Many people are interested in losing belly fat for purely aesthetic reasons, but did you know that it could also have an impact on your testosterone levels?
Losing belly fat through a combination of diet and exercise may increase testosterone levels and provide a number of other health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers (1).
However, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider about testosterone levels and appropriate treatment options.
Belly fat, also known as abdominal obesity, has been directly linked to low testosterone levels in men. The fat around your belly contains lots of aromatase – an enzyme that converts testosterone to the female hormone estrogen.
This means that the more belly fat you carry, the higher estrogen levels you’ll have (and subsequently lower T levels), as research shows (2).
The link between belly fat and low testosterone is thought to be directly related to insulin resistance (a specific condition in which the body becomes less sensitive to insulin) and may lead to high blood sugar levels and low testosterone.
In this post, we will explore the relationship between belly fat and testosterone and whether or not losing belly fat can increase testosterone.
What is Testosterone and Why is it Important?
Testosterone is a sex hormone produced by the testicles in men and the ovaries in women.
It is mainly responsible for the development of male sex organs and secondary male characteristics, such as facial hair and a deeper voice. In women, testosterone plays a role in libido and bone density.
Role of testosterone in the body:
Testosterone is essential for muscle building, energy, and sex drive in both men and women. In men, testosterone is also important for sperm production and maintaining bone density.
According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, testosterone plays a critical role in muscle mass, strength, and function (3).
It is also involved in the regulation of bone density, fat distribution, and the production of red blood cells.
Normal testosterone levels in men and women:
According to Harvard Health, normal testosterone levels in men range from about 270 to 1070 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).
In women, normal levels range from about 15 to 70 ng/dL.
It’s important to note that testosterone levels naturally decline with age in both men and women.
A study published in the JAMA journal found that testosterone levels in men decline by about 1% per year after the age of 30 (4).
How Does Belly Fat Affect Testosterone?
Belly fat is directly related to low testosterone levels in men.
A study courtesy of the Metabolic Health journal published in Springer found that men with abdominal obesity had lower testosterone levels compared to men with a normal weight and waist circumference (5).
Another study published in the journal Obesity found that males with low testosterone levels have increased fat mass (particularly central adiposity, i.e., belly fat) and reduced lean mass. (6).
The link between belly fat and low testosterone is thought to be related to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition that occurs when the body becomes less sensitive to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
And belly fat is directly associated with insulin resistance, and insulin resistance has been linked to low testosterone levels.
One particular research from the Endocrine Connections journal found that men with insulin resistance had lower testosterone levels compared to men without insulin resistance (7).
Note that insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar levels, which can, in turn, lead to low testosterone.
There’s a study published in the Cureus journal found that 25-50% of men suffering from type 2 diabetes have lower testosterone levels (8).
Can Losing Belly Fat Increase Testosterone?
There is evidence to suggest that losing belly fat, or abdominal obesity, may increase testosterone levels in men.
Belly fat is directly related to low testosterone levels in men, and losing weight, including belly fat, has been shown to increase testosterone levels in studies (9).
However, the amount of weight you need to lose and the impact it has on your testosterone levels will vary from person to person.
In general, though, if you’re looking to boost your testosterone levels, you might want to consider losing any excess weight, including belly fat. This, combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help improve your testosterone levels over time.
In addition to the potential increase in testosterone levels, losing belly fat can have a number of other health benefits. These include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and overall inflammation (10).
Exercise, particularly resistance training, has been shown to increase testosterone levels, which can be effectively used to also reduce your belly fat for an even greater boost in T levels.
There’s a study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine found that long-term resistance training (12 weeks) had a very positive effect on testosterone levels in obese men (11).
Other Factors That Can Affect Testosterone Levels
Apart from how big your belly is, these are the other primary factors that have a notable impact on your T levels:
Testosterone levels naturally decline with age in both men and women. As previously mentioned, testosterone levels in men begin to decline at a rate of about 1% per year after the age of 30.
Chronic stress has been linked to low testosterone levels. A study published in the Psychiatry Investigation journal found that stress can indeed lower T levels in men (12).
Poor sleep goes hand in hand with low testosterone levels. A study published in the World Journal of Men’s Health found that men with sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by disrupted breathing during sleep, had significantly lower testosterone levels compared to men without sleep apnea (13).
Another study courtesy of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism discovered that men with lower T levels suffer from poorer sleep quality (14).
A diet that’s high in processed foods and sugar has been linked to low testosterone levels.
Research published in the Clinical Endocrinology journal found that consuming sugar-like simple carbohydrates (e.g. glucose) leads to a noticeable decrease in free and total testosterone levels in men (15).
Also, keep in mind that a diet high in saturated and trans fats has also been linked to low testosterone levels.
The Human Reproduction journal discovered that men who eat a lot of trans fats (found in foods such as junk food) experienced a 15% decrease in T levels than guys who didn’t consume so many unhealthy fats (16).
5. Alcohol consumption:
Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to low testosterone levels.
Studies found that heavy alcohol consumption results in reduced testosterone levels in the blood
According to the Alcohol Health and Research World journal, drinking a lot of booze will decrease the amount of testosterone flowing through your veins (17).
Certain medications, such as steroids and opioid painkillers, can lower testosterone levels.
According to a study courtesy of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, opioids may lead to a decrease in testosterone levels by suppressing the hormone production in the testicles (18).
Common opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and good old morphine.
It’s always important to speak with a healthcare provider about the potential side effects of any medications you are taking.
In this post, we explored the relationship between belly fat and testosterone.
We learned that belly fat, or abdominal obesity, has been linked to low testosterone levels in men. This link is thought to be related to insulin resistance, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and low testosterone.
We also discussed the potential benefits of losing belly fat, including an increase in testosterone levels.
Losing belly fat has the potential to increase testosterone levels, as well as provide a number of other health benefits.
These include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. In addition, losing belly fat can improve insulin sensitivity, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and potentially increase testosterone levels.
There’s no doubt that it’s very important to maintain healthy testosterone levels for overall health and well-being.
And if you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone (e.g. lowered libido and sex drive, lack of energy etc.) or are concerned about your testosterone levels, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider.
They can help determine the cause of low testosterone and recommend appropriate lifestyle changes or treatment options. These may include weight loss, exercise, stress management techniques, or even medication.
It’s important to follow the guidance of a healthcare provider to ensure proper treatment and management of testosterone levels.
Now – do you currently plan on getting rid of your lower belly fat and if yes, how?
Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below!
I’ve been fascinated by natural male hormone optimization since 2016. And ever since I’ve been going through boatloads of different meta-analyses and scientific data associated with increasing testosterone levels naturally. I hold a PhD degree in public health. Thus, in my collective work here you’ll find helpful tricks, natural remedies, detailed product reviews (including stuff I’ve personally tried)… and more!