The title of this week’s article may be a bit funny, but it is 100% true for at least one poor chap, and I’m sure there are many others just like him.
It’s a male orientated article, but wives, mothers and girlfriends out there who know someone in their family suffering from this, should share this information around.
A gentleman recently contacted me with a very personal question. Lucky for me he has a sense of humour, and with his permission, here it is…
I have been reading your blog for sometime now and love the information you provide. I am about three stone overweight, it was four, and really I need a personal trainer but cant afford one as I have two children under 5 which take up all my spare time and money!
I am very self conscious about my body, to the point where I wont take my T-shirt off in the company of others, which has been hard with all the hot weather we have had. I have boobs bigger than my wife,and its really starting to affect my confidence.
Like lots of my friends, I have had a belly since my early twenties, but they don’t have man boobs like me?
Why is this happening and what can I do about it?”
Today I will explain how and why this might be happening.
I am not a person who places much importance on looks, but at the same time I don’t think that man boobs are a great look, and I’m sure that most of the men would want to get rid of them if they could.
Man boobs (or boy boobs) are properly known as a condition called gynecomastia.
Gynecomastia is the benign enlargement of breast tissue in males. (2)
According to Transform, the UK’s largest cosmetic surgery provider, there was a 65% increase in inquiries about various procedures in 2012. The number of men undergoing breast reductions in the UK has increased by a staggering 28% in the last 12 months. Source: huffington post.
Why Do Some Men Have Boobs?
Broadly speaking, the most common reason that people have man boobs is that they are overweight.
It is estimated that around 60% of males in the UK are overweight or obese (1), so it is no surprise that many men have them.
Moobs as they are also referred to, are made up of excess fat and the more fat you have on the body the more likely it is that you will have man boobs.
As a man if you have body fat levels much above 25% it is thought that this will contribute towards man boobs. Below 25% is regarded as an average healthy level, personally I think 25% is too high, get fit and healthy and below 20% and you are much safer.
?Did You Know?
More than half of male babies are born with enlarged breasts due to the effects of their mother’s estrogen. Generally, the swollen breast tissue goes away within two to three weeks after birth. (mayoclinic.com)
Gynecomastia caused by hormone changes during puberty is relatively common. In most cases, the swollen breast tissue will go away without treatment within six months to two years.
The prevalence of gynecomastia peaks again between the ages of 50 and 80. At least one in four men are affected during this time.
Hormones – High Estrogen
But it is not always just down to being overweight, man boobs can be triggered when a mans estrogen levels are high or out of balance compared with his testosterone.
I have seen young boys, who are fairly lean, who sprout a little pair of A cups! It can be devastating during your teenage years, and can lead to bullying and even depression.
Body Fat Makes Estrogen
Research has suggested, that fat tissue actually produces hormones such as estrogen, especially around the stomach area and also (very often in men) around the chest area, causing man boobs!
As fatty tissue produces estrogen, estrogen then produces more fatty tissue. A vicious cycle has begun.
Estrogen has been referred to as a “Gender Bender”, from the evidence that it can change the sex of fish in rivers. It’s probably having a similar effect on us humans too. For example some men now cry watching soaps like Eastenders, which if you ask me is a definite sign something is up with the hormones! 😉
Some of the symptoms of estrogen dominance are similar to Manopause (refresh your memory on the male version of the menopause – the Manopause here).
Hormones – Low Testosterone
A modern trend that massively affects this situation, is the fact that male testosterone levels are at an all time low.
Modern men (in case you hadn’t noticed) are not as “manly” as their Dad’s used to be, and definitely not as “manly” as their grandads!
In 1992 the British Medical Journal published the most comprehensive study to date regarding sperm count and found that their study of over 15,000 men from over 20 countries worldwide prescribed how sperm count had reduced by over 50% between 1940 and 1990. The ongoing trend into 2012 and beyond has evidenced that a 30 year old male today has only 25% of the sperm count of his fellow 30 year old from 1940.
In other words, a thirty year old man in 2012, has 75% less testosterone than a 30 year old man in 1940 – that’s a massive change!
Low testosterone means that the other hormones are then out of balance, making it easier to become estrogen dominant.
Sources Of Estrogen and Xeno-estrogens
The amount of estrogen in our environment is huge. They come from a variety of sources (outlined below).
