Can testosterone help with fat loss?
4 minute read
Can Testosterone Help with Fat Loss?
Testosterone is a vital hormone that plays many roles in the human body. In males, it is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics and the process of sperm formation- spermatogenesis. Apart from its function in sexual development, testosterone also regulates metabolism in males and females. This means that testosterone can help with fat loss.
A chronic deficiency of testosterone can suppress muscle growth and lead to weight gain. Recent studies have shown that maintaining natural testosterone levels can help sustain weight loss, waist circumference reduction, and improved basal metabolic rate (BMR).
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a steroidal hormone produced mainly by the testes in males. The hormone is also present in females, but obviously, its source is not the testicles! In females, this hormone is produced in small quantities by another endocrine gland- the adrenal gland.
Testosterone plays a vital role in both male and female bodies. It is a part of a battery of hormones that regulate your metabolic rate. It is also directly involved in the synthesis of muscle tissue and is responsible for maintaining your bone health.
When someone has low testosterone levels, they might experience muscle growth and maintenance difficulties and a low metabolic rate. All this might culminate in increased storage of fats in the body leading to obesity, especially around the abdomen and hips.
What is Low Testosterone?
The normal range of testosterone in your body is around 12 – 30 nmol/l or 350-1000 nanograms per deciliter of blood. Men often experience low testosterone symptoms below 350 nanograms per deciliter or 12nmol/l. In some cases men can experience symptoms at higher levels or if free testosterone levels are low.
The reduction in testosterone production can be easily detected using a blood test. However, as the hormone regulates several aspects of your body, you might start experiencing some symptoms associated with low testosterone including-
- Decreased sex drive in men
- Feeling lazy and general lethargy
- Having difficulty in focusing or concentrating
- Increased fat gain, especially around the abdomen
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Loss in strength
It is natural to experience a decline in testosterone levels as you age. However, some people might be genetically predisposed to low testosterone levels. In fact, the symptoms mentioned above are not always indicative of low testosterone, it is wise to get your levels checked if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Low Testosterone Test
The ADAM questionnaire has been shown to have 88% sensitivity in testing for low testosterone.
The Anabolic Effects of Testosterone
Testosterone is a well-known anabolic agent that stimulates your body to gain lean muscle mass. If, on the other hand, you are low on this important hormone, the metabolism of your body can slow down, causing your body to accumulate more fat than muscle.
Several scientific studies have found that a reduction in muscle mass due to testosterone deficiency can lead to central obesity (accumulation of fat around your belly and hips).
Testosterone and Obesity
A lot of research has looked at testosterone levels in obese and overweight men. According to one study, obese men had up to 30% less testosterone in their bodies compared to men of similar age with the normal weight. Men with a condition called hypogonadism, where there is a reduction in endocrine functionality of the testes, experience rapid weight gain. It has been shown that the weight gain in such situations can be reversed by testosterone replacement therapy.
While the jury is still out regarding the exact mechanism attributed to weight gain due to low testosterone levels, many scientists believe that one of the primary reasons for this effect can be an increase in a specific enzyme in obese men called aromatase.
Aromatase is an enzyme that transforms testosterone into oestrogen in men. It has been shown that obese men have an elevated oestrogen level in their blood compared to men with normal body weight.
A combination of high aromatase leading to higher oestrogen creates a negative feedback loop that worsens the situation. The high oestrogen inhibits the secretion of yet another hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the pituitary gland. The lack of GnRH causes the pituitary to believe that there is no need for more testosterone in the body. It stops producing Luteinizing hormone, which is essential for testosterone production in the testes.
As you might have guessed, the end result is a reduction in the testosterone output from the gonads. Thus, it can be argued that a lack of testosterone in the body creates a situation that further reduces the secretion of testosterone. Therefore, obese men usually have low testosterone and high oestrogen levels in their bodies.
The Long Game
It is natural to have a variation in testosterone output in your body. There is also evidence that men go through a monthly slump in testosterone production much similar to the cyclic variation in the female hormones.
The problems start to occur when testosterone levels remain low for a longer period of time. A sustained deficiency of testosterone can skew your body’s metabolism from predominantly muscle building to fat accumulation.
