Hormone levels can have a significant effect on the way the human body gains and loses weight. Men with low testosterone levels are more likely to be obese, and often have trouble losing weight. Changes in eating habits and activity levels can affect the amount of testosterone in the bloodstream. Men's testosterone levels also decrease with age, which can affect ease of weight loss.
According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone helps maintain a number of body functions and systems in men, including bone density, muscle mass and strength, red blood cell production, sexual function and fat distribution. Men who have lower levels of testosterone, either from age or endocrine problems, tend to put on more weight and have trouble losing existing weight. Men who are trying to lose weight and are having problems may need to have their testosterone levels checked.
Weight and Testosterone
According to the Archives of Andrology, obese participants in a study of men aged 20 to 60 had significantly higher insulin levels and lower testosterone levels than normal or overweight men. This was the case across age groups, suggesting that fat has a greater effect on testosterone levels than even advancing age.
Testosterone and Missed Meals
Male testosterone levels respond to fasts, including periods of less than 24 hours. According to the American Journal of Human Biology, young men who missed a single evening meal showed lower levels of testosterone in the morning. This suggests that skipping meals or seriously reducing food intake for weight loss may adversely affect testosterone levels.
According to the Department of Internal Medicine at Helsinki University Central Hospital, obese men who lose weight also show increased testosterone levels. In a study of 38 middle-aged men on a very low energy diet, the men who lost weight showed increases in HDL cholesterol and testosterone. While losing weight may be difficult for men with lowered testosterone levels, keeping it off may be easier because of hormonal changes that accompany weight loss.
Testosterone therapy can be used to treat lowered testosterone levels in men, as well as the weight gain, sleep pattern changes and sexual dysfunction that often accompany this condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, however, testosterone therapy can cause breathing problems while sleeping, skin conditions, noncancerous prostate growth and enlarged breasts. It also may reduce sperm counts and cause testicle shrinkage. Testosterone therapy should be used only with care and under a doctor's supervision.
- Weight Watchers: Testosterone and Weight
- Mayo Clinic: Testosterone therapy: Key to male vitality?
- PubMed: Responsiveness of the reproductive axis to a single missed evening meal in young adult males
- PubMed: Relationship between BMI, total testosterone, sex hormone-binding-globulin, leptin, insulin and insulin resistance in obese men
- PubMed: Sex hormones and sexual function in obese men losing weight.