Ask The Trainer #116 – Fighting Low Test

Ask The Trainer #116 - Fighting Low Test

QUESTION:

Hi I am 33 and have hypogonadism. I have no testosterone and the doc wants me to be put on Androgel and I don’t want to be put on something with a lot of side effects. Also, I would like to learn what to eat in having low testosterone. Any helpful information would be amazing, as my life has been spirally downhill. I want to work out but I was told that would be useless with my testosterone levels so low. If there’s any more info you need to feel free to email. Thanks.

Gerald


ANSWER:

Hi, Gerald. This is a subject that I’m privy to because I’ve had personal experience with this condition.

First off, I will say that 6 years ago when I was diagnosed with low testosterone levels, I was very disappointed in how my doctors handled it. All too often it seems that when you see an average physician for a particular condition like low testosterone, their first inclination is to shove a prescription at you for some type of medication without any further investigation to establish what the underlying cause, or causes, of that condition, actually are.

About 2 months before I was diagnosed with having the testosterone levels of a 10-year old boy, I’d just lost about 25 pounds and whipped my body into pretty good shape. I was lean and muscular, but I felt pretty lousy. I had no energy, I couldn’t sleep, I had zero libido, and I found it very hard to concentrate.

Despite feeling like this I did manage to buckle down and adhere to a strict fat loss diet and regular training regimen to get the results I was after. Having such little energy made it very tough, but I was very determined to get my body in shape. That being said, yes… you can still build muscle and get in shape having low testosterone levels, it’s just going to be harder and take more time.

Recovery

Your recovery ability will be hindered by low test levels, so you’ll need extra recovery time between workouts. So, you will want to lift weights on nonconsecutive days and limit training sessions to no more than 45 minutes.

Although I was content with how I looked, I hated how I felt. I knew there was something seriously wrong so I went in for a physical and my doctor drew some blood and ran a few tests. I was shocked when the doctor called me the next day and reported that my testosterone was down to 103 nanograms. 300 nanograms was the rock-bottom level of normal.

Right away the doctor accused me of using steroids. Low testosterone levels are very common when bodybuilders use certain types of steroids, or when they go off of their steroid cycles. So, I can see why my doctor made this assertion. But, it really ticked me off because I always took pride in the fact  I earned my body naturally without the use of chemical enhancements.


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Clomid

The first thing the doctor did was put me on a medication called Clomid. It caused me to gain 10 pounds of water weight in about 5 days, plus it made my blood pressure sky-rocket, resulting in severe dizzy spells. When my doctor rechecked my testosterone levels, the results showed they had just crept up into the rock-bottom level of the normal range.

I explained to him that I couldn’t deal with the side-effects. I felt worse than before receiving any treatment at all. He told me that he didn’t know what to do, so I contacted an endocrinologist who specializes in hormonal issues and set up an appointment. That was a great move on my part!

I went in for my first appointment with this endocrinologist and was amazed how knowledgeable she was. She took one look at my previous blood work and told me I had parathyroid disease. I questioned how she came to this conclusion, and she explained that my calcium levels were abnormally high. She could guarantee I had a tumor on one or more of my parathyroid glands. She then went on to explain that having parathyroid disease would throw off the hormones in my body and have a very negative impact on my testosterone levels.

A couple weeks later, a Sestamibi scan confirmed what the endocrinologist had suspected: There was a large tumor on one of my parathyroid glands. Weeks later, I went in for surgery to have that parathyroid gland and the tumor removed, along with a few a couple other parathyroid glands that looked suspicious.

Post Surgery

Several days following the surgery, the endocrinologist ran some blood work again. The results showed my calcium levels were down into a normal range. Also, my testosterone levels had climbed into a normal range. It was then I realized the full significance of going to an endocrinologist for hormone issues, versus going to a regular doctor.

In a separate story, my older brother was diagnosed with severely low testosterone levels. His doctor wanted him to begin hormone replacement therapy. He decided he should get another opinion, so he also went to an endocrinologist. His endocrinologist ordered up some blood samples that revealed something unusual. His prolactin levels were sky high! This explained the cause of why his testosterone levels were so low, considering prolactin destroys testosterone in the body.

The doctor then ordered an MRI scan of his brain to check his pituitary gland. The MRI scan revealed a small tumor on his pituitary gland that was causing the ridiculously high levels of prolactin. His endocrinologist then ordered a medication for him that would dissolve the pituitary tumor. Week after week on that medication, as the pituitary tumor shrunk, his testosterone levels increased. After several months of treatment, his testosterone levels finally peaked well within normal range.

What I want you take anything away from this is that when it comes to hormone issues, there is usually much more behind them than what many doctors will perceive at face value. In other words, I implore you to go see an endocrinology specialist before investing in any kind of treatment. There may be an underlying issue not revealed through appropriate testing.

Other Causes

Besides the two examples I explained, I know that sleep apnea, insomnia, thyroid deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, and excessive alcohol consumption can result in massive testosterone deficiencies.

One final point I want to make is that just like prolactin, estrogen is also an enemy of testosterone. Many of us put estrogen in our bodies unknowingly by way of food we eat, how we store our food, and what we cook our food in.

For example, so many food products out there contain soy or ingredients made from soy. This is common among processed foods. Soy contains compounds known as isoflavones that mimic estrogen in the body. They’re structurally so close to estrogen, these compounds can bind to our estrogen receptors and initiate effects in our bodies that are very similar to actual estrogen.

High Estrogen

High estrogen levels are always a direct route to low testosterone levels. Food manufacturers sneak soy into so many processed foods, your best bet to avoid soy completely. Try adhering to a whole food diet consisting of unprocessed meats, cage-free eggs, fruits, vegetables, tubers (potatoes/yams), and raw nuts.

Similar to the isoflavones in soy, food storage containers and dishes made out of plastic contain estrogen-mimicking compounds known as xenoestrogens. These will also mimic estrogen in your body and impede testosterone production.

To avoid putting these xenoestrogens in your body, you should avoid drinking from plastic bottles and containers whenever possible. Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers and store food in glass or ceramic containers. When you do use plastic containers, never allow them to sit in the sun. Make sure to throw away any plastic container you heat up. Don’t refill plastic water bottles, and avoid freezing foods or beverages in plastic containers.

Furthermore, you should try to consume organic foods whenever possible. Pesticides used on non-organic foods also fall into that category of xenoestrogens. Therefore, these chemicals will have the same negative impact on your hormones.

After you’ve been to an endocrinologist and discovered the cause of your low testosterone levels, let me know, and we’ll see if it would be reasonable to incorporate some supplements, such as EFX Sports Test Charge, to support natural testosterone production.

I wish you all the best of success with your health and fitness goals!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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