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Testosterone and Weight Loss


ben bunting BA(Hons) PgCert Sport & Exercise Nutriton  Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. L2 Strength & Conditioning Coach.

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When it comes to looking after our bodies, we tend to focus on maintaining a healthy diet and taking the time to exercise regularly, all in an attempt to keep our bodies healthy and to maintain a healthy weight. 

However, something that many of us are unaware of is that maintaing a healthy level of testosterone in men can lead to weight loss. [1]

Yet, using a form of testosterone treatment can do more than just help a man to lose weight. It can also help reverse the effects of hypogonadism, which can be greatly beneficial to men who are experiencing a low production level of testosterone.

So, what is testosterone, and how does it help us lose weight?

In this article we shall cover the following areas:

  • What's testosterone?
  • Testosterone and weight
  • Mental health
  • Can we lose weight with testosterone?
  • Youth and vitality
  • Benefits of treatment
  • Does losing weight boost testosterone?
  • Benefits of weight loss
  • When to get checked and what to expect
  • Conclusion

What is testosterone?

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Testosterone is a hormone that is primarily produced in the testicles. While testosterone is an androgen, making it a male hormone, it is also found in women. Women’s ovaries produce small amounts of testosterone and, along with estrogen, will help repair a woman’s reproductive tissue. [2]

For men, the main benefits of testosterone are to maintain their sperm production, muscle strength and mass, and their sex drive. [3]

Testosterone levels tend to reach their highest levels during puberty, and these levels decrease as you grow older, but this should happen gradually and over a long period, you can read more about that, here.

A low testosterone level can be diagnosed through a blood test, but there are a few signs to look out for, such as decreased sexual desire and increased body fat. Other, less considered symptoms can include decreased energy, feeling sad or low, reduced physical performance and a reduced performance during work. [4]

While low testosterone levels can create problems for you and your health, you also do not want to find that you have a level of testosterone that is artificially too high either.

This is not something that many people have to worry about, as high levels of testosterone are usually only found in athletes or sportspeople who abuse anabolic steroids. 

Anabolic steroids give athletes an unfair advantage as they copy the effect of testosterone on the body, which enhances the athlete's performance. [5] However, too high a testosterone level can lead to a low sperm count, which is a particular problem for those wanting to begin a family. [6]

It can also result in insomnia, headaches, and a study published in 2006 reports a link to high blood pressure. [7]

Anabolic steroids also come with their own issues, as they can lead to liver disease. [8]

For this reason, it is important to make sure that you have an optimal level of testosterone in your body which is reported to be over 12 nmol/L. [9]

How does testosterone affect a person’s weight?

man on a treadmill

One of the first signs that a person will notice that may indicate a low testosterone level is an increase in weight and difficulty trying to lose this weight afterward. Research shows that obese men frequently suffer from low T levels. [10]

Low levels of testosterone also make it difficult for some men to build and maintain muscle mass, and the less muscle mass you have, the fewer calories you are able to burn. This is because those with higher muscle mass have an increased resting metabolic rate. [11]

Some men may then begin to notice that their workouts do not result in the same level of burned calories as they did before, even if they exercise for just as long as they used to.

When your muscle mass declines, your metabolism does as well, and this is what makes it so difficult to get rid of any unwanted weight after it has been gained despite a person’s best attempts.

However, a little bit of additional weight should not do a person any harm. But it is important to keep an eye on your weight if you experience low testosterone in order to keep your weight under control and within the healthy weight range. 

But it is important to not become too fixated on any weight gain due to low levels of testosterone as your overall health is more important than the number on the bathroom scales.

While low levels of testosterone can lead to weight gain, obesity itself can have a negative impact on testosterone levels which is also connected with metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease risk. [12]

This makes it extremely important to always try and maintain a healthy lifestyle, as maintaining a healthy weight will help maintain normal testosterone levels.

How do our bodies gain weight?

In the case of those with low levels of testosterone, it is more difficult for them to burn calories due to the decline in muscle mass that is a direct result of low-levels of testosterone.

However, usually our body weight is determined by the amount of calories we burn. The calories that we burn are used by our body as energy, to help us go about our daily lives.

