The Battle Of The Belly — Testosterone, Aromatase & Male Estrogen

by Dr. David Minkoff November 10, 2021 5 min read

Athletic man doing meditation under a flowing waterfall.

Testosterone, like Growth Hormone, plays a large role in muscle bulk and strength, as well as fat-burning. 

It also helps regulate sex drive, bone mass, fat distribution (as in where the fat is stored), body composition, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.

As it’s the “male” hormone, we see much higher numbers in men than in women, though women still need this just as men still need some estrogen, the “female” hormone. 

Normal testosterone levels give men that chiseled look, high energy levels, and strength. It helps improve mood and lowers the risk of disease. In women, we see more definition and muscle. 

The lower our testosterone levels get, the more fatigued we can feel. When very low, we even find men in a bad mood or “chronically” depressed. 

And it's harder to build muscle and lose fat.

But it’s not just that lowered testosterone makes it harder to burn fat; even more, the more body fat you have… the less testosterone you will have. 

This is because of something called aromatase, which is produced by our fat cells. 

You see, as far as their chemical profiles, testosterone and estrogen are nearly identical. So, they can easily be interchanged in the body, turning testosterone into estrogen or estrogen into testosterone.

Aromatase, an enzyme produced by fat cells, takes the testosterone a man’s body produces and converts it into estrogen — a necessary hormone for men in low quantity, but also a fat-storage hormone. This is why women have more body fat than men, on average — higher levels of estrogen. 

So, the more fat a man is carrying, the more aromatase he will produce. The more aromatase is produced, the more testosterone is converted to estrogen. The more estrogen, the more insulin is released, which raises fat storage… and the more fat that is stored, the more aromatase that will be produced… 

It’s one big circle. And it can get pretty bad.

The Standard American Diet, toxins, and the long-term effects

Now, estrogen curves chiseled edges and promotes breasts and larger bellies, in women and men. 

Most men think this has to do with age, and it does… somewhat.

But testosterone levels, even in young men, have been dropping for decades now. This isn’t “dropping as one gets older.” This is a man in his 30s today having lower average levels of testosterone than a man in his 30s forty years ago.

In fact, overall levels have been dropping about 1% each year for the last 50 years at least — and that goes for all ages. We see this most drastically in sperm counts, which are down an average of 60% since 1970. This is why we have so many fertility clinics now. We didn’t need them before.

But this is higher levels of processed sugar raising insulin and cortisol and thus body fat levels, which in turn converts testosterone into estrogen in men. 

It’s also the introduction of more and more chemicals into our food, water, and air supplies, many of which either actas estrogen in the body (actually passing on estrogen-type messages to the cells which the cells then follow) or, through their toxicity, they shock the body, stimulating the release of cortisol.

To raise testosterone levels, we mainly need to do the same things as we do for growth hormone

First, cut out the processed sugars and trans fats and instead give the body enough real protein and cholesterol that the body can actually use, because testosterone is made from cholesterol and these low-cholesterol diets are wreaking havoc on our bodies. 

Then we need to work our muscles, progressively overloading them with heavier and heavier weights, while also giving them time to recuperate and get good sleep in between. This promotes testosterone production and utilization.

And we need to make sure we’re getting filtered water free of toxic chemicals, staying away from trans fats, not ingesting plastics from plastic water bottles, and consuming only organic foods. 

This is because many of these toxins, like glyphosate (which is in most of our foods these days) mimicestrogens on a molecular level.

You see, on the surface of each cell are little “keyholes” called hormone receptors. The body needs something done so it releases a hormone to tell the cells what to do. That hormone then goes to its specific hormone receptor on the cell. The hormone receptor looks at the hormones chemical profile and allows it access or not. 

But some of these toxins, like the plastics in water bottles, have chemical profiles very similar to estrogen. 

They can be so similar that the cell thinks it is estrogen and so allows it in and then performs the “estrogen instructions.” 

Or, they can be similar enough that, while the cell doesn’t follow the “instructions,” the toxin can still get jammed in the receptor and so when a real hormone comes along to give its vital message, it can’t get through because the receptor site is blocked. 

So, your cells can mistake these toxins as estrogens and act as if they just received a communication from estrogen. This is not something you want, but something that happens in high quantity if you drink unfiltered or plastic-bottled water, or consume processed foods or non-organic meats or plants.

Employ the proactive strategy

Now the above is what to cut out. But if you then add into your diet vitamin D, Zinc, CoQ10, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids, it’ll lower cortisol levels and raise testosterone levels naturally (cortisol and testosterone have a sort of see-saw like action: when one raises, the other lowers and vice versa).

Then of course, what lowers estrogen in our body also raises testosterone.

This is one reason why magnesium and fiber are very important. Fiber helps remove excess estrogen and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Magnesium allows the body to absorb calcium and regulates the pituitary gland, a gland which in turn regulates hormone levels overall. 

Magnesium is also very calming, helping to lower cortisol levels before sleep. Plus, most people are magnesium-deficient as it's actually processed out of a majority of our foods these days.

Vitamin B6 also helps reduce estrogen levels in the blood.

Thyroid helps to regulate all hormones in the body. Thyroid is made from iodine and tyrosine, an amino acid. And, if we're getting our iodine and PerfectAmino in, our body is more able to produce thyroid which, again, helps regulate hormones.

Now, all of this is actually pretty simple. Almost too simple. But the body was built around certain foods and not around others, and definitely not around these toxins. When we give it what it needs, what it’s used to, and in the quantities it needs… it’s pretty amazing what it can do and what “problems” suddenly resolve on their own.

Also, as a note, if you ever elect to get hormone replacement therapy, first make sure it’s bio-identical hormones, not some artificial chemical. 

Second, only take as much as your body would naturally produce on its own in its 30s. When we give our body too high levels of external testosterone or estrogen, it reacts by trying to balance it out by converting much of one hormone to the other, often causing more problems than what we were trying to solve in the first place. 

I hope that helps.

Learn more in The PerfectAmino Guide to Fat Loss & Lean Bulking HERE.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.