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Drastic Weight Loss: Testosterone May Help You Drop Fat, Maintain Muscle

Losing weight doesn't mean you have to lose all your muscle mass, according to a new study.

Whether you're trying to lose those last few pounds hanging around your midsection (love handles can be seriously dangerous after all) or looking for more drastic weight loss, there's a dieting dilemma common to both scenarios: how do you drop fat while maintaining muscle?

The truth is that you don't have to compromise, according to research presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting. Researchers found adding testosterone treatment may help dieters lose only fat while retaining muscle mass.

100 fairly healthy obese men ranging in age from 20 to 70, were recruited for the clinical trial. All of the men had low testosterone levels; 20 percent had diabetes, and 10 percent had heart disease.

For the first 10 weeks, all participants were placed on a super-low calorie diet. The men were urged to abstain from alcohol and perform at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Then, from week 11 through the 56th, participants were placed on a weight-maintenance diet based on the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Total Wellbeing Diet comprising of normal foods.

Meanwhile, every 10 weeks over the 56-week-long study, 49 of the men received 1,000mg injections of intramuscular testosterone undecanoate, while 51 received a placebo.

In the end, both groups lost roughly 24 pounds; but those in the testosterone group lost almost exclusively fat, while those on the placebo lost both lean muscle and fat. More specifically, the men taking testosterone lost 6.6 pounds more body fat than those on the placebo and maintained their muscle mass, while those on placebo lost 7.7 lb of muscle mass.

The researchers say, overall, 40 percent of obese men have low testosterone. Now we know weight loss due to calorie restriction naturally increases circulating testosterone levels, and testosterone treatment reduces fat. But researchers aren't sure whether adding testosterone treatment to calorie restriction reduces fat more than calorie restriction alone. Regardless, if you're interested in getting these treatments yourself, talk to your MD. Testosterone treatment can be administered via an injection, patch, gel, or tablets, but you should consult your doctor first about natural ways to boost your levels. (You can also try these workouts to boost your testosterone and/or these supps!)

Note: Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council supported the study. Bayer Pharma AG provided testosterone, placebo, and financial support but was not directly involved in the study.

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