The energy that our bodies do not use is stored as fat. This is a fairly widesweeping statement, but on the whole, is evident from studies. [13]

However, not all fat is unhealthy, rather, our bodies need fat to survive. The healthy range of body fat for a man is somewhere between 11 and 20%, but for women it is higher and is somewhere between 16 and 30%. Athletes would generally have lower body fat composition. [14]

Fat regulates our body temperature, balances our hormone levels and protects our bodies from trauma. However, it is when we have too much body fat that health issues begin to arise, and in the case of men, our testosterone levels begin to fall.

In order to lose weight, there is no quick solution or magical diet that will help us along the way. To lose weight you have to begin and maintain a healthy diet and begin a calorie deficit. This is when you burn more calories than you intake, which means that you will also have to exercise more regularly to help you burn calories.

A sustainable approach to a calorie deficit to lose weight is by reducing your daily intake by 500kcals. This should help you lose about 05.-1kg of weight per week. [15]

How do low levels of testosterone affect your mental health?

testosterone and mental health

It is not just your weight that a lack of testosterone can negatively impact. It can also lead to depression and difficulty in concentrating. [16] It is important if you begin to notice these issues that you seek help as soon as possible, as you do not want to suffer in silence.

If you consult your doctor, they will be able to help you and will perhaps offer you testosterone therapy in order to help improve your testosterone levels. Clearly, low testosterone levels can have disastrous consequences both for your body and your mind, making it crucial that you keep an eye on your health.

Depression itself can lead to weight issues. People that experience depression may experience weight gain or loss due to their mental illness. [17]

Depression and anxiety are linked to poor dietary choices and a less active lifestyle, which can explain any weight gain caused by depression. Some people with depression find that they have less desire to eat, explaining weight loss as a possible side effect of depression.

Can increasing testosterone help men lose weight?

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is a form of hormonal therapy that helps restore normal levels of testosterone in men with low levels of the male hormone.

However, it is unknown if testosterone therapy can help men with normal levels of testosterone, but it does have great benefits for those with low testosterone.

The number of men who opt to undergo testosterone therapy has dropped recently because of an increased awareness of its disadvantages, including skin reactions, overstimulation of red blood cell production, and enlarging breasts. You can read more about the risks of TRT, here.

The long-term complications from testosterone therapy are unknown, which means that you must be sure that it is the right decision for you. However, by increasing testosterone levels in the body, testosterone therapy can help many men regain control over their weight and help restore their sex drive. 

However, if you decide that you do not want to undergo testosterone therapy, other options are available to you. You could try regular exercise, weightlifting, in particular, is very good for stimulating testosterone, and exercise will help decrease your overall weight, which will help your testosterone levels rise again. [18]

This method may take longer to see results, as your low levels of testosterone already make it more difficult for you to lose weight. You can also try eating more foods that promote testosterone production, such as tuna, beef, and beans. It would help if you also tried to include more Vitamin D and Zinc in your diet and plenty of sleep. Otherwise, a natural supplement such as Military Muscle which includes a wealth of clincially proven ingredients is another option.

Can testosterone therapy improve youth and vitality?

trt youth and vitality

While testosterone therapy can help reverse a reduction or absence of testosterone production, it is unclear if testosterone therapy can otherwise benefit older healthy men. 

There’s little evidence to support testosterone therapy benefits already healthy men. Yet, some men believe taking testosterone medication has made them feel younger and more vigorous.

The American College of Physicians states testosterone therapy might improve sexual function in some men; however, there’s no verifiable evidence stating testosterone therapy can improve other qualities like energy and vitality. [19]

However, exercise and a healthy diet can also help men with low levels of testosterone feel more youthful. Men with low levels of testosterone should try working out in order to lose weight, as this will raise their testosterone levels and help them lose any excess weight they have gained. [20]

Weight lifting is a great exercise for raising your testosterone levels. However, you will need to start slowly with weight lifting, as it can be particularly dangerous if you do not know what you are doing.

As well as this, you will need to keep the weight lifting up for around six months to see any noticeable differences. Weight lifting is also good for maintaining weight loss, so it will help you stabilise your testosterone levels and prevent them from falling back down. [21]

What are the benefits of treating low testosterone levels?

As well as helping you maintain a healthy weight, raising your testosterone levels may also help men who suffer from erectile dysfunction, although this isn't always clearcut. [22]

Low testosterone levels can contribute to erectile dysfunction and one study even found that men who lost at least 15% of their body weight saw their erectile dysfunction improve. [23]

It is clear then that weight gain can have a large impact on all aspects of a person’s life, and this makes it crucial that men who experience low testosterone levels try everything they can to raise those levels.

