Whether you accept a beer belly as part of the normal aging process, or whether you’re fighting it daily at the gym, you may be surprised to learn that your hormones are behind your growing gut. Hormones are chemical messengers that tell your body to do all kinds of things, including create more muscle. Or fat.
At Men's T Clinic® — with locations in Dallas, Frisco, The Colony, Houston, Cypress, Pearland, and Pasadena, and Spring, Texas — our all-male team of expert physicians have experienced for themselves what happens to men’s bodies when their hormones get out of whack. Here they share a few facts about why you haven’t been able to lose that beer belly with diet or exercise alone.
Men don’t lose muscle mass and gain fat as they age because they’re lazy. The shift in the ratios of muscle to fat begin to change gradually as their bodies produce less and less testosterone (T).
Testosterone is a hormone that both women and men produce, but men have it in greater abundance. When boys hit puberty, their T levels increase dramatically, leading to changes such as a lower voice, facial hair, and increased muscle mass.
Men’s T levels usually start to decline by the time they’re 30 at a rate of about 1% per year. You might even start losing T at a younger age if you use anabolic steroids or have an underlying health condition.
As your T decreases, you develop a condition called sarcopenia, which means that your muscle mass decreases, too. According to Harvard University, after age 30 you lose up to 5% of your muscle mass every 10 years. That translates to a 30% loss of muscle mass over your lifetime.
Sarcopenia can have a profound impact on your health. As your muscles atrophy, your strength and balance are affected, putting you at increased risk for fractures and falls.
As you lose muscle, your body doesn’t utilize energy as efficiently as it did when you were young. Instead of burning off calories to feed your muscles, you store those calories. That means that you gain fat, particularly around your middle.
High levels of testosterone help to depress the production of fatty tissue, which is why you were leaner and meaner in your youth. Producing less T is like taking the brakes off of fat production. Your body produces more of it, and it’s no longer counterbalanced by a healthy amount of muscle mass.
If low T and high fat weren’t already a vicious enough vicious circle, fatty tissue produces estrogens. Estrogens are hormones that both women and men produce but — you got it — women have in more abundance. At puberty, estrogens give girls their secondary sex characteristics, such as full hips and breasts.
So what happens when your fatty tissue produces more estrogens? Your hormonal balance is thrown off even more. In other words, the bigger your beer belly, the more estrogens are circulating in your bloodstream, and the more symptoms of low T you’re likely to have.
Just as low T grew your beer belly, raising your T levels can shrink it again. The experts at the Men’s T-Clinic® custom design testosterone replacement therapy based on how low your levels are and what kind of symptoms you’re experiencing. Once your T reaches a healthier, more youthful level, you’ll start shedding the fat and gaining muscle again.
Don’t give up on your gut: Get help getting into shape again with a low T evaluation at Men’s T Clinic®. Contact the office nearest you by phone or use the online booking form.