Americans are getting heavier. It's a national epidemic. We all know that. Today, about 65% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.
When asked to consider the causes for this state of affairs, medical professionals trot out all the usual suspects: Americans don't get enough exercise; they eat too much junk food; they don't make healthy choices.
And while that may be true for many people, it may not be true for you. In fact, it may be a little frustrating to hear. There are plenty of men out there who are hitting the gym regularly, eating a varied and healthy diet, and they're still carrying extra belly weight and are firmly entrenched in the "overweight" column of the BMI scale.
If you're one of these frustrated men, you should know that there are other mitigating factors that can contribute to retaining stubborn excess body fat. Too much stress, lack of proper rest, nutrient deficiencies, even over-training or too much steady-state cardio exercise. Another factor could be low testosterone levels.
Before you say that you're too young, too vital, too good-looking to have that problem, you should know that low testosterone levels are more common than you may think, even among younger men.
In a recent study presented at the 2020 American Urological Association Virtual Experience (1 Patel), researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 1999 to 2016 to analyze serum testosterone level changes over time in 4,045 young adult males (defined as age 15-39).
After controlling for variables -- including year of study, age, race, BMI, comorbidity status, alcohol and smoking use, and level of physical activity -- total testosterone was found to be lower among younger male subjects in the later (2011-2016) versus earlier (1999-2000) cycles. In fact, mean total testosterone decreased from 1999-2000 (605.39 ng/dL), 2003-2004 (567.44 ng/dL), 2011-2012 (424.96 ng/dL), 2013-2014 (431.76 ng/dL), and 2015-2016 (451.22 ng/dL).
It should be noted that measurements of 300 ng/dL or lower mark the threshold at which physicians may offer a diagnosis of clinically low testosterone levels and may suggest treatment (of which testosterone replacement therapy is one). Still, however, the results of this study show a substantial decrease in testosterone levels in ostensibly young men.
The researchers then went further, digging deeper into the data, and noted that elevated BMI was associated with reduced total testosterone levels in test subjects, with the mean BMI increasing from 25.83 in 1999-2000, to 27.96 in 2015-2016. They concluded that even men with a normal BMI (18.5-24.9) had declining total testosterone levels during the same time frames.
These are sobering conclusions. But what of this relationship between low testosterone levels and elevated BMI? Do low testosterone levels cause increased excess body fat retention? Or does excess body fat undermine testosterone levels?
The truth is, it works both ways. The two factors can, in fact, form a vicious cycle in which each symptom exacerbates the other. Testosterone plays a crucial role in maintaining muscle mass, which burns body fat as fuel. Testosterone also plays a role in supporting efficient metabolism and thus, better body composition. So lower testosterone levels correlate to increased body fat.
On the other hand, having excess weight, especially in the form of belly fat, can boost the activity of an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, which in high levels, is linked to obesity in men.
What to Do If You Think You Have Low T Levels
First of all, let us state emphatically that no physician anywhere is going to prescribe Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) as a weight loss treatment. Nor should they. While generally safe, TRT products carry a packaging warning stating that they may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including strokes and heart attacks. These treatments are also, by their very nature, temporary. The effect lasts only as long as the therapy continues.
Having said that, you should by all means schedule an appointment with your doctor to have your testosterone levels checked. Two measurements (usually taken in the morning when T levels are peaking) below 300 ng/dL may result in a diagnosis of chronically low testosterone levels. In which case, TRT may be for you. That's up to you and your doctor to decide.
Natural Ways to Support Male Testosterone Production
But what if your testosterone levels are low, but not low enough to merit pharmaceutical intervention? Here you are, probably suffering from one or more of the typical symptoms of low T levels -- low energy, slow metabolism, reduced sex drive, reduced response to resistance exercise. And you've still got this nagging and persistent roll of belly fat. What then?
In that case you should know that you have safe, all-natural approaches to supporting and maintaining testosterone levels at your disposal. Many of them are simple, common-sense measures that can make a significant change in your T levels and in your overall health and well-being.
Simply training correctly can have a positive effect on T levels. High-volume workouts that emphasize heavy compound moves (squats, deadlifts, bench presses) can facilitate testosterone production increase. Beware over-training that places your body under more stress than it can handle. This will send levels of cortisol soaring, which in turn will depress your testosterone production. And keep the steady-state cardio to a minimum. A well-planned training program that prioritizes volume, brevity, adequate work-to-rest periods and recovery time will help elevate and maintain testosterone levels.
