5 Ways Men Benefit From Being a Healthy Weight

Learn how reducing body fat can improve libido, testosterone levels, and back pain.

man running

Medically reviewed in March 2021

Updated on March 11, 2022

The list of benefits tied to being a healthy weght is long and varied, ranging from a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure to a lower risk for many types of cancer. And for men, in particular, sticking to a healthy weight and reducing extra abdominal fat may have additional perks that help them feel and perform better in many areas of their lives. Here are just a few ways that it can help:

Losing belly fat can enhance men's libido
That's right: Losing weight will improve your sex life. Researchers found that obese people were 25 times more likely to report sexual problems than normal-weight folks. "Being heavier is going to interfere with self-esteem and the comfort of sexual activity," Katz says. Being overweight can also cause erectile dysfunction. Losing weight and exercise can help restore your libido and sexual function.

Belly fat can lower testosterone
Obesity is linked to low levels of testosterone—the sex hormone that puts hair on men's chest, power in their muscles, and oomph in their sex drive. Low testosterone can also wreak havoc on guys' energy levels, motivation, and overall sense of well-being.

Belly fat promotes a couch potato lifestyle, and vice-versa
Though it's possible to be fit and fat, 80 percent of people who are overweight or obese are not, says Noel Bairey-Merz, MD, director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. The couch potato lifestyle can make reaching for the remote feel like an endurance event. You lose muscle mass and your heart and lungs can't deliver enough blood and oxygen to your body. More important than going on a diet to drop a few pounds, Bairey-Merz says, is exercising regularly. Do that and excess weight will come off.

Losing belly fat helps relieve joint and back pain
Obesity and inactivity can lead to and worsen back pain, achy joints, and arthritis. "Imagine putting a pack on your back and lugging it around," Katz says. "It wears you out. It hurts your back and your joints. You're always tired. That's what that excess weight is doing." Losing weight  can help ease this discomfort. Luckily, small losses add up to big benefits. Losing just one pound of weight could take 4 pounds of stress off joints.

Losing belly fat helps prevent heart disease and diabetes
Belly fat is an independent risk factor for death from heart disease. What that means is, even if you get A's on the rest of your health report card, belly fat alone increases your risk of dying from a heart attack. Unfortunately, men who are prone to belly fat are also more likely to have more plaque in their arteries, inflammation, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, and/or heart disease, or to suffer heart failure. Losing weight, not smoking, exercising, and following a healthy diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables and lean protein can help protect your health over time.

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