Low testosterone and muscle loss

Because testosterone is responsible for developing muscle mass, if testosterone levels fall then a noticeable decrease in muscle mass will follow. The basic science of this is that healthy testosterone levels will build your muscles but low testosterone will turn that muscle into fat.  From the time that a boy enters puberty, testosterone is responsible for building his masculine physique. Without it, the hormone oestrogen will take over and will add fat in the places that it is least welcome – around the tummy and in the chest area.

The medical terminology for a noticeable loss of muscle mass is atrophy or wasting and it is one of the signs that may lead a doctor to suspect that a patient might be suffering from low testosterone levels.  In another chapter we deal with low energy is a result of low testosterone levels and this will normally be a forerunner to the onset of ‘wasting.’  Our muscle cells have receptors called androgen receptors, that take up testosterone. If our bodies are producing testosterone normally they will bind with these receptors and maintain muscle fibre.  When testosterone levels drop then the muscle mass will start to degrade.  What happens next is that fat deposits start to develop, especially around the belly.

Next the fat cells in the belly, responsible for producing an enzyme that is called androlase will convert any testosterone into oestrogen.  Once oestrogen is being produced then more fat will be laid down around the thigh, chest and hip areas.  If you add low energy and depression to the mix then it becomes a vicious cycle as men with low testosterone don’t feel like exercising to lose any fat and so their muscle mass will decrease.

However it’s not all doom and gloom because if you can increase your testosterone levels and  help to reverse the accumulation of fat, allowing you to increase your leaner body mass.  Here are some tips on how you can combat the effects of muscle mass loss that is the result of low testosterone levels.

If you know that you are overweight then do your best to lose that extra weight because losing that weight will be an excellent way to promote testosterone production and inhibit loss of muscle.  Besides which the ‘beer belly’ look isn’t a good one!

When you were thinking about a programme of exercise to help you lose weight and build up that muscle mass you should always include an element of aerobic exercise as well as strength training to your regimen. Try weight-lifting exercise classes, gym sessions or use weight training machines.  A good exercise time to aim for is around 140 to 160 minutes of aerobic exercise in every week and then strength training on two days of the week.

It seems that getting enough sleep applies to everything we say about addressing low testosterone levels but the truth is that it actually applies to everything that we do. A good night’s sleep is the best way to give yourself the best chance of the best performance at whatever you undertake each day. We have said that poor sleep is related to low testosterone and that is because it is during our deep sleeping hours that maximum testosterone production is achieved. Being permanently tired is likely to put us off doing a lot of things, exercise included.

What we eat is very important, for our whole body.  It is essential that you eat enough calories and even if you are overweight it is never a good idea to eat too few calories.  It’s always a wise to seek medical advice before you go on a diet especially if you have other underlying health issues. However once you’ve lost the weight, to maintain that weight loss, you need to eat a diet that is well balanced and rich in lean meats, fresh fruit and vegetables.  Avoid saturated fats and cut back on caffeine and alcohol, especially in the latter part of the day, in the hours before you go to bed.

There is no doubt that a proper exercise plan and attention to your diet will help a lot with low testosterone, but testosterone replacement therapy can be hugely advantageous in getting on the first rung of the ‘energy ladder’ by restoring some of your energy so that you can exercise more and lose weight, if you need to. Taking a supplement will be a useful building block to help you get back to a level of fitness where you can undertake exercise more frequently.  This in turn will help you to sleep better and allow you to have the restorative sleep that is so essential for production of testosterone.

As a first step you should visit a Mens Health doctor so that he or she can assess your testosterone levels and help identify and address any underlying health issues that you may have.