Testosterone hormone plays many crucial roles in the body, including fat metabolism and muscle growth. When your body does not make enough testosterone, it starts accumulating fats, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Restoring the levels of testosterone can help your body work normally by burning fats and increasing muscle mass. Keep reading the article to understand what science says about the connection between fat loss and testosterone levels.
Testosterone is a male hormone that is produced by testes. In the circulatory system, it binds to proteins and travels to the target cells. There, it attaches itself to receptors present on the cell surface and then controls different functions of the cell.
Testosterone plays many crucial roles in men and women; one of these roles is the maintenance and growth of muscle mass and bone density. People with low testosterone may also experience poor muscle growth, fat accumulation, and bone density reduction.
Low testosterone is a condition in which your body does not produce enough testosterone. The healthy levels of testosterone in men range from 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). If you are diagnosed with a testosterone level below 300 ng/dL, you have low testosterone.
Since testosterone is one of the most important hormones, its deficiency can make you experience different symptoms such as:
- Low libido
- Lack of energy
- Night sweats
- Lack of concentration and focus
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- Reduced bone density
All over the world, millions of men suffer from this issue. It is natural for older men to have low T. But, some may have a genetic issue that triggers low T. You should get your testosterone levels checked if you believe you are suffering from low testosterone symptoms.
Low testosterone and muscle mass
Testosterone encourages muscle growth and suppresses fat gain. When your muscles grow, they burn fats stored in them to acquire energy. It keeps your calorie level balanced between how many calories you consume and how many calories you burn.
When you are deficient in testosterone, your muscle mass reduces, and muscles start accumulating more fats. Some researchers also believe that reduction in muscle mass is one of the main reasons why men gain weight.
Low testosterone and obesity
Obesity and low testosterone are also linked to each other. Studies prove that the level of testosterone is 30% lower in obese men compared to men having normal weight. More than 70% of obese men also suffer from hypogonadism, also called testosterone deficiency. Losing weight may help them with reversing testosterone deficiency.
The exact reason behind this connection between obesity and low testosterone is not known. But some experts believe it might be due to the higher levels of an enzyme called aromatase in obese men.
Belly fats produce this enzyme excessively. It transforms testosterone into estrogen, which is a female sex hormone. This might be the reason why obese men have more estrogen in the blood.
High estrogen and aromatase levels further prohibit the formation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GRH) by telling the brain that the body does not need testosterone anymore. Low GRH means low luteinizing hormone. Lack of luteinizing hormone reduces the synthesis of testosterone (which is already being produced lower than normal) even more.
In short, we can say that belly fats suppress the synthesis of testosterone.
It starts a vicious cycle
Low testosterone sets a vicious cycle in the body. It reduces the muscle growth and rate of metabolism, which in turn increases the accumulation of body fats and contributes to obesity. Excessive fats block testosterone production in the body, which further lowers its amount in the bloodstream.
Once this vicious cycle starts in the body, it becomes challenging to come out of it without increasing testosterone production.
Can increasing testosterone levels contribute to fat loss?
Testosterone speeds up the rate of metabolism in muscle cells; as a result, fats burn, and muscles develop. It shows that increasing testosterone in men suffering from low T may help them lose fat and grow muscles. Let’s understand the role of increasing testosterone in decreasing fats with a 2016 study.
Results of a scientific study
In research conducted by the Bayer and Gulf Medical University, 11 years of data was used. Researchers divided participants (over-weight men who had testosterone deficiency) into two groups. The age of research participants was, on average, 61.5.
One group received testosterone injection every three months, while the other group did not receive any testosterone and became the control group.
At the end of the research, researchers found that the group that received testosterone injections had an average of 23 kg weight loss. On the other hand, the control group gained on average 6 kg. Similarly, the body mass index (BMI) of the treatment group also decreased by around 7.6 points, and the BMI of the control group increased by 2 points.
The waist circumference of the first group decreased by around 13 cm, while the waist circumference of the control group increased by an average of 7 cm. The first group also had less internal fat compared to the control group. It means they may have had a lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease compared to the other group.
More than 20% of participants of the non-treated group developed type 2 diabetes during the research, while men in the treatment group did not develop this disease. A few men in the control group also had a heart attack, while none of the treatment group men had it.
Researchers concluded that the weight loss due to testosterone injections might have reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
This study shows that testosterone injections may have the potential to reduce fat and lose weight. Scientists need to conduct more research on this approach to understand its usefulness better.
How to increase testosterone levels?
Since increasing testosterone levels in testosterone deficient men is an effective way to reduce body fats, people should look for ways that can boost their testosterone levels.
Eat a balanced diet
Your diet has a great impact on your hormone levels. That is why you should eat a balanced diet so your body can get all nutrients it needs to produce hormones. Eating more or less than a healthy amount can reduce your testosterone levels.
Research shows that taking enough protein through food can help you burn fats and stimulate the production of testosterone. Sufficient fats and carbs are also necessary for the normal production of testosterone.
Make exercise a part of your life
Exercise is an effective way of improving your lifestyle and preventing several diseases. Interestingly, it can also help you elevate your testosterone levels.
Several studies prove the benefits of exercise for boosting testosterone levels. One study conducted on obese men concluded that increasing the level of physical activity may be more effective than a weight loss diet for boosting levels of testosterone.
Avoid stressful situations
Taking stress increases the production of cortisol which is a stress hormone. When your body keeps producing cortisol for a longer duration, it prioritizes the synthesis of cortisol over testosterone. As a result, testosterone levels decline.
To avoid it, you need to avoid stressful conditions if possible. Practice meditation to have a clear mind and release stress. Exercise is also effective in reducing stress.
Sleep better at night
Getting plenty of sleep aid in increasing testosterone. One study found that people who slept only 5 hours at night noticed a 15% reduction in their testosterone levels. Another study observed that testosterone levels increase by 15% for every additional hour of sleep.
Some people work energetically even after sleeping 5 hours a day, but doctors still recommend people to sleep 7 to 10 hours a night to upsurge testosterone levels and enjoy long-term health. Low testosterone can cause nightsweats and other problems when you try to sleep.
Have testosterone replacement therapy
Men suffering from low T find testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) very effective. When given TRT treatments, a patient is supplemented with bioidentical testosterone with the help of injections, patches, pills, or gels. Your doctor will design a treatment plan based on how low your testosterone levels are.
TRT can restore your testosterone levels which will eventually help you reduce your level of body fats, improve muscle growth, have high energy levels, and enjoy better sleep at night. It has some side effects such as enlarged breasts, oily skin, etc. Therefore, discuss the pros and cons of TRT before choosing it.
Testosterone metabolizes your muscle fats to provide your muscles with the energy they need to develop. When you become testosterone deficient, your muscle growth declines and body fats increase, which puts you at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
You can overcome this problem by restoring your testosterone levels through testosterone replacement therapy. This treatment will elevate your testosterone levels and revere the effects of low T.
Santosa, S., Khosla, S., McCready, L.K. and Jensen, M.D., 2010. Effects of estrogen and testosterone on resting energy expenditure in older men. Obesity, 18(12), pp.2392-2394.