Does Whey Protein Cause Your Testosterone Levels to Plummet?

For two of the most discussed topics in sports nutrition (protein and testosterone), it’s amazing how little is known about the effects on the latter of consuming the former. Here’s what the latest research says about how your protein supplement may impact your levels of testosterone from Chris Lockwood, PhD, CSCS.

Protein decreasing your testosterone levels is an old fear that is grounded in good science. Newer research offers a different picture, and points to a fascinating possibility. Let’s break down both viewpoints.

Circulating levels of testosterone temporarily increase whenever you train with high intensity and volume. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, just that you push yourself. And yes, that increase in testosterone from weight training alone has sometimes been shown to be reduced or blunted if you consume protein prior to or immediately after your workout.

whey protein-chris lockwood

Further muddying the waters, other studies have also reported that high-protein diets lower resting levels of circulating testosterone, while others have shown that increasing protein can increase testosterone availability. Does protein increase or decrease your testosterone? A hypothesis raised within a 2008 paper raises the idea that it’s not an either/or proposition.

What if protein–or specific types of protein–cause both an increase in total testosterone, and a lowering of circulating levels of testosterone? Not because the protein is reducing your production of testosterone, but because more circulating testosterone is being removed from the bloodstream and entering cells where it can affect cell function?

whey protein shakeIn other words, what if certain proteins–or something in those proteins–can amplify the training-induced rise in the sensitivity of androgen receptors, those cellular ports that shuttle testosterone into cells and allow it to do its crucial work?

For one thing, it would mean that blood samples that only assess a snapshot of the amount of testosterone circulating outside of tissues (extracellular) would only be telling us a piece of the whole story. It would also mean that protein is seriously powerful stuff.

Pass the Test with Excellence

Unpublished research out of the Molecular and Applied Sciences Laboratory at Auburn University could turn everything we thought we knew about testosterone, as well as how testosterone itself is measured, on its head. Immediately after this “training”, the rats received either 500 milligrams of whey protein, which provided approximately 50 milligrams of leucine, or the rats were given just an additional 54 milligrams of leucine, or water only (the control group). When extrapolated to humans, that’s about 19 grams of whey protein and 2.8 grams of leucine– both pretty standard doses.

Here’s what the researchers found: Supplementing with whey resulted in a 90.5% increase in the intracellular concentration of testosterone present within the exercised muscle, over the non-exercised muscle. Leucine alone, on the other hand, caused an average, but non-significant reduction in intracellular testosterone. Whey raised intracellular levels of testosterone by 150 percent more than leucine alone within exercised muscle.

testosterone test tube blood sample

Such findings seem to support the trends observed by researchers in the 2008 paper, when they reported an increase in the production of androgen receptors within exercised muscles in response to whey, at one and 48 hours post-exercise. If whey increases the uptake of testosterone from the blood and into exercised muscles, then the increased concentrations of testosterone present intracellularly could stimulate the production of more androgen receptors. It could make the muscle more sensitive to the presence of androgens and probably require less protein and allow you to make more of every bit of free testosterone you have.

If this is true, then the question of whether whey is truly anabolic or pro-testosterone would be an unequivocal yes!
The fact that whey produced this response, but leucine alone did not, is also significant. While free amino acids like leucine have their benefits, this study points to the potential to produce new discoveries about the specific value of whey protein. Specifically, there may be bioactive peptides present within whey protein that make whey a superior choice for post-workout nutrition and muscle-building.

More research needs to be done, but for now, don’t skip that shake out of fear that your test levels will take a hit. The opposite may be happening!

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Walnut Pesto Stuffed Chicken

Makes: 2 servings

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes



2 large Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast, trimmed

1/3 cup Walnuts, chopped

4 oz Fresh Basil Leaves

2 Cloves Garlic

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Dried Rosemary Leaves

Sea Salt and Black Pepper



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.

Using a small food processor, blend together the walnuts, basil, oil and garlic until a chunky paste.

Carefully butterfly cut each chicken breast (make a slit through the meat and fold open like a book).  Cover with a saran wrap and beat with a heavy object until the chicken breast is somewhat flattened.

Put a tablespoon of pesto in each chicken breast, lining it along the ‘seam’ and then rolling over the top part like a flap.  Make sure the chicken seals over the pesto and there’s none poking out.

Season the chicken well, sprinkle over the rosemary and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Nutrition Facts:  I don’t have any information for you, but everything going into this recipe is natural and great tasting.  The chicken provides a high quality protein and the walnuts and olive oil are some healthy fats.  Put together with your favorite starch and veggies and you’ve got a complete meal.

Click below to download this recipe.

Walnut Pesto Stuffed Chicken

Texas Gold Rush Chicken

Makes: 5 servings

Prep Time: 7 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes



5 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, and trimmed


Gold Rush Sauce:

4 tbsp Stone Ground Mustard

2 tbsp Yellow Mustard

2 tbsp Honey, raw and organic preferred

1 tbsp Coconut Oil

1 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Paprika

Green Onions (optional garnish)



Preheat oven to 400-degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine sauce ingredients.

Rub half of the sauce mixture on the chicken breasts. Set a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.  Once the skillet is warm to the point where a sprits of water sizzles, spray with coconut oil just before placing chicken in the skillet.  Cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Pour the remaining sauce mixture over the cooked chicken breasts. If your skillet is all metal, place the chicken breasts in it and allow it to bake in the oven for 10 minutes. If your skillet cannot be placed in the oven, transfer the chicken breasts to baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and check to see if chicken is cooked thoroughly and to your liking. Let cool for a few minutes.  Garnish with green onion if you like and enjoy!


Nutrition Facts:

1 Chicken Breast, 220 Calories, 6 grams of Fat, 9 grams Carbohydrates, 32 grams Protein

Click below to download this recipe.

Texas Gold Rush Chicken

Protein Packed Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Makes: 1-2 servings

Prep Time: 3-5 minutes

Blend Time: about 30 seconds



1/2 cup Canned Pumpkin
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 tbsp Pecans, Walnuts, or Almonds
1/2 cup low-fat Cottage Cheese
1-2 scoops of your favorite Vanilla Protein Powder (I use Optimum Nutrition All Natural Casein Vanilla Protein Powder)
3/4 cup COLD water (a little more or less, depending on the thickness you prefer-but regardless of thickness preference, MAKE SURE THE WATER IS COLD!).


Blend, pour into a glass, and enjoy a (seemingly) sinful taste of dessert!

Click below to download this recipe.

Protein Packed Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Protein Banana Split

Makes: 1 serving

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: None



1 medium Banana

3/4 cup Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

1/2 scoop of Whey or Casein Protein (your choice of flavor)

3/4 cup mix of sliced Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, etc.

Sprinkle of Granola (Bear Naked Fit strongly suggested for low sugar)

Sprinkle of Dark Chocolate Chips (optional)



Split the banana into a bowl. Mix yogurt and protein powder, and spoon onto the banana. Add sliced fruit, granola, and dark chocolate chips.  Enjoy!


Nutrition Facts:

Approximately 380 Calories, 32 grams Protein, 50 grams Carbohydrates, and 7 grams Fat.

Click below to download this recipe.

Protein Banana Split