A large and growing percentage of the world’s population is overweight or obese. Obesity is defined as being so overweight that ill health is the inevitable result.
Carrying too much body fat can have a significant impact on many aspects of your health, including an increased risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes, as well as joint and back pain. Being overweight can also shorten your lifespan.
However, weight gain won’t just affect your physical health; it can affect you mentally too. Forget the idea of the jolly fat man; being overweight can lead to depression, anxiety, loss of confidence, and isolation, not to mention a difficult relationship with food.
There are lots of causes for weight gain, including sedentarism, eating too much-processed food, certain medications, genetics, and socioeconomic status. However, hormones can also affect weight gain.
In women, increased estrogen, called estrogen dominance, is linked to weight gain. Some experts also believe that low levels of testosterone can also lead to weight gain. Testosterone levels tend to decline with age, and most men gain weight as they get older. This is probably not a coincidence.
This raises the question;
Can Boosting Testosterone Help You Lose Weight?
This article explores the relationship between testosterone and weight loss and reveals ways to increase your testosterone levels.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone, and hormones are chemical messengers that tell the cells, organs, and systems of your body how to behave. It’s to the endocrine system what nerve impulses are to the nervous system.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It’s produced in the testes in men and in much smaller amounts in the ovaries in women. Women have about 10% as much testosterone as men.
It is an androgenic hormone, which means it is responsible for the development of the secondary male characteristics, such as a more resonant voice, increased muscle and bone mass, and facial hair – all the things that make men manly.
Levels of testosterone peak during the late teens/the early 20s and then gradually decline after that. Initially, the decline is not really noticeable, but as middle age approaches, levels start to fall faster and can cause something called andropause or male menopause.
This decline is usually associated with a loss of muscle mass and strength, reduced bone mass, decreased sex drive, less energy, and drive, and increased fat mass.
Environmental and lifestyle factors can also contribute to lower testosterone levels. Not eating enough fat, lack of vitamin D, being sedentary, eating too much sugar, not getting enough sleep, and exposure to toxins, estrogen, and estrogen-like substances can all suppress testosterone production and speed up the natural decline.
Obesity Problems with Low Testosterone
As well as being an androgenic (masculinizing) hormone, testosterone is also an anabolic hormone. That means it plays a crucial role in building muscle, which is why athletes use it to enhance sports performance. Testosterone also appears to affect fat storage and burning.
Muscle is metabolically active tissue. That means it needs calories to sustain it. As your testosterone levels fall, you’ll lose muscle too. This reduces your metabolic rate, meaning that your body burns fewer calories. Assuming you continue to eat the same amount of food, fat gain is the inevitable result.
Testosterone also appears to have notable fat-burning action, so if your levels are low, you won’t burn fat as effectively.
Being overweight actually causes testosterone levels to fall, creating a vicious cycle of lower testosterone and weight gain. Studies suggest that, on average, overweight and obese men have 30% less testosterone than normal-weight men.
Does Testosterone Make You Lose Weight?
Men with chronically low testosterone are often prescribed testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). According to studies, TRT promotes weight loss in overweight and obsess men.
This may be because of increased muscle mass or the fat-burning effect of testosterone. Also, increased testosterone is linked to increased motivation for exercise.
Either way, it appears that restoring declining testosterone can help fight weight gain and obesity.
Types of Testosterone Supplements
The term testosterone supplement means different things to different people and can include illicit steroids, natural sports supplements, and doctor-prescribed TRT.
Steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone and other similar hormones. The reason they are illicit is that some people buy and then use steroids without medical supervision for non-medicinal purposes, such as sports performance or bodybuilding.
In many cases, users take much larger doses than were ever intended, which increases the risk of side effects like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and liver problems. Also, using illicit steroids is illegal in some countries and could result in prosecution and even imprisonment.
While some steroids are simply misappropriated medical drugs, others are made in underground labs, so purity and sterility are not guaranteed.
So, while taking steroids WILL increase your testosterone levels, their effect is relatively short-lived, and you’ll need to keep taking them pretty much forever. However, the long-term risks outweigh many of the benefits.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
TRT uses many of the same steroids mentioned above but in much more conservative amounts. The aim of TRT is to increase your T-levels to the high side of normal and not reach supramaximal levels. This means fewer unwanted side effects.
In studies, men given TRT appear to lose weight faster than those with lower T-levels on the same low-calorie diet and exercise program.
However, to qualify for TRT, you must have low testosterone levels in the first place. Doctors use injections, gels, patches, implants, and tablets to raise your testosterone levels. However, like steroids, your levels will soon fall if you stop TRT. There is a cost to TRT, and it’s not always covered by medical insurance.
Both illicit steroids and TRT use exogenous hormones to replace the hormones your body is no longer producing in abundant amounts.
In contrast, testosterone boosters are designed to increase testosterone levels naturally by increasing hormone production.
Most testosterone boosters are plant-based and contain things like fenugreek, ashwagandha, and D-aspartic acid, which stimulate natural testosterone production.
Some studies have shown that natural testosterone boosters work, while others are less conclusive. Even when they do work, they are not as effective as TRT and are only really beneficial for men with moderately low T-levels.
However, because they raise your testosterone levels naturally, booster supplements should not cause many unwanted side effects and are mostly safe to use. However, some products are definitely better than others, so it pays to shop around and buy your supplements from a trusted source.
How To Increase Your Testosterone Levels Naturally
While illicit steroids, TRT, and testosterone boosters can all help raise your T-levels, there are a few other ways you can increase your testosterone:
Get More Sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation can cause a drop in T-levels. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night can help reverse this problem.
Prolonged stress is linked to elevated cortisol levels and decreased testosterone, as well as weight and fat gain. Reduce your stress levels to allow your T-levels to increase naturally.
Strength training can naturally increase testosterone production. Big compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and power cleans appear to be the best exercises for raising T-levels.
Eat More Fat
Low-fat diets may cause testosterone levels to fall into decline. Eat more healthy fats, such as olive oil, fish oils, egg yolks, and butter, to naturally increase testosterone.
Get Some Sun
Low levels of vitamin D can cause low testosterone. While you can take a dietary supplement, just 20-30 minutes of exposure to the sun per day will ensure that you get enough of this valuable vitamin.
Low levels of testosterone can contribute to weight gain. However, the most likely causes are eating too much and not exercising enough. That said, if you are watching what you eat and staying active but are still gaining or only losing weight slowly, low testosterone could be a factor.
Other low testosterone symptoms include poor sex drive, weakness, lethargy, muscle loss, difficulty sleeping, and a fluctuating mood. If you experience these symptoms or otherwise believe your T-levels are low, you should speak to your doctor, who may then prescribe TRT.
However, you can also help yourself by hitting the gym and lifting weights, eating healthily, avoiding unnecessary stress, getting plenty of sleep, and using a plant-based testosterone booster.
It’s also important to understand that declining testosterone levels are a normal part of the aging process, and it may be something you just need to learn to accept.
That said, there is no need to go down without a fight, and there are plenty of things you can do to keep any drop in T-levels to a minimum, either with or without help from your doctor.