Nearly 75% American men are overweight (BMI 25-29.9) and 33% obese (BMI >30). Being overweight can lower sperm quality.

Here is how:

Being Overweight is a Big Deal

  1. Normal body temperature is too high for sperm production – that is why the testicles are located outside the body. Extra fat in the groin and thighs raises the temperature around the testicles above the level needed for optimal sperm production.
  2. Extra fat converts testosterone into estrogen which leads to lower testosterone production in the testicle.
  3. Obesity and associated changes in insulin and blood sugar metabolism increase inflammation which damage sperm.

But here is the most important fact: obesity and other metabolic diseases can be transmitted to children through sperm in a phenomenon called epigenetics.

So, how can you help your sperm if you are overweight or obese?

The key is to lose weight gradually over 3 to 6 months by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and adding a safe but consistent exercise regimen.

You can lose weight and improve sperm quality by eating a diet that includes foods with high anti-oxidant content, good fats and high fiber. Try to eat lots of brightly-colored fruits (cherries, berries), vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage), whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread), plant-based proteins (beans, nuts, avocados, olive oil), fatty fish high in Omega-3 (salmon, tuna, sardines), and fresh herbs and spices.

Foods high in saturated and trans fat, fried in vegetable oil, processed or those that can cause a spike blood sugar all increase inflammation. Some common foods to avoid include french fries, high-fat meats and processed meat like hot dogs, sugary snacks like candy and pastries, soda and energy drinks, whole-fat dairy products, coffee creamers and margarine.

You should also take a male fertility vitamin supplement rich in anti-oxidants to decrease inflammation and improve sperm production and sperm quality.

Being Overweight is a Big DealModerate exercise at least three times a week provides tremendous benefits for fertility. It decreases inflammation, helps weight loss, lowers insulin and improves blood sugar levels, increases testosterone levels and sexual function and helps you sleep. One study demonstrated that a 12 week program of high intensity interval training actually improved the epigenetic profile of sperm.

For men who have limited time, adopting a supervised program of High Intensity Interval Training in as little as 4 minutes a day can give the same fat-burning effect achieved by routinely exercising 5 times as long.

There’s no question weight loss is hard to achieve and more difficult to maintain. However, even a 5% weight loss can improve sperm quality and potential lead to a healthier child.