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The Devastating Impact of Obesity

The Devastating Impact of Obesity

One of the biggest disease epidemics facing us today is obesity. And the fact is, it’s only going to get worse. Indeed, the UK government puts the overall cost to society as a whole at £27 billion. 

They project that obesity will cost the NHS (the UK’s National Health Service) an estimated £9.7 billion by 2050. And in America, it’s predicted 51% of the population will be obese by 2030. 

That’s staggering. 

But far more important than the monetary value is the cost of obesity to your health. Obesity negatively impacts your health in a number of ways – 

It’s associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, chronic back pain and multiple strains of cancer. It’s estimated that this leads to more three million deaths annually worldwide [1]. 

Many people, particularly in the fitness industry, tend to take a simplistic view of obesity, so they conclude people are obese because they’re lazy. But things are not so cut and dry.

In this article we’ll explore some of the causes of obesity, it’s impact on your health and ultimately what you can do about it. 

the impact of obesity uk

The Main Causes of Obesity

Before we address some of the health implications of obesity, I think it’s helpful to understand the main causes of it. 

As mentioned, obesity cannot be written off simply as laziness, though it would be wrong to suggest that this isn’t a factor in some cases. It’s in our nature as human beings to take the path of least resistance, and it’s all too easy to deceive ourselves with hogwash such as: “Diet starts Monday!” or “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow!”

A leading cause of the obesity epidemic today is the consumption of processed food - primarily from simple sugars. It’s cheap, convenient and it’s everywhere. In fact, it’s an inescapable fact of modern life. 

If you want to avoid processed food altogether, you need to be diligent in both food shopping and meal preparation. This requires planning and forethought – something most people simply aren’t willing to do. That said, it’s no mean feat given most people are up to their eyeballs in social, family and work obligations. 

Another leading cause of obesity today is sedentary lifestyle, simply because we move much less than we used to. 

Our predecessors worked manual labor jobs, however, modern life means that our bodies are at a near standstill. We drive to work in a car or sit on the train, then we spend all day sat at a desk.

man waistline obesity

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that moving about burns more calories than sitting down. This ultimately leads to less fat accumulation because more energy is expended, instead of being stored as fat. A simplistic explanation? Perhaps, but I suspect if people moved more in their day to day lives, e.g. walking, there would be a lot less obesity. 

A further overlooked aspect that can lead to obesity is the effect of modern life on our emotional and spiritual well-being. While modern living has made our lives more comfortable and convenient, arguably, we’re more stressed and unhappy than ever. 

Research indicates that there is a strong link between obesity and depression [2]. Moreover, when there is no outlet for our emotions, this can lead to emotional (comfort) eating. And the end result here is obesity. One interesting research paper notes the link between spiritual well-being and obesity: 

“Exploratory evaluation on the relationship between emotional eating and spiritual well-being showed that lower levels of spiritual well-being is correlated with higher levels of emotional eating, especially in women. There is some evidence that, emotional eating contributes to impaired nutritional behaviors such as higher caloric intake, binge eating, and bulimic eating desires.” [3]

It comes as no surprise, then, that we have so much depression and obesity in our consumerist society which is almost devoid of spirituality, 

This should give you some idea of the main causes of obesity. Now we’ve examined them, let’s take a look at the impact of obesity on your health. 

Obesity leads to insulin resistance 

One of the greatest health risks posed by obesity is insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and plays a key role in metabolism. This is often discussed in health and fitness circles; and for good reason – it’s one of the most anabolic hormones in the body. But it’s also a double-edged sword – too much of it can be toxic and harmful to your health. 

After you eat a meal containing carbohydrates, your pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream. The release of insulin leads to the uptake of glucose from your bloodstream into the cells in your body. 

Insulin resistance occurs when the pancreas secretes more and more insulin to combat high blood glucose levels (typically caused by eating high amounts of sugar). Eventually, your body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin and glucose uptake is impaired, and often the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to keep up with the demand. 

Insulin resistance is a big deal because it’s the genesis for many other disease states. Excessive levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream alone are toxic to the endothelium (cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels) [4]. As such, it’s an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Moreover, insulin resistance is associated with a string of other conditions, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and certain strains of cancer [5]. 

Obesity kills your mood

Obesity can have a huge impact on your mental health. Multiple studies demonstrate the link between obesity and depression [6,7]. Though, of course, we don’t need a study to point out that if you don’t like the way your body looks, then you’re going to feel depressed. 

One study reviewed nine separate studies that included over 170,000 participants to investigate the link between obesity and depression. 

The analysis had specific selection criteria and each study was evaluated for methodological quality and risk of bias. The researchers concluded that overweight and obese individuals were 32% more likely to have depression compared to non-obese individuals [8].

The mechanism by which obesity lowers mood and leads to depression is not fully understood, although there are a few points to consider. 

Many of the body’s feel-good chemicals or neurotransmitters, i.e. serotonin and dopamine, are made in the gut. If you eat a diet high in processed food, also known as a “western diet,” this upsets the delicate balance of gut flora (friendly bacteria). This is important because many of the “friendly” bacteria in your stomach help produce serotonin and dopamine [9]. 

Obese individuals may feel more depressed, subsequently they may experience carbohydrate cravings to self-medicate and feel better. These foods deplete the production of serotonin in the stomach, due to the imbalance of gut flora. Serotonin also plays a role in appetite-suppression [10]. Therefore, eating this type of diet constitutes a type of vicious circle for obesity. 

In addition, dopamine plays an important role in what’s known as the brain reward circuit. Pathological overeating is motivated by pleasure and compulsion, and rewarded by dopamine. This is in a similar manner to drug addiction. Indeed, obese individuals show a depletion of dopamine levels similar to those of drug addicts. Although, it’s not entirely clear whether obesity is driven by a dopamine deficiency, or whether this results from compulsive overeating [11]. 

man low mood depressed

Obesity lowers testosterone

Another little understood aspect to obesity is the fact that it lowers testosterone levels in men. Low testosterone is associated with increased fat tissue and reduced lean body mass in men [12] .

Testosterone key to cardiovascular, immune and cognition. It’s also key to sexual desire and feelings of well-being. But not only that, optimal testosterone levels are key to your results in the gym. Testosterone increases strength, lean muscle mass and upregulates muscle protein synthesis [13]. 

Essentially, obesity results in high estrogen levels (estrogen dominance). Estrogen is important for male health, but at high levels it can cause health problems. This is because the aromatase enzyme - responsible for the conversion of testosterone to estrogen - is abundant in adipose (fat) tissue. Therefore, at higher levels of body fat, more testosterone gets converted into estrogen.

High estrogen levels can directly lower testosterone production. So, if you have a high level of body fat, it can have a huge negative impact on testosterone production. High estrogen lowers testosterone through the suppression of gonadotropin hormones - luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). 

These are hormones sent by the brain to the testes that signal it to produce testosterone. Without this signal, the testes will not produce sufficient quantities of testosterone.

Excessive circulating estrogen can damage testicular tissue, thereby lowering testosterone production [14].

As low testosterone is also associated with a reduction in lean muscle mass, this also makes it harder for obese individuals to lose body fat. Similarly, inflammatory hormones from fat tissue reduces muscle function. A reduction in testosterone may also have an effect on your motivation to exercise. 

In addition to the problems that arise from low testosterone and obesity, such as sleep apnea and elevated stress level has led some researchers to call low testosterone and obesity a “self-perpetuating cycle.” [15

If you want to find out to optimize your testosterone levels and get in the shape of your life, check out my book Optimized Under 35.

testosterone and obesity

Source: Mark Ng Tang Fui, Philippe Dupuis, and Mathis Grossmann. “Lowered testosterone in male obesity: mechanisms, morbidity and management.” Asian J Androl. 2014 Mar-Apr; 16(2): 223–231. Doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.122365

Obesity destroys your immune system

At the time of writing, the world is enveloped in the coronavirus crisis. People are frantically searching the Internet for ways they can protect themselves against the virus.

Vitamin C, D and zinc are flying off the shelves, and while these supplements are great additions to fight off infection, they amount to a drop in the ocean if your immune function is compromised through poor health.

Approximately 70% of your immune system is located in your gut. That means maintaining your gut health is essential in your quest for optimal health and well-being. 

Modern life trashes your gut health from process choices, and the damage is further amplified by high sugar and alcohol intake. And excess body fat suppresses your immune system through the release of pro-inflammatory hormones. [16]

What we're seeing right now is not simply a COVID-19 crisis. We're witnessing the effect of chronic stress, lack of sleep and particularly poor diet at scale. 

This makes people much more vulnerable to infection than they otherwise would be.

