It is critical to have a decent handle on understanding of the role of estrogen in men. Estrogen is one of the two most important hormones in the male body.
Let’s quickly review mission critical information.
For men, testosterone is the #1 hormone! Top Dog… El Cabron (in the badass sense of the phrase) It plays a vital role in metabolism, energy production, muscle building, fat loss, the production of sperm, and dozens of other of ridiculously important tasks.
For women, however, estrogen is the reproductive hormone of choice. Estrogen ensures the development of their secondary sexual characteristics, including breast tissue, the endometrium, and their menstruation cycle.
Men and Women need a balance of both of these hormones to function optimally.
Women tend to have a higher fat distribution than men. This is due to their higher estrogen levels. Estrogen encourages the storage of subcutaneous fat (beneath the skin), which is why the work women do in the gym produces slightly different results. This is to say when you see a woman who is ripped and jacked…chances are she has worked a hell of a lot harder than her male counterpart.
Men tend to have a concentration of fat around their midsections and chest area, while estrogen causes the fat to “spread out” in the female body.
You can see in this picture that I suffered from excessively high estrogen level which lead to man boobs. Once I began to examine my health on a deeper level I was able to eliminate excess estrogen and get rid of man boobs.
But estrogen doesn’t just increase fat storage–it actually STOPS your body from burning fat! Read on to find out everything you need to know about estrogen’s role in preventing fat loss…
How Estrogen Blocks Fat Loss
Estrogen increases the production of alpha-adregenic receptors in the body. These receptors essentially slow the release of fat–both stored and dietary–preventing fat from being burned as the primary fuel source. The receptors encourage the body to store fat, leading to that round shape that draw men’s eyes and women’s envy.
But the fact that these alpha-adregenic receptors cause the body to store fat instead of burning it makes weight loss much harder–both for women and men with higher estrogen levels. When estrogen levels are high, the alpha-adregenic receptors are working at full steam to prevent your body from burning fat. This is particularly true of the fat in your lower body (legs, glutes, and around your abdomen).
Studies have pointed to the fact that low levels of estrogen make it easier for the body to burn fat, while high estrogen levels cause the body to cling stubbornly to its fat.
Estrogen and Water Retention
High estradiol levels are linked to higher levels of aldosterone, a hormone that causes your body to store more water. Aldosterone increases the retention of sodium, the electrolyte that retains water in the muscles. This causes you to develop a “puffy” look so common with water retention.
When your body is retaining water, it will not affect your fat or calorie-burning at all. Water is not burned for energy–only sugars and fats. But water retention can cause you to LOOK like you’re not losing weight, as the water stored in your tissue will make you look puffy.
Thankfully, it’s easy to deal with the water retention caused by high estrogen levels. Drinking more water and consuming more potassium-rich foods will usually be enough to encourage the body to eliminate the water it has stored.
The Real Problem: Estrogen Dominance
Above, you saw how estrogen could stop your body from burning fat, but here’s the truth: estrogen ALONE is actually one of the most useful hormones for increasing fat burning. In fact, it’s potentially even more effective than testosterone!
Why is that?
Estrogen (E2, in particular) reduces lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down fat into cells that can be transported around your body in order to store for “emergencies”. By preventing the fat from being broken down, estrogen essentially stops your body from storing fat. After all, the human body can ONLY store fat if it’s in the right form (triglycerides). No lipoprotein lipase, no stored fat!
Estrogen also makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Essentially, it can help to reduce glucose uptake in the body’s cells, preventing your body from absorbing too much sugar. By doing so, estrogen actually promotes a negative energy balance (more energy expended than consumed), forcing your body to activate fat cells to make up for the deficit.
Estrogen, and estradiol specifically, helps to reduce your appetite. Estrogen modulates your melanin-concentrating hormone, which plays a role in your hunger. Essentially, it reduces your sensations of hunger and wanting to eat, helping to reduce your risk of snacking or overeating.
So, if estrogen is actually helpful for weight loss and fat-burning, why is it so commonly linked with fat loss difficulties? The answer is simple: Estrogen Dominance is the real problem!
Estrogen dominance refers to a hormonal imbalance where estrogen levels are higher than the levels of progesterone, another important reproductive hormone. In a normal body, estrogen and progesterone levels are balanced. They complement each other, at the same time keeping each other in check. With normal levels of progesterone, estrogen can’t rise out of control, and the same is true in reverse.
However, the fact that we are exposed to SO MUCH estrogen (via food, artificial products, industrial waste, plastics, pesticides, and hundreds of other sources) means that our bodies always tend to have higher levels of estrogen. At the same time, high levels of stress have become the “norm” in our modern lives. Stress causes the body to produce cortisol (stress hormone), but it ends up stealing progesterone in order to produce the hormone. Chronic stress can lead to chronically low levels of progesterone, which in turn makes it more likely for the hormonal balance to be thrown off.
Insulin and cortisol work together with testosterone to store fat around the belly and abdomen (in case of “emergencies”). Estrogen and progesterone help to prevent the fat from being stored in the belly, instead sending the fat to the hips, thighs, and breasts. With enough progesterone in the body, only healthy amounts of fat are stored. But if the progesterone levels dip too low, estrogen is essentially able to store fat in limitless quantities.
