We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about ways to perform better when you’re having sex. Today I want to talk about something that impacts your chances of having sex: low testosterone and belly fat.
That whole “Dad Body” craze aside, women prefer a flat belly. It shows you take care of yourself, and are therefore more likely to take care of them. It displays a bunch of characteristics our caveman evolution has programmed women to want on a sexual level.
As a bonus, some of the things that impact how much fat you have on your belly directly impact your sexual performance, too.
Here’s the skinny on belly fat, low testosterone, and you.
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The Triad: Cortisol, Belly Fat, and Low Testosterone
Let’s think back to the way old days…a half a million years ago when people weren’t yet homo sapiens and spent their time hanging out in the Serengeti amongst lions and hyenas and hostile tribes of other proto-people.
Stress back then consisted of something trying to eat you, somebody trying to take what you wanted to eat, or pressure from one of those two things being likely to happen soon.
Your body’s entire stress response — the fight or flight impulse — is based on that reality. It hasn’t caught up to the current reality of the human condition.
Stress makes your body produce cortisol, a hormone that helps with recovery from the damage fight or flight does to your tissues.
This works fine if your response to stress is actually fighting or running away, but if that response is stewing quietly in your cubicle, slapping the steering wheel in traffic, or arguing with your partner, cortisol has a host of other effects.
There’s a lot of research already out there about what this does to your heart and brain, for example, but one particular impact is relevant here.
One thing cortisol does, especially when released frequently, is it plays havoc with your body’s ability to process sugar and to burn fat. This hormonal imbalance is directly linked to increased belly fat in men.
While it’s at it, this same hormonal imbalance reduces your body’s production of testosterone.
Both cortisol and testosterone are made from pregnenolone, so if you’re body’s busy making cortisol out of the stuff there’s not enough left over to keep your testosterone levels normal.
As we know low testosterone is related both to reduction in lean muscle mass and increase in body fat, especially around the belly.
Bottom line: stress means belly fat. From at least two directions.
High Cortisol Increases Estrogen And Lowers Testosterone
I mentioned above that high cortisol reduces your body’s testosterone production because you run out of raw materials with which to build testosterone.
That’s bad enough all by itself, but if your testosterone drops while your estrogen production remains the same (which it almost always will), you end up with too much estrogen.
High estrogen has a number of impacts.. Some of the most common include:
- Enlarged breasts
- Chronic fatigue
- Depression and other emotional issues
- Increased belly fat
- Type 2 diabetes
- Decreased muscle mass
Further, a 2011 study by Wang, et. al. at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, associated obesity and sexual dysfunction directly with low testosterone, especially when the low testosterone was associated with an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen.
So it’s clear. Too much stress hurts your body’s ability to fight off belly fat, in large part because it simultaneously reduces your testosterone levels.
As we already know belly fat isn’t the only reason you want to lower your stress and reduce your cortisol production.
The good news is reducing cortisol is a fairly simple proposition.
Here are a few simple ways to hack your body and lifestyle for less cortisol.
- Sprinkle sea salt or pink Himalayan salt on your meals. They reduce cortisol production at the molecular level.
- Eat citrus, or take a vitamin C supplement. This helps your adrenal glands function more efficiently, meaning your body gets the same results with less cortisol.
- Take foot baths with magnesium flakes, soaking your feet for a full hour once a week. This method for absorbing magnesium, which has been clinically proven to reduce cortisol production, is the most efficient I’ve found.
- Get eight hours of sleep each night. This not only maximizes your body’s ability to process cortisol and other stress hormones and get your hormonal balance to normal, it also increases your ability to handle stressful situations the next day…which means less actual stress, and lower production of cortisol moving forward.
- Laugh. A lot. Laughter directly reduces stress and decreases cortisol production. Also, it’s fun…and women like men who are funny and enjoy humor.
- Eat every two hours instead of having three full meals. This keeps your blood sugar stable, as opposed to the spiked insulin production associated with the larger meals. That spiked production also increases cortisol.
Especially choosing sprinting, weightlifting or similar “heavy duty” workouts. Those higher loads in your exercise cycle stimulate testosterone production, which can improve your testosterone coming and going.
- Make time to relax. This decreases stress and lowers cortisol. Whether you take five minutes to meditate in the middle of the day, play tennis with your little brother, have a night out with friends, or just watch the ball game in peace doesn’t matter. What matters is you make the time to chill out.
- Decrease your exposure to “blue light” from bright bulbs and screens. These reduce your body’s production of the hormones that make you sleepy, meaning you’ll have trouble getting enough rest to keep cortisol in check.
Stress is everywhere, which means cortisol is a constant presence in your body. The more you can do to keep it in check, the higher your testosterone levels will be. The higher your testosterone, the lower your belly fat.