If you want to reduce your risk of getting an infection, coronavirus or not, you must first look at your gut health, and the most effective way to do that is by cleaning up your diet. 

You can follow a mainstream diet like paleo or the ketogenic diet, or you can follow the principle of 'metabolic flexibility' to figure out the best approach for you. Jay Campbell and I discuss this concept in depth in our book Living a Fully Optimized Life.

Eating real, whole foods from natural sources should be your top priority – not just stocking up your medicine cabinet with vitamins. 

Nutrition is by far and away the most important factor in body composition, nonetheless, you should also be lifting weights if health and longevity are long-term goals. 

Final thoughts

The point of this article is not to make you feel bad, rather, to highlight the impact obesity has on your health. However, if it prompts you to take action, then I’ve done my job properly.

You cannot be complacent about being overweight. It’s a ticking time bomb that will eventually go off, and like a real bomb, the results are devastating. 

I didn’t write any tips or tactics on how to fight obesity and lose weight, because the internet is full of such articles. A quick search on this site will give you plenty to go at. 

Nonetheless, one key aspect to fighting obesity that many overlook is hormonal balance. As mentioned, metabolic syndrome and obesity lower testosterone levels and elevate estrogen.

This means that no matter how much you exercise or diet, you can struggle to lose weight. And you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. 

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of hormonal balance, especially testosterone, in your quest to lose weight. 

Hormonal balance means more energy, motivation and drive to get into shape and pursue your health goals – especially if they’ve taken a back seat for a long time. 

Rome was not built in a day and so it is with your body.

If you've spent years eating badly, you can't simply unfuck yourself in 4 weeks. It won’t take forever, but you must be patient.

That’s why I work with most of my clients for a minimum of six months, because it takes time for your body to catch up with your behavior. 

From here on out you have two options... 

You can go on your next vacation to the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica, feel self-conscious about taking your shirt off on the beach, gain 10 lbs from the trip, and spend the next few months gaining yet more weight and struggle to ever get it off.

Alternatively, you can learn the underlying principles that I teach, which will allow you to strut shirtless around the hotel pool like you own the place, go on vacations and enjoy your time away without worrying about food, and have your wife grabbing your arms and wanting to jump all over you.

If the second option sounds like you, click the button below to find out more about my coaching and schedule a free consultation call with me to see if it might be right for you:

secret to optimal health

The Secret to Optimal Health Pt.2

If you want to know how to go from stressed out of your brain, brain fog and fractured sleep to feeling of calm, boundless mental clarity and deep, refreshing sleep, then read on...

This is the second of a two part series where I reveal my coaching secrets. I'm giving you the inside track on what it takes to optimize someone's health from the inside out. 

You can read the first part here, but to briefly recap:

- My client Nick had been leading a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll as a way of managing the stress of building multiple businesses. So he reached out to me for help

- This lifestyle eventually caught up with him (as it always does) and he reached out to me for help.

- Prior to coaching we did a blood test to identify exactly what his health challenges were.

- The blood test results revealed a host of challenges, including digestive inflammation, liver issues and a possible parasite infection.

In this article I'm going show you exactly what Nick and I worked on to transform his health.

Why I do blood testing before any coaching

tell me why

We both know you like the Backstreet Boys.

Most men can dramatically improve the way they look and feel with nutritional and lifestyle changes, but without a blood test it can be difficult to know what these changes need to be.

Testing a client’s blood is an amazing tool to know exactly what is going on at a cellular level. If we have that information,  we can be much more specific when designing the most appropriate nutrition plan.

It also helps us identify  underlying problems that we may not have otherwise discovered. This is why most of my clients take a blood test before we do any coaching. 

Now, back to Nick's test...

You are what you absorb

Your gut is the gateway to the rest of your body, and it’s where all food must pass through. The gut is the foundation of your health and typically the first issue I address with my clients.

Your microbiome, also known as gut flora, is key to your digestive health. It is the combined genetic material of microorganisms lining your stomach and intestinal walls. The microbiome found in our stomach is delicately balanced and is vital to optimal health.

The gut microbiome is needed to maintain hormonal balance, digestive and central nervous system function. It is only when there is an overgrowth of the microorganisms – or a particular strain that is pathogenic – that problems occur.

Processed food, high sugar consumption, chronic stress and excessive alcohol intake can all lead to microorganism overgrowth and digestive inflammation. 

I imagine you’re familiar with the term, “You are what you eat.” Well, there’s a saying in nutrition that goes, “You are what you absorb.”

That means you can have the best diet in the world, but if your digestive system is inflamed, then you’re unlikely to to break down and absorb nutrients from it. 

For instance, digestive inflammation can lead to low stomach acid. Stomach acid is critical in the breakdown and absorption of food. 

Low stomach acid can also reduce your immunity, making you more susceptible to infections. This is because stomach acid is critical for killing pathogens.

This may also explain why Nick had a parasitic infection.  So, how do you know if your gut is inflamed?

You get stinky farts, brain fog, bloating, gas and trips to the bathroom that result in watery stools/diarrhea. 

To improve his gut health, I encouraged Nick to focus on two main areas:

1. Chewing his food

2. Changing his diet

One of the first questions I ask new clients is: “How do you chew your food?” Often, they tell me they chew quickly. 

Chewing your food properly is critical. Wolfing food down activates the sympathetic nervous system, i.e. 'fight or flight’ response, which leads to poor digestion and absorption of food.

All signs – both from his blood test and how he felt – pointed to Nick being in a highly inflamed state, not only in his digestive tract, but his body as a whole.

Thus one of my main goals in healing his gut was to bring down this systemic inflammation. 

Inflammation and chronic illness

Why is it important to reduce inflammation? Systemic inflammation is the underpinning of virtually all disease states.

That’s why being obese is terrible for your health, as it promotes massive systemic inflammation. 

Typical symptoms of inflammation include waking up in the middle of the night, sore joints, brain fog, fatigue and depression.

The simplest and most effective way to reduce inflammation is through your diet. As the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, famously said:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

In Nick’s case, this meant focusing primarily on whole foods and eliminating takeout food, soda drinks and sweeteners. 

For example, greasy takeout foods are typically cooked in vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower and grapeseed oil. These oils are full of omega-6 fatty acids, which can result in chronic inflammation and lowered sperm motility.

Soda drinks are sky-high in sugar that can trigger chronic, low-grade inflammation. 

You’re not out of the woods with diet sodas either, as the sweeteners they contain, such as aspartame, are neurotoxins (i.e. harmful to the brain). Your immune system recognizes these artificial sweeteners as foreign invaders and attacks them, resulting in an inflammatory response.

It was also important for Nick to avoid gluten because he showed signs of leaky gut. 

Through a protein known as zonulin, gluten can damage the intestinal lining and open up tiny spaces in it, allowing space for undigested food and bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

the effect of zonulin

Leaky gut can lead to autoimmune conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and thyroid Hashimoto’s (a condition where your immune system attacks the thyroid) – as was the case with Nick. 

Holding you accountable

Despite multiple health challenges, the first months of our work together concentrated primarily on diet. 

There’s no point in introducing exotic supplements and lifestyle hacks if you can’t master the basics of nutrition.

This is why people who go on fad diets often gain the weight back. Why? Because they didn’t grasp a basic understanding of calorie intake, food choices, 

If you’re serious about increasing your energy, getting refreshing sleep and boosting your sex drive, I can’t stress how vital it is to be held accountable for your food choices.

Changing your diet is a big deal and can involve a lot of upheaval and stress. Not to mention all the energy you need to expend cultivating new habits and behaviors.

Nick logged his food choices in My Fitness Pal (a food diary app) and I encouraged him to be as honest as possible. This way I could hold him accountable.

Whenever he didn’t make the right choices, it was my job not to scold him, but to help him understand what he could do better next time. That’s how we create sustainable change.

This may involve opting for a salad at a restaurant instead of fries, or preparing more meals in advance.

I don’t expect clients to turn on a dime and change their diet overnight. What we do aim for, though, is small, incremental improvements each week.

The way I achieve this is by encouraging my clients to focus on what they did well, as opposed to the one time they ‘fucked up.’

When you reframe your mistakes as opportunities for growth, instead of beating yourself up, you cultivate a positive mindset. This approach not only helps you make better food choices, but also transfers over to all other areas of your life.

Focusing on the few occasions you messed up can derail you for weeks on end, because you make yet more poor food choices to cope with the guilt and anxiety.

Changing your perspective is as close to magic as it gets –

You see, the more you focus on what you did well, especially when it comes to nutrition, the better you feel about things and the better choices you make.

It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Parasite cleanse

Once I felt confident Nick was sticking to his diet, we tackled his parasite issue. 