That’s why estrogen dominance is really the primary obstacle many women and men with low testosterone face. Their bodies are designed to store more fat, and without the progesterone to prevent it, they end up with more body fat than is healthy. Despite their best efforts to lose weight, their estrogen-progesterone imbalance stops them from burning fat effectively.
How to Balance Estrogen Levels
The truth is that estrogen is good, but too much of it can be just as bad as too little. It’s vital for women to find ways to balance their estrogen levels, but most importantly raise their levels of progesterone. By preventing estrogen dominance, you can ensure your body is in proper fat-burning mode.
So how can you balance your levels of estrogen and progesterone?
Sleep More -– When you sleep, your body produces Human Growth Hormone (HGH), the hormone that repairs your muscles and promotes healthy construction of new cells and tissues. A solid 7-8 hours of sleep per night will have pronounced effects on your HGH levels, helping your body to produce more of this vital growth hormone that can make weight loss (and fat burning, specifically) a lot easier.
Eat More Protein — Protein is the building block of muscle, and the best way to combat fat is to increase muscle mass. Muscle mass burns more calories every day, leading to an increase in your metabolism and calorie expenditure. A high-protein diet can help to restore healthy progesterone levels and keep estrogen in check. Make sure to consume at least 30% of your daily calories in the form of healthy proteins like eggs, chicken, poultry, fish, legumes, and lean cuts of red meat.
Exercise More — Exercise is the best way to increase your testosterone levels (something that benefits both men and women), but it also helps to keep your estrogen controlled. But don’t spend all your time doing cardio or aerobic workouts. Instead, spend your time hitting the weights! Resistance and strength training is the key to building more muscle, and it will promote a better estrogen balance in your body. Train for strength at least 3-4 days per week, and you’ll have a much easier time keeping your progesterone levels normal. Plus, you’ll see amazing weight loss as the months of hard training pass!
Reduce Estrogen-Related Factors — There are A LOT of things that can increase your estrogen levels, including (but not limited to): soy, non-organic meats, plastic bottles, pesticides, and high-sugar drinks. It’s vital to reduce the presence of these factors in your life, as that will reduce your risk of anything raising your estrogen levels unnaturally high.
Detoxify the Body — There are ways to get rid of excess estrogen in your body, and it involves getting rid of the excess insulin and blood sugar. Too-high blood sugar levels cause a spike in your insulin levels, which in turn causes your body to store more fat (courtesy of estrogen). By reducing your blood sugar, you can keep insulin and estrogen levels low.
Try a detoxification diet with plenty of cruciferous vegetables, high-fiber foods, and green tea. Don’t cut out all other foods from your diet, but increase your intake of the above-mentioned significantly. They can help to eliminate a lot of the toxins and estrogens from your body, returning you to a fat-burning state!
Decrease Insulin — Remember how insulin plays a role in the storage of fat? To get your body back to fat-burning mode and reduce estrogen, it’s time to find ways to reduce insulin production. All you need to do to reduce insulin production is eat less high-sugar foods.
Your body produces insulin only when your blood sugar levels get too high, the result of eating foods packed with sugar (natural, refined, and artificial). All you have to do is eliminate most sugary foods from your diet, and you’ll see a significant decrease in your blood sugar levels. Keep up the diet for a few weeks/months, and your fasting blood sugar levels will also decrease. If you can go on a low-carb diet (at least a week or two every month), you can seriously lower estrogen levels.
Here is a list of foods to avoid:
- Too much fruit (more than 2 servings per day)
- Fruit drinks and juices
- Sodas and sweetened beverages
- Cakes and cookies
- Baked goods
- Most breads (anything except 100% Whole Wheat)
- Refined grains
- Sweetened dairy products
- Too much dairy (more than 1 or 2 servings per day)
Eliminate these foods from your diet, and you’ll be in a better fat-burning state with less risk of estrogen dominance.
Decrease Cortisol — Remember how stress steals progesterone and turns it into cortisol? To prevent estrogen dominance, it’s vital for you to reduce the stress in your life. That means taking more time to relax–both during the week and on the weekends–as well as finding ways to cope with your family, home, and work responsibilities.
Eat More Fiber — Fiber has been linked to a reduction in estrogen levels. Essentially, it can help to restore a healthy balance between estrogen and progesterone. As a bonus, it will also reduce blood sugar and prevent insulin resistance. Make sure to eat high-fiber foods at EVERY meal, and have at least 3-4 servings of veggies per day. You’ll see a difference in no time!
Eat Healthy Fats — It may sound counter-intuitive, but an increase in fat intake can actually promote better fat-burning. Your body clings to fat out of fear of starvation, but a high-fat diet signals to your body that there is no risk of going hungry. It also gets your metabolism accustomed to burning fat, meaning it easier to torch stored fat.
Just make sure you eat HEALTHY fats, such as those from plant sources: coconut oil, olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, etc. And don’t overdo it on the fat either! Fat contains more than twice as many calories as carbs and protein, so it’s easy to cross the line into “too much” fat. Just add a small amount of healthy fat to your diet to start seeing the fat-burning results you want.