Is your weight affecting your Testosterone?
The next time you step out of the shower and reach for your bath towel, stop and stand up straight. Look down, If you can’t see your testicles, it’s likely that your testosterone levels aren’t anywhere near what they could be.
As someone who’s gone through Testosterone Replacement Therapy for close to two years, I’ve come to the realization that the majority of my problems correlate to the fluctuation in my weight. When I first started TRT I concidently had started a structured gym routine. While no expert by any means, my gym routine consisted of heavy weight lifting 3 days a week and cardio in between. Not only was I seeing great gains at the gym but I was starting to look better than I’d ever looked my whole life.
About 6-7 months into my therapy I stopped going to the gym. Kids, Work and a few life situations took precedence over gym time and I simply stopped going regularly. This was also the time I started having issues with my estrogen levels. (Though I genuinely didn’t link the two clues at the time) At first I assumed my excess testosterone was simply turning into Estrogen, something that “couldn’t be helped.” I was placed on Arimidex and the roller coast ride really hasn’t stopped since. (Read more about Estrogen control here) While keeping my Testosterone levels stable has been relatively easy, maintaining my estrogen levels has been nothing short of a nightmare. If you’re new to TRT you’re going to find out soon that having good testosterone levels means absolutely nothing if your E2 levels are sky high.
New England Research Institutes (NERI) confirmed that a man’s waist circumference is the single strongest predictor of low testosterone levels. It’s even more accurate than age or overall health. Researchers have also targeted midriff weight as the strongest predictor of a condition called symptomatic androgen deficiency, or AD. It’s marked by low libido, erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, depressed mood, lethargy, and diminished physical performance. According to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, the prevalence of AD among American men between the ages of 40 and 79 is nearly 8 percent.
Excess body fat makes a you look more curvaceous than cut and, if you’re really unlucky, you win a pair of man-breasts to admire in the mirror. Body fat contains aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogens, the main sex hormones in women. Having extra estrogens floating around your system triggers your body to slow its production of testosterone. And the less testosterone you make, the more belly fat you accumulate and the more estrogens you spew. It’s a vicious, emasculating circle. If you’re not managing your weight, you’re setting yourself up for failure. As I did.
After months of trial and error my routine is generally as follows: .5ml of 200mg Testosterone Cypionate coupled with .5mg or arimidex the day before. Two days after my weekly shot I’ll take another .5mg of Arimidex and this usually keeps me E2 levels in check or at least symptomatically in good shape. But even still my E2 levels still fluctuate greatly and I find myself struggling some weeks more than others. I pull blood often and I find my E2 levels can range from a healthy 20-25 to problematic 80’s – 100 ng’s. High estrogen levels make it hard for me to focus and leave me feeling generally depressed. This leads to eating, which leads to weight gain, which leads to estrogen spikes…
I recently moved into a new home and my bathroom mirror is to the left of the toilet. (I mean really, how often do we look at ourselves from a side view) and I realized…I’ve gained a lot of weight. Probably a good solid 15 pounds since I first started TRT.
TRT + Gym = Feeling Great
TRT + No Gym = High E2 levels and the need for Arimidex
The problem is obvious. I knew it but probably didn’t want to admit it. On the months I made an effort to visit the gym, without thinking about it, I generally felt pretty good. Not just emotionally but physically. (And by that I mean all of the equipment down stairs kicks into overdrive) On the months of heavy work and stress, I’d fail to hit the gym and all of my symptoms started to return. These included low libdo, bloating, feeling like my head was in a bubble and short spurts of depression.
The point is, we can only put so much on medication and our doctors. Looking at myself in the mirror I had to admit, it’s not the Arimidex’s fault, it’s not just the TRT it’s my inability to properly control my eating habits along with some kind of exercise.
Working out is tough. Some guys jump right into it and never look back. I’ve never been that kind of guy. So rather than set myself up for unrealistic goals – this month I’ve decided to start slow. The moment I wake up in the morning I drink a cup of coffee, read the front page of Reddit for a few and then head out for a walk. I started out just walking a half a mile. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. 3 weeks in my wife and I are now both walking 3 miles per day burning at least a few hundred calories. I also made a promise that I’d switch at least one meal of pizza rolls with a smoothie at home. (Banana, cup of strawberries and a little milk)
Diets are short term and you’ll undoubtedly fail in the long run. You have to make the decision to make a lifestyle change. I knew personally that wasn’t going to happen overnight, it will be a slow and long progress but you gotta start somewhere.
If you’re on TRT and feeling horrible take an honest look in the mirror (turn sideways) and ask yourself if you’re really doing everything you can. Start slow, park your car at the back of the parking lot, head outside with your favorite tunes loaded up and walk a mile (it’s amazing how fast you’ll cover a mile even out of shape). Bring that weight down and I promise you, you’ll not only start to feel good, you’ll look good to.
Simple Tips to help boost your T levels and manage estrogen:
- Big soda drinker? Try switching soda for Propel or something with less sugar. It’s the halfway spot between water and soda. Ever notice that sugar is the only thing on the nutrition label that doesn’t include a daily % value? You’d be amazed at how many calories you can shred just by giving up the sugary soft drink.
- Limit your Alcohol – Studies show that excess alcohol speeds the conversion of testosterone and other androgens into estrogen. If you want to maximize your T production, fat loss, and muscle gain, then cut down on your drinking.
- BPA: Bisphenol A, a chemical used in food cans and plastic containers, may lower your testosterone by exposing you to chemicals that mimic estrogen in your body. Steer clear of foods in containers with the recycling numbers 3, 6, or 7.
- EAT A RANGE OF AMINO ACIDS: Aim for 1 gram of protein daily per pound of body weight—and go beyond turkey breast. “You’ll improve your odds of consuming enough of each essential amino acid by eating different protein foods each day
- NAIL YOUR CARB RATIO: Eat 2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight daily. This yields a 2-to-1 carb-to-protein ratio that’s optimal for raising testosterone levels