White blood cells are the backbone of the immune system and fight off foreeign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Most people don’t realize, however, that there are different types of white blood cells, each serving a separate purpose. 

Nick had two white blood cell markers – basophils and eosinophils – that were elevated well outside the normal range, indicating a chronic infection/intestinal parasite. 

elevated white blood cells

Parasite infections are more common than you think. If left untreated, they can lead to fatigue, joint pain, brain fog and depression. 

Research also suggests that parasite can affect sex hormone production (i.e., lower testosterone) and dramatically affect sexual behavior. 

And what do parasites do? They feed off their host. 

I’ve had clients who never felt satiated and would eat thousands of calories in one sitting – because something else was stealing the nutrients. But thankfully, after a parasite cleanse, they could eat a meal normally and feel full again.

It’s often important to identify exactly what type of parasite is present. This is because many parasites are extremely resilient and are resistant to specific drugs or treatment protocols.

Thus for Nick we did a stool test, known as a gastrointestinal map, to identify the parasite. Once we figured out what it was, we were able to come up with a specific treatment protocol to get rid of it.

Some people – albeit rarely – have chronic viral infections such as Epstein Barr (glandular fever) and Lyme disease that require a different approach.

But based on Nick’s symptoms and the rest of his blood test, I didn't suspect a viral infection was present.

Mindset matters

It’s hard to convey everything Nick and I worked on together over six months. In fact, it would take me several articles to do so.

Nonetheless, a core component of our coaching was working on Nick’s mindset.

In the first part of this series, I described Nick’s hard-charging, guns blazing personality. This meant that he would go balls to the wall, training five days a week, or go keto and cut out all carbs.

These extremes never resulted in lasting change. In most cases they were counterproductive, because they left him feeling mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.

Part of my job was to help Nick change his perspective and take a more moderate approach to things.

When driven, hard-charging guys hear the word ‘moderate’, they want to run for the hills. This is because they often think that doing less work is somehow weak or lazy.

Not so.

Doing as little as possible to get the result you want is optimal. If you’re always charging forward and never take time to rest, you will eventually crash and burn – as was the case with Nick.For example, he got annoyed with himself at the start of January because, like everyone else in the holiday season, he ate a lot of sugary treats.

Up until that point, though, he had been extremely consistent and diligent with his diet. Therefore, I encouraged him to relax and not be so hard on himself.

You can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor if you’re always at war with yourself. And after all, a week of holiday food isn’t going to undo months of good work. 

Another thing that I worked on with Nick was helping him simply to relax. You see, when you’re a driven and ambitious person, everything is goal-oriented.

Nick became so preoccupied with the end goal that he’d forgotten to do things for the sake of it. Therefore, I recommended Nick do things without any specific goal in mind. 

Now that doesn’t mean you wander off aimlessly into the wilderness, never to come back. It simply means doing activities without fretting over the outcome.

He went for walks in nature without his phone, took time to read books while savoring barista-style coffee, 

It was hard for him at first to relax and do these things, but after consistently doing them for several weeks, Nick felt much more balanced and relaxed. 

Which is what most of us are searching for anyway, right?

On the surface, these things may not appear to have much to do with ‘health optimization.’ You can have a perfect sleep schedule, ideal diet and world-class exercise routine, but if you’re constantly stressed, then it won’t count for much.

Before and after

After six months of coaching we do a second blood test to compare results.  I was extremely pleased to see Nick’s second set of test results.

To recap, the screenshot here is his first test that shows the main health concerns. 

Nick's blood test results

The report calculates the likelihood of a health concern using an algorithm that considers multiple biomarkers. For instance, it determined that Nick had a 100% probability of intestinal permeability (i.e. leaky gut) due to two separate markers.

leaky gut

The screenshot below are the health concerns from his second test: 

Nick blood test 2

As you can see, the health concerns this time around are dramatically reduced. He still has some gut issues to work on, which we’ll most likely address with supplementation. 

It also looks as though his kidneys are not working in the way that they should be. This is despite the fact he drinks a lot of water (hydration is vital to kidney function), so we need to investigate why this is. 

There’s nothing that truly concerns me in comparison to his previous test, although, his kidneys are still not functioning optimally. 

This is despite drinking plenty of water – which helps flush waste products from the body and support kidney function.

The kidneys perform multiple functions, including filtering out waste products and toxins from the blood, as well as helping maintain blood pressure.  

Therefore, we need to do everything we can to support his kidney function, both with supplementation and lifestyle adjustments.  As I said before, you’re not going to fix all of your health problems overnight. 

The neat thing about these reports is that it allows you to compare your results side by side. So here we have a comparison of Nick’s biomarker from the current and previous blood test.

blood test comparisons

Context is everything and there are  more markers in the optimal range, which means that the trend where we want it, i.e. upward.

Nick has seen the positive effects of coaching, both in personal life and in concrete numbers from the blood test, so he’s decided to work with me for another 12 months, and I'm super excited about it!

Want to find out more about my coaching? Then click the button below to learn more and schedule your FREE coaching consultation with me today.

The secret to optimal health

The Secret to Optimal Health Pt.1

In this blog I'm going to do something I haven't done before. 

I’m going to lift the lid and reveal the exact coaching process I've used to help over 100 clients overcome their debilitating daily fatigue, tanked energy levels, crippling back pain, and the silent killer... sky-high stress levels.

I’ll explain how I helped my client Nick (I’ve changed his name due to the story’s personal nature) overcome digestive issues, parasitic infection, and dangerous liver stress that led to brain fog, wretched sleep and 

Nick reached out to me in July last year. He said he was ready to take the next step in his journey toward optimal health.

Extremely driven, focused and ambitious; Nick freely admits he’s the classic type-A guy. That means he’s highly strung and never does things by halves.

That means five punishing CrossFit workouts a week until his body breaks. It means pulling 80 hour weeks to push his business forward. 

And that also means drug and alcohol-fueled benders for days on end. 

Nick’s innate drive had made him immensely successful. He owns multiple successful businesses, has plenty of cash and has a house in the hills in a scenic part of Texas.

On the brink

The hard-charging nature that made him successful was also a double-edged sword. You see, Nick only ever had one gear in life: Forward. He had no reverse and certainly no neutral. 

Nick had his fair share of stress over the years, and his coping strategies revolved around drugs, alcohol and food. Years of work hard, play harder had taken its toll on Nick’s body and his health was now nothing short of a train wreck. 

stressed man


He knew he had to change his ways or wind up six feet under earlier than anticipated. It’s vital that you learn how to manage stress properly, else you’ll end up paying dearly for it –

Whether it's medication, doctor’s fees, your sense of inner peace, or even your life.

Nick had experimented with elimination diets (i.e. getting rid of specific foods). However, he soon discovered he was out of his depth and that his expertise was in building businesses, not health optimization – hence contacting me.

Given his history of drinking and taking drugs, as well as Hashimoto's diagnosis – an autoimmune disease that is often triggered by poor lifestyle – I recommended a blood panel to see where his health was at. 

Adjusting your expectations

Nick had abandoned his old ways a few months before we spoke. Nevertheless, I explained it could take a year or more to undo the effects of the previous 30 years.

Let’s be real:

Years of booze-heavy nights out 4x per week, late-night pizzas, chronic sleep deprivation, skipping workouts for literally anything else, and unmanaged stress from family and career will wreak havoc with your body. 

I’m all for the occasional beer and pizza. But when these things become defining pillars of your lifestyle, your body and mind starts to become a product of these choices.

Fixing that is not an overnight job; both in terms of healing your body and developing the right habits and behaviors to prevent it happening again. I cannot ethically or honestly say you’ll turn things around in the next few weeks. It simply doesn’t work like that. 

I don’t want you to feel hopeless though. What’s important to understand is while it may have taken you 10-20 years to end up where you are now, it WON’T take you 10-20 years to get to where you want.

In fact, I’d say the average “turnaround time” for my clients is around six months.  With anything like this it’s vital that your expectations are grounded in reality. But, if you’re patient and committed, you will see the results you’re hoping for.

Normal vs optimal

Out of 101 markers of Nick’s test blood test, 55 were optimal. 

Nick's blood test optimal range

Nobody is going to be 100% optimal, especially in today’s world of toxins and pollution, but typically I’d like to see around 70/100 optimal markers.

A normal doctor’s test doesn’t distinguish between normal and optimal.  Which is why people visit the doctor with symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and depression, only to get the results back and be told everything’s ‘normal.’

A classic example is the testosterone reference range. The ‘normal’ reference range for most testosterone tests is between 300-1000 ng/dL. Yet the difference between how you feel at 300 and 1000 is night and day. 

