lost on average 2.3% of their body weight. But, at the same time, their testosterone plummeted by an average of 33%! 1
In addition, the wrestlers lost an average of 47% of an important pituitary hormone that helps produce testosterone.
Testosterone helped our ancestors pump up their muscles while they hunted or gathered.
Before the rise of agriculture, our primal ancestors survived on a diet loaded with unadulterated wild meat and saturated fat.
Today, we know that saturated animal fats should make up 40% of a man’s diet – so he can maintain healthy testosterone levels.2
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors also ate wild plants that provided testosterone-boosting vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and zinc.
But today, your grocery store stocks fruit and vegetables that were harvested from soil that has been stripped of nutrients.
Men have paid a terrible price for the rise of civilization. Too many of us have essentially been castrated thanks to our paltry modern diets as well as Big Agra and Big Pharma’s practice of dumping natural and man-made estrogens into our food, water and air.
In fact, men today have about 20% less testosterone than men the same age did just two decades ago. 3
So crash diets are the last thing men should be doing – and these include the juice diet, the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet, the chicken soup diet or any other fad diet that works in just days or weeks.
Besides low-T, nutritional depravation can cause dehydration, lethargy, irritability, food cravings, as well as osteoporosis and damage to vital organs. The emotional toll can include depression and eating disorders.
And if used repeatedly, crash diets can even lead to strokes and heart attacks.
However you decide to lose weight, it should be done gradually – about one to two pounds a week.
And to promote optimum testosterone levels, you should stop when your body fat makes up 10% to 15% of your total weight.4
One of my favorite “healthy hacks” for shedding excess pounds is cannellini beans, or white kidney beans.
These beans store carbohydrate starches in a special fiber that resists digestion. That means the starches do not break down into fat – because the fiber contains proteins that block the enzyme amylase from digesting the starches.
So they pass through the body with the fiber, without spiking insulin or blood sugar.
Studies show that people who regularly consume white kidney beans stop overeating, stop putting on fat, lose existing fat, and preserve lean muscle mass.5
You can buy cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, from health food stores and most supermarkets.
I like to add them to a hearty soup before meals. They will fill you up so you can consume your main courses without overeating.
I recommend a modified version of minestrone, where you replace the pasta with meat and vegetables.
For more starch-blocking power, buy an extract of the white kidney bean, which will contain a higher concentration of the amylase blockers.
For the best effect, take 500 mg. of the extract at least 20 minutes before any two meals each day. Or you can buy a time-release capsule.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Karila, T.A., et al. “Rapid weight loss decreases serum testosterone.” Int J Sports Med. 2008 Nov;29(11):872-7. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1038604. Epub 2008 May 30.
2.Haemaelaeinen, E., et al. “Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men.” J Steroid Biochem. 1984 Jan;20(1):459-64.
3.Kalvaitis, K., (2007). Generational decline in testosterone levels observed. Available: healio.com/Endocrinology/Hormone-Therapy/news/print/endocrine-today/%7BAC23497D-F1ED-4278-BBD2-92BB1E552E3A%7D/Generational-decline-in-testosterone-levels-observed. Last accessed April 23, 2015.
4. Blouin, K., Bolvin, A., and Tchernof, A.(2007) “Androgens and bodyfat distribution.” The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2007, 108 (3-5), p.272-280.
5.Celleno L, Tolaini M, D’Amore A, Perricone N, Preuss H. “A Dietary supplement containing standardized Phaseolus vulgaris extract influences body composition of overweight men and women.” Int J Med Sci. 2007; 24;4(1):45-52.