Low T is a leading cause of weight gain in men and affects as many as 1-in-4 men over age 30.
Even though we may pass off our growing belly fat as just a part of getting older and becoming less active, this is only partially true. Yes, we do tend to do less physically as we age, and we often enjoy a few too many calories as we become more sedate in our later years. However, low t also plays a role in our reduced activity and weight gain.
This is because testosterone is responsible for maintaining a healthy metabolism and energy levels, as well as a few other key functions. When our t levels become lower with age or other conditions, it causes our metabolism to slow, our muscle tone to fade, and our body fat to increase.
Weight Gain and Low Testosterone
While other symptoms of low t may include depression, lack of sex drive, and low energy, increased body fat is one of the most notable reasons some men consider using a test booster (AKA testosterone booster) or testosterone supplementation. This is because testosterone plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy metabolism, which in turn is essential in maintaining a healthy body mass.
Since testosterone levels decrease at a rate of between 0.4-2% per year after the age of 30 and our population is aging more rapidly than ever, the problem is becoming ever more prevalent.(1) And, while only around 5.6% of the total male population may show signs of low t, the percentage goes up significantly for men over age 30. In fact, a study performed by research scientist Andre B. Araujo, PhD, on randomly selected men age 30-79 shows nearly 1-in-4 displaying low levels of total testosterone.(2)
Multiple studies also show us that men with depleted t levels have higher body fat content than do men with higher t levels. Perhaps even worse is the fact that there is an enzyme in fat called “aromatase” which converts testosterone into estrogen, leading to something of a vicious cycle. Since an increase in blood estrogen triggers the body to produce less testosterone, this leads to even more body fat and estrogen.(3)
Along with this vicious cycle is the fact that a common symptom of low testosterone is low motivation, especially when it comes to exercising. Since exercise, particularly intense anaerobic exercise, helps your body produce testosterone, you are not only reducing muscle tone with a lack of exercise, but another symptom of low t is muscle mass depletion.
And guess what your body replaces your t-deprived muscle with? You guessed it—fat!
There are, however, measures you can take to avoid this vicious cycle—it just takes some knowledge and discipline.
The Dangers of Synthetic Testosterone Replacement Therapy
While synthetic testosterone replacement therapy is usually where most conventional medicine low t treatments begin and end, such a practice may have some dangerous consequences. Synthetic indicates that a variation of a hormone is created that does not chemically match the hormone as naturally made by the body. An example of a synthetic hormone is methyltestosterone because it is a substance that has been modified in chemical structure from how it would occur naturally and has an added methyl group to its structure. Methyltestosterone is a synthetic anabolic steroid that is abused by many bodybuilders and it is not without dangerous side effects. Besides the well known side effects of big, bulky muscles and aggressive behavior, it can also increase risk of death from premature heart disease or cancer, especially prostate cancer. It can also lead to an increased blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke. Drugs such as methyltestosterone can also cause prostatic hypertrophy, prostate cancer and liver damage and cancer. (4)
Bioidentical Testosterone Treatment
Bioidentical hormones are natural substances that are chemically identical to your own natural hormones and are the safer, effective option. (6) Using bioidentical testosterone treatments for your testosterone deficiency under careful clinical care is the optimal solution. Optimizing testosterone levels with bioidentical testosterone is beneficial for the prostate and heart health.
Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone
There are things you can do to help naturally increase your testosterone levels. For instance, endocrine disruptors such as phytoestrogens, phthalates, and BPAs are all around us, and by limiting your contact with or use of them, your body can better produce a healthy supply of hormones on its own. By avoiding such things as cash register receipts, synthetic fragrances, and foods containing soy, you can reduce the effects of these dangerous hormone disruptors. (7)
And, there are other natural ways to help you improve your t numbers, such as:
- Lowering your stress—Stress causes your cortisol levels to rise, and cortisol is a hormone which can be dubbed the antithesis of testosterone. While there is an enzyme known of as 11ßHSD-1 (for short) which protects new testosterone that your body is producing, extended stress can overwhelm this enzyme. This then leads to the destruction of testosterone cells which are in the process of forming. (8)
By utilizing stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, diversion, exercise, or deep breathing, you can better reduce your cortisol levels while improving your testosterone levels, which in turn will help you ward off weight gain.
- Reducing your body fat—This may sound like a Catch-22, and perhaps it is. However, as previously stated, increased body fat leads to decreased t levels, and vice versa. This is further compounded by the reduced energy levels synonymous with low t, which limits your motivation to perform activities which elevate your body’s calorie consumption.
However, in addition to increasing t levels, reducing body fat also leads to increased energy and motivation to do so, so it does work both ways.
Try limiting or (ideally) eliminating added sugar in your diet, along with highly processed foods–particularly ones containing simple carbohydrates, sugars, and trans fats. Not only will this help you lose weight and break the cycle of weight gain and t loss, it will also help you avoid insulin responses which can lead to diabetes and other dangerous health conditions.
- Exercising—Want to reduce your stress, lose some weight, and improve your t numbers all at the same time? Simple—start an exercise program, and stick to it!
In fact, as little as 20-minutes of exercise per day can improve your metabolism and fat-burning capacity. Better yet, use high intensity interval training (HIIT), weight training, or other forms of intense exercise to help improve your t numbers while building muscle, burning fat, reducing your stress, and improving your sleep. (9)
- Following an anti-inflammatory diet—By reducing or eliminating such inflammation-causing foods as sugary snacks, fried foods, and red meat from your diet, you can be on your way to becoming slimmer, healthier, and with higher t levels.
Try adding whole foods which contain balanced 3-6-9-fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, and complex carbohydrates to your diet such as fresh fish, legumes, fruits, and avocados to help reduce your inflammation. (10) This will help you add t-friendly nutrition to your diet, including the kind of good fats testosterone is made from.
Yes, it may be true that low t is the reason you are gaining weight, although it does not have to be this way.
By exercising, eating right, reducing or eliminating t-destroying factions in your life, and supplementing with bioidentical testosterone, you can better enjoy a slim physique, clearer thinking, more energy, and better muscle tone. Find out if you have symptoms of low testosterone by taking our symptom checker.
For a slimmer, happier, and healthier you, giving your t a boost just might be the best thing you ever did!