You can be 40 years old and have 301 ng/dL of total testosterone and feel like shit, but as far as medicine is concerned, you’re ‘normal!' This is precisely why the functional blood tests that I offer my clients have much narrower ranges:

testosterone reference range


His test results...

The first thing that jumped out from his blood test was his poor glucose metabolism. Despite fasting for over 12 hours, his blood sugar and insulin levels were still high. 

Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas and regulates blood sugar levels in your body. If it’s still high after an overnight fast, that means your body is struggling to deal with the sugar.

Elevated blood sugar is not a good look.

Picture what happens when you throw a lit match on a pool of gasoline – it ignites and eventually results in a blazing inferno.

In this case, elevated blood sugar is the matchstick and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease are gasoline. Consequently, blood sugar is one of the first areas I address when working with clients.

Another concern was his liver. Despite giving up alcohol months prior, he showed early signs of fatty liver disease; a condition where fat builds up in the liver.

A primary function of the liver is to filter toxins from your bloodstream. Harmful substances build up in your body if the liver can’t do its job.

If your liver doesn’t work, you’re basically signing your own death warrant.  Below is an image that explains the role of the liver.

liver detoxification pathways

You may not care about yourself, but if you continue to avoid your health challenges, then it’s your wife and children who ultimately pay the price.  They won’t have a father to support them while they grow up and your spouse will have to bring them up alone.

Back to Nick... 

His test also showed signs of leaky gut and digestive inflammation.

Leaky gut syndrome means that food gets through the lining of the gut (which is normally sealed), leading to infections and all sorts of nasty problems.

Incidentally, having a leaky gut makes you much more prone to infection, as your immune system is already busy fighting off bacteria that gets through the tiny holes in your small intestine. This is vital to understand, especially during the coronavirus crisis – your gut health plays a crucial role in your immune function.

Inflammation in the gut can come from a number of things, but in most people these stem from poor diet, alcohol and stress.  This is where context is important and we'll get to this in a moment.

Earlier, I mentioned that Nick had thyroid Hashimoto's – an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid, resulting in low thyroid function. 

 Nick was already taking medication to manage his thyroid. However, the report indicated that his thyroid antibodies, also known as thyroid peroxidase, (a marker your doctor will probably not test for) were still extremely high.

This meant that his diet and lifestyle were contributing to poor thyroid function, despite being on medication.

thyroid antibodies


If you're curious to understand what Hashimoto's (i.e. an under active thyroid or hypothyroidism) looks like, then take a look at the chart below.

Hashimoto's autoimmune

Hashimoto's or hypothyroidism is surprisingly common. If you feel sluggish throughout the day and everything feels like a struggle, it may be worth investigating your thyroid function.

Although it must be noted, as I'll discuss in this article, that nothing happens in isolation. In other words, a poorly functioning thyroid doesn't happen by itself. It's often the result of poor gut health,  leading to malabsorption and lack of nutrients, which has a downstream negative impact on thyroid function.

For example, I see zinc deficiency an awful lot in my clients' blood tests. This either because they're not getting enough in their diet or they're simply not absorbing it because their gut health is compromised – maybe both.

Context is king

A blood test alone won’t tell you jack unless you understand someone’s lifestyle and medical history. 

It’s like evaluating a business from its profit and loss statement alone – without knowing anything about the business; it’s management, operations, marketing strategy, etc.

I knew Nick had given up alcohol, thus I could rule this out and our coaching would focus mainly on nutrition and stress management. 

The report also indicated a potential parasite infection.  People can get parasite infections in a number of ways – from food poisoning, to drinking contaminated water, to insect bites while on vacation. 

If you don’t deal with a parasite, it can linger, leading to brain fog, water stools / diarrhea, fatigue and even anxiety.

Final thoughts

There were a number of things we needed to work on. Nonetheless, as a coach it’s imperative to prioritize. 

Imagine you’ve been tasked with turning around a failing business that’s hemorrhaging money. After careful analysis you realize there’s much work to do.

You identify that the management has become complacent, and many of them are stuck in their ways. So you decide to hire hungry managers to get the business back on track.

Still, you recognize the business won’t stop losing money overnight. It will take time for the new management to get up speed and do their jobs effectively.

It’s exactly the same when making lifestyle changes that will improve your health.

Now, I’m the first to admit that not everything works straight away, such as changes in diet or specific supplements. So, part of my job as a coach is to adapt and change tact when things don’t always work. And I wouldn't be able to do it with a guns blazing approach.

This is why the minimum turnaround time for my clients is six months, as it takes time to improve crucial health markers such as liver, hormone and kidneys, as well as ingrained habits and behaviors.

The immediate priorities for Nick were a) his diet and b) improving his gut health. 

Getting these fixed will potentially add decades to his life by taking stress off his vital organs. So, if you're looking for a good anti-aging strategy, then your first port of call should be lifestyle change.

Below is a screenshot from the report so you get an idea of the work needed. The report gives us an idea of the main health concerns that you face. 

Anything above 50% is something we need to look at. As you can see from this screenshot, Nick has a lot of issues going on. In the next part in this series, we'll compare his first and second test side by side.

Nick's blood test results

Check out the second part of this series where  I reveal the coaching strategy we used. I’ll also share the results of his blood panel after six months of working together.

If you can relate to Nick's story and are keen to find out how my coaching might be able to help you, then click the button below to schedule your FREE "Fountain of Youth" coaching call.

3-pillars-of-fitness-and-nutrition

3 Pillars of Fitness & Nutrition For Optimal Body Composition

It SUCKS when you put so much effort into a calorie-restricted diet, training multiple days a week, and educating yourself.

But in the end, you only lose a pound of two, then pile the weight back because the diet was completely unsustainable and made you miserable. 

For the lucky guys out there, fitness and nutrition is a piece of cake (pardon the pun). Hell, they don’t even need to diet – they seem to be able to eat anything they want and stay lean.


That was never the case for me. I was not blessed with ‘top tier’ genetics, and if you’re reading this I suspect this may be the case for you, too. All the changes I’ve ever made to my fitness have been earned through good old-fashioned hard work.

For the majority of men, many traditional weight loss strategies simply don’t work:

  • Crash-diets
  • Cutting entire food groups out (i.e. bread, dairy, etc.)
  • Training multiple days a week in an attempt to lose weight quickly
  • Buying tons of supplements

You feel miserable because you’re trying to starve yourself into submission. You end up binge eating because you’re hungry all the time. Then you beat yourself up due to your inability to lose weight, despite trying your hardest. It’s a vicious cycle and doomed from the start. 

The Problem With Calorie Counting and Restrictive Diets



Massively restricting your calories might seem like a good way to lose body fat. After all, eat less calories you’ll burn fat right Wrong.  If anything, you don’t eat enough. This is especially true if you train hard. Don’t forget, nutrition is vital for recovery!

This is a huge mistake that so many guys make. 

The biggest problem with slashing your calorie intake is this. When you lower your calories too much you create monstrous cravings, which you can only stave off for so long.  Guess what happens next. BINGING!

The cravings become insatiable too, so you resort to binging just to feel normal again, because you’re sick of feeling tired and depressed all the time. The transient high from the junk food gives you your dopamine fix. However, the processed foods lead to an insulin surge, which crashes your blood sugar and leads to an inevitable energy slump. So you binge once again to feel good. 


It’s possible to gain 2 to 3 pounds of fat from just one day of binge eating. Dramatic crash-diets may help you lose weight in the short-term. But in the end, you always put the weight back on

All of these things are common in men trying to lose weight, but they’re not the right way to go about fighting that stubborn fat.

The Internet can be confusing place and it’s hard to know what to believe with so many conflicting opinions. In a moment, I’ll share with you my three pillars of fitness & nutrition that will help you cut through the confusion. They will finally help you lose that stubborn body fat, drop weight, and get into the shape of your life.

Now, my methods might a bit different. But I promise you, they’re backed by science. It’s just that they don’t make the mainstream as they’re not designed to make you part with any cash. And best of all, they can all be done completely FREE. Plus, you can take action on them as soon as you finish reading this article.

1. Eat Plenty of Protein

In my experience, men who try to lose weight and get their dream body don’t eat anywhere near enough protein. As a general rule, you want to eat 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass.

For example, let’s say you weigh 230 lbs at roughly 25% body fat. From here, you subtract your body fat percentage, i.e. 25% (34lbs) from your total weight – 230lbs (230-34). So this gives you a lean body mass of around 196lbs. The aim to get this amount of protein in every day. Although, I would aim to overshoot it a little, say 200-210g of daily protein, to ensure you hit it. 

The is because not all proteins are made equal. 

NOTE: If you’ve never measured your body fat before, I recommend getting a DEXA scan or bod pod done. These are the most reliable and accurate ways to measure it.

