T Nation

Fat storage location and correlation with hormone levels

This week in his article, Brock talks about how studies are showing that where we deposit fat is correlated to what levels of hormones we have in our tissues. Now, this article has me worried. He mentions how a proclivity to store fat on the hip and thigh area indicates a far higher estrogen level. I am a 24 year old male. Now, I can get my upper body preety lean with not too much difficulty, and gain respectable abdominal definition, BUT the fat on my thighs and buttocks just does not budge: my upper body and lower body each look like they came from two different people!! Try as I might, I just cannot get any kind of leg or even calf definition, even when my midsection is really lean…I just seem to hold water and fat in my lower body, and the fat has that awful “cellulite” appearance (is that shit even for real?). My ass in particular holds way too much fat and can be an embarassment: I never wear swimming trunks or shorts, and get ashamed to expose my lower body when about to get down with a female. I think I read somewhere that holding fat on the triceps indicates a high estrogen level too (which I seem to have)? Now, is this estrogen just localised, or does it mean higher estrogen in the whole body…even the brain? I am wondering, because (although hetero) I definitely have more feminine thought processes that most guys, and have never really been an aggressive or assertive guy at all…even on Androsol and Tribex! I await your feedback. I think this is an interesting topic guys/ gals.

I believe this theory. I take it as more fact than theory, also. I do not have a history of having huge fat deposits on my hips, thighs and buttocks. Nope. Never have. My “problem” area is around the abs and lower back. AND my strength is compareable to most men and much more than women. SO, I may have, naturally, more testosterone running through me .

How do you currently train your lower body? The same as your upper, in terms of sets, reps and frequency? You may have to rethink that in your quest for a lean lower body - or a lower body that resembles your upper in BF%.

What I did when I decided to get and stay lean, was use my abs as my gauge. I got incredibly lean first. I may have lost some muscle in the process, but I tell ya, once my abs got tight and I began a rebuilding phase. I grew and stayed lean. I have these visible veins that are located in my lower ab area and one that is right of my bellybutton - if I can't see those, it means I'm carrying too much BF. Those are my gauges now.

Also, estrogen is a hormone that courses through your body. I don't believe you have "pockets" of estrogen in your hips and thighs, causing those areas to hold onto fat.

Chalky: I was impressed with Brock's findings

myself, but I’m not quite sure if my physiology backs
them up. I have been suffering from low “T” for the
past 3 years. Yet, at a body fat of 11 1/4 (which is
borderline fat) my lower body is totally shredded!

Oh, don't bother to envy me because I have love-handles ... and a little chest fat, yuk! (Piss me off!) So I guess there's something good and something crappy about all of us! :-) :-( Chalky, Bro, looks like it's shredding season for the both of us; only we'll be shredding on different hemispheres ... body hemispheres, that is!

Although I have no solid research to back up what I say, my experience with body composition measurements would lead me to believe that a higher proportion of lower body fat and arm fat is more related to the female body fat distribution and maybe female hormones. I’ve seen body composition data from both skinfolds and DXA measurements (which looks at regional body comp along with total body composition) on well over 100-200 people. In almost every case I can remember, the male carries most of his fat on the torso, then the legs, then the arms. On women, it is the totally variable, but much more even and generally highest in the legs. Honestly, it is the weirdest thing when you are doing skinfolds measurements on a female and her abdominal skinfold is 1/2 of what her tricep is. That never happens on guys! From my experience, women carry it highest on the legs and then it is a toss up between arms and torso for next highest skinfold. These are just my observations. I have no idea if it correlates with T and E levels, but a more even fat distribution or more lower body and arm fat is definately a more female fat distribution.

I think this is a fascinating subject. I too would like to know more about this. If I had the extra cash or if there was one closer to where I live, I would love to attend one of Poliquin/Serrano’s body composition seminars. They claim to be able to look at the ratios between skinfolds to allow them to determine whether T, GH or insulin is the problem and then they make the necessary dietary adjustments. Personally, and I realize most every man says this, I really do store a disproportionate amt. of fat on my abdomen. Legs and pecs are naturally very lean and change very little when I put on weight.

It would appear that, in fact, the theory is true with you also if you have “love handles” as that is the same as “flank fat” talked about in the article as one of the problem areas leading to E. It was hip, butt, and flank fat which is “love handles”. Sorry man.

Just wanted to comment on your statement about “pockets of estrogen in hips and thighs”. I don’t believe the article tried to claim anything about pockets of estrogen in the body but talked about estrogen in men. Estrogen in men is formed from aromitizing T in fat tissue and what the article said is that the fat in the hips, butt, flank of men has more aromitizing enzyme than other fat deposits such as on abs and as such, men with fat on hips etc seem to aromitize more T to E. But the E is not “held” in just that fat but of course is released throughout the body. I think the article is stating that different fat deposits in men have different degrees of aromitizing T to E.

I understand the whole hormone thing - that was a response to Chalky in his post. Read it - he is wondering if the “estrogen is localized” or distributed among the whole body.

You said in your post “…a proclivity to store fat on the hip and thigh area indicates a far higher estrogen level.” If you go back and read the study, I think you’ll see that the study doesn’t say quite what you think it says (or at least what I think you think it says.)

I think the study really shows that the fat that is already in place at different locations has different tendencies to convert androgens and estrogens. The conclusion would be that fat location determines androgen and estrogen conversion, NOT that androgen and estrogen levels determine fat location. (At least not in THIS study.) So if you already have hip and butt fat, then your E1 levels will tend to be higher due to the higher conversion within the fat tissue.

I thought it was already well established that estrogens caused preferential fat storage in the abdomen. This would make sense, in that if estrogen caused hip and butt fat, then there would be an endless loop. Hip fat => more estrogen => more hip fat => more estrogen ad nauseum. On the other hand, if hip fat => estrogen => abdominal fat => minimal new estrogen, then there is no out of control loop. Am I mistaken? Have there been new studies?

Now there was a hypothesis published in 1999 that for men, you could get a "hypogonadal - obesity loop", in which abdominal fat caused T to E aromatization, which caused more abdominal fat, until all your T was aromatized and you became a round bellied, low T girly man. I don't know if there is a similar situation for women and hip fat. In their case, they would get fat and get MORE estrogen, wouldn't they?

By the way, for all the posters who think rare thyroid malfunction is the only true hormonal way to get fat, you're wrong. T and E malfunction can do the same thing, but not many doctors test for that, do they?

Patricia, point well taken. Agreed.

Heb: I just reread Brock’s article… and you’re
absolutely RIGHT! Thanks for the prompting! :slight_smile:

Just browsing the forums this morning and found this bad boy…as you know I have been interested in this phenomena for some time. Based on countless hours of journal research, I can find no link between E and ab fat on males.

The P450 enzyme is the one responsible for aromatization. It appears that E may even assist fat loss (particularly in women) as when they go menopausal, they start to round out with android fat patterning…HRT reverses this, so, E would not necessarily be responsible for ab fat (Particularly around the bb in males)

Perhaps it has more to do with leptin or insulin?..I do not rule out E’s effects, but what I am saying is that I am not sure it is the main player.

Vain68