Testosterone and Weight Loss: Androgens & Fat Burning
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
If you type “the benefits of testosterone” to Google, you’ll find dozens of articles which list increased ability to burn fat as one of the main benefits of having high T levels…
…Does testosterone really do that though? And if so, why would it happen? Can guys with low T lose weight?
You’ll learn how testosterone and weight loss affect each other in this article:
Testosterone and Weight Loss
Considering the fact that you’re not on steroids, losing weight means that you MUST burn more energy (calories) than what you consume. In other words, you have to put yourself into a state of negative energy balance.
No matter what you’ve heard from the so called gurus and experts, weight loss always means that you have to feed your body less energy than what it burns, in this case your body has to tap into its own energy reserves to keep its functions running.
Science has – without a shade of doubt – proven multiple times that energy deficit is the only REAL way to lose weight, irregardless of macronutrient ratios, or insulin, glycaemic index, gluten, or any other fad-trick-claim-scam-hype that’s out there (study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study).
Heck, professor Mark Haub got so sick of the claims of calories-in vs. calories-out not being true, that he ate Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos and protein shakes for 2 months, while constantly being on a calorie deficit of ~800 kcal per day.
Guess what happened? He lost 27 pounds. Some clean-eating experts would argue that the amount of weight lost is not important, rather it is the amount of lost fat, so it’s important to mention that Mark’s body fat percentage also fell from 33.4% to 24.9%.
The point? You will lose weight as long as you feed your body less energy than it burns, even if you eat the most absolute junk. Yes, the human body is an “open system”, but still, you can’t really escape the laws of thermodynamics. Period.
So, does this mean that having high or low levels of testosterone makes no difference for the body’s ability to burn fat? Yes, and then, no.
As long as you’re in a state of negative energy balance, you will lose weight, irregardless of your testosterone levels. However, increasing testosterone levels for weight loss is a good idea. Testosterone can still help you shed of the layers of fat faster with the following ways:Higher levels of testosterone make it easier for your body to burn adipose tissue (fat), instead of muscle mass. Increased T, boosts metabolic rate, which increases the energy burned, and thus creates a bigger calorie deficit. Having high levels of testosterone in the blood stream, directly inhibits the creation of some new fat cells.
So, does testosterone burn fat? How big of a difference does testosterone really make?
If we look at things from a natural perspective, fluctuating in-between the normal range of total testosterone (250-1200 ng/dL), a decrease from ~600 ng/dL to ~300 ng/dL (achieved with the administration of a GnRH antagonist drug), caused a staggering 36% increase in the fat mass of healthy human subjects.
This leads to the following two testosterone and body fat observations :
- increased amount of lean mass gained, with lower amounts of fat mass gained on a caloric surplus
- increased amount of fat mass lost, with more lean mass preserved on a calorie deficit
Conclusion on Testosterone and Weight Loss
Bottom line is that testosterone fluctuating in the normal subphysiological ranges isn’t going to get you lean if you are on a caloric surplus (although it slightly increases metabolic rate), but high T will improve your body composition with increased lipolysis and prevention of new fat cell creation. So there is benefit to optimizing your testosterone for weight loss.