Does Testosterone Help You Lose Weight? (Or Gain Fat)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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Testosterone deficiency is more common in men than most people would believe.

And while in most cases it’s a natural reduction due to aging, when those T levels go too low, they can have a significant impact on weight loss efforts.

Not only that, but it can slowly push your body towards unhealthy weight gain and even obesity.

To help you understand how this sex hormone is tied to body fat in men, I've spent days going over all the scientific info.

I'll also tell you what to look out for and give you alternatives to testosterone shots.

Quick Summary

  • Boosting testosterone through replacement therapy can aid in weight loss by improving muscle mass and reducing fat storage.
  • Low testosterone levels are linked to increased fat storage due to hormonal imbalances that encourage the body to store more fat.
  • According to the Urology Care Foundation, 30% of overweight men have low testosterone levels, compared to only 6.4% of men with normal weight.
  • Personally, I believe addressing testosterone levels is a crucial, yet often overlooked, aspect of effective weight management.

Testosterone Impact on Body Weight in Men

man showing off his big belly, old man with his hand on his face

Reflecting on my own experience and conversations with medical professionals, I've identified three key areas where testosterone levels significantly impact weight loss.

1. The Psychological Effect

According to WebMd, men with low testosterone levels are far more prone to mood swings, low self-esteem, and a lack of focus [1].

My client says his mood swings and lack of focus made it incredibly hard to maintain healthy eating habits or stick to a healthy diet.

The best way to lose those extra pounds is by incorporating regular exercise into your routine.

Physical activity burns calories, promotes muscle growth, and improves overall health.

By combining exercise with a balanced diet, individuals can create a favorable environment for losing weight and achieving their desired fitness level.

And that’s often the first broken link that makes it very difficult for men to lose weight.

2. The Muscle Mass Effect

shirtless man working out with a dumbbell

What many men don’t realize is that the amount of muscle mass is directly tied to how much fat the body stores.

My client says that as his testosterone levels dipped, maintaining, let alone gaining muscle mass became a significant challenge.

The result is a slow move upwards in the body mass index, which causes increasing health and weight issues.

This can ultimately lead to a vicious circle where a higher BMI lowers testosterone, which then lowers muscle mass and increases BMI.

More on this below.

3. The Fat Storage Effect

Another thing scientists have managed to find out is that testosterone deficiency is also linked to increased fat storage.

Here’s what happens.

The more fat men store, the more those fat cells produce aromatase. This enzyme is directly tied to converting testosterone into estrogen. And that hormone imbalance then sends signals to store more fat.

It’s another factor where severely low T-levels make any weight loss efforts practically pointless.

When it comes to losing weight, it's critical to understand the effects of testosterone deprivation.

This hormonal imbalance stimulates the body to store even more fat, making weight loss efforts useless. It emphasizes the importance of treating testosterone levels to combat weight gain and attain fitness goals effectively.

Now let me show you how all this adds up to a vicious circle.

4 Side Effects of Low T-Levels

man using a measuring tape on his flexed biceps

Here is why men should never ignore low testosterone levels. Doing so can set off a self-reinforcing set of events that gradually make weight problems worse.

1. It Starts With Aging

In most cases, low testosterone is a side effect of natural aging. For most men, that means testosterone levels start to slowly decrease from as early as 30 years old.

Maybe there is a scientific reason for a midlife crisis.

2. Slow Increase In BMI

In some circumstances, testosterone dips significantly below ideal levels, and that can result in slow muscle wasting and increased fat storage.

It might go unnoticed at first because muscles weigh more than fat, but a typical symptom would be gradually increasing belly fat and waist circumference.

3. Further Testosterone Reduction

man seated at a park tired

Those increased fat reserves then cause a further reduction in testosterone by causing it to convert into estrogen.

And now, things can start to spiral quickly towards obesity.

An already low level of testosterone sinks even lower.

And that causes...

4. More Weight Gain

Now you’re back to storing more fat, and the vicious cycle continues.

This cycle of storing more fat became a personal battle for many of my clients. It's a barrier many obese men face.

The risk of increased blood pressure and type 2 diabetes became real concerns, making them realize the seriousness of breaking this cycle.

In severe cases, the best option is testosterone therapy which involves medical testosterone shots, but we’ll get to some alternatives shortly.

4 Symptoms of Low Testosterone

man exhausted while riding a bike, man with an annoyed face

Here are the most common things men with low testosterone will notice.

1. Weight Gain

Low testosterone and weight gain are related. If you notice a sudden change in waist circumference despite no dieting or lifestyle changes, then research suggests it could be linked to hormone levels.

