Does being Overweight Decrease Testosterone? 

April 12, 2021

Let’s talk testosterone

When it comes to Men’s Wellness, testosterone is a key player. It is responsible for regulating men’s muscle mass and strength, bone mass, fat distribution, production of red blood cells, sex drive (libido), and sperm production.

Your highest increase in testosterone occurs between puberty and early adulthood, remains stable for a while, then typically starts to slowly drift downward around middle age. Thankfully, that drop in testosterone levels only occurs at about 1% per year. This means many older men are able to stay within normal levels. However, anything that speeds up this process can lead to testosterone deficiency. Extensive research shows that there is one factor that can almost guarantee a significant drop in testosterone through the years – and that is obesity.

Here are some of the studies:

  • One study of 1,667 men over the age of 40 found that each one-point increase in BMI was correlated with a 2% decrease in testosterone. 
  • Australian research found that nearly every one in seven obese men could benefit from testosterone therapy, which is 4 times greater than in non-obese men.
  • A study of 1,862 men aged just 30 and above found an even stronger predictor of low testosterone. It was waist circumference. An increase of 4 inches around the waist increased odds of lowered testosterone levels by a whopping 75%. Comparatively, aging 10 years only increases your odds of low testosterone by 36%, or less than half.
  • Brazilian research also linked abdominal obesity to erectile dysfunction in men older than 60. 
  • A California study reported that having a BMI of 28 (overweight but not obese) even increased a man’s odds of developing ED by over 90%.
  • A Harvard study found that those with a 42-inch waist are twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction than a man of the same age with a 32-inch waist. 

It has since been shown repeatedly that waist circumference is the best indicator of decreasing testosterone. While the BMI rubric states that an individual with a BMI of over 30 is most likely obese, the BMI chart does not take into consideration muscle and fat distribution. A better way to find out if you are at risk is to measure your waist at the navel.

So what are the numbers? For men, your risk begins to rise significantly around 37 inches, and troubles mount over 40 inches.

But would weight loss and decreasing belly fat actually work?

  • An Italian study assigned a diet and exercise program to 110 obese men who suffered from ED, and in two years, over one-third of them had corrected their ED symptoms without medication.
  • A Massachusetts study also found that weight loss can indeed improve symptoms for overweight men with ED. 
  • Muscle mass also plays an integral part of testosterone production, so starting or increasing a workout routine can benefit in a multitude of ways.
  • An extensive multi-country study overseen by the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland, found that weight loss can reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels in overweight, middle-aged men by almost 50 percent.

Fortunately, there is help.

You can work with a urologist trained in testosterone therapy and erectile dysfunction management, and a nutritionist who can help you learn how to decrease your weight and waist circumference while eating a diet that is proven to help promote better testosterone production naturally. 

To schedule a consultation with our providers and get your testosterone levels checked, call us at 512.694.8888 or submit a contact form online.