You exercise like you always have, lift weights at the gym, but your muscles still aren’t as toned as they used to be. You’re having difficulty getting rid of that extra weight around your belly. What’s going on? Discover the link between low T (or low testosterone), weight gain, and the loss of strength and muscle mass.
Most of us understand the link between the male hormone testosterone and masculine characteristics such as body hair, muscle mass and a deep voice. Testosterone is, after all, known to make body builders big, and men aggressive and virile.
However, what some of us may not understand is the connection between low testosterone, weight gain and muscle loss. But declining testosterone levels do lead to just that, along with many other symptoms and conditions which can both reduce your quality of life and have dangerous health ramifications.
However, there is hope, although first let’s get you up to speed on the connection between your testosterone levels, body fat and muscle mass.
Testosterone and Men’s Health
Testosterone has many roles in the body, such as regeneration of red blood cells, regulating libido and maintaining bone mass. There is also a strong connection between testosterone and men’s health, since it helps maintain cardiovascular health and even mental health. In fact, low testosterone is not only associated with an increased risk of heart attack, cancer and diabetes, but also depression, lack of focus and mood instability, as well.
It should also be noted that while testosterone is known of as an androgen – or male hormone – which is produced in the male testes. Women also produce small amounts of it in their ovaries.
Even though testosterone plays important roles in the female body, the effects of low T and other testosterone-deficiency-related conditions are most prevalent in men.
What are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Testosterone levels typically peak in men during their late teens to early adulthood. Men’s ability to produce testosterone also begins to decline between 1-3% per year starting around age 40, which is normal and referred to as “andropause.”
Symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Low sex drive
- Decline in sexual ability
- Hair loss
- Increased body fat
- Diminished muscle mass, strength and tone
- Lack of initiative, assertiveness and drive
- Decline in sense of well-being and self-confidence
- Brain fog
- Sleep apnea
- Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts)
- Testicular atrophy (1)
However, some men experience an abnormal decline in testosterone due to factors other than aging, which can cause the same symptoms of low testosterone and andropause. This abnormal decline may be due to a variety of factors, such as:
- Too much iron
- Alcohol abuse
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Excessive estrogen production, such as from environmental disruptors such as xenoestrogens
- Acute illness, such as kidney disease
- Genetic conditions (2)
However, whether from normal aging or from abnormal conditions, low testosterone levels can have a negative effect on your weight and BMI (body mass index).
How does Testosterone Affect your Weight?
Your testosterone levels have a direct affect on your metabolism, which is why older men experiencing age-related testosterone decline typically carry a “spare tire” around their middle. This is because this important male hormone is responsible for an active metabolism, which is why bioidentical testosterone replacement therapy in older men usually results in leaner body mass.
Testosterone is also responsible for the increased muscle mass of men, so along with low T comes a decrease in the muscle mass.
This may have to do with the small amount of circulating testosterone in the body that is converted to estradiol, which is a form of estrogen necessary for a healthy metabolism. As men age and produce less testosterone, they also produce less estradiol. The combination of loss is likely the culprit in the accumulation of body fat along with a decline in muscle mass. (3)
Is all My Weight Gain due to Testosterone Decline?
While older men can usually point to decreasing testosterone levels as the main reason for weight gain and depletion of muscle mass, other factors—namely, diet, nutrition and exercise—can also play in.
For instance, if you rely on the Standard American Diet (SAD), it is likely that you will become overweight no matter what your testosterone levels are.
Likewise, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle which forgoes exercise, it is likely that you will experience more depletion of muscle mass than from low T alone.
Therefore, and no matter what your age, it is recommended that you avoid processed foods, trans fats and high-glycemic “white” foods such as sugar, white flour and hydrogenated fats in favor of multi-colored vegetables, lean meats and other natural whole foods. Additionally, adding exercise—especially resistance (weight) training—can not only help you maintain muscle mass, but help improve your testosterone levels, as well. (4)
The takeaway? Eating right, exercising and staying away from environmental disruptors such as synthetic fragrances, plastic water bottles and soy products will do your health, BMI and testosterone levels the most good.
What About T-boosting Supplements?
While there are some natural ways to boost your testosterone levels using supplements, not all options are completely safe. For instance, some commercially obtained testosterone boosters used by athletes have been shown to cause liver damage, even though all instructions were followed for a nominal boost in T levels. While this may not cover all supplements designed to increase androgens, it is nonetheless reason for concern. (5)
Many T boosters also have limited human studies to prove effectiveness, which means you are often relying on a manufacturer’s word that the product works and is safe. (6)
That said, common T boosters include DHEA, which is a precursor to testosterone that has been shown to successfully improve levels of free testosterone in middle-aged men, particularly when used in unison with high intensity exercise including weight training and HIIT (high intensity interval training). (7)
Here are other ways you can boost your testosterone levels naturally:
- Getting enough consistent, good quality sleep, since deep sleep helps your body regenerate your hormones.
- Eating right and losing weight, since it works both ways (i.e. low testosterone leads to weight gain and weight gain leads to low testosterone). For instance, excessive sugar consumption has been shown to lead to low testosterone levels, along with weight gain.
- Reducing stress, since stress has been shown to increase the body’s cortisol levels while decreasing testosterone.
- Using a vitamin D and zinc supplement for those low in these important nutrients. (8)
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
Bioidentical testosterone can safely and effectively improve testosterone levels. As the name indicates, bioidentical hormones are molecularly identical to the hormones produced by the human body.
Bioidentical hormones are also typically administered in low doses to gradually bring serum testosterone back to optimum levels. This goes along with blood testing and observance of clinical conditions to ensure that you are on the right dose for your body’s need, and is in sharp contrast to the steroid abuse often associated with professional athletes and weightlifters which DOES carry the risk of many dangerous health conditions and is absolutely NOT recommended, no matter what your t-levels are.
At Hotze Health and Wellness Center, we recommend bioidentical testosterone therapy for men to achieve optimal health and wellness. Keep in mind that blood tests are not the be-all and end-all of diagnosis. We consider clinical symptoms to be equally if not more important, both for identifying testosterone deficiency and for evaluating the effects of treatment using bioidentical hormones for men. After all, the goal is optimal health and wellness, not specific levels on a lab test.
Low testosterone is a condition men face as they get older and experience andropause. Other conditions such as poor diet, obesity and genetic conditions can also lower your testosterone levels and lead to excessive body fat, reduced muscle mass and increased risk for chronic disease.
However, by getting regular resistance exercise along with an eating program, such as the Hotze Optimal Eating Program, that avoids processed foods and is rich in organic fruits and vegetables, lean grass-fed meats, poultry and fresh fish, you can slow the onset of andropause. You can also add a vitamin D and zinc supplement along with DHEA, both of which can also help boost your T levels.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is the safest and most effective way to get your testosterone levels back to normal so you can feel great again and be the vibrant, lean, muscular man you deserve to be.
However, merely accepting low testosterone can leave you feeling depressed, overweight, fatigued and with low sex drive, along with other conditions and dangerous health risks.
For the sake of your weight, muscle mass and overall health, you deserve healthy testosterone levels!
We Can Help
We believe that you deserve to have a doctor and a team of professionals to coach you onto a path of health and wellness, naturally, without the use of pharmaceutical drugs, so you can enjoy a life-changing health transformation.
Take our symptom checker to find out if you are suffering from symptoms of low testosterone. We can help. Please call our Wellness Consultants for a complimentary consultation at 281-698-8698. It’s time to get your life back!