We've had several female-specific questions on PaleoHacks, but this one's for the guys--if you dare. Ladies are welcome to comment also. First of all, I'm not talking about the clinical gynecomastia (breast development) that shows up in adolescents or young men. I'm talking about a more middle-age condition. For the past several years, I've had a vexing problem--a slightly disproportionate fat accumulation in the chest area, commonly known as man-boobs, or "moobs". Since I've changed to a lower carb, more paleo diet, it's getting less pronounced. Have PaleoHacks users had experiences with this problem, or perhaps you "know someone" with moobs? What causes man-boobs, and how do you get rid of them?
Edit/Addendum: NickW raised the point about environmental estrogens. Are there other potential sources besides casked liquor? Should I worry about estrogens in the food chain?
Edit, 4/25/2010--re-titled; I'm including the original title here to provide context to the comments below: "Show us your "moobs"?"
I don't know a whole lot about this, so hopefully someone better informed will chime in. But from what I know about fat storage in human males and females, I would be surprised if the answer didn't have something to do with insulin, testosterone, and estrogen.
This will help normalize insulin, which will in turn reduce overall body fat. If you are at 8-10% it is hard for me to see how you will maintain moobs. [EDIT: Actually, due to the role that sex hormones play in determining the location of fat deposits, I suppose it would be possible to maintain some moobs, but they would likely get smaller as you approach 8-10% BF.]
I would also think that these steps will help increase testosterone and decrease excess estrogen. In theory this will help decrease the size of your moobs, as decreased estrogen --> loss of fat in chest region.
To give you better advice, it would be helpful if you give us an indication of
*The carb intake recommendation is just a place to start that seems to work for a lot of people. Your individual carb intake may vary depending on your level and type of activity, your age, your body composition, your health/athletic goals, your body's individual tolerance for carbs, other health issues, and other factors.
I'm pretty sure that a lot of this is info you already know, but maybe I hit something you hadn't thought of.
Edit: Dr. Davis just posted his thoughts as well on his blog.
There are different types of fat tissues in the body, and hormones will control which tissue types the fat is deposited in. The hips and chest are the female locations of fat, the gut for males. The hormones estrogen and testosterone will control whether fat goes into a female or a male location.
Aside from avoiding excess phytoestrogens in your food (soy), there are chemical sources of extrogen mimicking sources, called xenoestrogens.
The most common xenoestrogen is bisphenol A (BPA), found in many plastics. While the amount of xenoestrogens that leaches from a plastic water bottle into the water is very low (in the parts per billion), the normal levels of estrogen in the blood stream in a male is even lower (in the parts per trillion). BPA leeches not only from water bottles, but it's also found in the linings of tin cans, and many other food products that are shipped in plastic. BPA is also used in many thermal imaging papers, in particular cash register reciepts. You typically won't expose such paper to foods, but the BPA on those papers is not bound into polymers, but is floating free, so it's possible significant amounts could be absorbed through skin or inadvertently transfered onto foods.
Sunscreens and skin-care products can also contain high-levels of hormone distrupting products, so it's worthwhile sourcing a non-toxic sunscreen.
One big source of dietary estrogens is soy, in all of its forms. If you cut a lot of soy out of your diet when switching to Paleo, that might explain part of your improvements.
Breast tissue (which is present in all men to some degree) is largely fat. Eating more saturated fats helps encourage the body to produce proper levels of a bunch of hormones, including testosterone, which in turn helps produce muscles instead of fat. Lowering insulin levels--one of the primary goals of Paleo--should also help, since it reduces overall fat storage.
Yes, besides the diet which is now very low in Omega 6's and estrogen laced grains and soy products (including grain fed neat, etc), a succesful stregth training program using kettlebells, re-shaped my old fat body. I can take my shirt off in public for the first time in my life.
Another thing I don't seem mentioned is an enzymatic function of the body called aromatase. In men, aromatase activity refers to the conversion of testosterone into either DHT or estrogen. Fat cells are unfortunately very good at aromatizing your natural testosterone, changing it into estrogen, which is why most truly obese men end up with development of gynecomastia (or manbreasts, or moobs!). If you keep getting leaner, your fat levels will go down, and your aromatizing activity should go down, leaving you with higher testosterone to estrogen ratios in your blood - a good thing!
By the way, there are some over the counter anti-aromatizing compounds (e.g. chrysin, sold at many vitamin shops), but don't bother - its been proven ineffective in the body (though it does work in a test tube), and it can damage your thyroid. There are prescriptions that can help (e.g. arimidex), but start with just getting leaner.
Another thing is to eat more cruciferous vegies - like broccoli - they can scavenge excess estrogen from your body.
If you're a casked-liquor drinker, may want to switch to something non-wooded (eg. move from scotch to vodka). Estrogen from the wood has been known to cause the whiskey-tits problem.
I am not insinuating you're a heavy drinker, and giving up scotch is close to sacrilege :P.
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