It’s easy to lie to yourself about how you look in the mirror, but it’s not strictly necessary. You can get a good idea if you compare your body with the pictures below. 

male body fat

Your body requires protein to build and repair tissue. It’s the building block of bones, muscle, skin and blood. It also helps boost your metabolism, lower your appetite and activate key weight-regulating hormones.

Therefore, its importance in the context of losing weight and gaining muscle cannot be understated. Science backs this up. One randomized controlled study compared the effect of a high protein diet versus a standard protein diet on 105 adults with an average age of 47. [1]

Participants underwent a calorie-restricted diet of 500 cals under maintenance, and had a protein intake of either 1.34g/kg bodyweight or 0.8g/kg bodyweight for 6 months. Participants in the high protein group lost significantly more weight than those in the standard protein group.


2. Resistance Training

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of resistance training to your fat loss and physique goals. I say ‘resistance training,’ because ultimately you can build a muscular physique whether you lift weights or only use your bodyweight. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so having more muscle increases your resting metabolic rate (energy expenditure) compared to having more body fat. 

Effectively, this means you burn more calories at rest. Sounds like a good deal to me. Not convinced? Take a look at the dramatic different in physique between endurance runners and sprinters. I know who I’d rather look like…

runner vs sprinter

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like sprinter or a bodybuilder!!” Look. if simply lifting weights made you look like this, everyone would look like a bodybuilder. The fact is, most guys who go to the gym DO NOT look like this. So clearly, there’s a more to it.  

The bottom line is this:

Better fitness = a better life. And more muscle mass will make you look and feel better, and burn more calories at rest. Nevertheless, there is one point I want to stress. When you lift weights you must train with INTENSITY. That means you need to have a plan when you go to the gym and execute it. 

Most people simply go through the motions when they go to the gym. They make up their workout on the spot, drift aimlessly from one exercise to the next, and train with the same intensity as a slug in a puddle. Then they wonder why they don’t lose weight and look the same year after year. 

Another point to note here is that you can have the best training program in the world. However, if you don’t have the right nutrition to support your goals, you will be spinning your wheels. Indeed, I say to my clients that nutrition is 90% of the game. Understand that your efforts in the gym will be wasted until you make your nutrition a priority. 


3. Hormonal Balance


Hormones are the backbone of your health. As a man, testosterone is the most important of all. Testosterone supports muscle mass, fat loss, cognition, libido and well-being. In addition, it contributes to proper immune system and cardiovascular health.

testosterone male body
In contrast, low testosterone leads to a number of debilitating symptoms, including brain fog, increased fat gain, low energy and low libido.

The mental fog and depression from low testosterone alone is crushing. But equally as important is that low testosterone will wreck your results in the gym. As mentioned, testosterone supports lean muscle mass and fat loss. Subsequently, if you have low testosterone, much of your effort in the gym will be in vain. 

I discovered this for myself a few years ago. I was training hard in the gym. In fact, I was squatting and deadlifting up to three times a week! But I never got any results. That was until I took a blood test; only to find out I had the testosterone level of an 80 YEAR OLD MAN! No wonder I wasn’t getting any results from my blood, sweat and tears in the gym…

Ultimately, this involved getting further blood tests and undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). But you don’t necessarily need to go on TRT to boost testosterone.

Indeed, I recommend that most men invest their time improving their lifestyle and nutrition to improve their hormonal profile. As opposed to looking at TRT as some kind of quick fix. Nonetheless, there is a chance you could have low testosterone, and not even realize it – as was the case with me. 

If you’re overweight, your chances are even higher. Excess estrogen from high levels of body fat (adipose tissue) results in the degeneration of testicular tissue, which lowers testosterone production. The subsequent low testosterone leads to loss of lean muscle mass. This makes it harder to exercise and saps your motivation! 

It’s like a double whammy to your testosterone. No wonder you feel drained and don’t want to get off the couch!

One study of over 1500 American men aged 45 – 79 years measured testosterone levels from 1987-2004. The researchers found that on average, testosterone levels declined by 1% a year. This means that testosterone levels have by 20% over the past few decades. [2] This has dramatic ramifications for men’s health and society as a whole. 

This study was a few years ago now. We can only imagine how low men’s testosterone levels are now…And I’ve elaborated on this in detail in my book, Optimized Under 35. Suffice to say, the combination of toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment, combined with poor dietary habits have created the perfect storm for hormonal imbalance.

So what leads to low testosteroneThere are many things that lead to low testosterone. In addition to the aspects mentioned above, sleep deprivation and chronic stress also have a major influence. Indeed, modern life is characterized by lack of sleep and stress.

Nowadays, most people don’t sleep anywhere near enough. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with low testosterone and obesity.  If you can improve your sleep quality, you can dramatically boost your testosterone and drop fat in the process! No supplement on earth can match a good night’s sleep!

Once I started using these simple, but massively overlooked methods with my own life, the results were staggering. When I suffered with low testosterone, I felt like a shadow of a man. I was anxious, depressed, had low self-esteem and constantly battled with low energy. But after undergoing testosterone replacement therapy, I felt like I had finally gotten my life back.

I felt stronger and more energetic. My efforts in the gym were finally rewarded, and I gained over 10 lbs of lean muscle mass within a year! Which goes to show what happens when your hormones are balanced. And not only was my sex drive vastly improved, but I felt much more confident and driven to succeed. Talk about a turn around! 

Final Thoughts

It’s sad that so many men give up on their health & fitness goals because they conclude that dieting doesn’t work. Or they slave away for hours on end at the gym. Only to get no results from it. This is both demoralizing and would be enough to dishearten anyway. Nevertheless, I hope that after reading this article you understand that to achieve your fitness goals, you need to have the right approach. That is, you need to incorporate these fundamental pillars of fitness & nutrition.

One takeaway I want you to get from this article is this.

Leading an enjoyable life and being in supreme physical condition are not mutually exclusive. Yet so many people believe this dogma. They think that being in shape requires living an extreme monk-like lifestyle.

That means you can’t go out to eat with friends, go to barbecues, have a casual drink with your partner, or celebrate birthdays. Sounds like a boring life. The whole purpose of living a healthy lifestyle is to lead a high quality life – it shouldn’t detract from your life.

If this is the case, you’re doing it wrong. 

By following these pillars of fitness & nutrition that I’ve laid out in this article, you will see dramatic results. This alone should give you enough to get going. But if you feel like you need something more personalized to you, you can find out more about my online coaching below:

How Testosterone transformed my life

How Testosterone Transformed My Life

Three years ago I was in I was in a massive slump. In fact, slump would probably an understatement – I had hit rock bottom. There’s depression and then there’s feeling like a black cloud follows you around 24/7. 

Nonetheless, from the outside looking in I had a pretty good life. I was working in London in the heart of the financial industry – a prestigious job with good opportunity for progression. In addition, I was in a stable relationship and had a close circle of supportive friends.

Yet in spite of this, I felt empty inside and didn’t know why. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would ultimately lead me on a journey of self-discovery.

And as the saying goes, in life sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. Although in my case, I failed to see how it could get any worse. At least in the way I felt.

A Passenger In My Own Life

As I mentioned, I previously worked in the financial industry in London. In the beginning I really enjoyed my job. It gave me a buzz to work in such a high-octane, fast and pressure-cooker environment.

We all have those days where we don’t want to get out of bed. Perhaps it was simply youthful exuberance. Nonetheless, for the most part, I used to jump out of bed; excited to see what the day had in store for me.

However, since the onset of this depression around the age of 27, I had lost my enjoyment for work and zest for life. I remember getting on the London underground (locally known as the ‘tube’) for work one day.

I had been awake for a few hours, but I felt zoned completely out – like a zombie. This was despite the fact I slept more than enough. I remember the bitter irony of being a passenger on this train, while feeling like a passenger in my own life.

It was as if I was watching a movie play out in front of my eyes. And I was definitely not the protagonist. 

Testosterone passenger depersonalization

Low testosterone made me feel like a passenger in my own life.

 

I read up about my symptoms on the Internet. The closest thing I found that came close was ‘Depersonalization syndrome.’ According to the definition on Wikipedia:

“Depersonalization is described as feeling disconnected or detached from one’s self. Individuals experiencing depersonalization may report feeling as if they are an outside observer of their own thoughts or body, and often report feeling a loss of control over their thoughts or actions”

I can’t say for sure that this is what happened, as it’s never a wise idea to self-diagnose yourself on Google. However, this description resonated with how I felt. It got to the point that I felt so numb and no longer enjoyed life.

