Yes, the title of this post is what you might consider inflammatory language. A thousand pardons (not really), but lately I’ve noticed that my personality has changed a little bit. I thought for a while that it was that I might be stressed a little and on a hair trigger. Stress does funny things to a human being. But I didn’t exhibit the normal signs that usually accompany my being stressed. However something was different. I cut gluten entirely out of my diet in November. I started eating (largely) paleo in December, though I’ve had my slip ups. A few misses here and there. But I’ve tried very hard to stick to the plan.
One of the main things I have noticed is that my attitude has changed quite a bit, my moods became more balanced, I’ve become more motivated and more task oriented. I’ve been finishing things quicker and in a more organized fashion. I am putting on muscle quite easily for a forty year old man. I sleep better, and I wake up at 5-6 most mornings with plenty of energy to make it through the day.
The biggest jump was when I cut the gluten from my diet. Days later I felt like a different person. I woke up easier, I stayed awake and alert all day, I didn’t have my afternoon crash (usually after lunch) and my mental acuity was markedly different. I quit being so forgetful and was quicker off the mark with ideas and solutions at work. Whereas I used to lounge about quite happy to take advantage of what I considered free time, I now find myself sometimes pacing about like a caged animal, wanting to do ‘something’. The change has been quite remarkable actually.
Also, I’ve found myself being very aggressive with everything. That’s wonderful in some areas, in some it is not. (See Exhibit A & Exhibit B ). But in the balance I can say it’s made a difference mostly for the good.
FIRST! Let’s get the science out of the way. This is the point where myth and facts get blurred and popular ‘wisdom’ would lead you to believe that the above jokes were actual representations of how an increase in testosterone would, generally, make themselves recognizable in the human male.
However, my previous cutting up aside, there is little scientific proof that testosterone levels are a causative ingredient in violence or violent aggression in men. Aggression perhaps, but there are different kinds of aggression too.
“[Historically,] researchers expected an increase in testosterone levels to inevitably lead to more aggression, and this didn’t reliably occur,” says Frank McAndrew, a professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. Indeed, the latest research about testosterone and aggression indicates that there’s only a weak connection between the two. And when aggression is more narrowly defined as simple physical violence, the connection all but disappears. (1)
In fact healthy levels of testosterone in males has been proven to:
1) Lower the incidence of heart disease and even reverse existing heart disease.
2) Aid in the healthy metabolism of cholesterol in our bodies.
3) Increase libido and sexual function. In men & women.
4) Decrease depression.
There is also evidence that the diet increases thyroid function.
So, how does this relate to the Paleo diet? (Please keep in mind that I am not saying this is the only diet that will allow you to benefit from this information)
Glad you asked, studies have shown that individuals eating moderate amounts of dietary fat displayed HIGHER testosterone levels than individuals eating low fat diets. Further, this study noted this effect occurred for monounsaturated (i.e. olive oil) and saturated fats (i.e. meats/dairy), but NOT for polyunsaturated (vegetable oils) fats. Imagine that, I get more……..ummm………manly from using olive oil.
At first I was skeptical. The idea that by eating more fat, I could burn more fat seemed counter intuitive. I, like many had neglected to consider that there are different kinds of fat. And I, like the vast majority of humans are not very welled versed in nutrition and how exactly our bodies work, except in the most general of ways. There are ‘good’ fat and ‘bad’ fat. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say. I dropped 18 pounds pretty quickly then gained some back, but the gains were muscle mass, not the fat I had rid myself of. I’ve gone down almost four pants sizes since the beginning of December. Some will say that is due to my working out alone, but that isn’t true. I was a pretty active guy already. I’ve never had weight issues. I, like many older men, just saw an occasional pound or two sneak in below by belt line. The only real change I made was my diet. Not so good for the clothing budget but a welcome reversal of the expanding waist. That is a budgetary addition I am willing to shoulder.
So, my testosterone production is up, and my energy levels have gone up exponentially. AND I am getting smarter. What possibly could go wrong?
Is it testosterone? I really don’t know as of yet. I’m making an educated guess based on experience and the results I’ve seen. Perhaps later on I will test it, just to see what effects it is really having. I’ve read enough to be satisfied, for the most part, that I am correct. I’m more eager to get up. I’m more eager to meet things head on and get things done. I am, as I said, definitely more aggressive (in a positive way) and I am building muscle mass in my 40s easier than I did in my twenties, and in a quicker fashion. Some of it I am inclined to attribute to a different attitude, but some of it has to be in direct relation to the change in my dietary habits as well.
There is more science out there, and you’re welcome to go research it yourself, even research the naysayers. I know what I feel and what I see. And that’s science enough for me.
Feel free to debate me on the issue. Just be mindful of the first photo in this article if you do.