OVERWEIGHT? TESTOSTERONE MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE

Note: If you are an overweight man, I am talking to you, so this article for you is in the second person.

Obesity is an epidemic.  Among adult men, 70% are overweight.  When you are overweight, you are likely to have increased visceral fat.  This is fat around the organs such as the liver kidneys and intestines.  This fat is also the fat that can kill you.  This is because visceral fat generates inflammation in your body.  This inflammation leads to many chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer and dementia.  Heart disease develops when clots form in the vessels that supply blood to the heart.  Inflammation creates an environment in the blood vessels that promotes clotting.  This leads to heart disease and strokes.  Another result of your increased visceral fat is development of insulin resistance.  This leads to diabetes and all of its medical complications.  With the increased fat, your testosterone production is reduced so your testosterone level falls.

The challenge with having increased fat is that a vicious cycle is started.  As noted, the increased visceral fat leads to insulin resistance.  Thus, there is increased insulin circulating.  The insulin leads to increased appetite and increased fat storage.  As your fat increases, your insulin resistance worsens and your testosterone level falls further, both of which lead to further increased fat.  Unfortunately, this increased fat is a breeding ground for all those chronic diseases.  The key point I will discuss is how you can use testosterone to break this vicious cycle. 

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, responsible for male sexual development and critical in maintaining your erectile function, libido, normal energy levels, and mood.  Testosterone also controls a whole range of physiological functions throughout the body.  As you reach your 40’s, your testosterone levels begin to decline.  This decline leads to a reduction in your energy and a slowing of metabolism.  Thus, it is very common for you to develop a paunch in your 40’s and 50’s.  This reflects the weight gain that occurs with decreased metabolism. 

Multiple studies have shown cardiac benefit from testosterone replacement.  Testosterone can improve lipids raising the good HDL cholesterol while lowering the bad LDL cholesterol.  Testosterone improves your metabolism and reduces your visceral fat.  By reducing your visceral fat, insulin resistance starts to decrease, and that vicious cycle starts to get reversed.  Testosterone starts to eat away at your visceral fat and converts your fat to muscle.  This cardiac benefit is why testosterone replacement can save your life. 

When you are overweight, you may be in denial about the health risks that follow.  This is because it feels like there is nothing you can do about it or it’s too much work so why bother. Also, if you are overweight, you may have low testosterone levels.  Because testosterone is a key factor for energy and motivation, if you have low testosterone, you may have low motivation to do something about it and low energy to take the steps necessary to correct the problem. This is another reason testosterone can break the vicious cycle.  By taking testosterone, you have improved energy and increased motivation.  With this increased energy, you have increased motivation to improve your health.

I do not want to suggest that testosterone will miraculously eliminate all of your excess weight.  However, I can confidently tell you that you will lose visceral fat, which is the fat that causes all of those chronic diseases.  Furthermore, there is a good chance that if you take testosterone replacement, you will have increased motivation to take the necessary steps to further improve your health.  You will feel better with more energy and better mood.  As part of that improved energy, you will have a more positive outlook of your health and will want to do more things to take better care of yourself.  That includes eating better and exercising more. As your body fat gets converted to muscle with the use of testosterone, you have increased exercise capacity.  I find that when you start testosterone replacement, you are likely to begin workouts because you will tolerate exercise better and have more energy to participate in an exercise program. 

When I explain the benefits of testosterone replacement, a common question is ‘what are the downsides and risks’? A common misconception is that testosterone causes prostate cancer.  Multiple studies have shown that testosterone does not cause prostate cancer. in fact, those with a low testosterone level are more likely to be diagnosed with more advanced prostate cancer.  This is because your increased fat leads to increased inflammation which is a breeding ground for cancer.  Studies show that those with cured prostate cancer (PSA less than 1) who take testosterone replacement get the benefits of testosterone without increased cancer risk.  Another misconception is that testosterone increases your risk for clots.  This is because your blood count increases with testosterone.  However, your platelets do not increase, so your risk for blood clots is not increased.  Also, testosterone will reduce your fertility. When your levels increase, this will tell the pituitary gland to reduce the hormones that lead to testosterone production.  These same hormones lead to sperm production. Thus, there will be reduced sperm production and decreased fertility.

The key point is that with excess weight, you may have many health concerns that make losing weight difficult.  This includes increased inflammation in your body that leads to chronic diseases, which reinforce a sedentary lifestyle.  Also, you may have insulin resistance which leads to increased insulin which leads to food craving and further increased body fat. Your decreased testosterone further increases your body fat and more important, decreases your motivation and energy to do something about it. The good news is that by taking testosterone, you can start to reverse the cycle by eating away at the body fat and converting it to muscle.  This starts to reduce the insulin resistance, which further reduces body fat. This reduces the risk of all the chronic illnesses that can kill you.  You will have improved motivation, increased energy and improved mood so you will have a better outlook to improve your health and improve your life. 

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