I called up my old friend Rob a few months ago. I hadn’t heard from him in a while. We used to go hiking, meet people wherever we’d end up. and have a lot of fun. Last time I met him, he had gained 40 pounds. He kept making excuses about why he couldn’t come out, and when he finally did, he complained about his job and lack of women all night. He used to be fun and laugh all the time. Now, he barely said a word. Then, before 10 PM even came, he decided he was tired and went home.
Rob didn’t know it, but he likely had low testosterone, from his lifestyle choices (he also just got out of a long-term relationship, which also lowers your T levels). You may know a lot of guys (of all ages) whom this describes. You may have wondered how once vibrant, energetic, and masculine guys could quickly become boring, tired, and lifeless. Likely, low testosterone is the culprit, and weight plays a huge role.
Anyone without an agenda (such as “fat pride”) knows that carrying excess fat weight matters in dating and relationships (i.e. obesity is less attractive). However, this article isn’t about the physical looks aspect of obesity, but what it does to the male body that destroys both health and romantic success.
The obesity epidemic spreading across Western countries is having dangerous side effects for men, and they are both physical and social. To see the obesity epidemic in action, have a look at the animated gif on the upper right. Click on it for a bigger version.
One of the biggest side effects related to obesity in men is the fact that obesity destroys a man’s testosterone levels, and that is unhelpful for a variety of reasons.
While many people think of testosterone as a bad thing (like guys with their hat backwards grunting at each other while listening to Limp Bizkit music), the reality is much different. Not only do high testosterone levels not cause aggression, but they actually can cause guys to be fairer and less aggressive.
Other research suggests that high testosterone levels increase the desire for social dominance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean increased aggression, unless it is expected in the environment (i.e. the men with higher testosterone in prison would be more violent; the men with higher T in many more civilized environments would simply become more charming and assertive).
Also, if you are still thinking of testosterone as a “bad” chemical, low testosterone is a risk factor for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even atherosclerosis.
And to emphasize this point further, low testosterone levels could be why you’re perpetually single and stuck in a rut at work. Testosterone is important for attracting women, with women preferring men with higher T levels and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. That high testosterone to low cortisol ratio is also what is seen in people who are leaders in any given situation.
So: higher testosterone (and lower cortisol) makes you healthier, more relaxed, socially dominant, attractive, and more likely to be a leader. That is the good news.
The bad news is that obesity lowers testosterone levels, which in turn promotes obesity, creating a downward spiral that makes both losing weight and raising testosterone levels very difficult. Many guys have been significantly overweight for years, and it is no surprise that it has turned them into socially frustrated and angry guys.
And, even though it is commonly assumed testosterone naturally declines with age, a recent study found that it wasn’t necessarily age that was the main problem, but weight gain that often comes with age! So, that expected decrease in energy, desire, etc., that comes with age? It likely doesn’t have to happen – if you aren’t overweight at least.
While we talk about personality factors a lot on this blog, the bottom line is that your weight may be killing your social and work life, even beyond appearance issues.
Losing weight and working out could seriously help your social success. While I suggest any type of exercise that burns calories, if you focus on weight loss that helps raise your testosterone levels, your social (and physical) results will be magnified because it will address the low testosterone-obesity downward spiral.
Aerobic exercise can increase testosterone levels, but if you run, stick to sprinting and avoid extra long distance runs. Otherwise, interval training increases testosterone levels, so try a program like Insanity. Weight lifting also boosts testosterone (as does any weight resistance, particularly chopping wood).
If you don’t want to buy a fancy weight set or a gym membership, I suggest looking into body weight exercises.
And while the evidence is mixed, we teach our clients to hold certain body language poses that can raise testosterone levels, thereby creating a feedback loop in which your confidence grows, causing your testosterone to grow, and then increasing confidence again, and so forth.
If you need more help, Jonathan and I have a weight loss book, Lose Weight And Be Healthy Now: Forty Science-Based Weight Loss Tips to Transform Your Life. That book lists over 40 ways to lose weight.
So, if you’re overweight, you’re killing your testosterone levels, and, your manhood. Start today losing weight and getting fit to reclaim it.