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Some Weight Loss Improves Erections in Obese Men With Diabetes

Study: Losing 5% to 10% of Body Weight Over 8 Weeks Improved Sexual, Urinary Health

Weight Loss to Improve Sexual Health continued...

The average age of men in the study was 60. Study participants had an average BMI of 35, and the average length of time they had been diagnosed with diabetes was four to five years.

More than half the men in the study reported having symptoms of severe erectile dysfunction, and about one in three said they had at least moderately severe lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), including problems with frequency, urgency, weak stream, and incontinence.

The men were randomly assigned to either a low-calorie diet, where two daily meals were replaced by weight loss shakes, or to a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate eating plan.

In the meal replacement plan, men got about 900 calories a day.

In the healthy eating plan, which focused on three meals of lean protein, five daily servings of vegetables, and two daily servings of whole grain carbohydrates and fruit, was designed to shave about 600 daily calories off what the men would normally eat. “We’re talking fresh lean meat, chicken, and fish,” Wittert says. “We’re not talking about processed meats, we’re not taking about fatty meats or very large portions.”

After eight weeks, the men on the low-calorie meal replacement diets were switched to the healthy eating plan, and all continued to be followed for a year.

Small Changes, Big Benefits

After eight weeks on the diets, the men on the low-calorie plan had lost about twice as much weight as the men on the healthy eating plan, 20 pounds vs. 11 pounds.

But they had similar improvements in erectile function, sexual desire, and urinary symptoms.

Wittert thinks the group on the healthy eating plan saw as much improvement as the low-calorie diet group, in part because they were getting more needed vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals.

“Part of the effect was related to weight loss but part of the effect is also, I think, related to the nutritional quality of the diet,” he says.

Many obese people, Wittert thinks, are, ironically, undernourished.

“You can eat large amounts of calories but not get adequate nutrients,” he says.

Of the 17 men with severe erectile dysfunction, Wittert says that after eight weeks, seven had improvements in their symptoms, with some achieving normal function. After a year, 25% had normal erectile function.

Similarly, urinary symptoms decreased significantly in both groups at eight weeks and continued to improve in the year that the men continued on the healthy eating plan. The more weight the men lost, the greater the improvements.

They also had better blood flow, improvements in markers of inflammation, and saw increases in testosterone, which is necessary for the production of healthy sperm and plays a role in sex drive and sexual performance.

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