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Obesity in Men and the T Factor: Is it T-Time?

Jan 11, 2016

Testosterone

Victor S. Sierpina, MD

Men, there is now a simple medical biomarker test for you called CYCYP. Can You C(s)ee Your P…? Look straight down and if you can’t see your manhood, likely you are suffering from visceral or belly fat.

For many years, we guys have thought of the obesity issue as something that mainly troubled the fairer sex. However, obesity or overweight rates for men are at 72 percent and rising and for women it is 64 percent and stable. Men also have a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease with a life expectancy of 76 years compared to 81 for women.  Being obese or overweight contributes to the burden of all these diseases in a major way. Lifestyle management is the primary therapeutic tool.

My colleague and friend, physician and chef, Dr. John La Puma has new book out called Men Don’t Diet, Men...Refuel. Dr. La Puma has long explored the ways health and nutrition are related.

A major theme of this book is that the overweight/obesity epidemic among men is in part attributable to declining testosterone levels. This decrease is not just the kind related to normal aging. There has been a worldwide decline in testosterone levels among men of all ages. One study indicated that there is a global “sperm crisis” with a decrease in sperm counts of 50 percent in the last 50 years.

Weight gain and associated insulin resistance in itself contributes to hormonal changes, lowered testosterone. Visceral or belly fat is a factory of inflammatory chemicals and a cause of conversion of testosterone into estrogen, its female equivalent. Or as Dr. La Puma asks, “Is your belly turning you into a girl?”

Also contributing to this problem are new-to-nature chemicals like environmental toxins, plasticizers, pesticide residues, and drug metabolites that convert testosterone into estrogen. Many of these are everyday chemicals used in plastics, papers, and beverage containers.

So what is a man to do if you failed the CYCYP test? The replacement of testosterone has becoming increasingly popular. Talk to your doctor about this option and get tested if it is appropriate. A T level under 300 is generally considered low and any man below this level may be a potential candidate for replacement therapy.

Alternatively, La Puma emphasizes a number of lifestyle changes.  As a culinary and wine expert, he cheerfully offers many delicious recipes that hit the “reward” circuit in men’s brains.

Some other tips are:
  1. Avoid plastics. Don’t microwave plastic food containers, try to avoid plastic food containers and bottles, or get phthalate-free and BPA-free containers.
  2. Eat more crucifers. These vegetables help detoxify the body through improved liver activity and removal of estrogen. Crucifers include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and kale.
  3. Eat more mono-unsaturated fats as these help build T levels. These fats are from avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts, and nut oils.
  4. Cut carbs almost completely (to less than 50 grams) a couple times a week. This can help reduce insulin sensitivity, improve weight loss, and reset your body’s hormonal system to resemble that of our cavemen ancestors.
  5. Use the 6-inch plate and the myplate.gov for a guide to portion size.
  6. Squats, pushups, and jumping jacks accelerate burning visceral fat more than running.

If you are an overweight or obese guy, I recommend getting a copy of LaPuma’s book and testing out some of the methods and recipes there.

And ladies, if he isn’t interested, get him a gift copy anyway and prepare some new and healthy dishes for him. You will be increasing “T for two!” 

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