Low testosterone is therefore responsible, at least partly or indirectly, for an increased accumulation of fat. This is especially the case when oestrogen levels are also raised and leading to female type fat accumulation.
Can Testosterone Intake Aid in Fat Loss?
Several scientific studies have concluded that testosterone replacement therapy in men with low hormone levels can help in weight loss and muscle gain.
A randomised control trial (RCT) conducted in 100 obese men on a reduced-calorie diet in 2016 revealed that injecting testosterone resulted in an average weight loss of 6.4 pounds compared to men not receiving the testosterone injection.
The study also found out that a reduction in caloric intake did cause a decrease in muscle mass of both the intervention group and the control group. However, the intervention group did regain the lost muscle mass quicker than the control group during the maintenance periods.
Do Testosterone Supplements work for Fat Loss?
Testosterone and testosterone supplements/boosters can be put under three categories-
- Illegal anabolic steroids
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)
- Testosterone boosters
Anabolic steroids can increase the level of testosterone temporarily, or be used to replicate similar effects seen in testosterone by the use of compounds that are similar in structure and effect to testosterone. Often they can cause far more harm than benefits to your body. In most cases, anabolic steroids are used to increase testosterone levels far beyond the normal levels seen in humans (known as physiological levels) this can suppress your body’s natural mechanisms of testosterone production, often even after ceasing use.
These drugs can even cause severe side effects, including infertility, sexual dysfunction and cardiac issues.
Optimale doctors can legally prescribe testosterone if you have a low testosterone level due to a medical condition like hypogonadism. While men with low testosterone levels can see potential weight loss following TRT, it may not be of benefit to men with normal testosterone levels.
Testosterone boosters are usually herbal supplements used in an attempt to increase testosterone levels. In most cases, these are either ineffective or only cause a short term increase in testosterone levels which may result in a drop in levels after. They may even cause long term suppression of natural testosterone levels.
Testosterone test kits
Order an at-home test kit to get started.
How can you naturally boost your testosterone levels?
The best way to improve your testosterone levels is to take a holistic approach rather than relying on synthetic supplements. Here are a few ways to boost your testosterone levels naturally-
A balanced diet is an answer for most of the metabolic derangements, and it is equally effective in maintaining the balance of hormones in the body as well. A diet rich in fresh veggies, fruits, and natural antioxidants can cause the stimulate testosterone secretion.
There is ample evidence on having the correct proportion of macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) in your diet can help you lose fat and stimulate testosterone synthesis.
Exercise has proven health benefits and can improve not only your metabolic rate but also stimulate weight loss. A 12-month long randomised controlled trial concluded that regimented aerobic exercise could stimulate testosterone production.
Stress is bad for your health, but you already knew that, right? But did you know that stress can play a role in reducing your body’s ability to produce testosterone? When your body is exposed to mental stress for a longer time, it increases a hormone called cortisol, which is also a steroidal hormone.
In order to cope with stress, your body prioritizes cortisol synthesis over testosterone. Which invariably results in reduced testosterone hormone levels.
Avoiding stress can help your body refocus its attention to synthesize testosterone instead of cortisol, helping you lose weight.
A good night’s sleep
Boosting your immune system, strengthening your heart and increasing your capacity to perform day to day activities are a few of the many benefits that a good night’s sleep offers. Sleeping for 7-8 hours can stimulate testosterone synthesis in your body. According to a study, men who slept from just 5 hours a night had up to 15% less testosterone in their blood compared to men who slept for 8 hours.
Consult a doctor
If you think you might have low testosterone levels, you can consider TRT after talking to your medical provider. The TRT is available in pills, injections, or transdermal patches. It is always better to consult a doctor and get your prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy.
Testosterone is a vital hormone for your overall health, and a decrease in its level can cause your body to start accumulating fat. Restoring the optimum testosterone levels by either TRT or other natural methods can help you quickly shed those pesky pounds!
Always consult your doctor before starting any new diet, exercise regimen, or lifestyle change.
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4 minute read
Published: January 9th, 2022
Last updated: January 10th, 2022