Weight management can be an issue for men, particularly as they get older. It is important to understand the role that hormones play in how well you burn fat, and how age-related hormone decline contributes to weight gain.
You can feel overweight, you can look overweight, but the only way to determine if you fit the medical definition of being obese or overweight is to calculate your body mass index. Body mass index or BMI is the most important tool that doctors and healthcare professionals use to calculate the amount of body fat you have by using a specific ratio of your height and weight measurements.
BMI is most useful in determining your risk of obesity and obesity-related medical issues such as heart disease and diabetes. BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms (kg) divided by the square of your height in meters (m2).
- If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
- If your BMI is 18.5 to <25, it falls within the healthy weight range.
- If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range.
- If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obesity range.
What’s a Healthy BMI for Men?
As you can see from the above Guidelines, medical professionals believe a number between 18.5 to 24.9 is a healthy BMI for men. However, it is important to note that while BMI is generally used to assess if you are overweight, it only gives a snapshot as to how your weight relates to your overall health and the risk of obesity-related complications. It is not 100% accurate. Some men in the “overweight” range could be perfectly healthy, or in good shape, because BMI does not factor in body fat or muscle mass. So there are BMI limitations.
However, if your BMI falls in the overweight or obese range and you look in the mirror and do not see a bodybuilder staring back and instead more of a “dad bod,” it’s a pretty safe bet that you are indeed overweight and should do something about it!
How Does Being Overweight Impact Your Quality of Life
Being even mildly overweight can negatively impact your quality of life. Being obese can increase the risk of several obesity-related conditions that can severely impact your health, shorten your life, or even cause sudden death by stroke or heart attack.
In addition, men who score in the “overweight” or “obese” categories on their BMI index, are at greater risk of developing:
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (dyslipidemia).
- Gallbladder disease.
- Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint).
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems.
- Some types of cancer.
- Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
- Erectile dysfunction and other sexual health issues.
- Joint pain and difficulty with physical functioning.
What Are the Causes of Obesity in Males?
There can be several causes of obesity in males. As most of us know, at the basic level, obesity is caused by consuming more calories than you burn, so overeating is a common cause of obesity. But understanding why you gain weight and have trouble taking it off is a bit more complicated than merely your diet, particularly as men age.
- Genetics – Medical science has shown that there is definitely a genetic component to obesity. Some men are simply genetically predisposed to being overweight. In addition, there are several genetic diseases and conditions that have obesity or weight gain as one of their consequences, such as growth hormone deficiency or Prader-Willi syndrome.
- Low metabolism – No discussion of weight gain and obesity would be complete without mentioning metabolism. At the most basic level, metabolism is how well your body burns the fat you consume into energy for your cells. When you have a low metabolism, more fat is stored than burned. There are many things that can impact metabolism, but one of the most important factors is your hormonal balance. Your ability to burn fat or metabolism is a hormone-driven process.
- Lifestyle choices – Of course, there are many lifestyle or behavioral choices you can make that can cause obesity. A poor diet and a generally sedentary lifestyle will lead to weight gain. Cigarette smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol can also raise your risk of becoming obese.
- Hormonal imbalance – As mentioned above, having a slow or low metabolism is a function of your hormones. Several hormones contribute to metabolism, but the main ones in men are testosterone and human growth hormone or HGH. Unfortunately, the decline of both of these hormones as males age results in a slowed metabolism which often is the reason for older men having difficulty in maintaining a healthy weight even when dieting and exercising.
How Is Obesity Diagnosed in Men?
BMI is only one tool that medical professionals use to diagnose obesity in men. Evaluating if you are at a healthy weight or overweight will also entail:
- Taking a medical history.
- Having a complete medical exam.
- Measuring your waist circumference – Men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches may be at a greater risk for obesity.
- Labs to check for other health problems – There could be other problems such as metabolic issues like diabetes or hormonal imbalances that could be causing your weight gain. Blood tests will be taken to find out.
What Are the Treatment Methods for Obese Men?
Depending on the root cause, there are several ways to treat obesity in men. Diet, exercise, and lifestyle change can help no matter the reason you are overweight. However, sometimes that is not enough, and you may be a candidate for medical weight loss.
Medical weight loss is an approach to managing obesity in men that focuses on doctor-supervised plans that involve not only diet, exercise, supplementation, behavior modification, and lifestyle changes, but also medical interventions that could include weight loss medications or even surgery.
But most often, and most effectively, in addition to supervised diet and exercise, medical weight loss for men will include hormone replacement therapies.
How Are Your Hormones Connected to Low Metabolism and Increased Body Weight?
Two of the most important hormones to metabolism and, therefore, weight gain in men are testosterone and human growth hormone. Both hormones are involved both directly and indirectly in the metabolic process known as lipolysis, or more simply, the burning of fat for cellular energy.
Testosterone and HGH directly impact metabolism by stimulating the production and release of other hormones integral to the process, such as insulin and IGF-1. HGH and testosterone also influence metabolism because of their impact on your ability to exercise and build lean muscle. Both are necessary to build muscle. Muscle raises your metabolism because muscles crave energy even when at rest.
A strong connection between low testosterone and age-related growth hormone deficiency and obesity has been well documented in the medical literature.
How Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Benefit Overweight Males
If you are between the ages of 40 and 65, exercising and eating right, and still struggling with your weight, chances are your hormones are to blame. As mentioned above, testosterone and HGH are both critical to maintaining a high metabolism and a healthy weight.
But the unfortunate fact of life is that both of these hormones, vital to your fitness as they are, decline as you age. This age-related hormone loss is usually why men find it so much easier to gain weight as they get older, and that much harder to lose it – particularly stubborn belly fat.
However, that can all be reversed with hormone replacement therapy for men. Among the other benefits, such as improved sex drive and stamina, all of our male patients on hormone replacement lose weight – many a significant amount in the neighborhood of 60 pounds or more!
Hormone therapy, such as testosterone injections or HGH injections, is usually prescribed for a six-month initial program. Over that time, you will continue to lose weight and become more energetic and fitter.
Understand, however, hormone replacement therapy is not a magic bullet for weight loss. As part of your program, you will also be given diet and exercise coaching and lifestyle advice to help you achieve maximum results and maintain your weight loss.
How to Start With HRT for Weight Loss and Weight Management
Getting started with HRT for weight loss is not hard. It begins with an initial consultation with one of our hormone counselors to evaluate your issues and symptoms. That will usually be followed by a complete medical exam and lab work to check your hormone levels.
If you are found to be hormone deficient, you will be prescribed a course of hormone replacement therapy customized for your individual goals and lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions about Weight and Hormones in Men
HGH is one of the hormones along with testosterone that influence metabolism. It does this by its impact on your ability to build muscle and burn fat, as well as its role in the production and release of other hormones related to fat metabolism.
Studies have found that men with low testosterone almost always are obese or otherwise struggle with weight. That does not mean that low testosterone directly causes weight gain; however, men with low testosterone experience a confluence of symptoms, such as lack of energy, a slowed metabolism, depression, and sleep issues, all of which can increase the risk of obesity.
The best treatment for men with obesity depends on the cause. If, however, it is found that your struggles with weight are related to low testosterone, growth hormone deficiency, or both, the best treatment is hormone replacement therapy.
Having troubles with obesity? Contact our endocrinologists to find the root causes of this condition and get the best treatment.