How to hot wire your T levels without breaking the bank.
Do you suffer from anxiety? Are you under-performing in the bedroom, in the board room, on the field? Do other guys kick sand in your face? Are you packing on the pounds whilst your midriff obscures your manhood? Do you lie awake at night sweating, unable to sleep, reliving what you can still remember of your glory days whilst dreading a future of knee supports, hair plugs and erectile dysfunction?
Well don’t worry, there’s a pill for that. Actually, there’s a pill for pretty much everything these days, but if there is a one-size-fits-all, holy grail, instant muscle-building, boner-inducing magic bullet it has to be Testosterone. All you have to do is disregard the side effects, the lack of substantive research and the massive marketing machine behind the claims.
Maligned and worshiped in equal measure, Testosterone is seen as the measure of the man. And as soon as we get your blood work back we can ramp up your T levels in no time. You see, Testosterone Replacement Therapy is all the rage. We no longer need to consider the underlying causes of the lifestyle issues that plague us. We can simply medicate the symptoms!
I am pretty much the demographic for a good old shot of Vitamin T. I am a guy, I like a good dance show. Seems that is the only real requirement. Beyond that, pretty much any condition you care to mention will put me in the frame for a shot in the arm (or we can use a gel if preferred).
But let’s stop before we dis-empower ourselves with another lifestyle panacea. The indicators for low testosterone are so broad, so wide and so deep that you could hide an entire city of eunuchs in there and still have room for the entire cast of X Factor.
Now, to be clear, I am a big fan of testosterone. What guy wouldn’t be? The benefits are loud and clear, all the basic health markers benefit from what are termed “normal levels.” Heart health, weight management, diabetes, strength, vigor, vim! Not to mention the psychological benefits, confidence, honesty (yes, guys with regular levels of T are more honest, who’d of thought?) enhanced mood, sex drive. The list goes on.
So what’s the issue?
It’s simple, there is no point in putting High Octane fuel in a fucked-up engine. Yes, you just might wring out a little extra each mile but come what may, that motor is going to stop running no matter how much gas you have in the tank.
Nowhere has the subject of TRT created more controversy than in the world of Mixed Martial Arts where sub-par levels are a ticket to performance enhancement. Whether you are a fan or not, combat sports are the pinnacle of masculine physicality, where one man dominates another. Anything perceived as giving one opponent an “unnatural” advantage is seen as cheating, yet athletes at the top of their field are given a free pass if their T levels are below “normal.”
We have a generation of action heroes built like Adonis whose physiques are built in the gym, the kitchen and the laboratory (say what you want about it, it’s plain to see the chemical enhancement that turns Average Joe’s into supermen). Fitness magazine built to bursting point with lean mean action machines. No wonder we feel so inadequate.
But if your sense of self is based on your current medication you might want to look at the very issues that brought you there in the first place.
Think about the list of low T symptoms the pharmaceutical industry wants you to address and you begin to realise that simply being a man in the 21st century is a challenge…but we have tools at our disposal to deal with those challenges.
Let’s consider the lifestyle changes that you can address right now.
Sleep – This is non-negotiable and probably the simplest issue to address. Everything from stress levels to weight gain are linked to lack of or too much sleep. You need to be making the time for real rest. Seven to eight hours of good sleep pays the kind of dividends no amount of hard grind can compete with. Get your rest. By all means, make all the usual excuses, but in reality you are lying to yourself if you think that you can perform optimally without adequate sleep.
Exercise – Over-training is a killer. But let’s work on the basis that you are the average 21st century male and you need to move more not less. Put your time and effort where the maximum pay off is. Sprinting rather that long distance running will elevate your T levels. Strength training is a given. Even a couple of short, sharp, hard and heavy sessions each week are enough to make a major difference. If in doubt get some Every Day Activity. We are made to move. And yes, exercise has an entirely positive affect on depression, take into account the effect of anti-depressants on sexual performance and suddenly breaking a sweat looks like a great idea.
Diet – Cut out the crap. Oh..but it’s so hard. Really? You’d rather self-medicate with chips and dips? Cut out processed food. Ready meals, fast food, and carb-loaded junk are T killers. Alcohol is another sure fire way to lower testosterone. If you have not done so yet, learn to cook. It’s a life skill. As Michael Pollan author of Cook likes to say “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much…and cook”
Stress – Meditate. Give yourself permission each day to hit the reset button. Even 3 minutes a couple of times a day is a start to calming the mind, reducing cortisol levels and reaping the physical and mental benefits.
Supplementation – Really? Well, yes. Unless you have the above dialed in then it’s likely that a little help from mother nature wont go amiss. Aidan Goggins, author of the Health Delusion, recommends guys look at Selenium and Zinc, both hormone powerhouses and often all but missing from our depleted diets.
Most of this can be filed under “use it or lose it,” this accounts for movement, sex, brain function and pretty much anything else that might make you feel like getting up in the morning.
So before you sign up for replacing anything, break a sweat, cook a meal and take a little look at the things missing in the first place.