True or false? If you’re a woman trying to lose weight, you need to understand testosterone.
True or false? If you’re a man trying to lose weight, you need to understand estrogen.
If you said “true” to both, you’d be right.
Both men and women need estrogen and testosterone, but need them in different amounts in order to support unique male and female biological functions, primarily for reproduction. But as they do their jobs to help humans procreate, they can also do a number on weight loss efforts.
Estrogen & Testosterone in Women
We may be preaching to the choir here, but when it comes to weight loss, it’s not easy for women. We can thank estrogen for that. For better or for worse, estrogen is a hormone that stimulates the growth of fat cells, and women have more of it than men. In addition to stimulating growth of fat cells, estrogen also does not promote the development of lean muscle mass, which is a key component in increasing metabolism rates and weight loss.
This doesn’t mean that women should run to the doctor to see if they can increase testosterone rates. The imbalance of estrogen and testosterone can have a range of negative effects on women’s health and weight. For instance, it can lead to a common condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. In a 10-year observational study published in the journal Obesity, it was reported that obesity and greater weight gain are associated with PCOS status. Higher testosterone levels in women also increase risk of cardiovascular disease, especially when transitioning through menopause.
But we don’t want to give the impression that all hope is lost for women! To the contrary, a dedication to healthy eating, activity, quality sleep and reducing stress levels forms the foundation for a successful weight management program. It might just take a little more effort for women than men who have some hormonal help on their side…
Estrogen & Testosterone in Men
It may not be fair, but men have a definite advantage over women when it comes to weight loss by virtue of their testosterone levels. Men have ten times the amount of testosterone than women, which makes it much easier for them to develop and maintain fat-burning lean muscle mass.
However, it’s not all fun and games for men trying to lose weight. In some cases, men may suffer from low testosterone, also called hypogonadism, which can lead to weight gain. In addition, men need to know that fat cells produce an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen. Increased levels of estrogen trigger the body to slow its production of testosterone. When this happens, there is a tendency for fat to develop around the abdomen, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
The bottom line is that you should have your medical provider check for hormone imbalances that might be contributing to your weight loss challenges. If this is the case, he or she may be able to address the imbalance or refer you to a specialist who can. Once you correct the hormone levels, your weight loss efforts should kick into higher gear.