Low testosterone levels in men have been linked to an increase in belly fat. Testosterone is a hormone that plays a vital role in the development and maintenance of male physical characteristics and is also involved in many other bodily functions (1).
Contrarily, belly fat has been connected to a number of health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Although women have much lower levels of testosterone than men, testosterone is a hormone that is primarily produced in the testes of men and ovaries of women.
Male sexual development and the preservation of muscle mass, bone density, and general physical health all depend on testosterone.
Additionally, testosterone has an impact on how red blood cells are made, how body fat is distributed, and how mood is controlled. Age-related declines in testosterone levels in men are a natural occurrence, though low testosterone levels can also be caused by a variety of diseases, lifestyle choices, and medications.
Why Do Testosterone Levels Drop?
Age: Men naturally lose testosterone as they age, with levels typically declining by 1-2% annually after the age of 30.
Medical conditions: Diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer are among the conditions that can lower testosterone levels.
Lifestyle: Poor diet, inactivity, and excessive alcohol use are all lifestyle factors that can lower testosterone levels.
Medication: A number of drugs, including steroids and opioids, can lower testosterone levels.
Genetics: Low testosterone levels may run in some men's families.
It's critical to remember that the intricate system that controls testosterone production, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonad (HPG) axis, can also malfunction, leading to low testosterone levels. When a genetic disorder or underlying medical condition is the root cause of low testosterone, treatment may be required to address the underlying problem.
How is Testosterone Linked to Belly Fat?
Low testosterone levels in men are well known to be associated with an increase in belly fat (1). Visceral fat, also referred to as belly fat, surrounds the internal organs in the abdominal cavity and has been linked to a number of health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Men with low testosterone levels are more likely to have increased belly fat, according to numerous studies (1,3).
Numerous clinical studies have looked into how testosterone affects body fat (3-5). According to a study in the BMC Medicine journal, testosterone therapy led to a significant decrease in body fat and an increase in lean mass in obese men on a hypocaloric diet(3).
Another study that was published in the Oxford Academic journal found that testosterone dosages of 300 and 600 mg/week had an adverse effect on whole-body fat mass while testosterone doses of 25 and 50 mg/week had the opposite effect.
Lower testosterone levels have been linked in epidemiological studies to decreased muscle mass, central obesity, and the buildup of abdominal fat(4). According to a study published in the PubMed journal, abdominal fat increases with ageing and falling testosterone levels, and testosterone administration reduced abdominal fat masses in middle-aged, moderately obese men(1).
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Why does low testosterone cause belly fat to increase?
According to one theory, testosterone helps to control how body fat is distributed, with lower testosterone levels causing an increase in belly fat (6).
It has been demonstrated that testosterone has androgenic effects on the enzymatic pathways of fatty acid metabolism, glucose control, and energy utilization.
These effects are tissue-specific, with variations noted in the muscle, the liver, and various regional fat depots.
The body's metabolism is influenced by testosterone as well, and when testosterone levels are low, the body's metabolism slows, making it more difficult to burn calories and shed pounds.
There are psychological effects as well as physical ones of low testosterone on belly fat. Low testosterone levels have been associated with depression, anxiety, and a lack of motivation, all of which can lead to unhealthy eating habits and inactivity, which can both increase belly fat (8).
It's critical to understand that there is a reciprocal relationship between low testosterone levels and belly fat, meaning that low testosterone levels can also be a result of belly fat.
A hormone called aromatase, which is produced by belly fat, changes testosterone into estrogen, causing testosterone levels to fall even lower.
Changing Your Lifestyle
Men can alter their lifestyles in a number of ways to raise testosterone levels and reduce belly fat:
Research has shown that exercise helps people lose weight, including belly fat, and raises their testosterone levels. Particularly strength training has been shown to be effective in increasing testosterone levels and muscle growth.
Eat a balanced diet
Fibre, healthy fats, and protein are all important for hormone regulation and weight loss. Reducing your intake of processed foods and sweetened beverages can also help.
Get enough rest
Sleep is necessary for the regulation of all hormones, including testosterone. Sleep for 7-8 hours every night to support normal testosterone levels.
Control your stress
Long-term stress can cause testosterone levels to drop. Using stress-relieving exercises like yoga or meditation can raise testosterone levels.
Avoid consuming alcohol in excess because it can interfere with the production of testosterone and cause weight gain, including belly fat. Alcohol consumption can be restricted or avoided altogether for the benefit of general health.
Treatments and Diagnosis
According to studies, long-term testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) results in significant and sustained weight loss, a significant decrease in waist circumference and BMI, and an improvement in body composition in men with low testosterone levels (8).
Testosterone replacement therapy demonstrates beneficial effects on measures of obesity that are partially explained by both direct metabolic actions on adipose and muscle and also potentially by increasing motivation, vigor, and energy allowing obese individuals to engage in more active lifestyle.
Each body is different, and it is important to speak a professional to choose the best course of treatment for your particular needs. TRT is a viable option to help increase testosterone levels and can be used in conjunction with other natural methods to boost T levels and lower fat.
1. Rebuffe-Scrive M, Mårin P, Björntorp P. Effect of testosterone on abdominal adipose tissue in men. International journal of obesity. 1991 Nov 1;15(11):791-5. https://europepmc.org/article/med/1778664
2. Testosterone therapy: Potential benefits and risks as you age. Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/in-depth/testosterone-therapy/art-20045728 (2022).
3. Ng Tang Fui M, Prendergast LA, Dupuis P, Raval M, Strauss BJ, Zajac JD, Grossmann M. Effects of testosterone treatment on body fat and lean mass in obese men on a hypocaloric diet: a randomised controlled trial. BMC medicine. 2016 Dec;14:1-1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12916-016-0700-9
4. Kelly DM, Jones TH. Testosterone and obesity. Obesity Reviews. 2015 Jul;16(7):581-606. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12282
5.Han S, Jeon YJ, Lee TY, Park GM, Park S, Kim SC. Testosterone is associated with abdominal body composition derived from computed tomography: a large cross sectional study. Scientific Reports. 2022 Dec 29;12(1):22528. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-27182-y
6. Mårin P. Testosterone and regional fat distribution. Obesity research. 1995 Nov;3(S4):609S-12S. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1550-8528.1995.tb00233.x
7. Jang HJ, Kim BS, Won CW, Kim SY, Seo MW. The relationship between psychological factors and weight gain. Korean journal of family medicine. 2020 Nov;41(6):381. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7700826/
8. Traish AM. Testosterone and weight loss: the evidence. Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity. 2014 Oct;21(5):313.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4154787/
9. Saad F, Yassin A, Doros G, Haider A. Effects of long-term treatment with testosterone on weight and waist size in 411 hypogonadal men with obesity classes I-III: observational data from two registry studies. International journal of obesity. 2016 Jan;40(1):162-70. https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2015139