Today, we are going to talk about a topic that many men find embarrassing. The term “man boobs” may not be a technical one, but we all know what it means. The term refers to fat deposits on a man’s chest which may resemble a woman’s breasts. Even if you don’t care about your appearance, man-boobs are an indicator that your body is carrying too much fat.
Many people think of this as a cosmetic issue. Most men will be ashamed of their chest fat, and so they fixate on that part of the problem. However, our purpose here is to encourage good health. Let’s start with a fact that may reduce your embarrassment: It is estimated that 30-50% of all men suffer from this problem.
What Causes Man-Boobs To Form?
There are several things that can cause these unsightly deposits of fat to form. The first and most common cause is excess body fat. Your body only has so many places to put all that extra lard, and your chest is one of several key areas in which it may accumulate. Even after the weight has been lost, some residual chest fat may remain. In some cases, this fat can be so persistent that surgery is required for removal.
Man-boobs can also result from a hormonal imbalance. Severe cases, in which a man develops full-on breasts, are usually in this category. If your problem is hormonal, you will likely need to consult a doctor in order to correct the imbalance with medication. This type of breast growth is called gynecomastia.
Sometimes, man-boobs can be caused by inflammation. In these cases, you don’t need exercise or hormone pills: You need a doctor. Here is one such example. In this case, the inflammation resulted from repeated heroin injections in the chest. It was found that the patient had no hormonal imbalances, so we can definitely call this a case of inflammation.
Certain diseases can also cause this phenomenon to manifest. For instance, this study found that there was a pretty solid link between gynecomastia and neurofibromatosis. This disease is sometimes responsible for rapid breast growth in babies and boys, with people of African descent being slightly more susceptible.
There are a few other things that can cause breast growth in men. For instance, some researchers insist that there is a link between gynecomastia and excessive marijuana use. While some of that research is disputed, it does seem clear that too much cannabis can lead to higher estrogen levels. Heavy consumption of alcohol is no better, as studies have shown that it greatly reduces testosterone levels in laboratory mice. Alcohol also tends to increase feelings of hunger, which will worsen the problem.
There are other drugs which are also said to increase levels of estrogen in the male body. While it would be outside the scope of this article to examine all of them in detail, it should be noted that excessive drug use (in any form) will put you at greater risk of developing man-boobs. For both legal and health reasons, we urge you to avoid these things.
Eating too much soy is also a notorious cause of man-boobage. While the food industry denies these claims, there is at least some evidence to show that excess soy in the diet can raise your estrogen levels and make you grow breasts. This is the case because soy contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are compounds that closely mimic estrogen, causing the body to react in the same way that it would react to estrogen treatments.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, as we already mentioned, is the technical term for the condition of having man-boobs. The milder form of this condition is called Pseudogynecomastia. This condition is caused by a hormonal abnormality. In this case, it will either be an excess of estrogen or a lack of androgen/testosterone.
Hormones are some of the most important regulators of the human body. They are, in essence, the things that cause the body to become male or female at puberty. When hormones start going haywire, all sorts of weird things can happen. Gynecomastia is just one result. Those who are suffering from Pseudogynecomastia may just be afflicted with Klinefelter Syndrome, which is a related condition.
The most obvious symptom is chest growth, and this particular symptom is very hard to miss. That being said, mild cases of Gynecomastia/Pseudogynecomastia may simply be mistaken for a weight problem. Thus, you should look for other symptoms as well.
If you are unsure, there are three things for which you should check: Tenderness, swelling, and discharge. If your chest area seems to be sore and tender all the time, there might be a very good reason. Any areas that appear swollen and bloated are likewise a red flag. Finally, any kind of nipple discharge is probably the biggest red flag of all.
The Plan To Get Rid Of Your Man-Boobs
Now that we have examined the research and come to a greater understanding of the problem, it is time to talk about action. After all, understanding a problem is worthless if you don’t do anything to correct the problem. In order to deal with your man-boobs once and for all, we recommend a three-pronged approach.
One of the first things you should do is to eliminate all phytoestrogens from your diet. Some sources will claim that phytoestrogens do not affect total testosterone levels and that there is no cause for concern when consuming these foods. However, it is an indisputable fact that phytoestrogens mimic estrogen and could very well trigger some of the same effects. Sure, it may not be estrogen, but your body doesn’t know that.