My Daily Fight With Anxiety

The anguish from the emptiness and depression alone was enough to plunge me into turmoil.  But on top of that, I struggled with daily with a kind of grinding anxiety. And once again – I had no idea why. Indeed, I suspect that this constant anxiety contributed to me feeling disconnected from reality, as I described above. 

I used to worry about the smallest things. I used to obsess over emails that I sent at work – in case I made an error. Or I’d worry about something I said to someone. In case I said the wrong thing and it would be misinterpreted.

Anxiety low testosterone

I would play each scenario over and over in my mind. It was a form of self-torture – one I felt I had no control over. In addition, I struggled on several occasions with panic attacks. Sure, I had anxiety in the past – like any normal person, but this not something I had experienced before. 

I remember one time I was sat at my desk at work and my chest tightened, my airwaves constricted and my heart pounded out of my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack and almost passed out. Later on, I found out it was a panic attack. It was the first time this had happened. And once more, I had no idea why. 

I assumed this was due to the stress work and in my life. But in truth, my life wasn’t that stressful. So what the hell was going on? I just got overwhelmed by the smallest things. Yet, I knew deep down this wasn’t the real me. 

Low Libido and Stagnation in the Gym

If all the anxiety and depression weren’t bad enough, my sex drive had also fallen off a cliff. In fact, it was non-existent.  My girlfriend at the time thought that I no longer found her attractive. However, no amount of reassurances helped.

I had no libido and couldn’t explain why. It was quite distressing. As a man, your sexuality is a big part of your identity. You want to feel vigorous and energetic. And once that’s taken away from you, you feel as though you’re half a man. A shadow of your former self. 

Depressed man low testosterone

 

In spite of all this, I felt that there was one area of my life that was still OK. The gym was my sanctuary. I’ve been lifting weights for a long time and I’ve often used it to event my frustrations and channel my energy into something positive.

Although I soon discovered that this area of my life was not immune from the chaos in the rest of my life. I lifted weights three times a week at a minimum. Yet I couldn’t make progress for love nor money.

I couldn’t get stronger, in spite of how many times I squatted or deadlifted. I couldn’t gain muscle mass. And what’s more, I had fat around my waist I couldn’t get rid of.

In the end, I concluded at the ripe old age of 28 that I had reached my ‘genetic potential.’ Looking back, it was clear that there was something seriously wrong.  I suppose I was too close to everything to see it for what it really was. I figured I was an anxious or ‘negative’ person.

Furthermore, I thought that I couldn’t make progress in the gym because my training program was bad, or my diet wasn’t up to scratch.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t drink alcohol, didn’t smoke, and my diet was actually pretty good. I was trying my level best, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels.

The Symptoms of Low Testosterone?

I didn’t know what to think–until one day I took a routine blood test. The blood test was pretty thorough. From liver, kidney and thyroid panels, hormones, full blood count and immune system testing. When I got the results back, I wasn’t expecting anything untoward.

It all looked normal, until I got to my testosterone levels – I saw that I had the testosterone level of an 80 YEAR OLD MAN. I was dumbstruck. I felt like I had fallen into an abyss, because I couldn’t believe what was happening to me.

How was this possible?

I took such good care of my body, but I had low testosterone at such a young age? Suddenly, all of these symptoms made complete sense–although I didn’t recognize them as such at the time. The anxiety, low libido, depression, lack of energy and brain fog.

They were all classic symptoms of low testosterone. However, out of willful ignorance or otherwise, I had ignored them–thinking they couldn’t happen to me at such a young age. After much deliberation and soul-searching, I decided the right thing for me was to undergo testosterone replacement therapy.

I felt anxious about my decision to undergo TRT and a lifelong medication? However, at this point I felt there was nothing more I could do and this was the best solution.

Moreover, I had several friends who had already successfully undergone treatment. I saw how much of a positive impact it had on their lives. Many of them were older than me and had been on testosterone therapy for several years. They were the picture of perfect health. 

That was proof enough for me.  Subsequently, I managed to find a doctor who was open-minded enough to treat a young man for low testosterone. That was and still is rare – of which I’m thankful. I got my prescription for testosterone replacement therapy and put it off for a few weeks.

I was scared of change; scared of the unknown. Part of me wanted to cling onto the ‘known.’ But in the end, I decided my longing for comfort the ‘known’ was a miserable existence.

I would do anything to change it. So I decided to take my first injection. In fact, I got my roommate to do it, because I didn’t have the courage to do it.

How Testosterone Transformed My Life

It took a few weeks for the testosterone to kick in, but to say that thee effect was AMAZING would be an understatement. After a few weeks, I had increased mental clarity and more energy.

I felt like the OLD ME again. After a few more weeks, my anxiety had subsided to almost nonexistent levels. My depression had lifted and my sex drive was a back to a healthy level.

What’s more, after six months in the gym, I had gained over 10 lbs of lean muscle mass. So, my efforts weren’t in vain after all? I simply needed the right hormonal balance in my body to see the fruits of it.

But that wasn’t all…

I felt connected once again with my own instincts, which had disappeared into the background. For the first time in a long time, I felt the courage, conviction and confidence to go after what I wanted in life.

Several months post-treatment I decided to quit my job and move to Spain. This had been a long-standing ambition of mine. A dream I never thought I would fulfill, because I was suffered with so much doubt and fear. But having my health back in balance instilled my self-belief once more and my ability to conquer my dreams.

how testosterone transformed my life

A few years after that I started my own business – another long-held ambition of mine. And in 2019 I launched my first book –Optimized Under 35. Funnily enough, I never dreamed I would write a book – let alone on hormonal optimization.

However, after going through the trials of low testosterone, I knew had to share my story. Because there are many other men out there who suffer with it and don’t know that help is available. 

Without testosterone, I would not be half the man I am today. Words cannot accurately describe the mental and physical metamorphosis I underwent. Testosterone helped me get my life back and helped me go from an unconfident, anxious, depressed shell of a man to a confident, assertive and positive individual.

Final Thoughts

Hormones are the backbone of your health, and you cannot truly appreciate how important they are to your well-being until they’re in the gutter. Indeed, you may even be like me and not know that you have a hormonal imbalance, as the symptoms can creep up on you like a thief in the night.

Testosterone replacement therapy is not for everyone. Most people would do well simply to live what I call a ‘testosterone-friendly’ lifestyle. That way they avoid lifelong medication and everything that comes with it.

Not only is testosterone replacement therapy not the cakewalk and panacea many men think it is. It also has its own challenges and it could take months for the treatment to be successful.

Some men come to me and tell me that they have tried ‘everything’ and nothing has worked for them. So they think that taking testosterone will fix all of their problems. But, after I get them to track their diet for a few days, I quickly see their nutrition is not up to scratch.

Yet, instead of fixing their diet, they would rather go on a lifelong medication. Now they have to manage their estrogen, inject themselves multiple times a week and pay all the insurance fees that comes with it. It’s madness.

Testosterone replacement therapy isn’t always the right solution – but hormonal balance is for EVERYONE. And if you can live a lifestyle that facilitates that naturally – all the better. 

The picture below on the left is me before I started TRT. The look on my face says it all; I was unsure, lacking self-confidence and afraid. And there was belly fat around my stomach that I just couldn’t get rid of.

The second picture on the right is me after being on testosterone for six months. I look much more confident and assured. But not only that, my physique has changed in dramatic fashion; I appear more defined and muscular.

How Testosterone transformed my life

This is the power of hormonal balance. Hormones are the backbone of your health, and as a man testosterone is your LIFE BLOOD. Testosterone maintains androgenic (male) sex characteristics such as facial hair, a deep voice, sperm production, and muscle mass.

It has stimulatory effects on bones, libido, mood, cognition centers in the brain, and erectile strength. In addition, it has a positive effect on metabolic rate, lipids (e.g., cholesterol), and inflammation. If your hormones are out of balance you feel like a shadow of your former self.

If you identify with many of the symptoms I discuss in this post, contact me about my 1on1 coaching below. We will work together to create a lifestyle to help restore your natural hormonal balance through the power of nutrition.

10 Things I Noticed on the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet was originally developed in the 1920s to help epilepsy patients and stabilize their seizures. Unfortunately, its use declined with the advent of antiepileptic drugs.

Ketogenic dieting used to be a bit of a fringe movement. People who did it were a bit ‘out there.’ However, in recent times it has enjoyed a resurgence, and ‘keto’ has entered into the mainstream lexicon.

In fact, it seems everyone is doing it. From your sister to your cousin’s cat. However, I had never considered doing it myself. I figured lack of carbohydrates would negatively impact both my day-to-day energy levels, and training performance. I was under the impression that I needed carbs to train hard and recover.

At least this is how I thought until I did the ketogenic diet…Last year I was at crossroads.. My diet had become a bit routine and stale and my performance in the gym had plateaued. So I decided I wanted to try something new. I said to ‘hell with it’ and decided to go “keto.”