Dietary fats have also been linked to healthy levels of testosterone in males. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that a diet with fat content exceeding 100 g per day resulted in increased free testosterone in healthy male subjects. When subjects were put on a low fat diet (<20 g of fat per day), the authors reported that blood cholesterol levels (which are used to produce testosterone) decreased (2 Reed).
You may also want to consider a Vitamin D supplement, particularly in the winter months when exposure to sunlight (the body's principle means of producing Vitamin D) is in short supply. In a 2010 study published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research, healthy male subjects given 3332 iu of Vitamin D3 for a year ended up having 25.2% higher T-levels when compared to placebo (3 Pilz).
You also need to address some of the lifestyle factors that may be undermining your T levels. We know you're not spending your days eating bags of potato chips in front of the TV. But are you getting enough rest? Are you avoiding unnecessary stress?
You should be shooting for eight or nine hours of quality sleep per night, establishing consistent turn-in and wake-up times, and avoiding stimulants starting several hours before bedtime. Daily chronic stress tends to elevate cortisol, which negatively impacts free testosterone levels and health. Learn to effectively manage your time and look to other stress-reducing options like meditation or hiking.
Consider a Natural Testosterone-Boosting Supplement
If you've ever seen products in this category before and been a little skeptical, we can't blame you. Wherever there's a discipline of scientific research and development that offers dramatic benefits to an especially large demographic (in this case men looking to maintain their youthful vitality and well-being) there will be less-than-scrupulous marketers looking to take advantage.
You should know, however, that the latest breakthroughs in this area of supplement science have been genuinely exciting. In particular, there has been an amazing amount of scientific progress in recent years regarding the efficacy of protodioscin-rich botanical extracts derived from the herb Tribulus terrestris. Indeed, new evidence suggests that these extracts, when subjected to new and advanced methods of processing, can have positive effects on testosterone production in males.
In one of several recent studies, published in the journal Andrologia in 2016, 65 men (aged 18-65) with no hormonal issues took an herbal extract containing 112 mg of protodioscin daily for 12 weeks. It was concluded that taking the protodioscin-rich extract led to an increase in blood testosterone levels, which coincided with decreased body fat percentage, and increases in lean mass (4 Salgado).
The Product Research Team here at ProSource has long been among the industry leaders in this highly specialized area of research and product development. This groundbreaking scientific research effort, conducted over decades, forms the foundation of AndroTest, the first true clinical-grade natural testosterone support supplement for men.
The key active ingredient in AndroTest is derived via a rigorous and highly complex multiple-extraction process under the most stringent protocols utilizing state-of-the-art laboratory procedures. This meticulous process, which entails up to twenty different extractions, results in a Tribulus extract standardized to contain an unprecedented 40% to 48% protodioscin, which is up to 40 times more potent than existing Tribulus-based products.
What about results, you say? Well, in a 4-week, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, product-specific study, subjects using AndroTest experienced statistically significant increases in total testosterone levels, averaging 59.88% over baseline, with some subjects showing total increases as high as 275% over baseline. Subjects also experienced major increases in free testosterone, averaging 59.75% over baseline, with some subjects reaching up to 218% over baseline. Results of this kind are truly unprecedented for products of this kind.
Of course, AndroTest is just one of several natural methods of supporting T levels. The key is recognizing how crucial the all-important male hormone testosterone is to so many markers of health and well-being (including losing excess body fat) and prioritizing the lifestyle strategies that will peak them peaking as the years go by.
1. Patel P, Fantus R, Lokeshwar S, et al. Trends in Serum Testosterone Levels Among Adolescent and Young Adults Men in the United States. Presented at: 2020 AUA Virtual Experience; May 15, 2020. Abstract MP78-01.
2 Reed MJ, Cheng RW, Simmonds M, Richmond W, James VH. Dietary lipids: an additional regulator of plasma levels of sex hormone binding globulin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1987 May;64(5):1083-5.
3 S Pilz, S Frisch, H Koertke, J Kuhn, J Dreier, B Obermayer-Pietsch, E Wehr, A Zittermann. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5.
4 Salgado RM, Marques-Silva MH, Gonçalves E, Mathias AC, Aguiar JG, Wolff P. Effect of oral administration of Tribulus terrestris extract on semen quality and body fat index of infertile men. Andrologia. 2016 Jul 12.
Use AndroTest as directed. Read all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. A 4-week study of healthy males showed a 59.75% average increase in free testosterone compared to baseline and 59.88% average increase in total testosterone compared to baseline. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.