How Obesity Affects Testosterone in Men

Managing a healthy weight is critical to enjoying a healthy lifestyle, including having a normal testosterone level. Research has shown that unhealthy fat levels negatively link to testosterone – men with higher BMIs have 30% less testosterone than men with a healthy weight. More importantly, while several factors can affect testosterone levels, obesity is one of the highest risk factors.

What Is Testosterone and What Does It Do?

Testosterone is a vital sex hormone in males. It influences the development of beards, voice deepening, and the growth of large muscles and strong bones, the maturation of reproductive organs, healthy libido levels and sperm production. It also encourages the growth of the prostate.

In men, testosterone comes from the testes. The brain, in particular the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, process signals from the body, and then send signals to your testes to produce more testosterone.

Usually, testosterone levels among males increase in puberty and peak in adulthood. Most males retain high levels of the hormone into their middle ages, where it starts dropping by around 1% annually. Since the drop is minimal, most middle-aged men retain a healthy proportion of testosterone. However, certain factors, such as obesity, accelerate the drop in testosterone levels.

Men with low testosterone levels:

  • Experience low libido
  • Have difficulty getting and keeping an erection
  • Have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Testosterone helps to produce bone tissue and maintain bone volume. Low testosterone can lead to a reduction in this volume, which can make the bones more susceptible to fractures.
  • Have reduced muscle mass
  • May experience low moods, mood swings, lack of focus, irritability and depression
  • Experience fatigue regularly and have a decrease in energy levels
  • Are at a higher risk for having a heart attack

How Obesity and Low Testosterone Are Related

Humans require a minimum amount of fat in their body for proper health. However, when the fat exceeds a certain point, it begins to affect normal function. Scientists have established that excess fat increases enzymes known as aromatases. These molecules convert testosterone into estrogen.

While estrogen is present in males in very small amounts, increased amounts can alter normal function. Having too much estrogen tricks the body into thinking that you do not need more testosterone. The danger lies in the vicious cycle that develops once the high estrogen levels kick in.

If you have low testosterone levels, you may find it harder to burn off unhealthy weight. Usually, muscles burn more calories than fat cells. Also, the presence of fat increases the chances of storing more fat. Belly fat, in particular, has been found to suppress testosterone levels, through the production of aromatases.

How Losing Weight Can Greatly Impact Low Testosterone Levels

Since there is a link between weight gain and low testosterone levels, losing weight can boost testosterone levels. Shedding off some weight stops the vicious cycle brought on by low testosterone levels. The less excess fat you have, the healthier you become.

Keto Diet

The keto or ketogenic diet is a meal plan that focuses on high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrates. It’s a popular diet plan among weight loss communities and general health advocates. Keto diets are also excellent for people struggling with type 2 diabetes and low testosterone caused by obesity.

On a conventional American diet, your body burns glucose from carbohydrates. However, while following a keto diet, your body can use ketones- fuel from stored fat. As you continue to decrease your carbohydrate consumption, your body goes into a state of ketosis. In this state, the body starts burning fat for fuel which helps you lose weight.

Besides weight loss, a ketogenic diet also helps manage type 2 diabetes, which often develops due to obesity. With a low-carb intake, sugar levels in your blood decrease and insulin levels remain steady, which is imperative for good health. You can avoid the high peaks and extreme lows caused by sugar level fluctuations.

It is recommended that if you’re new to the keto diet, consulting with a trained medical professional may be beneficial, especially if you have prevailing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Typically, the ideal way to reach ketosis is to limit your daily carb intake to less than 20 grams. However, a range of 20-50 grams of carbohydrates is typically ideal. Once on a keto diet, you increase your fat intake to substitute the calories drawn from carbs. For example, you may consume 150 grams of fat while consuming only 20 grams of carbs. The plan varies depending on your needs.

Some of the foods you may consume during a keto diet include walnuts, almonds, avocados, olive oil, coconuts, and butter. Seafood, meat, eggs, and vegetables that grow above the ground are also welcome in a keto diet. You will want to avoid starchy vegetables since these will impact blood sugar and  insulin levels. It’s imperative to keep hydrated, increase sodium intake and keep electrolytes balanced while following the keto diet. When you work with a weight loss specialist, we can help patients prevent nutrition deficiencies, avoid unhealthy fats, and attain your ideal weight.  

Medication and Supplements

Medications and supplements work best when accompanied by a healthy diet, such as keto, and a weight loss program. The presence of excess body fat suppresses the body’s ability to produce testosterone. Therefore, as you lose weight, your body will begin producing more testosterone. While testosterone supplements can boost the hormone levels in the short-term, it’s not recommended to use supplements as the only source of treatment.

Ashwagandha and fenugreek seeds are used to raise testosterone levels. You can also undergo testosterone replacement therapy, especially if you’re clinically diagnosed with hypogonadism (testosterone deficiency).

The treatments may be administered in the form of patches, creams, supplements, or injections. However, the treatment should be administered by a licensed medical provider. Again, these work best when exercise and diet are also implemented into your lifestyle.

Seeking Medical Assistance for Low Testosterone

Obesity causes major health complications and is responsible for the deaths of over 300,000 Americans annually. It causes low testosterone levels, which in turn affect libido, heart health, and mental health. Finding medical assistance for weight loss can help you lose weight properly and sustainably.

At Dr. Simonds Metabolics & Weight Loss, our experienced weight loss experts create a sustainable weight loss plan tailored to your individual needs. We treat many male patients in the practice that report better moods, increased energy and the ability to build muscle mass as they lose weight and testosterone levels increase.  

Contact us today for tailor-made solutions for weight loss!