Vegan or Meat: Which Increases Your Sexual Performance?
The debate has been around ever since people have had enough food available to choose what we eat: what is the healthiest diet? The vegan vs. omnivore conversation seems to be the loudest, the most passionate, and the most long-standing discussion in the media and around the web.
Is a vegan diet an erection game changer?
The new pro-vegan Netflix documentary Gamechangers makes the claim that a vegan diet gives men larger and longer lasting erections. This is based on an experiment where the researcher kept three men overnight, controlled their meals, and measured the strength and stamina of their erections throughout the course of the night.
He found that after the men ate a plant-based burrito, they had stronger, longer-lasting erections than they did when they ate meat-based burrito for dinner. With that, men and women around the world are putting down their burgers and leaning in a little closer to pay attention.
The study involves three people and two burritos, so if you’re basing your sex life on this study alone, your evidence is … well … flimsy. But, keep in mind that every large, scientifically validated research study starts with a combination of a small-scale observation and an educated hunch.
More science is needed to be sure, but there’s nothing stopping you from experimenting on yourself. It won’t hurt to give up meat for a while and see if you and your squeeze notice a difference between the sheets.
Let’s see what the science says.
Testosterone, SBGH, and sex drive.
There’s a lot that goes into your sex drive and bedroom performance, but two chemicals are top players in the equation: testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).
Men and women both need the right levels of testosterone for not just sexual health, but a lot of biological processes that have nothing to do with reproduction. Sex hormone binding globulin is a protein that latches onto your sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, and makes them inactive. Under normal conditions, SHBG keeps your hormone levels in check, preventing things like hormone dependent cancers. Too much SHBG leaves you with too little hormone to function properly.
Conditions like liver disease, thyroid disorders, obesity, diabetes, and others may elevate SHBG levels, which lowers testosterone.
There are other things that you have a little more control over that elevate SHBG. Inflammation, oxidative stress, and extended periods of psychological stress can elevate SHBG as well.
Incorporating some form of stress-management, whether it’s exercise, meditation or yoga, will likely go a long way.
Additionally, you may notice a difference if you avoid inflammation where you can. Diet is a good place to start. One example is with dairy foods—over 60% of people cannot digest dairy and will end up with low levels of inflammation after consuming it.
The science on vegan diets and testosterone levels.
Here are just a few studies on vegan diets and testosterone:
- In case study, a man adopted a vegan diet and went overboard with soy and experienced erectile dysfunction. Everything went back to normal after he stopped eating so much soy. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S089990071000359X
- One small study showed an increase in testosterone after a 21-day weight loss program involving low-calorie mostly vegan meals and supplements. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1556370713000047
- A rat study showed no changes in testosterone between groups fed plant-based and animal-based diets. https://gavinpublishers.com/articles/research-article/Food-Nutrition-Journal-ISSN-2575-7091/the-influence-of-plant-and-animal-based-diets-on-circulating-testosterone-and-body-composition-of-young-male-rats
- A study of 233 vegans, 226 omnivores and 237 vegetarians showed that vegans had higher testosterone levels than the two other groups, but the vegans also had higher levels of SHBG than the other two groups. https://www.nature.com/articles/6691152
It’s a good start, but more research is needed in this area. Until then, find a few vegan friends who don’t mind personal questions, and ask what his or her experience has been. Did they notice changes in the bedroom, and were they changes for the better?
Diet and sexual performance.
There’s still a lot of room for exploration on the effects of different diets on hormone profiles. Until the scientific community gets there, you’re free to experiment and see what works for you.
Reducing your sugar intake is always a good idea, and learning a few simple cooking techniques will reduce your reliance on convenience foods and packaged snacks that result in inflammation and weight problems.
Also, to keep your SHBG from snapping up all of your hormones, keep your stress low, and work relaxation time into your day no matter how much stress you think you have (even a morning commute may be causing a stress response, whether you’re aware of it or not).
If you’re going to use your diet to ramp up your sex life, keep these things in mind:
- If you’re going to eat meat, don’t eat too much of it
- If you’re going to go vegan, avoid filling your plate with highly processed replacement foods that are high in sodium and soy
- You can’t go wrong by eating plenty of organic vegetables that you cook yourself, whether you’re sticking with the veggies or adding small amounts of animal products
- If you change your diet and you lose your mojo, try something else, and keep making tweaks until you get your groove back.
- Different life stages require different nutrients, so what worked well when you were 20 likely won’t work for you in your 50s
- Ask your doctor to order a hormone panel at least yearly to make sure your levels stay where they should