Have you ever wondered if voice changes occur as you lose or gain weight? Experts’ initial findings suggest that voice changes due to extreme weight gain or loss are possible. Here are the detailed explanations for these phenomena below.
How Excess Weight Affects Your Voice
Although studies on this topic are still ongoing, initial results reveal that excess weight does change your voice. Dr. Reena Gupta, the Director of the Division of Voice and Laryngology of the Osborne Head and Neck Institute, further expounds on this topic.
According to Dr. Gupta, the excessive weight makes the body produce and store higher amounts of male or female hormones. However, the specific voice changes that take place between men and women are different.
How excess weight changes a male’s voice
Males who undergo excessive weight gain will produce higher amounts of female hormones in their bodies. The majority of these produced female hormones also get stored. This results in overweight or obese males having lighter-sounding voices.
In addition, males also store their excess weight differently compared to females. Men will usually have their excess weight stored in their abdominal area, which negatively affects one’s breathing as they read out passages aloud.
How excess weight changes a female’s voice
On the other hand, female bodies with excess weight will have increased levels of male hormones. The increased presence of male hormones in a female’s body leads to a deeper, masculine-sounding voice. This is the complete opposite of what happens to a male’s voice as they gain weight. Furthermore, the greater the female’s body mass, the deeper the pitch of their voice.
Other studies also indicate that excess weight isn’t the only factor that changes a woman’s voice. Although it is rare, hormonal changes during pregnancy also cause a female’s voice to sound lower. However, this change is also temporary and will go away one year after a woman’s pregnancy.
Other effects of weight gain on your voice
Excessive hormone production isn’t the only reason your voice changes as you gain weight. Besides, carrying excess weight also takes a toll on your physical health. After all, you will experience the following when you are obese:
- Reduced vocal endurance
- Poor breath control
- Limited chest expansions
Great breath control techniques and vocal endurance are primary factors that will help you maintain a consistent speaking volume as you read passages out aloud. With poor breathing techniques and reduced vocal endurance, your speaking volume might start dropping towards the end of long passages.
Carrying excess weight in your body also hinders your lungs from properly expanding as you speak. With that said, limited chest expansions also affect your ability to breathe properly and keep your voice consistent throughout as you read out long paragraphs of text.
Depending on how obese you are, the clarity of your voice may also be negatively impacted due to the excessive amounts of tissue weighing down the following areas:
- Chest or thoracic wall
To add, the increased body mass in these areas will also affect slightly affect the strain, pitch, and modulation of your voice.
How does Losing Weight Affect Your Voice
Losing small amounts of weight will not affect your voice in any way. After all, losing weight will only affect your voice depending on the amount of body mass you lose. Moreover, it also depends on how much you initially weighed before your weight loss.
For instance, if you’re going from being severely obese to having a normal body weight, you will notice improvements in your voice. Similar to how voice changes between men and women during weight gain, the voice changes in weight loss between men and women also significantly differ.
How weight loss changes a male’s voice
Obese men who lose weight will notice that their voice has become deeper. During weight loss, obese males will lose the excessive amounts of female hormones in their bodies. Upon shedding pounds, they also lose the extra amounts of female hormones in their body. This leads to the deepening of their voices, which contrasts with their effeminate-sounding voice before their weight loss.
How weight loss changes a female’s voice
Similar to obese males who undergo dramatic weight loss, obese females will also experience voice changes as they lose weight. As they lose weight, they lose the excessive levels of testosterone in their body. This results in their voice becoming lighter than their deeper voice during their old weight.
Other effects that happen to your voice as you lose weight
Your voice doesn’t just lighten (if you’re a female) or deepen (if you’re a male) upon dramatically slimming down. In fact, you will also experience other positive changes that will lead you to have an improved voice. These benefits include the following:
1. Better breath control
Improper breath control can make you either release excessive or little air from your diaphragm. In obese persons, excessive weight leads to a breathless or raspy-sounding voice. Fortunately, weight reduction allows you to have better control over your breathing, allowing your voice to sound smoother.
2. Better vocal endurance
With better control of your breathing, you can experience better vocal endurance as well. Great vocal endurance is a must to keep your energy and voice modulation consistent as you go through long pages of text.
You have excellent vocal endurance if you can recite long paragraphs while maintaining your voice’s volume, energy, and the correct breathing techniques. If you’re still unable to do so even after losing weight, you can try out helpful vocal endurance exercises to gradually improve.
Improved vocal endurance doesn’t just guarantee a consistent-sounding voice. Additionally, improved vocal endurance also ensures that your vocal cords are less prone to injuries.
3. Improved lung expansion
As stated above, obesity greatly impacts how your lungs contract and expand. After all, excess weight causes the accumulation of fat in your body’s vital organs, such as the ones in your chest area. In return, you will end up suffering from breathing difficulties.
With all of that said, losing weight will help your lungs to easily draw deeper breaths. There’s also less pressure on your breathing muscles. This makes you breathe correctly and quickly, allowing you to generate more vibrations for your vocal cords.
Can Being Underweight Still Affect Your Voice
As recently mentioned, losing a few pounds won’t do anything to change your voice. However, contrary to what you may think, continued weight loss that makes you terribly underweight will affect your voice negatively. Dr. Gupta also further explains how excessive weight loss negatively alters your voice.
According to Dr. Gupta, underweight individuals will have weaker vocal systems that are more vulnerable to several vocal injuries. These persons will also have lessened vocal endurance, an essential trait that makes your voice sound better.
Other studies also indicated that individuals suffering from anorexia also felt a puffing feeling as they spoke. When you are extremely underweight, your body lacks the nutrients it needs, which leads you to suffer from hormone dysfunction. Hormone dysfunction causes your voice’s structure and function to change, making you lose your voice’s overall quality.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight is the Key to Excellent Vocal Health
If you want to keep your voice in good shape, you must maintain a healthy and fit body. This ensures you have the appropriate vocal endurance and breathing control needed for excellent vocal health. With that said, it’s essential to lose weight properly.
In addition, to make sure that your body maintains the proper weight it needs, you can calculate your Body’s Mass Index (BMI). Calculating your BMI will help you determine whether you’re normal, underweight, overweight, or obese. Depending on your result, you can work on your weight goal healthily and greatly improve your voice.
Besides maintaining a healthy weight for your body type, you can also improve your voice through other means. Doing these is also helpful, particularly if you still have endurance and breathing problems despite losing the appropriate amount of weight. This includes regularly doing the following:
- Learning how to breathe correctly. It’s greatly emphasized how breathing properly can help you improve your voice. Make sure that you’re releasing just the right amount of air as you breathe. You will know that you’re doing it incorrectly if your voice sounds either nasal or breathy. One breathing exercise you can include breathing while leaning on any flat surface. This lets you control your core muscles better.
- Regularly doing vocal endurance training. To enhance your vocal endurance, you can try reading out loud long, complex passages while using a decibel meter. This device will help you keep track of your voice’s modulation. If the decibel meter’s reading drops as you finish your passages, it’s a clear sign that your vocal endurance is still weak. It’s also an indicator that you’re not using the correct breathing techniques.
If you only gain or lose minimal amounts of weight, there won’t be any hints of significant changes in your voice. Meanwhile, drastically losing and gaining weight will lead to negative voice changes in both males and females. Overall, maintaining a healthy weight for your body will guarantee that your voice and body both stay in excellent condition.