The following foods contain phytoestrogens, and should thus be avoided by anyone suffering from a case of the man-boobs:
- Sesame seeds
As you can see, all of these are plant foods. Many plants contain phytoestrogens to one degree or another, and all plants containing such compounds should be avoided. It should be noted that all of these foods are harmless when consumed in small to moderate amounts. Once you get your man-boobs under control, it is perfectly acceptable to eat any of these foods in moderation. We simply recommend cutting them out in the meantime, in order to avoid triggering an estrogen response in your body that is only likely to exacerbate the problem.
Speaking of diet, let’s talk about fat. Although there are many medical conditions and genetic disorders that can trigger this problem, you probably don’t have any of those. If you are like the vast majority of those with this problem, you are just too fat. When your body stores fat in the chest area, it is simply utilizing your natural storage space. As such, you can do a lot to alleviate this problem by cutting down on the levels of fat in your diet. A diet consisting mainly of non-phytoestrogen-containing fruits and vegetables, supplemented with lean meat, is the ideal thing in this case.
We have already covered the role that fat can play in the formation of man-boobs. As such, it naturally follows that good exercise can do a lot to mitigate the problem. When it comes down to it, any form of exercise is likely to be helpful. If you want to shift your chest reclamation project into high gear, it pays to use exercises that focus specifically on that area. Let’s take a look at a few specific exercises.
Barbell Bench Press
Lay down on a bench with your feet resting flat on the floor. Make sure the entire body is in a straight line, as any contortions could lead to disproportionate strain and injury. Make sure to keep your wrists as straight as possible for the same reason.
Take the barbell in both hands and slowly lower it to your chest. Don’t let it drop, as that is considered to be cheating. Inhale as you slowly bring it down to chest position, and exhale as you push it back upward.
For this exercise, you will need a pair of dumbbells. An incline bench is helpful for those who want an extra challenge, but it isn’t essential. Start by laying flat on your back with a dumbbell in each hand. Still holding the dumbbells, stick your arms straight up in the air before allowing them to fall laterally. At this point, your arms should be spread wide as if you were trying to fly.
Now, it’s time to start “flapping your wings.” Without bending your elbows, raise each dumbbell laterally. Keep going until the two dumbbells touch. You should inhale as the weights are lowered and exhale as they are raised. One little thing to remember is that you aren’t supposed to lock your elbows. Keep the arms straight, but maintain a very slight bend in the elbows.
This is a classic exercise that will probably never go out of style. It is good for many things, and pectorals are no exception. Start by getting into the standard “plank” position. Make sure that your back is straight, and that you tighten your abdominals. Good ab flexion can help to take some of the strain off your back and prevent any dipping.
There are many variations on the basic push-up, but we will be focusing on the wide push-up. To do this, just spread your hands a little farther than your shoulders. Don’t overdo it, or else you will put yourself in an awkward position in which you will lose your strength. When you widen your hands just a little bit, it will light up your chest like the fourth of July.
A healthy diet and a rigorous exercise routine are both great ways to deal with this problem. However, you should also consider this statement: “if my lifestyle had been healthy enough, I probably wouldn’t have grown a set of man-boobs in the first place.” Maybe you drink too much alcohol, or maybe you just spend too much time sitting on your couch and watching TV? Either way, you must face the fact that you have a lifestyle problem. Unless that problem is corrected, your man-boobs are likely to return.
You should also take your age into account. Particularly, young boys and old men are at greater risk for this problem. Young boys who have not yet gone through puberty have not yet normalized their hormone levels, so it’s easier for something to throw them off-balance. In like manner, older men tend to have a lower level of testosterone. The reasons for these deficiencies are different, but the effects are more or less the same. Adjust your lifestyle to fit your age, and you shouldn’t have a problem.
As we told you from the beginning, this problem is nothing about which to be ashamed. So many men have this problem that it can almost be called normal. At a rate of 30-50%, we would have to at least call it semi-normal. That being said, it is not a problem to be ignored.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to hit the gym every day, working to sculpt a manly form, if Gynecomastia/Pseudogynecomastia is hindering your efforts. Apart from that, your friends will probably laugh at you. The good news is that you are far from powerless in this matter.
We hope that you will follow the advice given here so that you can move past this little problem and concentrate on greater things. We also hope that you will follow us on Facebook so that we can offer you even more helpful articles like this one.
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