Related: Can Low Testosterone Cause Belly Fat

2. Low Energy Levels

According to the Urology Care Foundation, not just obese men, but even otherwise healthy men will find that they feel constantly drained with no energy to focus on mental or physical tasks [2].

3. Mood Swings

A hormonal imbalance doesn’t just impact body composition but also your overall mood. Sudden fluctuations in mood are most often tied to sudden changes in testosterone.

4. Low Sex Drive

They don’t call it the sex hormone for no reason. Not only will testosterone lower sperm count, but men can often lose all interest in sex.

The good news is that it’s easy to determine whether low testosterone is one of the contributing risk factors for weight issues, including obesity.

“TD is more common in men who have diabetes or who are overweight. In one research study, 30% of overweight men had Low-T, compared to only 6.4% of those with normal weight. The same study found diabetes to be a risk factor for TD. In another study, 24.5% of men with diabetes had Low-T, compared to 12.6% of those without diabetes.”

- Urology Care Foundation

How Can You Test Your T-Levels?

medical nurse in surgical gloves holding a vial with blood inside

The easiest way to check your testosterone levels is to ask your doctor for a full blood test, including hormones.

This will provide detailed results about total and free testosterone in the body. Or you can just order a test kit and test your testosterone at home.

And that value, combined with general age-related ranges, will give you a clear understanding of whether the levels are too low.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to immediately seek out medical testosterone therapy unless you’re already dealing with morbid obesity and extremely low levels of testosterone.

In most cases, though, there are certain lifestyle, diet, and supplement changes you should try before hormone replacement therapy.

Let’s find out more.

2 Ways to Naturally Boost Testosterone

man eating a salad bowl shirtless, close up image of medicine pills

Before you head down the road of testosterone treatment, there are ways in which you can influence how much testosterone your body produces.

These are far less disruptive than testosterone injections and are often enough to reverse testosterone and weight issues.

1. Diet

Both testosterone and weight loss issues are often tied to a diet that is lacking in certain nutrients.

The most important micronutrients you need to focus on are zinc, vitamin D, and magnesium; all play a key role in producing and releasing testosterone.

Here are a few things you should consider eating more of:

  • Shellfish including oysters
  • Leafy greens
  • Olive oil
  • Fatty fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs

These can also help create a more balanced diet to reverse obesity from a macronutrient perspective.

2. Supplements

People often turn to weight loss supplements to burn off some extra fat. But in situations of reduced T count, it’s often better to start with a natural testosterone booster or a vegan t-booster.

These are not the illegal types of drugs that professional athletes often get banned for. But completely natural products combining certain minerals, herbs, and vitamins to help your body naturally increase free testosterone.

For women, read our blog to see which female testosterone boosters we recommend.

Long-Term Effects of Testosterone Therapy on Weight Loss

When it comes to understanding the relationship between testosterone therapy and weight loss, it's crucial to look beyond the immediate effects and consider the long-term implications.

Here's the long-term impact of this therapy on weight loss:

  • The sustainability of weight loss: Men undergoing long-term testosterone therapy not only lose weight but are also able to maintain this weight loss over extended periods. This is important as many weight loss solutions offer temporary results, with individuals often regaining weight.
  • Impact on body composition: Individuals receiving testosterone therapy have been observed to experience a marked reduction in fat mass, particularly visceral fat, which is known for its negative health implications. There's also an increase in lean body mass, which is crucial for a healthy metabolism.
  • Metabolic benefits: Include better regulation of blood sugar levels, which is particularly beneficial for men with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Improved metabolic health further aids in weight management and reduces the risk of obesity-related complications.
  • Psychological and quality of life enhancements: Men undergoing long-term testosterone therapy often report higher levels of energy, improved mood, and a better sense of well-being, all of which can contribute to a more active lifestyle and further promote weight loss.

FAQs

Can Testosterone Replacement Therapy Help With Weight Loss?

Yes, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may help with weight loss, but it shouldn’t be the first treatment option. It’s possible to boost testosterone with natural ingredients, which should be the preferred choice if levels aren't critically low.

Are Testosterone Boosters Illegal?

No, most testosterone boosters are not illegal because they don’t contain controlled substances. Some of the medical testosterone therapy options are classified as controlled, which means it’s illegal to administer them without a doctor.

Is There a Link Between Testosterone Boosters and Weight Loss?

Yes, there is a link between testosterone boosters and weight loss. Testosterone can help increase muscle mass and reduce body fat, leading to weight loss. However, these boosters should be used under medical supervision due to potential side effects.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/men/features/how-low-testosterone-affects-your-health
  2. https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/l/low-testosterone
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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