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

It appears the applications of the ketogenic diet is far reaching, and goes way beyond symptom management for specific conditions. Indeed, it appears using fat as a primary fuel source is beneficial to your overall health.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

Before we get into it, I thought it would be necessary to clarify what keto is all about. The ketogenic diet or ‘keto’ is characterized by a low carb and high dietary fat intake. And when the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy, it uses fat energy. These fat stores are broken down in the liver and converted into molecules known as ketones. In the absence of glucose, the body then uses these ketones for fuel.

Ketosis refers to a metabolic state where your body uses ketones (fat) as its primary energy source. Being in ketosis mean your body taps into its own fat stores to use as energy. This is obviously great news for weight loss, because you can become a fat-burning machine!

Many people mistakenly believe our bodies only produce ketones once we’re in ketosis. However, mild ketosis can also occur during fasting and lactation (breastfeeding) [1]. Even when we eat a lot of carbohydrates, ketones are present in our blood at low levels, and they increase in response to a decrease in carbohydrates.

The main reason the ketogenic diet works so well for weight loss is due to the lack of insulin. Insulin inhibits fat breakdown; and the principal nutrient that stimulates its release is carbohydrate [2].

Most people’s diets are rich in carbohydrates, hence they are unable to turn their bodies in to efficient fat-burning machines because of the constant presence of insulin.

And let’s just clarify one thing. You don’t starve your body while on a ketogenic diet. However, you do starve your body of carbohydrates.

There are actually four different types of ketogenic diets:

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) – this is the most well-known version of the ketogenic diet. The aim here is to stay within 20-50g of net carbohydrates per day. You have a moderate protein and high fat intake. This typically consists of 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrate.
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) – this involves eating 30-50g of carbohydrates 30 minutes or so prior to workouts.
  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) – as the name suggests, this is where you cycle your carbohydrate intake. For instance, you may go low carb for several days, followed by a high carbohydrate intake, and cycle back to a low carb approach again.
  • High-Protein Ketogenic Diet – in this variation you drop your fat intake and increase your protein intake substantially. In this case, the fat content is a more moderate 60%, protein 35%, while carbohydrates remain 5%.

To meet the demands of exercise and ensure muscle growth and repair, you need an adequate protein intake. Therefore, I decided to go on a high-protein ketogenic diet.

Below I share with you some of my main observations while I was on keto.

#1 Cognition is pretty damn good

My diet has been on point for several years, albeit with minor tweaks here and there. Testosterone replacement therapy has also helped with my mental clarity.

However, I have to say my overall concentration and thinking was very clear on the ketogenic diet. Whereas when I eat a lot of carbohydrates, I tend to feel sluggish.

When I eat lots of carbs carbs, I want to go take a nap and find it hard to concentrate. I never felt this way on keto.

#2 Easier to follow the diet than I thought

My biggest reservation about doing the ketogenic diet was that it would be hard to follow.

“It’s so hard to avoid carbohydrates these days!” I thought.

But honestly, it was much easier than I had anticipated.

Previously, carbohydrates such as sweet potato and oatmeal were mainstays in my diet. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

In reality however, the adjustment without carbs was quite straightforward.

I still ate plenty of protein, so that aspect didn’t change much. For the most part, I simply replaced the carbohydrates with green vegetables and added more fats in the form of avocados, nuts, etc.

Not that difficult.

Nor did this make me a social recluse unable to eat at restaurants.. It’s actually pretty simple to stay keto when you eat out. For example, a chicken salad with a moderate amount of fat is good from a keto standpoint.

#3 Fat based meals are pretty tasty

I’m not going to lie to you. One of the most enjoyable aspects of going keto was eating lots of foods that taste good –

And NOT feeling guilty for it!

A HUGE reason people fail their diets is down to guilt and shame:

“Oh no, I just had a cheat meal! I’ve fallen off the wagon and completely wrecked my diet!”

You simply don’t feel this way on a ketogenic diet, because most of the food tastes good. Therefore, there’s less compulsion to cheat and binge on crappy food.

Unless you’re a vegan, who doesn’t enjoy eating bacon, eggs, steak and cheese? Indeed, it makes a nice change to follow a diet where you look forward to every single meal.

eggs and avocado

#4 It’s easy to go overboard with dietary fat

Going keto comes with a BIG caveat:

It’s EXTREMELY easy to go overboard with the fat content. You can convince yourself that eating anything with fat in it is “good” for you. As a result, you end up splurging on things like cheese and nut butter.

Because they’re healthy fats right?

You convince yourself it’s good. Then when you punch in your calories into My Fitness pal, you realize you’ve ate wayyy too much.

It’s like those people who take two tablespoons of cream and butter in their coffee. It’s keto!! No, that’s called being fat.

On keto, I can eat two large meals and I’ve already hit my fat target for the day. The amount of calories in fat is quite deceptive – nine calories per gram to be precise. Whereas there are only four calories per gram of protein and carbohydrate.

#5 You have to eat plenty of vegetables

The fiber and nutrient content from the carbohydrates I ate used to help me feel satiated. When I removed them on the ketogenic diet, I noticed I get hungrier quicker. Eating fibrous vegetable can help you feel fuller and stop you snacking.

Snacking and grazing is like kryptonite to your diet.

If you follow keto to the letter, it’s not necessary to eat vegetables. You can eat a high fat meal such as bacon and eggs without them.

However, it’s important not to miss out vegetables on the ketogenic diet. Otherwise, you can become deficient in specific micronutrients. Vegetables are crucial for their vitamin and mineral content. Particularly for ones that your body cannot manufacture itself.

#6 Eating this way made me even more vigilant

I’ve long had the habit of looking at nutritional labels on all food. However, when I went keto, I became extra vigilant. To remain in ketosis, as a rule you cannot exceed 25-40g (at most) in a day of carbohydrates.

I wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at eating an avocado in the past. On keto though, I had to take it into consideration due to its carbohydrate content. You start to become hyper-conscious of carbohydrate content in foods.

You start to find them in places you would have never expected. Trying a ketogenic diet is great just for this lesson alone.

#7 Training performance was as good, if not better

As mentioned, one of my reservations about going keto was my performance in the gym. I always assumed that I needed plenty of carbohydrates to train hard at the gym and for strength and size.

Not for the first time, I was wrong.

While I could perhaps train more intensely with carbohydrates, I certainly had more stamina on keto. I could do six or seven intense exercises in a row and still feel energized.

By comparison,  I would normally be  tapped out by the end of a training session on a diet with complex carbohydrates. And because I train hard, doing creative tasks after training was OUT OF THE QUESTION. But after going keto, for the first time I was able to go home and write after training.

deadlift

#8 Recovery was slower

I still reserve judgement on this one because I only did keto for four months. Subjectively however, I noticed I did feel sorer for after training.

Where when eating plenty of carbohydrates, I would be sore for barely a day. This could be a mental thing. To make it more quantifiable, I’d have to track my heart rate every morning when I woke up.

Nonetheless, I don’t care much for tracking every single aspect of diet and training. What matters most to me on a diet is how you feel. And for the most part, I felt pretty damn good on keto.

#9 My body composition was even better

Another concern I had about going on keto was that I was going to lose muscle. I thought that the lack of carbohydrates would make me look flat.

Bodybuilding lore states that you need carbohydrates to gain muscle. So I never expected to gain muscle while on the ketogenic diet.

But take a look at my before and after pics. I look bigger and fuller. And I actually weighed less! The picture on the left is me three months I started keto, and the one on the right is four months later.

According to most gurus, you need a ton of carbs to grow muscle. On the weekend I would allow myself to have a meal with carbohydrates. Because guess what? I wanted a life! If it’s not keto adapted, who gives a shit. But one thing’s for sure – I gained a ton of size withourt the need for carbohydrates.

It goes to show – we take so many ideas for granted, particularly when it comes to health and fitness.

#10 You don’t need carbohydrates to function

I got a bodpod done when I finished with the diet. I was surprised with the results. It was the leanest I’ve ever been – 7.7% body fat in total.

daniel kelly bodpod

I felt better and looked much leaner on the ketogenic diet. However, I don’t think that’s because keto is some magic bullet. It’s simply a question of calories in, calories out. Eating more fat made me feel satiated for longer, so I didn’t need the additional calories.

When I started the ketogenic diet, I was worried eating less carbs would impair not only my training, but my focus in general. The truth is, I felt absolutely fine without them.

In fact, I felt better than ever before. I’ve since reverted back to eating carbohydrates. But as a result of going keto, I’ve dramatically lowered my intake. I simply don’t need them in the way I thought.

