This article looks at what creates that most unslightly area of localised fat for men – man boobs.
Man Boobs – ditch the training bra!
Previous articles in this personal training series have dealt with how we can tackle love handles and flabby bellies, so now it is only logical that we cast our eyes upwards to perhaps the most dreaded of all localised fat deposits for men – man boobs. Nothing says, or rather screams, unmanliness than a pair of wobbly “pecs” that would look more at home in a nice lace bra than the buff guy’s regulation fitted Abercrombie & Fitch T shirt. Even the most uneducated observer knows that man boobs are a prime indication of rampant female hormones and many, many men are finding that simply losing weight does nothing for this problem. Sure, they may lose some body fat but their “moobs” (the new vernacular for man boobs now that they are on the increase – more on why later) remain in the same proportion to the rest of the body. And although I am the first to agree that the world should be diverse and that there is no accounting for taste, “different horses for different courses” as my grandfather used to say, despite years of determined field research into what women want I have never yet known a single female who goes weak at the knees in the presence of a man with whom she could trade bras!
Causes of Moobs
The simple answer here is that man boobs are caused by an imbalance between two of the main sex hormones – testosterone and estrogen. More specifically it is the conversion, via the enzyme aromatase, of the male hormone testosterone into the female hormone estrogen. Testsoterone is the hormone that should be at the top of all of your wish lists as it is a prime driver for muscle mass, sex drive, and even improves ambition and focus. Estrogen on the other hand, isn’t a friend of your typical AskMen reader unless you are the type who likes to hold hands whilst shopping or “just want holding” after sex. Oh yes, an excess of estrogen will also cause female fat patterning giving you nicely curvaceous hips and breasts. Yummy, just what every red-blooded male needs.
It is worth noting here that anything at all to do with hormones is never about a single cut and dry issue. The best way to perceive your endocrine (hormonal) system is not as a series of individual hormones, but rather as a complex matrix where any impact upon the one will have an impact upon all the rest. This article is focused primarily on eliminating estrogenic fat problems, and it fits hand in glove with the next piece in this series where we will take a closer look at how to raise testosterone levels. We can lower estrogen by inhibiting aromatase, but we can also lower the proportion of estrogen in the body by raising testosterone. This is a good strategy for some, but a disasterous strategy for others as excess aromatase will simply cause rising levels of testosterone to be converted into estrogen. So our first step is always to minimise estrogenic issues in those for whom this is a problem.
Real World Man Boobs
For some people the causes of man boobs are pretty damn obvious. If you are 4 stone overweight the last thing you need to worry about is the cosmetic appearance of your chest, you need to just drop fat for the sake of your health. However, testosterone is converted to estrogen primarily in the fat cells, so the blunt truth is that the fatter you are the more likely you are to possess a rack to make your little sister jealous.
Another major cause of male breast “enhancement” is beer drinking. The hops in beer is incredibly estrogenic and regular consumption of beer will always have a feminising effect. With the exception of moderate amounts of Pinot Noir and Merlot, alcohol isn’t good for body composition in general, but beer is terrible and will completely sabotage any fat loss programme.
A factor that we here in the UK particularly seem to suffer from is that so many of our women are on the birth control Pill and the excess female hormones that produces are recycled right back into our water system and drunk by unsuspecting males. I recall reading a recent news article about dwindling supplies of freshwater fish in British rivers. The reason why being that all the fish that live downstream are turning into hermaphrodites due to the increasing estrogens being pumped into the water supplies. Whilst I do know many so-called guys who could well be turning into chicks I don’t think it has gone quite so far in humans, but it does give one pause for thought!
Unfortunately the obvious choice to the above solution is bottled water, but the phyto-estrogens in plastic bottles can also have a feminising effect – it seems that we just can’t win!
Get it off your Chest
So that is the doom and gloom done with, what if any, are the solutions?
I shouldn’t need to write this but I will. Intense weight training has been proven to increase testosterone levels and I have already told you about the propensity of fat cells to make their owner jiggly up top. So get to the gym!
All my personal training clients are tested for optimal zinc levels before they start working with us. Zinc is the “manly mineral” responsible for much to do with increased testosterone levels, fertility, and is also a potent anti-aromatase. If you are anything like my clients I would estimate that 99% of you reading this article are zinc deficient, especially if you already hit the gym as weight training depletes zinc stores.
We supplement all our deficient clients (that 99% figure) with the best zinc product on the market put out by Poliquin Performance, as well as drastically increasing the dietary intake of such things as organic nuts (notably walnuts for zinc deficiencies), and wild meat.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are also estrogen modulators that should be added to the diet. As is water cress, and I have personally seen noticeable body composition changes and tightening of the pectoral area with men who added nothing more than 3 daily servings of water cress and a few of the below supplements to their diets.
DIM, curcumin, and grape seed extract are tremendous natural anti-aromatase agents that help reduce estrogen levels. It is also useful to add 40 grammes of soluble fibre to the diet when looking to reduce foreign estrogen levels as the fibre helps to “pull” the estrogen from the body.
An embarrassing case of moobs is not something that any man should have to just put up with, but so many seem lost as to what to do. Follow the simple steps outlined in this article (above all else if you do drink beer then stop!) and I guarantee that given time there will be a drastic improvement in your appearance and no one will ever again whistle the Baywatch theme as you jog along the beach!