Can Testosterone Cause Weight Gain?

Can Testosterone Cause Weight Gain?

Some people believe that testosterone may play a role in weight gain/loss. The testosterone is responsible for some of the typical male characteristics, and it also promotes muscle growth. Most men are full of testosterone, and a few suffer from its deficiency. A deficiency of testosterone would lead to excessive weight gain in men, and not only that, but it may also suppress muscle growth.

Let’s look at the relationship between testosterone and weight gain.

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is an essential hormone in the body for every male. It is produced in the testicles. It is made by the testes when certain parts of the brain receive signals from the hypothalamus and pituitary glands that more testosterone is needed. These glands immediately send a message to the testes, and the production of testosterone begins.

Hormones are messenger molecules that play a significant role in the body system. They are released into the bloodstream, and it transports them to their target cells. When these hormones come in contact with compatible cells, it binds to the receptors on the surface and immediately affects their functions.

The primary role of testosterone is to promote males’ specific characteristics, deepening of the voice, increase in bone strength, muscle mass, and facial and body hair growth. The testosterone should be at adequate levels for the maintenance of male fertility and the maturation of cells.

Men depend on testosterone for everything, from building muscles to a deeper voice, and weight control can easily be added to that list.

However, testosterone production can reduce as a person ages, and many older men have symptoms of low testosterone levels.

How Deficiency May Lead to Weight Gain

Testosterone suppresses fat gain, and at the same time, promotes muscle growth.  As a result, most men who have a deficiency in testosterone tend to gain more weight than their peers.

Muscles naturally burn more calories than fat tissues, so a lack of muscles would put you in a position of eating more than required. And when this happens, your body tends to store the excess calories as fat.

testosterone levelsSome researchers believe that having a low muscle mass is the primary factor for testosterone deficiency leading to weight gain in men. Men with low testosterone have a higher percentage of weight gain than men with a high level of testosterone.

The testosterone weight connection also goes vice versa. Weight loss on its own without any treatment can be associated with an increase in testosterone levels. Weight loss can be seen as a bonus for men with low testosterone who are into testosterone therapy replacement.

Low testosterone causes weight gain, especially in the mid-section. But you may wonder why that happens? The exact biochemical mechanism behind this change remains a mystery.

The Relationship between Obesity and A Decrease In Testosterone Level

Obesity in itself may also play a role in suppressing testosterone levels. Obesity is one of the risk factors that causes a lower than average level of testosterone in men. It holds the title as the most effective predictor of testosterone deficiency in men.

On average, men who are obese have lower testosterone levels than those with healthy weights. Psychologically, the relationship between low testosterone levels and obesity can become a vicious cycle.

More than 70% of obese men suffer from a testosterone deficiency, characterized by abnormally low levels of testosterone – male hypogonadism.

Recent research has not concluded entirely as to why low testosterone levels are found in obese men, but most findings point to the following:

  • High aromatase and estrogen activities would reduce the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GRH). The lack of this hormone would result in a lower level of luteinizing hormone, which would ultimately lead to a reduction in the male body’s production of testosterone.
  • Secondly, belly fat is known to contain high aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen – the female sex hormone. Having a high level of estrogen triggers the body to decelerate its production of testosterone. So, this practically explains why obese men have higher estrogen levels than men with average weight. In order words, excessive belly fat appears to reduce testosterone levels, and the less testosterone your body produces, the more belly fat you store, and so on. Remember, though that there are other reasons as to why weight gain can cause your testosterone levels to drop, and aromatase is only part of the story.
  • Thirdly, there is another possible connection to the link between being obese and having low testosterone levels. Leptin is the hormone from fat that regulates appetite in men. When people with an average weight gain about 5 pounds from baseline weight, the added fat produces more leptin. This would turn off the brain’s appetite, and ultimately the weight decreases. People who are obese are mostly “leptin-resistant” because the body makes an excess of leptin but doesn’t store it. The brain acts as though the person is starving because it doesn’t “see” the leptin. So when an obese person tries to lose that same 5 pounds, the brain increases hunger making the person want to eat more. The process doesn’t end there, and the brain sends a signal to the pituitary gland to seize the triggering of testosterone as it “believes” the body is lacking proper nutrition.

For those who already have low testosterone, weight gain can worsen the condition. That’s because fat speeds up the metabolizing of testosterone, so the more fat you carry, the quicker you’ll burn through the low testosterone levels in your body.

A Solution for Couch Potatoes

One reason low testosterone is linked with weight gain is that it takes away the “urge to exercise.” Low testosterone often reduces the motivation to do just about anything, including getting up from your couch to lift some weights and having a good workout.

Staying fit requires energy and drive, but if these are lacking, you are well on your way to gaining more weight than usual. This cycle can, in some cases, repeat itself over and over again until you put your health and metabolic balance in serious jeopardy.

However, even if you can finally drag yourself to the gym, having low testosterone can sometimes mean having low stamina. While this can be discouraging, it is essential to engage in it.

Essential Tips for Managing Weight with Low Testosterone

Being obese puts men at risk for having low testosterone levels, a condition that can sap energy, reduce sec drive, and cause an increase in body fat. A man’s testosterone level reflects his overall health, so if you are overweight, you have low testosterone and aren’t healthy.

The best tip to combat weight gain with low testosterone is the same as people trying to lose some pounds. Stay on a diet, and do more of exercising; strive hard to lose some weight.

This makes a lot of sense because given the direct effect weight gain has on testosterone, when you lose fat, you interrupt the vicious cycle of losing testosterone when your pounds increase.

The recommended type of exercise is weight lifting or any other form of resistance exercise, but you would need to keep this up consistently for about four months to see a drastic change. This type of workout would help build muscles faster, thereby speeding up the rate of production of testosterone.  In addition to that, the body burns more fat during resistance exercise, promoting fat distribution and healthy weight gain.

weight gainFor an obese man to see his testosterone concentrations move up, he has to lose about 5 to 8 of his body weight.

Another tip is to avoid simple sugars, because excess sugar in your blood may lead to a reduction in your testosterone levels.

The more simple carbs you produce, the more sugar (glucose) your body produces. Limit your intake of sugar, white bread, pizza, or pasta, and go for complex carbs like beans and whole grains.

However, do not opt for starving yourself, because restricting calories can backfire on you. This may lead your body to burn its lean body mass, thereby reducing its total muscle mass.

Treating low testosterone would boost your overall health, and you would experience many improvements in your wellbeing. For instance, a certain percentage of men have erectile dysfunction because of low testosterone, and a study showed that “men, who lost 15% of their body weight, witnessed an improved erectile function.”


Every man needs some fat, but too much of it, and your testosterone levels would plummet, and put your health at risk.  You are faced with a higher risk of low testosterone if you are obese or overweight. And under such conditions, your body would likely be thrown into a destructive vicious cycle where lower than normal testosterone levels would cause weight gain, and this would, in turn, lower your testosterone level further, thereby continuing the circle.

In general, testosterone levels can be boosted, by weight loss, you will get a higher testosterone level the more pounds you lose.