Does Protein Increase Testosterone? Get Your Levels Right

You hear it all the time –– to build muscle, you need protein. But lately, you might be hearing something else too: Can too much protein impact your testosterone? Does protein increase testosterone, or could it actually be hurting your levels? It’s a valid question, especially for guys who are focused on fitness and keeping their testosterone levels healthy.

Let’s cut to the chase –– the answer to “does protein increase testosterone” isn’t a simple yes or no. It’s a bit more complex. It turns out, there’s a sweet spot when it comes to protein and testosterone.

Table of Contents:

The Protein-Testosterone Connection

See, testosterone plays a critical role in building muscle, just like protein does. So, it’s easy to see why people connect the two. Testosterone is that hormone that helps pack on muscle, strengthen your bones, and boost your energy –– all the good stuff that makes you feel powerful.

What the Science Says About if Protein Increases Testosterone

Here’s where it gets interesting. While it seems logical that more protein would equal more testosterone (especially since they’re both involved in muscle growth), some studies have shown otherwise.

It caused a bit of a stir by claiming that loading your plate with tons of meat, following those super low-carb, high-protein diets, could decrease testosterone.

This claim was based on a deep dive into tons of other research, which scientists call a meta-analysis. In a nutshell, it meant a whole team got together to scrutinize a mountain of studies.

The “High Protein” Factor in Testosterone Levels

Before you swear off protein shakes forever, there’s a catch –– the “high protein” in this research was REALLY high. I’m talking a whopping 3.4 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight every day, the equivalent to roughly 1.5 grams per pound. To give you a better idea, imagine downing 1.5 to 2 pounds of chicken every. Single. Day.

That’s a LOT, even for someone who basically lives at the gym.

Another study analyzed tons of research and concluded that eating around 2.5 g/kg/day of protein seemed to be the turning point where the connection between high protein and lower testosterone popped up.

Think of it this way –– there’s a point where your body can only use so much protein.

The Impact of Cortisol (the Stress Hormone)

You’ll also learn how low-carb diets play a role, especially those super restrictive ones. Now, it’s no secret that crash diets stress your body out –– and researchers have discovered that it doesn’t take long (we’re talking about 3 weeks) for those low-carb diets to mess with your cortisol. Cortisol, if you didn’t know, is the ultimate buzzkill hormone.

And get this –– higher levels of this stress hormone are usually associated with, yep, you guessed it, lower levels of testosterone. It seems that constantly spiking cortisol by denying your body those much-needed carbs isn’t doing your testosterone levels any favors.

So, Does Protein Increase Testosterone or Not?

Now, here’s where the answer gets more interesting. Most men don’t need to go on a chicken-only diet (thank goodness). I mean who could afford it? Anyway, most dudes consume around 17% of their calories from protein, which is totally normal.

But…what if you’re hitting the gym hard? Those looking to really build muscle will often need more protein to help those muscles repair and grow. Does that apply to you?

For people pushing their workouts to the max, the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that a protein intake of 1.6 g/kg to 2.4 g/kg for people looking to build or even maintain muscle. So, that’s something like 1.2–1.8g of protein for every pound you weigh, which comes out to between 210g and 384g of protein for a 200lb person. Now THAT is a whole lotta protein shakes (just kidding –– please get most of your protein from whole-food sources).

The Importance of Balanced Nutrition for Testosterone

We know you’re looking for a concrete answer. But honestly, it’s complicated, and every man is different. Here’s a simple takeaway, though. A healthy diet plays a crucial role in testosterone production. I can tell you from personal experience, that obsessing over protein while neglecting other nutrients backfires. Aim for a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet and lifestyle that supports your overall well-being (and your hormones). Your future self will thank you.

More Than Just Protein: Other Factors That Impact Testosterone Levels

The truth is a lot of things impact testosterone. Sleep is massive. Remember how we were talking about stress? Well, when you aren’t sleeping, cortisol spikes (no surprise there), and we already know what happens to testosterone when that occurs.

Here’s a list of just some things to keep an eye on. If you feel your levels are off, maybe talk to your doctor.

  • Inadequate sleep.
  • Extremely low-calorie diets (which, let’s face it, aren’t sustainable for most people anyway).
  • Excessive alcohol consumption –– think several drinks daily.

FAQs About Does Protein Increase Testosterone

Can more protein increase testosterone?

It’s not quite as simple as yes or no, and I always hate saying that, but it’s true. Generally, your body needs enough protein for your hormones (including testosterone) to do their thing. You’ll find recommendations all over the place, but for active people like you, sticking to around 1.6 g/kg to 2.4g/kg of protein each day seems pretty solid for either building up those muscles or keeping them where they are at. But…pumping your body full of excessive protein might not give you the boost in testosterone you’d think. As always, it’s crucial you do your research.

What food increases testosterone?

Ah, the age-old question. You’re looking for foods to give those T levels an extra kick. What you eat definitely plays a crucial role. If you want your body to produce those important hormones (yes, including testosterone), it needs the right nutrients, right? It’s really tempting to try to chase miracle foods that will skyrocket your testosterone, but that isn’t always how it works (unfortunately).

Instead, focus on giving your body the nutrients it needs to function properly. Things like:

  • Foods packed with Zinc, like oysters, meat (especially red meat), nuts, and legumes, are good.
  • Vitamin-D-rich foods like fish and egg yolks are awesome.
  • Don’t forget foods rich in Magnesium like spinach, almonds, avocado, and black beans.

Does protein powder cause high testosterone?

That’s like saying eating an apple a day will make you a doctor. Here’s the thing: while a protein shake now and again is fine, think of it more as a supplement to help reach your protein goals. What really matters is an all-round, healthy eating plan.

Does mass protein increase testosterone?

Nope. But this question actually gives us the chance to talk about why some protein powders say “mass” gainer. Most “mass gainers,” contain extra carbs and even fats. They help guys who find it tough to eat a lot (that’s how some guys pack on serious size.) get extra calories in a simple shake.


The connection between does protein increase testosterone is way more complex than you might think, with research even contradicting itself (talk about confusing, right?). I get why guys constantly look for easy ways to optimize their testosterone. It impacts literally every aspect of your manhood. But always remember –– what matters most is the bigger picture. Listen to your body. Talk to the experts, and keep striving to live a balanced and fulfilling life.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with your testosterone levels and want medical intervention, reach out to us today at Total T Clinic, and we can get you started on your new, more energy-fueled life.