How exactly does losing weight boost testosterone?

testosterone weight loss

After explaining how testosterone can be naturally increased in the body by losing weight, you may be wondering how exactly this works.

We kow that there is a positive relationship between obesity, low testosterone and a other negative health factors such as erectile dysfunction, depression and type 2 diaebetes, notwithstanding many other implications.  

But why is this the case? Well, in overweight men, there is more of the enzyme aromatase. This particular type of enzyme is in charge of building estrogen out of testosterone molecules. This results in lower levels of testosterone. [24]

This increase of abdominal fat is associated with an increased level of the aromatase enzyme which is responsible for converting testosterone to estradiol. [25]

Obesity also affects our brain signals. Our hypothalamus and pituitary glands receive calls from the body that we need more testosterone in a perfectly functioning brain.

The brain then sends chemical messages to the testes, which are in charge of producing testosterone. However, if a male is obese, more estrogen is formed in the body, meaning testosterone levels are lowered.

The low testosterone levels are because estrogen sends messages to the brain that your body does not need to produce any more testosterone, meaning less is made. [26] 

This deficiency does not stop there, though, because lower testosterone causes a dip in motivation to exercise or go to the gym, resulting in more weight gain and harmfully low testosterone levels.

What are the benefits of weight loss?

Not only will weight loss help restore normal levels of testosterone, but it can also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. You may also begin to feel more energetic after losing weight. You may also experience some unexpected benefits from losing weight such as improved sleep and a higher sex drive.

The British Nutrition Foundation also notes that sustainable and healthy weight loss can help reduce joint pain, fertility issues and high blood pressure. [27]

However, it is important to know when to stop. Losing weight can be great if you are losing excess weight, but you should not try to lose so much weight that you become underweight. This can have just as disastrous consequences for your health as obesity. 

When to get checked and what to expect

Testosterine peak in your late teens but between the years of 30-40 this is when your body starts to produce less. As we know, by the time you are in your senior years, the decline is much more apparent and your levels are much lower. 

As with most material things, it is the person's responsibility to remember the need for a check-up or notice when things aren't physically right. If low testosterone levels are detected, though, groups should be closely monitored once therapy starts.

This is because the doctor needs to evaluate if the treatment is making significant changes to the testosterone levels or whether it is doing more harm than good. If the latter is the case, immediate dispersion from therapy is required, and more options will be discussed. Realistically, TRT is a last ditch resort. 

The types of questions that will be asked at a testosterone check-up will be varied and equally valuable. It is paramount that you answer with sincerity, as your health could be at risk. In the session, the doctor will ask whether you have any relationship with steroids or have done in the past.

This is because overuse of steroids can cause weight gain and, subsequently, dangerously low testosterone levels. [28] The doctor will also ask about your development rate at puberty to see whether your low levels have anything to do with delayed puberty.

Additional questions include your BMI and waist size, which, as discussed above, significantly alter your testosterone levels. Finally, the doctor will need to look at the size of the testicles and the prostate gland. T

The measurement of such areas will assess whether or not the body is capable of higher levels of production and detect the cause of low levels of testosterone.

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In conclusion

Before considering testosterone therapy, consult with your doctor about the potential risks and benefits. A licensed doctor should measure your testosterone levels more than once before coming into a decision and other natural procedures such as changing diet, activity levels or introducing proven extracts such as fenugreek or ashwagandha should be considered.

Testosterone therapy is best suited for men suffering from serious health conditions like hypogonadism, not normal aging individuals. Men commonly resort to testosterone therapy in order to treat erectile dysfunction; however, erectile dysfunction does not serve as a sufficient excuse. Many symptoms towards testosterone therapy can often be credited to normal aging.

The short term benefits of testosterone therapy have reported to help with weight loss and improve sex drive. The long term benefits of testosterone therapy are still unclear. There exist critics behind testosterone therapy, ergo one must be fully aware and conscious over their decision to opt for testosterone therapy. [29]

Attempting testosterone therapy as an average healthy male can come with health risks, especially cardiovascular health. Those still interested in improving their testosterone can shoould still opt for natural remedies; such as taking micronutrients that many people are deficient in, or physical exercise, like resistance training

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References

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