When attempting to slim their waistline and shed off those excess pounds, most dieters concentrate on counting calories, tracking macros, getting regular exercise, and reducing sugar intake. However, keeping tabs on body chemistry— hormone profiles in particular—is an essential but often neglected component of any serious weight loss plan.
Testosterone and body weight are intricately linked. Not only because high testosterone levels help you build muscle but because it also keeps your waistline in check. If you are serious about losing weight–maintaining normal, healthy testosterone levels should be at the forefront of your weight-loss strategy. Read on to learn why.
How does testosterone influence our weight?
Impact on fat storage
Testosterone influences how much fat you have and how you store it. In fact, testosterone is the main reason for the differences in fat deposit locations between men and women. Men, who generally have higher testosterone levels than women, tend to stash fat in the stomach and love handles. Women, who generally have lower testosterone and higher estrogen levels than men, tend to store fat in their thighs, butt, hips, and underarms.
Unfortunately, low T levels can make it challenging for men to work off stubborn belly fat. Adipose (fat) cell secretions promote hormonal imbalances, instigating a fat production feedback loop where fat becomes easier to put on and harder to shed.
The opposite is true in women—high testosterone levels are linked to increased weight gain and promote a more “masculine” fat distribution.
Impact on muscle building
Testosterone is one of the many components involved in developing muscle bulk and strength. Testosterone production increases during and after a workout—stimulating tissue growth (muscle growth and increasing bone density). It’s also responsible for increasing the activity of other key hormones involved in muscle growth. Human growth hormone (HGH) levels—vital in cellular repair, muscle growth, and recovery—increase alongside testosterone. Testosterone also tells the bone marrow to increase red blood production—improving muscle energy availability—so you can lift heavier for longer and recover faster.
Impact on our mental fortitude
Testosterone doesn’t only promote and maintain muscle bulk—it’s also essential for healthy emotional and psychological well-being. Many mental adverse health conditions and disorders are associated with low T, including:
- Low motivation;
- Anxiety and depression;
- Focus and concentration issues;
Maintaining normal, healthy T levels can make you feel lively and confident while motivating you to hit the gym and get the most out of your day and workout.
Why do testosterone levels go down?
Unfortunately, your testosterone levels will vary drastically throughout a person’s lifetime. A complex blend of physical, environmental, and social factors can influence your T levels, causing periods of highs and lows. In many cases, you can do something about it. For other factors, however, there’s not much you can do to reverse the inevitable decline. Here’s a rundown of some of the major causes of low T.
The natural course of aging
Testosterone in men is produced in the testes but starts in the brain. The pituitary gland in the brain controls testosterone production and release by telling the testes when to make more. However, starting around age 30, the pituitary gland and testicular function begin to wane, gradually decreasing your natural testosterone production as you age. Testosterone-boosting supplements, regular exercise, and a healthy diet may help combat this reduction by supporting your body’s ability to produce testosterone, but it only accomplishes so much.
A rise in Body Mass Index (BMI)
Evidence suggests that in men ages 40 and above—a one-point increase in BMI was associated with a 2% decrease in testosterone.
More fat, less testosterone
The more body fat you have, the less testosterone you produce. Your fat cells secrete aromatase, a hormone that converts testosterone into estrogen. This can create a hormonal disbalance that spurs increased fat storage and weight gain, making it more challenging to shed those excess pounds.
Excess body fat also inhibits sex hormone-binding globulin activity—an enzyme responsible for transporting and regulating testosterone activity. This decreases testosterone availability in the bloodstream, interfering with its functions.
A vicious cycle
The more body fat you have, the lower your testosterone production, and the easier it becomes to pack on the pounds:
- Sex hormone imbalance: Increased estrogen levels resist fat metabolism and promote fat storage;
- Inhibited cellular repair: Low T inhibits cellular repair, hindering muscle growth and recovery, decreasing your daily calorie burn;
- Increased mental distress and low motivation: Low T means increased fatigue and lowers your impetus to make positive changes in your life. Making it more challenging to stick to a regular diet and exercise routine.
What are the common side effects?
Life can be hard on all of us, so feeling tired is normal once in a while. However, if your exhaustion won’t dissipate regardless of how much you rest and interferes with your daily activities—low T could be to blame. Testosterone regulates your metabolism, impacting how your body converts food into usable energy. If your testosterone levels are too low, your body might not be getting the fuel it needs to sustain your busy schedule.
