Is Estrogen Making You Fat?

by Josh Hodnik

Stubborn Fat – a term that has been worn out by countless weight loss supplements plastered on televisions across America. These fly-by-night companies promise to rid people, with a major focus on women, of stubborn body fat with a newly discovered ingredient or oddly shaped exercise machine. Many times you can have one of these nifty fat burning devices or bottles for just 3 payments of $29.99. But wait, if you call in the next 20 minutes they will double your order! You get the point.

It’s crafty marketing at it’s best, but women (especially) rarely see any change at all. They are left with frustration and a feeling that nothing will rid them of that so called stubborn body fat. Why do women have a difficult time shedding fat? We can start by looking at the major differences between men and women. If your a man (like me) you’ve tried and tried to figure out what makes women tick. Most of us are still confused. I still can’t understand how my wife can spend as much time as she does picking out one pair of jeans!

But besides these differences in habits and preferences, the main difference between the 2 genders is hormones. The dominant hormone in men is of course testosterone while women have more of the feminizing hormone estrogen.

While some women are blessed with balanced and normal levels of the hormone estrogen, others are plagued by excess estrogen and the side effect of weight gain in estrogen sensitive areas such as the lower butt, upper thighs, and sometimes the back of the arms. Generally, not even diet or exercise can completely rid the body of this stubborn body fat when excess estrogen is present. Excess estrogen works in a vicious cycle: estrogen promotes fat gain, and excess fat produces more estrogen within it’s cells, which then promotes fat gain, and so on…

So what’s a woman (or man) to do? Obviously, if excess estrogen is the cause of weight gain, an effective anti-estrogen would be an effective solution. How do we know this is true? We need only look at precontest drug use by female bodybuilders (and yes, figure and fitness competitors), and we’d find that anti-estrogens like Tamoxifen would be found in nearly every cycle. They’re typically used to get the last bit of fat off before contest day.

Tamoxifen, aka Nolvadex, will compete with estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors in tissue without activating it. Tamoxifen acts like a key broken off in a lock that prevents any other key from being inserted, preventing estrogen from binding to it’s receptor. If you can prevent estrogen from binding to it’s receptor this cycle of excess estrogen and excess fat storage can be slowed down or stopped. This, of course, applies to both men and women. We know that this works because it’s worked in the past – competitive physique athletes are a testimony to the benefits of lowering estrogen to get ripped.

Research done by Astra Zeneca in the 1950s laid the groundwork for Tamoxifen, when researchers discovered that oral contraceptives interfered with estrogen production in the body. Cancer researches quickly learned that these drugs could be useful as estrogen antagonists to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, specifically breast cancer cells. During lab testing by Astra Zeneca during the 1970s, the estrogen receptor alpha ligant was found to bond to estrogen and estrogendiol to create new cells. Tamoxifen was found to inhibit this bonding process slowing the creation of cancer cells.

Tamoxifen is generally prescribed by physicians for women with breast cancer or who are at high risk for developing breast cancer. I’m not a physician and I cannot recommend taking any drug; that must be prescribed by a doctor. What I can say is that I have seen women lose stubborn body fat while taking 20-40mg of Tamoxifen a day, and Dan Duchaine, the original Steroid Guru, noted that he maintained an average of 2% lower bodyfat, with no dietary changes, while using the drug.

Again, I’m not suggesting off-label drug use here, but simply providing some evidence that perhaps it would be advantageous to take a look at estrogen (after diet, cardio, and training, of course), and see if that might be the thing holding you back from getting as ripped as possible.

So if body fat is a problem, lowering estrogen may be the solution!