I get asked a lot of questions about testosterone & weight loss & how the two are connected, so we are going to cover the key areas in this article, be sure to read to the end as some of them may surprise you!
The main topics/ questions we are going to cover are:
Being overweight/ obese causing hypogonadal/ low testosterone
How weight loss can as much as double testosterone production
How rapid weight loss and intense exercise can actually ruin your testosterone levels
How TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) can help you with your weight loss
We will be covering these topics on testosterone and weight loss in the above order, so feel free to skip ahead to the specific subject you wanted to earn more about.
Increased Testosterone And Weight Loss
One study found that severely obese men who were 2 – 3.8 times their recommended body weight, had average testosterone levels of 223 ng/dl. Which as I’m sure you know is extremely low & the type of levels you would expect to see the classic symptoms of low testosterone such as
Loss of morning erections
Lack of muscle mass
Hardening of arteries
They then compared these obese men to 11 age-matched controls, who were 1 to 1.35 times their recommended body weight (basically the weight they “should” be or slightly overweight) & found that they have average testosterone levels of 599 ng/dl. That is a difference of over 250%!
The reason you see such a big difference in T levels between the two groups is two fold. Excessive weight gain & body fat, halts testosterone signaling from the hypothalamus.
This mean your hypothalamus is fooled in to thinking you have high testosterone as your estradiol is so high. So your testes are ready to & capable of producing testosterone but aren’t receiving the signal to produce T.
Then secondly, when you carry high body fat, you have high levels of aromatisation, this is the process where testosterone is converted to estrogen.
The more body fat you carry the more aromatisation activity you have, this then becomes a “negative cycle” as this means lower T & higher estrogen, which in turn leads to more body fat, which again leads to more aromatisation activity.
How Weight Loss Can Double Testosterone Levels
The impressive increases in testosterone levels, don’t just apply to men who are morbidly obese losing weight. One study found that men who had significant levels of visceral fat, saw an increase in free testosterone levels of about 15 percent, when they dropped around 35 pounds.
Other studies have shown that men losing between 57lbs & 283lbs produced even more impressive increases in testosterone levels. Average total testosterone levels increased from 240 ng/dl to 377 ng/dl. Average free testosterone levels also increased by around 41%! In this same study, the men who lost the most amount of weight close to doubled their testosterone levels.
Hopefully most of you don’t have as much weight to lose as the numbers listed above, but should help to highlight why losing excess body fat is vital for helping to optimize testosterone production. On top of that it will also lower your estrogen/ estradiol levels, giving you a healthier testosterone to estrogen ratio.
Rapid Weight Loss & Intense Exercise Can Ruin Testosterone Production
Without question being overweight can make you hypogonadal and as covered above weight loss & losing excess body fat can greatly increase testosterone levels. What you may not know is that if you drop weight too rapidly you can compromise testosterone production.
What I would say is, it depends on how you lose the weight. If you drop your calories too severely & utilise continuous cardio to lose weight, you will only stress your body, which increases your cortisol levels & as a result inhibits your testosterone production.
This was demonstrated in a study where participants used combination of intense exercise a 40% reduction in calories to lose 11 pounds in a couple of weeks. While the weight loss was impressive, what they noticed in regard to the testosterone levels, was that they dropped pretty significantly, average levels dropped from 507 ng/dl to 126 ng/dl, which is pretty extreme drop!
This doesn’t change that testosterone and weight loss are intrinsically linked and losing excess body fat/weight should remain your first priority for naturally increasing T levels.
You ideally want to lose weight with a sensible daily calorie deficit (no more than 500) & by incorporating a decent amount of resistance training, which includes plenty of rest periods. Ideal for optimizing testosterone production & losing body fat, while maintaining muscle mass, helping you to avoid the “skinny fat look.
Testosterone Therapy And Weight Loss
So we have covered off how carrying/ gaining weight can lower testosterone & losing weight in the correct way can aid testosterone production. So lets now take a how exogenous testosterone (artificially adding testosterone) can impact your levels of body fat.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that TRT/ testosterone replacement therapy & anabolic steroids are linked to both increased muscle mass & lower body fat. This is especially if you are hypogonadal (Medically recognized as having low testosterone). As we are more interested in keeping everything “above board” & legal we will look at how TRT has been shown to impact body fat levels.
One study found that giving men diagnosed with hypogonadism who were given testosterone enanthate (similarly to Cypionate) saw a loss of 13% subcutaneous fat. This was without changes in diet or exercise levels/ styles. So is assumed to be purely down to the introduction of testosterone enanthate.
Another study found that weight loss for men taking testosterone undecanoate was more pronounced on the obese. Results showed that more than half of the men (53%) lost at least 33 lbs & almost a third lost 44 lbs or more. Then out of the men who participated, 86% had at least a 2-inch reduction in waist circumference & 46% dropped at least 6 inches.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you, that these are pretty phenomenal weight loss results & what is even more impressive, is that the weight loss continued over a five-year period, so people didn’t lose fat & then stop, or they didn’t lose weight & then start gaining.
The final study I’ll refer to is one where middle-aged obese men were put on TRT. These men saw lowered visceral fat, for those of you who don’t know, Visceral fat is “belly fat” and high levels are deadly. Visceral fat is commonly associated with health issues such as:
Type 2 diabetes
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
So needless to say, having lower visceral fat is pretty vital for good long term health!
Hopefully, you can see that there is a pretty strong link between testosterone & weight loss. What is clear, is that when you carry lower body fat/ are a healthy weight, you have healthier testosterone production. If you lose weight via extreme calorie deficit, you will actually compromise testosterone levels & if you are taking exogenous (synthetic) testosterone you can greatly accelerate weight loss.
So one of the main things we can take away from this is, if you are struggling to lose body fat it may be down to you having low testosterone and if this is you and you suffer from some of these other symptoms of low testosterone I would strongly suggest you get your testosterone levels tested.
Please share this article with anyone you think may find it interesting, if you have any thoughts or questions, would love to hear from you. So please drop me a comment below. You can also follow me on my social media pages for more information on weight loss and testosterone, testosterone production & health as a whole!