Changes in mood
Low testosterone levels are associated with mood swings and are linked to anxiety and depression. It’s unclear if testosterone directly influences mood. However, it’s at least likely that the symptoms of low T (weight gain, erectile dysfunction) can promote depressive mental states.
If you consistently put on weight despite sticking to your diet and exercise plan, your testosterone levels might be low. As testosterone is an essential player in metabolism regulation, insufficient levels may impact your fat-burning systems making it more difficult to lose weight.
When should I test my hormone levels?
Consider getting your hormone levels checked if you are experiencing any symptoms indicative of low testosterone levels:
There’s no guarantee that your symptoms are because of low T levels. Getting a check-up, discussing your concerns with your healthcare practitioner, and getting a hormone test should help determine the root cause and put you on the path to recovery.
Reliable ways to improve testosterone levels
Changing your diet
What you eat may affect your testosterone levels. Those who eat pro-inflammatory foods (refined sugars, saturated fats) tend to have lower testosterone than those who don’t. Additionally, diets high in d-aspartic acid, zinc, magnesium, boron, vitamin D, K, and B6 may help improve and maintain healthy testosterone profiles. Foods rich in these nutrients include eggs, shellfish, red meat, leafy greens, fatty fish, and olive oil.
Although a healthy diet and exercise can work wonders for your testosterone levels; it might not be enough for some. Testosterone supplements consist of organic compounds, natural herbs, minerals, and vitamins found in commonly used foods that promote high testosterone boosting and counteract testosterone deficiency symptoms, including:
- Improving the bioavailability of specific nutrients that help with testosterone production and release;
- Reducing the conversion rate of testosterone to other hormone variations like DHT, estrogen, etc.;
- Reducing the activity and production rate of estrogen since it counteracts testosterone benefits;
- Reducing the activity of testosterone inhibitor enzymes.
If you are interested in natural testosterone boosters, you can check out a list we made with the best ones available here.
Resistance exercises or weight lifting involves lifting heavy weights to build muscle strength, size, and endurance. There are many forms of resistance training, including free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, and body weight training.
As muscle mass is positively correlated with testosterone levels—resistance exercise means more muscles resulting in more testosterone. Resistance training also stimulates testosterone release during and after a workout, increasing your testosterone levels over the short term.
Increasing your muscle mass also increases your daily calorie burn—making it easier to lose excess body fat and improving your testosterone levels.
When to see a doctor
Consider making an appointment with a healthcare professional if you are experiencing any symptoms indicative of low testosterone levels.
There’s no reason to suffer alone and ruin your health and quality of life. Get your life back on track and seek a check-up to discuss your concerns with your healthcare professional. Together, you can uncover the root cause of your dysfunction and get you on the path to recovery.
Your hormone profile is directly linked to your body weight composition in many ways. In someone with normal, healthy testosterone levels, this relationship can help keep your body weight in check. However, those with low T levels may struggle with feedback loops promoting fat genesis and retention, making the prospect of losing weight seem impossible. The journey may be long and arduous. However, with persistence and the right combination of diet, exercise, and supplementation, you’ll attain your goals in no time.
Yes. Normal testosterone levels promote a “masculine” body fat distribution, collecting mostly around the front of the torso and love handles. Testosterone-deficient individuals may experience a “feminine” body fat distribution—accumulating primarily around the chest, hips, thighs, and arms.
It depends. Testosterone improves your ability to put on muscle, so if you are already lean, the extra muscle will add to your body weight. If you are overweight, however, the additional muscle you gain will increase your baseline caloric intake, making it easier to lose unwanted belly fat and decrease your overall body weight.
Being overweight or obese inhibits testosterone production, decreasing your total and free testosterone levels. This can create a destructive cycle where low testosterone levels hinder fat metabolism and muscle growth, making weight loss even more difficult
Yes. High testosterone levels help improve cell growth and repair systems, expediting recovery between workouts and promoting muscle growth and increased bone density. The more muscle you have, the higher your body’s baseline energy expenditure and your minimum daily calorie requirements—making it easier to lose weight.
It also helps improve fat metabolism by shifting your body’s focus to your fat deposits as an energy source.