Everyone, including males, has some breast tissue. For many males, the breast tissue never enlarges. For some, however, it expands due to hormonal changes, certain medications, or an underlying medical condition.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

The medical term for this condition is gynecomastia. Some people talk about “man boobs,” which may feel like an uncomfortable or bothersome term. This may lead them to feel embarrassed to seek a doctor’s advice about enlarged breast tissue.

However, it is essential to note that enlarged breast tissue is a common concern. Research suggests that up to 65% of men have gynecomastia.

There are treatment options for this condition, but it centers around finding the cause and correcting why it is happening. There is no single cause of gynecomastia.

In this article, find out more about the causes of male breast expansion and possible exercises, dietary changes, and treatments to reduce their appearance.

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Testosterone in the male body usually prevents the breast tissue from expanding.

However, some males develop enlarged breasts due to hormonal changes or fluctuations. When this occurs, doctors call it gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia more commonly occurs in certain age groups during periods of hormonal change, including:

  • infants
  • teenagers
  • people over the age of 60 years

There are several potential causes of gynecomastia, including:

Treatment options vary based on what is causing the enlarged appearance of male breasts.

If it is a matter of extra weight, a doctor may recommend changing the person’s diet and exercise routines.

If medications are the cause, a doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives. However, sometimes the benefits of a current medication outweigh the side effects.

If a medical issue is causing the breast tissue to enlarge, treating the underlying cause can help.

If other options do not help, a person may consider surgery to remove excess breast tissue, such as liposuction or surgical excision.

The authors of a study from 2021 found evidence of a higher incidence of gynecomastia in males with overweight or obese status, suggesting a possible connection between the amount of fatty tissue present in the chest and the likelihood of developing this condition.

If this is correct, diet and exercise may help manage gynecomastia.

Exercises

Research suggests resistance training and dietary choices can help reduce body fat while preserving muscle.

When excess fat stores cause male breast expansion, focusing on building the chest muscles may help.

Cardiovascular exercise can help reduce overall body mass, and weightlifting exercise can help reduce fat and increase muscles. Together, these types of exercise can help a person lose weight and develop their chest and other muscles.

In addition, developing the muscles can boost overall energy metabolism that may also help lose unwanted weight.

Some cardiovascular workouts and activities for weight loss include:

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, an adult should perform 150–300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75–150 minutes of high intensity exercise per week.

Chest exercises to build muscle may include:

To add muscle, it should feel challenging, so the body works to build up its strength in response.

Although a person may not lose weight in a specific place on the body, targeted chest exercises can help them gain more muscle tone in the chest, which may help reduce the appearance of breast tissue.

If a person has a gym membership, they can use several machines that target the chest muscles. However, a trainer may provide guidance about using each machine for maximum benefit and reducing the risk of injury.

Before starting a new exercise routine, it is best to consult a doctor to determine what is safe and appropriate for an individual’s needs and abilities.

Dietary changes

In general, the best dietary changes to make are those that are small and sustainable. Significantly overhauling the diet at once is often challenging for people to maintain and could result in regaining lost weight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend losing weight at a rate of around 1–2 pounds per week. It also notes that gradual weight loss is more sustainable and can lead to overall health improvements.

Before making changes to the diet, it can be helpful to keep a food journal. A food journal can give a person insight into what they can cut out and what nutrients are lacking.

The CDC also lists some recommendations for reducing caloric intake. These include:

  • eating whole, raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible
  • using no or low fat cooking techniques, such as steaming, boiling, or baking
  • choosing whole fruit over fruit drinks and juices
  • substituting less nutritious snacks with fruits or vegetables

All males have some breast tissue. However, some medical conditions, medications, and hormonal changes can cause male breasts to grow larger than usual.

In other cases, excess weight in the area may make the breast tissue look as though it has grown. People put on weight in different places, and some individuals first put on weight in their breast area.

If enlarged male breasts do not reduce with dietary changes, exercise, or other treatments, a person may consider surgery to reduce the appearance.