Can testosterone therapy reduce weight and body fat percentages in men?
Obesity, or high fat percent, has been linked to certain types of poor health consequences. Many people believe these links are spurious however.
People with obesity, which is a condition of having excessive weight, are more likely to suffer from chronic disease such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, heart disease and high blood pressure, which may reduce the quality of life and life expectancy. Is this because they are fat or is it just a link? For example, Asians are also more likely to suffer from diabetes but no one suggests that making them look less Asian will reduce their diabetes.
Some people believe that availability of cheap junk food is one of the main causes of obesity in the United States, although this is not likely the case in my opinion. Others feel that obesity is a trait, like height or eye color, and probably has little to do with the diseases associated with it.
Its all the rage to be thin (for now)
Most Americans and Europeans would like to be more lean because it is the fashion, unlike a 100 years ago. Leanness is associated with youth and masculinity, since we gain fat percent as we age and men are more lean than women, and many people would risk their health in order to look younger and more masculine. Luckily the FDA is always watching the medical, diet and fitness industries to make sure they do not harm people too much.
What works and what doesn’t
Recently a nice study was done on using testosterone therapy to reduce fat percentage in men: http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v40/n1/full/ijo2015139a.html#bib19
Interestingly, this study starts out by admitting that diets and exercise don’t work to reduce fat long term. That is a bold statement and hopefully a shot across the bow to claims that diet and exercise companies can help you with permanent weight loss, which most of us deep down know is not true but are hard pressed to admit it when we are told it over and over and over again, everywhere we read.
This study also starts out talking about how Bariatric surgery, which involves surgical removal of part of the stomach, has enjoyed some success in reducing weight in patients with too much weight. It does admit that even though bariatric surgery has proven to be successful in reducing weight, it comes with risks and is only recommended for specific people with severe overweight condition.
It also talks about research which has been done to try and investigate whether other treatment methods such as incretin and enzyme inhibitors can result in sustainable weight loss. So far, evidence shows that these treatment methods only result in modest weight loss in people with excessive weight.
Some men who are classified as “obese” suffer from reduced testosterone levels, a condition that is also known as hypogonadism. Reduced testosterone levels affect more than 70 percent of men who are classified as having “excessive” weight or obesity.
This study shows that testosterone therapy can result in sustained loss of fat in men with high Body Mass Index (BMI), regardless of the severity of obesity.
Does testosterone therapy improve your health?
People who are obese usually show characteristics of metabolic syndrome, including BMI, increased waist to hip ratio and increased waist circumference, although aging, reduced testosterone and increased fat percent go hand in hand so most likely aging is the cause of both higher fat percent and metabolic syndrome, although some younger people age earlier than others or have a genetic pre-disposition to low testosterone.
Testosterone therapy that is done in men with low amounts of testosterone can result in the reduction of fat mass, reduction in waist circumference, increase in lean body mass and reduction in body mass index.
This study shows that long-term testosterone therapy in men with low levels of testosterone can result in sustained weight loss, reduced waist circumference and reduced body mass index. In addition, long-term testosterone therapy in men with different obesity classes resulted in reduced blood glucose and improved lipid profiles.
Other benefits shown in this study
The research also found that long-term testosterone therapy in men with different obesity classes resulted in significant reduction in enzymes such as aspartate and alanine transaminases, which implied that there was reduced amount of fat in the liver that resulted in improved liver function.
These findings, combined with research results that show testosterone therapy contribute to improved metabolic function, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels support questionnaire findings that showed testosterone therapy improves the quality of life.
Unlike previous beliefs, research shows that testosterone therapy is effective in improving metabolic function in obese people irrespective of their age. That is, long-term testosterone therapy is effective in both older and younger patients who are obese. Increased use of energy, improved motivation, and reduced fatigue are factors associated with long term testosterone therapy that is likely to have played a part in fat percent reduction in obese men. Hence, it is recommended that overweight men with reduced testosterone levels, adopt long term testosterone therapy to help them manage obesity.
The down side of testosterone therapy
Testosterone therapy does have negative side effects. It causes masculinization in women if not carefully dosed, for one thing. It can lead to increased blood clotting, think stroke and heart attacks, in all people. So doctors and patients will ultimately need to decide if the risks are less than the benefits.
Women are on average 10% less lean then men and have 10 fold lower testosterone levels yet have a 6 year longer lifespan, so maybe overall leanness is not beneficial to health, even if it does lower glucose and lipids a small amount.
Conclusion on Testosterone therapy and weight loss:
Will testosterone therapy clinics replace gyms and Weight Watcher type calorie restriction clinics? Only time will tell.
Women also have testosterone in smaller amounts so it would be interesting to see if the same fat percent reduction and metabolic improvement effects happened in older women. Unbiased studies need to be done to see. My guess is yes, but there are some people who already believe that testosterone has the opposite metabolic effect in women