Testosterone and Obesity: Cause or Effect?

When it comes to losing that useless extra weight, a diet is still most people’s first stop.  However a new study has reported that simply lowering your daily calories is just as likely to cost guys muscle mass as it is unwanted pounds. 

Researchers found that testosterone could be key to not throwing the impressively ripped baby out with the bathwater.

Scientists from the University of Melbourne recruited a group of 100 overweight men for their clinical trial.  They were all aged between 20 and 70 years of age and described as ‘fairly healthy.’  All of the men had what would be classed as low testosterone, while 20% had type 2 diabetes and 10% had heart disease.

The men were given a strict 600 calorie daily limit for the first 10 weeks of the study, during which time they were expected to avoid alcohol, and exercise for half an hour each day.  Then from week 11 to week 56, volunteers were split into two groups and put on an identical, specialized diet with one important difference.

49 of the guys were given injections of intramuscular testosterone every 10 weeks while the other 51 got a placebo.

At the end of the trial, although both groups had dropped roughly the same amount of weight overall – 24lbs – those on the testosterone had shed only useless fat, while guys given a placebo had lost a significant amount of lean muscle too.

The topped up T gang lost an average of 6.6lbs extra fat and held onto all their good stuff, while the unlucky placebo users were drained of an additional 7.7lbs of muscle mass.

The link between obesity and low testosterone is well known.  The University of Melbourne’s own figures state as many as 40% of overweight men suffer with poor levels, and the traditional advice has always been reduce your fat to increase your male hormone.

This latest evidence seems to suggest that turning that approach on its head can work just as well.

In presenting his team’s findings to the Endocrine Society, Dr Grossmann said;

“This study shows for the first time that, among obese men with lowered testosterone, testosterone treatment augmented the diet-induced loss of total and visceral fat mass and prevented the diet-induced loss of lean mass.”

Grossman did admit though that the long term effects of injecting lab built testosterone are not fully understood and more studies were needed.

Generally speaking it is preferable to try and raise your testosterone levels naturally to gain the many health and performance benefits without the danger of side effects.

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