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Can Low Testosterone Cause Belly Fat? (From A Doctor)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Last updated: January 5, 2023

In my long career as a fitness trainer, I've had many clients who struggle with belly fat. Recently, I’ve realized that there is a connection between low testosterone and belly fat.

To understand the correlation in-depth, I consulted with a doctor friend and discussed my findings after weeks of research.

In this article, I will explain how low testosterone can cause belly fat.

Keep on reading to explore the topic with me.

Quick Summary

  • Low testosterone levels lead to weight gain, thus predisposing you to increased belly fat.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse, usage of certain medications and supplements, and adrenal gland dysfunction are some of the causes of low testosterone.
  • In addition to abdominal obesity, symptoms like fatigue, hair loss, and depression indicate low testosterone levels.

What Does Testosterone Do to Your Body?

A doctor looking at paperwork explaining what testosterone does to the body

The primary function of testosterone is to produce masculine features such as a deeper voice, improved lean muscle mass, stronger bones, and body and facial hair growth.

People start producing testosterone as early as eight weeks after birth.

This hormone's levels rise during adolescence, peak in the late teenage years, and then fall. It is normal for a man's testosterone levels to fall slightly each year after the age of 30 [1].

Testosterone levels have an impact on every aspect of a person's life, from the reproductive tract and libido to muscles and bone mass.

It also influences some behaviors, such as irritability and agility [2].

Symptoms like erectile dysfunction, fatigue, depression, weakness, hair loss, and excess belly fat might indicate lower-than-normal testosterone levels.

If you experience any of these signs, especially when they occur together, low testosterone is most likely the cause.

If that is the case, your doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy to deal with the issue.

With all this in mind, a deficiency not only inhibits muscle development and maintenance but might also increase weight.

Is Low Testosterone Linked to Belly Fat?

A doctor explaining to a patient how low testosterone is linked to belly fat

Yes, low testosterone is linked to belly fat as fat cells contain an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone into estrogen leading to testosterone deficiency.

The hormonal imbalance, in turn, leads to more belly fat.

Around midlife, testosterone levels start to decrease steadily, predisposing you to excess belly fat, especially obesity-related visceral fat present in the intra-abdominal regions.

Several studies have found a substantial link between low T levels and abdominal obesity [3].

According to some research, low testosterone levels predispose certain men to fats, whereas obesity leads this male hormone to decline dramatically in others.

Even though the sequence of events is not entirely apparent, there is a definite connection between the two.

In a study of weight-to-height ratio, the researchers found that a man's waist size is the best indicator of low levels of testosterone [4].

Since testosterone helps develop and maintain muscle mass, low testosterone makes you lose muscles.

When you lose muscle mass, fat replaces it more quickly, making you have a rounder and softer physique.

Adequate amounts of testosterone can counteract muscle mass loss and lead to significant weight loss.

“Lean muscle mass and calorie expenditure are reduced when testosterone levels are low. As a result, a deficit may cause extra weight gain over time.”

- Atli Arnarson, PhD

Causes of Dropping Testosterone Levels

A man with a headache due to low testosterone levels

Several factors can cause hypogonadism (low T). However, we can distinguish two classifications of hypogonadism, primary and secondary.

Primary Hypogonadism

Underactive testes cause primary hypogonadism. This lack of activity may be due to a hereditary characteristic, injury, or disease [5].

Among the inherited conditions are:

  • Undescended testicles: Testicles do not descend from the abdomen before birth.
  • Klinefelter's syndrome: A disorder in which a male is born with three chromosomes: X, X, and Y [6].
  • Hemochromatosis: A condition that causes too much iron in the blood, resulting in testicular dysfunction or pituitary injury [7].

Other causes of primary hypogonadism include a physical testicular injury, inflammation of the testicles, cancer therapy, and in some cases, testosterone replacement therapy.

Secondary Hypogonadism

Secondary hypogonadism is caused by damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. These areas of the brain regulate testicular hormone production. However, the damage can occur either through acquired or disease-related factors.

The acquired factors that lead to secondary hypogonadism include:

  • Medications: Opioids and steroids can impair the pituitary gland and hypothalamic function.
  • Concurrent disease: Severe mental or physical stress following an illness or surgery might temporarily cause the reproductive organs to shut down.
  • Normal aging: Aging influences hormone production and responsiveness.
  • Obesity: Excess body fat can also interfere with hormone synthesis and reaction.

Additionally, low testosterone may occur due to inherited or disease factors, such as drug-induced pituitary problems, renal failure, inflammatory diseases, HIV/AIDs, or Kallmann syndrome [8].

FAQs

Does Testosterone Increase Abdominal Fat?

Yes, low testosterone can increase abdominal fat. When you have low T, you lose muscle mass, and fat replaces it more quickly.

Is It Hard to Lose Weight if You Have Low Testosterone?

Yes, it is hard to lose weight if you have low testosterone. Low T levels mean low muscle mass and extra fat being stored in the body.

Will Increasing My Testosterone Help Me Lose Weight?

Yes, increasing your testosterone will help you with weight loss as high T causes dense muscles, which prevents you from accumulating more body fat and helps you burn calories more effectively.

What Causes Belly Fat in Males?

Unhealthy eating and little to no exercise will cause excess belly fat in males.

Dealing With Low Testosterone and Belly Fat

Abdominal fat is just one of the symptoms related to testosterone deficiency.

If you are concerned that you may be obese due to low T, I recommend changing your habits by frequently exercising and eating a healthy diet. In addition, include only the high-quality T boosters in your regimen.

These supplements employ natural substances to increase testosterone levels.

After months of testing these products, my clients and I noticed significant changes in our energy levels and performance.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930918/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526128/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3120209/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3739344/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24119423/
  6. https://www.webmd.com/men/klinefelter-syndrome
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28613612/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30855798/
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