5 reasons for Men to lose weight – Health, Libido, Hair, Strength, Confidence

Excess weight in Men alters hormonal balance adversely affecting hair, muscle, strength, sex drive and risk of disease.

A man is medically classed as obese when his BMI is 30 or over. That equates to carrying about an extra 2 to 3 stone in weight, which nowadays is not unusual to see on Irish and English men. ‘Morbidly Obese’ is a BMI of 40 or over and this equates to an excess of 7 stone or more

However I do need to state that BMI is a poor health measure for muscular men. My husband is classed as overweight because his BMI is over 25 but he is aerobically fit, has low body fat % and good muscle content.

An article from Loughlinstown Obesity Clinic stated that men are ‘just as self-conscious as women’ about weight and that many are intimidated in public by the use of offensive language or jeering at their size. This intimidation can occur in a healthcare setting. Excess body weight can affect both men and women’s confidence in work, socially and at home.

For men, excess weight can affect hormone balance which has a knock-on effect and I explain this as follows.

Excess fat may reduce your level of testosterone

Testosterone controls the production of sperm and the growth and maintenance of your bones, muscle and hair. It affects voice, thickness of skin, perspiration and libido. It stimulates the brain and affects memory, concentration and mood.1

Extra fat on your body provides you with more aromatase. This is an enzyme produced in fat cells that converts testosterone to an oestrogen called, oestradiol. Higher aromatase levels in men results in lower levels of testosterone leading to lower sex drive, hair loss and reduced muscular strength.

Oestrogens are the dominant female hormones but men also have a small amount. Oestradiol is the most stimulatory the three oestrogens  and is linked with many cancers. Therefore the more fat cells you have , the more oestradiol you may have and less testosterone.  Carrying excess weight as a man may increase your risk of cancer.Man ‘boobs’(Gynecomastia) are one sign of excess oestradiol in men.

A high-sugar diet affects the activity levels of your hormones

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the levels of sugar in the blood. When you eat a high sugar diet, your insulin levels will be high .

Testosterone and oestrogens are carried in the blood by a carrier protein called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). This protein is produced in the liver but high insulin levels in obese men may stop the liver producing enough of it.2 This means more of your testosterone and oestrogen is free in the blood. When a hormone is not attached to a protein carrier, it is active and able to engage and stimulate cells. When a hormone is attached to a carrier, it is inactive. Therefore in obese men who eat a high-sugar diet, there may be an increased cancer risk.

The Low Carb diet is an ideal weight-loss tool for men.

10lbs of body fat equates to 30 to 60lbs of force on your knee joints 3

Hip and Knee pain is a common complaint for those carrying excess weight. The extra ‘load’ increases the pressure on the cartilage cushion between your bones. You risk damaging this cushion by being overweight and cartilage is very slow to replace/repair. Poor muscle strength and poor aerobic fitness tend to make you more prone to injury. 4

One study stated “Increased fat mass is a strong predictor of poor physical fitness”4

That sounds obvious! It is not easy to exercise when you carry excess weight so just start out by moving more and build it up slowly. Swim for low-impact on joints if you carry a lot of weight, otherwise  cycle and walk. Do a combination of aerobic fitness (running, walking, swimming, cycling, rowing) to improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, and then add weight training like press-ups and squats. It is much easier to do these with a mate who is at the same fitness level as you.

Are you low in omega 3 levels and could this be increasing your appetite?

A study in humans has shown that eating omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids improves appetite satisfaction in overweight and obese people.7   How does this work?

Our cell walls are made up of all types of fats but an excess of saturated fat from the diet can create stiff and unresponsive cell walls and this affects how hormones such as Insulin communicate through the cell wall to our DNA at the centre of the cell.

Insulin resistance or Pre-diabetes, is where the cell no longer listens to or obeys insulin. Central cells around the middle are more prone to stop listening and as a result fat gets deposited around the middle. The recent Government ‘tape measure’ campaign suggests men’s waists should be 37 inches or under for good health.

 After you eat, other hormones are produced in the intestine and fat cells for example, cholecystokinin (CCK) and leptin. They signal to the brain to decrease food intake because you are feeling full. Another hormones ghrelin, produced in the stomach tells your brain that you are hungry. Studies show that the fatter you get, the more leptin you produce but your cells stop listening to it and your brain does not get the signal that you are full.

What can you do to make your cell walls more sensitive so that messages get through to the brain? Increase your food sources of Omega 3.

The best sources of omega 3 are oily fish – mackerel, herring, sardines, salmon, anchovies and the best plant source is flaxseeds (also known as linseeds). Other sources are pumpkin seeds, walnuts, soya beans, green leafy vegetables and fortified foods such as omega-3 fed chickens or omega-3 enriched spreads and fish oil supplements such as Krill oil.

To help hormones work and engage with cells, introduce more omega-3 into your diet while at the same time reduce of our intake saturated fats (full-fat dairy butter, yoghurt, cream, cheese and fatty meat, and omega-6 oils in cooking. For example, use an omega 3:6:9 oil dressing on your salad, a nut butter rather than dairy butter, flaxseeds on your cereal, a salmon rather than beef sandwich, a smoked mackerel salad rather than prawn salad, a chicken stew over a lamb stew, a venison steak over a fillet steak, a hummus spread over a chicken and liver pate. Grill rather than fry. Replace evening carbs with plenty of vegetables. It is not a diet, it is changing the way we eat and what we eat.

As you age you lose muscle naturally – Fight this by building it back

From age 30, you lose 3–8%  of your muscle mass every 10 years. We can see this in our parents as they appear to ‘shrink’ in height. However, if you keep in good physical condition you build muscle and retain fitness. VO2max is a metabolic marker of fitness. It peaks at age 20-30 and then declines with age. Training has been shown to improve VO2max results in older people. However if you allow yourself to become obese, it is harder to fight back the natural decline in muscle.


1. Wang et al. (2000) Transdermal Testosterone Gel Improves Sexual Function, Mood, Muscle Strength, and Body Composition Parameters in Hypogonadal Men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.;85:8;2839-285.

2. Rohrmann S et al (2011) Body fatness and sex steroid hormone concentrations in US men:results from NHANES III. Cancer Causes Control 22:1141–1151

3. www.hopkins-arthritis.org/patient-corner/diseasemanagement/osteoandweight.html

4. Mattila V. M et al. (2007)Risk factors for bone stress injuries: a follow-up study of 102.515 person years. Med Sci Sports Exerc:39:1061-6

5. Heir T, Eide G.(1997) Injury proneness in infantry conscripts undergoing a physical training programme: smokeless tobacco use, higher age, and low levels of physical fitness are risk factors. Scand J Med Sci Sports;7:304-11

6. Kyrolainen H. (2010) Physical Fitness Profiles of Young Men Associations Between Physical Fitness, Obesity and Health. Sports Med;40 (11): 907-920

7. Parra D. et al. (2008) A diet rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulates satiety in overweight and obese volunteers during weight loss. Appetite;51:676–80.

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