Overweight men are more likely to have low testosterone levels, but they may be reluctant to use testosterone therapy. A new study found that a combination of diet and exercise can boost testosterone levels by almost 50 percent, providing an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
Researchers in Dublin assigned 891 overweight, middle-aged Irish men with pre-diabetes to one of three treatments. One group was put on a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet along with at least 150 minutes of exercise a week; a second group took the diabetes drug metformin; and a third group took a placebo pill.
Among men in the healthy-lifestyle group, the rate of low testosterone levels dropped from 20 percent to 11 percent after a year.
The rate of low testosterone didn't budge in the diabetes-drug group or the placebo group.
"Doctors should first encourage overweight men with low testosterone levels to try to lose weight through diet and exercise before resorting to testosterone therapy to raise their hormone levels," said study co-author Dr. Frances Hayes, a professor at St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin.
In addition to improving their testosterone levels, the diet/exercise group also lost an average of 17 pounds.
Losing weight not only reduces the likelihood that pre-diabetes will progress to diabetes, but reduces the risk of many other health problems including cardiovascular disease.