Xenoestrogens, which mimic the hormone estrogen inside our bodies, come mostly from the environment and personal products we use.
- Water – because of the contraceptive pill, pesticides, other industrial chemicals.
- Toiletries and Lotions
- Microwaved meals in plastic containers
- Bottled Water
Other causes of man boobs could be attributed to steroid abuse. In this situation the person is usually taking too much and the many side effects are nasty, I know one guy from a local rugby club who took steroids for a few years (as many rugby players in this area do) and he developed big problems with breast tissue development.
How to Get Rid of Man Boobs
So down to the nitty gritty. Basically you need to rebalance your hormones, which takes time and effort. I will outline a strategy I have used with clients recently and in the past.
- Medication or Surgery – this in my opinion should be the last resort NOT the first. If you don’t address the diet and lifestyle issues you will be back to square one eventually. But there are options if you have (think you have) tried everything.
- Reduce Body Fat – If body fat produces estrogen, then reducing body fat would logically reduce estrogen.
- Reduce Estrogen Entering The Body – Estrogen is the enemy in this particular situation so whatever we can do to reduce our levels would be great. It is important that the foods you eat don’t contribute to increasing your levels of body fat or estrogen. It is possible that junk foods played a big part in developing the man boobs so cutting out this processed junk is the best first step. Certain foods reduce estrogen levels, these include grapes, melons, pineapple, green beans, berries, cabbage and broccoli.
- Increase Testosterone – Increasing your testosterone levels will hopefully improve and re-balance your hormones. Eat more (high quality) cholesterol containing foods and fats, like eggs, steak, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, butter and coconut oil or milk.
- Organic Food – A natural diet containing lean meat, fresh fruit, good fats (mentioned in point 4) and fresh vegetables (organic if possible) is the key to this. This will reduce the amount of xeno-estrogens entering your system.
- Good Water – Good clean filtered water will reduce your exposure to many nasty chemicals, specifically estrogen mimicking chemicals like we already discussed.
(If you haven’t then sign up here to receive my free nutrition plans. There are three sample diets which follow all this advice)
As I said, man boobs’ main cause or “trigger” is being fat – it all starts with your weight/body fat levels.
Being overweight can come from years and years of not eating well and not exercising. So in order to lose man boobs you will adopt very similar methods as you would just to lose weight, with an extra focus on hormones.
It will take a lot of time and effort to completely get rid of man boobs (6-12 months), but if you care about your body shape and how you look and feel it will be worth it, and it’s not that long in reality.
The best estrogen reducer I know of are green vegetables like broccoli, kale, watercress and spinach. You can buy a “greens drink” to make consuming these food easier and bring your levels of estrogen down faster. I recommend this one here, it’s quality all the way.
(!!Bonus tip and reward for all the women who have read this far 😉 – This all applies to you too. Estrogen makes your BUM & THIGHS BIGGER. A greens drink will help this in a big way!!)
Can You Exercise Away Man Boobs?
What do you think?
Press ups, bench press, chest flys? Incorrect sorry, it was a trick question.
Unfortunately it isn’t that easy. Spot reduction doesn’t work.
I know many men with man boobs who want to get rid of them will spend all their effort on the bench press and get nowhere, just as people who do sit up’s to get a flat stomach do.
The key to ridding yourself of these moobs is to take a full body approach. Man boobs are just fat tissue covering the chest, so whole body fat reduction is the way forward.
Reducing estrogen levels and increasing testosterone is the main strategy from your training AND nutrition.
This means mixing high intensity cardio work with a full body resistance programme(testosterone boosting). Yes it will involve chest work, but it will also involve squats, deadlifts, pull ups and sit ups. In order to get the best body shape you need to be working the body as whole and using as many different muscles as possible.
The best way to do it is to aim for around 2-3 strength sessions a week. If you want to work out even more then maybe attend a fitness class, swim, cycle or go for a walk.
You can get maximum benefits in just 30-40 min of weight training.
So if you find yourself suffering with man boobs then kiss them goodbye with the tips you’ve learnt in this article.
Just like most things which are worthwhile, it will require hard work and commitment.
Any questions please let me know below in the comments section.
1. How to get rid of man boobs for life. Tom Fontaine. February 2013 http://him.uk.msn.com/health-and-fitness/how-to-get-rid-of-man-boobs-for-life
2. Gynecomastia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynecomastia