It’s hard to believe, but “male menopause” or andropause is a contributing factor for weight gain and belly fat.
Fat storage and energy balance are regulated by a variety of hormones such as insulin, cortisol and sex hormones. As men go through andropause, there is an increase of fat in the mid-section of their bodies.
As we age, our body changes due to the decline of important hormones that have been regulating all aspects of our human functions. The decline of levels of certain hormones, especially testosterone, will cause some of the typical symptoms men experience during this period.
We have learned to accept these aging changes as natural or normal, however, if we balance and optimize our hormones to a more youthful level, we can most likely reduce the risk of developing serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and even certain types of cancer.
Central obesity belly fat, or the “apple shape,” is the weight that some individuals carry on the mid-section of their bodies. This type of obesity is much more dangerous than the weight that some people carry on their hips and thighs (“pear shape”). Nonetheless, this type of obesity has been linked to the same chronic medical conditions mentioned previously.
Balancing your hormones and implementing healthy eating, regular exercises and lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the symptoms associated with aging, including weight gain.
But how can the hormone imbalance cause weigh gain?
Hormones are molecules produced by the brain and a variety of glands in the body, collectively known as the endocrine system. These molecules work as messengers traveling through the bloodstream to their target cells, triggering a specific reaction. Hormones affect a variety of processes in the body such as growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, immune response, reproduction and mood.
Men may experience symptoms of andropause, but not as severe as women.
Frequent symptoms associated with male menopause are fatigue, tiredness, low sexual drive, weight gain and irritability. Most of these symptoms are caused by low testosterone levels and an excess of estrogen. Also, there are other hormones affected by the aging process and can contribute to weight gain such as thyroid hormone, DHEA & growth hormone.
Which hormones can cause weight gain?
Hormones work in collaboration and are involved in all functions of our bodies. Weight gain during andropause and menopause is not caused by one single hormone insufficiency or excess.
In men, weight gain during andropause is affected by:
• Excess Estrogen
Contrary to popular belief, men also produce estrogen, but a lesser amount compared to women. Estrogen is produced by the conversion of two hormones, testosterone and androstenedione, in the testes, adrenal glands and the fat tissue. Increased fat will increase the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, creating an imbalance in the ratio of these two hormones. Men with central obesity can experience symptoms of low testosterone due to excess estrogen. Some of these symptoms are low stamina, fatigue, low sexual drive, increased fat mass and decreased muscle mass. Obese men will benefit from losing weight to decrease the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
• Low Testosterone
Testosterone is known as the male hormone. As discussed, obese men can have higher levels of estrogen and low levels of testosterone. Testosterone helps increase muscle mass and decrease fat deposits. Weight loss will help increase testosterone levels in overweight and obese men. Also, testosterone levels tend to decrease with aging. Supplementation with testosterone is recommended for patients with low testosterone.
• Low DHEA
DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is a precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. DHEA has multiple functions; it increases the production of protein, improves brain function and the immune system, increases energy, and reduces body fat and cholesterol. Low DHEA can affect insulin, making patients more vulnerable to develop insulin resistance, which can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, weight gain and diabetes.
• Low Thyroid Hormone
Thyroid hormone is a metabolic hormone secreted by the thyroid gland. It has multiple functions including fat breakdown and decreasing cholesterol levels. Individuals suffering from low levels or inactive thyroid hormone will experience fatigue, tiredness, cold intolerance and weight gain. This hormone tends to decline with age despite laboratory tests showing that it is in normal range. Supplementation with natural thyroid hormone will help people with these symptoms.
• High Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands. It is known as a “stress hormone” because stress increases the release of this hormone. Its primary functions are to facilitate the metabolism of glucose (“sugar”), fat and protein, and it also suppresses the immune system. Individuals who are under a significant amount of stress or suffer from anxiety and depression can have higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol directly affects the storage of fat and weight gain in stressed individuals; particularly, it increases abdominal fat. Also, sleeping disturbances increase the level of cortisol. In addition, stressed individuals tend to eat more simple carbohydrates, which can cause weight gain. Stress management techniques will help reduce health problems and decrease cortisol levels.
• High Insulin levels
Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. This hormone is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates (“sugar”), and one of its main functions is to store energy as fat. People with a genetic predisposition for diabetes, and who eat large amounts of simple carbohydrates, can have high levels of blood glucose (“sugar”) and insulin. As time goes on, the insulin becomes inefficient to lower the high glucose level in the blood, leading to the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Some patients with diabetes will deplete their insulin storage in the pancreas, and will require the administration of insulin injections to control it. However, studies have shown that treatment with insulin can increase weight gain and obesity.
Patients who have a family history of diabetes or who have been diagnosed with early stages of this condition will benefit from changing their eating habits, by increasing lean protein and complex carbohydrates and reducing refined and simple carbohydrates.
The aging process will affect the level of hormones in our system, however, eating a balanced diet rich in lean protein, complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fat, as well as moderate exercise, will help delay the effects of aging and avoid weight gain. We recommend measuring your hormone levels before the development of any significant symptoms of andropause.
At The Aesthetic and Wellness Center, we can help you determine your hormone levels and measure your body fat. Our services are customized to each person, helping them achieve a healthier and more productive life.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The Aesthetic & Wellness Center is not responsible or liable for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or products that you obtain through this site. After reading articles, watching videos or reading other content from this website, you are encouraged to review the information carefully with your professional healthcare provider or skin care specialist.