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Low Testosterone and Weight Gain

Low Testosterone and Weight Gain

By Mike Kocsis | 7 minutes read | Last updated: June 18, 2024
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

    Evidence Based Research

    Testosterone is a complex hormone that plays several roles in the body. Having too much or too little of it can influence your health in various ways. Millions of men around the world experience low testosterone (or low T) that causes erectile dysfunction, low sex drive, and fatigue. Another important factor that is linked to low T is weight gain. Low T and weight gain set off a vicious cycle. It means low T promotes weight gain, and weight gain promotes low T. That is why men with low T do not find their regular exercises as effective and overweight men experience hormonal imbalance.

    Want to learn more about the connection between low T and weight gain? Keep reading to learn how they are linked and what you can do to boost your testosterone levels.

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    How does low T cause weight gain?

    It may not be easy to find a direct connection between these two things, but when you observe signs of low T, it makes more sense why this condition increases your body weight.

    Low testosterone levels can make you gain weight in the following ways.

    Loss of muscle mass

    Testosterone contributes to the development of muscle mass. When you do not have sufficient testosterone, it becomes hard for your body to build and maintain muscles. Your muscles play an important role in maintaining body weight. The more muscles you have, the more calories you will burn to make energy. This way, an energy balance is maintained.

    In men with low testosterone levels, lean muscle mass declines. As a result, fewer calories are burned, and stubborn fats start accumulating in the body, leading to weight gain.

    Fat accumulation

    Fat storage tissues were once believed to play a role only in fat storage, but now they are known to play other roles as well, such as sending signals and secreting chemicals. They secrete an enzyme called aromatase, which is involved in the biosynthesis of estrogen (a sex steroid hormone). It does this by converting testosterone into estrogen, creating a testosterone-estrogen imbalance.

    Low T also affects the fat distribution system. More fats are stored in the abdomen and thighs, which increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

    Lack of motivation or energy

    Low testosterone not only causes physical changes but also affects your emotional and mental health. Activities you once enjoyed to stay fit and healthy no longer interest you. You start finding excuses to avoid going to the gym or exercising. This leads to physical inactivity, which eventually results in weight gain.

     

     

    How does being overweight increase the risk of low T?

    Being overweight can influence your health in numerous ways. It increases the risk of serious health conditions like high blood pressure, heart stroke, and low T. Data shows that 40% of overweight men who don’t have diabetes and 50% of overweight men with diabetes have low T.

    Obesity increases low T risk in the following ways.

    More production of aromatase

    As mentioned earlier, fat cells release aromatase enzymes. It means the more fat cells you have, the higher your aromatase levels will be. Aromatase normally converts a small amount of serum testosterone into estrogen. But when you have high aromatase levels, more testosterone is converted into estrogen, significantly reducing your serum testosterone levels.

    Less production of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)

    SHBG is a protein that carries sex hormones, including testosterone, in the blood. Studies show its concentration is inversely related to weight. It means an increase in weight reduces levels of SHBG in the blood, which reduces free testosterone levels.

     

     

    Natural ways to lose weight and raise testosterone levels

    If your low T is due to obesity, you should use natural ways to reduce weight and increase testosterone levels. Here are the proven tips that will help you get rid of those extra fats and improve your physique.

     

    Become more physically active

    Make different forms of physical activities a part of your lifestyle because there are numerous advantages to being more physically active. Exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. If you feel fatigued due to low T, divide 60 minutes into three 20 minutes intervals and exercise three times a day for 20 minutes each. 

    Limit the sugar intake

    Increased sugar, particularly simple sugar (glucose), consumption may reduce your serum testosterone levels. Hence, you should avoid eating processed foods like pizza, pasta, cakes, etc. Replace them with foods having complex carbs, such as whole grains.

    Try strength training

    Strength training is very effective in increasing muscle strength and endurance. It can help you burn calories and gain lean muscle mass. 

    Start with lifting weights. Do it 3 to 4 times a week for 15 minutes per day.

    Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol

    Excessive drinking impacts different aspects of health; hence, you should limit your alcohol intake. It causes low testosterone production by promoting its conversion to estrogen. It also decreases NAD+ synthesis, which is a coenzyme required to produce testosterone. 

    Get plenty of sleep

    The majority of testosterone in men is produced during sleep. So, this is obvious, when you do not get enough sleep or have fragmented sleep, your testosterone levels decline drastically. Conditions like sleep apnea also interfere with testosterone production.

    According to the instructions published in the Sleep Health journal, adults should sleep for at least 7 hours per night. Sleeping less than the mentioned duration can lower your testosterone levels.

     

     

    How does testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) help?

    Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) helps men with low T restore their testosterone levels and get rid of the associated symptoms.

    It is effective in reducing weight and waist circumference in the following ways.

    • It promotes the production of lean muscles. It does this by stimulating protein synthesis and preventing muscle degeneration. When you gain more muscle, calories burn at a faster rate because muscles now require more energy to operate. 
    • Correcting the levels of testosterone increases the rate of metabolism, which helps burn calories fast.
    • Testosterone improves fat distribution in the body.
    • Diminishes fatigue and increases motivation, helping you become more active and improve your physique.

     

    Scientific studies on TRT

    If above mentioned natural ways of reducing weight are not working, and you believe your weight gain is due to low T, starting TRT might be the right solution for you.

    Some studies also prove that TRT causes weight loss in overweight men with low T. In a 2016 study, researchers divided participants into two groups. Both groups had reduced-caloric diets for a certain time duration. During this period, one group received a placebo while the other received testosterone injections.

    Both groups lost weight. However, the first group lost weight due to fat loss as well as muscle loss. In contrast, the second group lost only fat and regained muscle.

    There are many other possible advantages of TRT. Some of these are:

    • Improvement in mood and the sense of well-being
    • High energy levels
    • Improvement in bone density and health
    • Increase in sex drive

    Remember that TRT also has some side effects, such as acne, an increase in breast size, and a high red blood cell count. Discuss these effects with your healthcare provider to make the most out of this treatment.

    Some people are at a high risk of developing serious conditions like prostate cancer or heart disease. That is why doctors do not prescribe this procedure to all. They conduct a careful examination to fully evaluate whether or not TRT is safe for a patient.

     

     

    FAQs

    Is testosterone gel effective?

    You should apply testosterone gels to the skin like any other topical gel or cream. They are as effective as testosterone injections and other TRT forms. They can improve your mood, energy levels, sexual function, and more.

    Where do you apply testosterone gel for maximum absorption?

    The best sites for a testosterone gel are the abdomen, upper arms, and shoulders. Your skin absorbs gels better when it’s wet so you should apply it after having a bath or shower. 

    How long does it take for testosterone gel to absorb?

    It depends on the type of product you have. However, most of the testosterone gels get absorbed in the skin during the first 4 hours.

     

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    Summary

    Low testosterone and weight gain create a vicious cycle. Low T can cause weight gain, and weight gain can lead to low T. You should always try to maintain their physique to prevent serious health consequences.

    Men with low T should look into TRT to improve their symptoms and eliminate extra body fat. Testosterone can help them gain lean muscle mass, burn more calories, and promote body fat distribution.

     

    References/Scientific studies/Bibliography/Further reading 

    Gray, J.M., Nunez, A.A., Siegel, L.I. and Wade, G.N., 1979. Effects of testosterone on body weight and adipose tissue: role of aromatization. Physiology & Behavior23(3), pp.465-469.

    Diaz-Arjonilla, M., Schwarcz, M., Swerdloff, R.S. and Wang, C., 2009. Obesity, low testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction. International journal of impotence research21(2), pp.89-98.

    Sebo, Z.L. and Rodeheffer, M.S., 2021. Testosterone metabolites differentially regulate obesogenesis and fat distribution. Molecular metabolism44, p.101141.

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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject. You can read more about our Editorial Process by clicking here.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike KocsisMike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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