You do have to be a bit more picky and methodical in your planning – especially when you eat out. You also have to be assertive when friends and family on plying you with carbs!

It’s important to remember why you chose this lifestyle in the first place. Yes, it’s harder to do this, but what’s the alternative – feel and look like shit? No thanks!

I followed the ketogenic diet for around four months. It wasn’t difficult at all. In fact, I quite enjoyed it and I learned a SHIT TON about nutrition in general.

There is no better way to learn than to roll your sleeves up and get in the trenches. 

To find out more about the ketogenic diet or whether following it could be right for you, get in contact with me about my 1on1 coaching.

P.S. 

My book Optimized Under 35 is out on Amazon now, and has already received RAVE REVIEWS. Grab your copy today!

 

depression man

The Cause of Your Low Testosterone Symptoms

Back in late 2018, a young man in his early 20s contacted me because he felt stressed, depressed, anxious, lacked motivation and suffered regular panic attacks. His libido was low, and he had to take cialis to feel any sexual desire at all.

In short, he was not in a good place. And he was convinced this was due to low testosterone:

He was desperate in a desperate state, so we did a consultation to see how best I could help him.

Before the consultation I asked him to send me any previous blood tests along with detailed breakdown of his current lifestyle.

Context is everything. You can’t truly help someone until you can see the full picture.

A Verdict of Low Testosterone?

His prior blood tests revealed that he had low testosterone. I don’t put a lot of stock in the total testosterone number alone. This is because symptoms are the most important factor when it comes to hormonal balance.

However, his total testosterone ranged from 400-500 ng/dL (13.9 nmol/L – 17.3 nmol/L). This is very low for a man in his early 20s.

He also had low gonadotropin levels – luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Gonadotropins are hormones sent by the pituitary gland to the testes to produce testosterone.

This indicated that he likely had secondary hypogonadism. In secondary hypogonadism, the signal sent from the brain to the testes (via gonadotropin hormones) is weak. So because the testes don’t receive a strong signal, they fail to produce sufficient levels of testosterone.

In addition, he had low estradiol (a form of estrogen), which you would expect because his testosterone was so low. In men, estradiol is made predominantly from the conversion of testosterone. This process is known as aromatization. Essentially, the less testosterone you have, the less estrogen you produce.

Contrary to what many believe, estrogen is not a “female hormone.” Estrogen is crucial to male health and contributes to memory, mood, and libido among other things.

But that wasn’t all.

He also had elevated prolactin > 20 ng/mL (450 miu/L). Prolactin is another hormone produced in the pituitary gland. Elevated levels of prolactin can indicate a tumor in the pituitary gland, leads to the hypersecretion of prolactin.

High prolactin levels in men can also lead to erectile dysfunction, mood swings, low libido and even vision disturbances in some cases. However, his prolactin levels weren’t high enough to indicate a pituitary tumor (adenoma).

The Sickcare Solution

This young man was very exasperated. He had seen leading doctors, taken multiple blood tests, and even took an MRI scan.

His blood tests mostly “normal” (i.e. within range) and the MRI scans showed nothing wrong.

Yet he still felt like crap.

So due to his low testosterone symptoms and high prolactin levels, his doctor prescribed him clomid (a drug to elevate testosterone and maintain fertility) and cabergoline (a dopamine agonist) to bring prolactin down.

I’ve written extensively about clomid in my book Optimized Under 35. Research suggests clomid is a relatively safe and effective treatment option for hypogonadal men who want to elevate testosterone and maintain fertility.

One study looked at the effect of clomid treatment in young obese men with low testosterone aged 18-21. Eleven subjects were given 25mg of clomid every other day for three months.

Testosterone and gonadotropin hormones were measured before and after treatment. The average baseline testosterone levels were 233 ng/dL (8.1 nmol/L) and increased to 581 ng/dL (20.1 nmol/L) post treatment. Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone levels (FSH) also increased.

Studies also show that cabergoline is effective at reducing high prolactin levels. One study gave a single dose of 300 mcg of cabergoline to 15 patients with hyperprolactinoma (i.e. a pituitary tumor). Prolactin levels were taken several hours before treatment and up to seven days after.

cabergoline

The authors of the study noted a significant reduction in serum prolactin levels; ranging from 49.2-55.2%. This occurred quickly – within two-five days of treatment.

These medications are clearly effective at treating low testosterone and high prolactin in men. Nevertheless, this young man wasn’t sure whether taking medication was the right thing for him.

Now, it’s not my place to advise on medications or give medical advise because I am not a doctor. However, I am a firm advocate of improving your health through diet and lifestyle changes.

The modern medical system is preoccupied with treating symptoms. I call this the Sickcare Solution. I believe we should aim to fix root causes instead.

I told him to be truly healthy and avoid long-term medication, he needed to find out what led to the low testosterone, high prolactin, and other symptoms.

So to investigate further, I needed to understand more about his lifestyle:

Sleep, diet, exercise, supplements – the whole shebang.

Living a Clean Lifestyle?

His symptoms of anxiety, depression, low motivation, low libido and lethargy are all linked with low testosterone. And his blood work showed that his testosterone was on the low end.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t necessarily mean he needed to undergo testosterone replacement therapy.

As a mentor of mine once told me:

“When you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail.”

This man was under a lot of stress running his business. He was under extreme pressure every day, and this was clearly taking its toll on his health.

stressed man

That’s not really extraordinary, because who among us doesn’t deal with stress?

Now apart from this, he lifted weights 2-3 times a week, meditated daily, drank minimal alcohol, and slept at least eight hours a night. Although in spite of sleeping a lot, he never felt well rested and frequently woke up in the night to urinate.

I also asked him to record everything he ate. It looked something like this:

Breakfast: Eggs, fresh green juice, and an espresso.

Snacks: Nuts, fruit, or a fresh juice.

Lunch: Vegetables, a form of protein such as chicken, and some cheese.
Mid-afternoon: Same as before or a protein shake.
Dinner: Salmon and salad or a healthy takeaway
He also typically drank a breakfast smoothie consisting of spinach, kale, MCT oil, protein powder, greek yoghurt, and coconut water.

On the surface, it appears as though he led a healthy lifestyle. His diet was low-carb, and included good protein sources and green vegetables.

But something was not adding up. And as we’ll see in a moment, his diet isn’t as great as it appears.

After he filled me in on his lifestyle, I asked him to get a comprehensive blood panel done. At first, he was reluctant, as he’d done so many tests already.

I understood his reticence. However, here’s what I told him:

The tests I do for my 1on1 coaching clients are NOTHING like a normal doctor’s test. Let’s take a closer look…

A Normal Range For Normal Health

Taking a blood test is great for one main reason:

It gives you a clear and objective assessment of your current state of health.

A typical blood test will have a reference range for each marker of health. So if you’re within that range,  then as far as modern medicine is concerned you’re normal!

Normal health

However nowadays, “normal” is a byword for mediocre or failing health. And for the most part, blood tests in this format are deeply flawed.

Reference ranges are often arbitrary, or conjured up based on population averages. They’re rarely, if ever age-adjusted, so everyone gets lumped into the same range.

For example, the reference range for total testosterone is taken from the entire population. That means a 25 year old man is comparing his testosterone levels to an 80 year old man.

Subsequently, if a 25 year old man has 300 ng/dL (10.4 nmol/L) of total testosterone (comparable to an 80 year old); he is considered normal. This is simply because his testosterone is within the “normal” reference range.

Furthermore, no distinction is made between normal and optimal levels of testosterone. Yet surely, we should all be striving for optimal when it comes to health? Nope!

When it comes to hormones, and health in general, average doesn’t come into it. We are all biochemically unique, and this requires a more tailored approach.

Sadly, it appears modern medicine is utterly obsessed with averages.

Optimal is the Only Option

The blood tests my clients take have multiple reference ranges. This includes:

  • Below standard
  • Below optimal
  • Optimal
  • Above optimal
  • Above standardVitamin D optimal range

The aim for my clients is to get the majority of their markers into the “optimal” range.

For context, the doctor’s range is from below standard to above standard. So, he’ll only be concerned if your result comes back outside of those.

That leaves a whole lot in between!

Moreover, many lab tests don’t test enough markers. As a result, they fail to give you a comprehensive and accurate picture of your overall health.

Seldom do I see tests for folic acid (vitamin B9), zinc, free T3 (a thyroid hormone), progesterone (a precursor to testosterone), or even inflammatory markers like homocysteine.

These markers such as these are critical to your health, yet they’re completely overlooked.

Finally, even though blood tests have reference ranges, the data is only useful when interpreted properly.  Typical lab tests offer no interpretation of the data, i.e. the trends and what it could mean in the future if you don’t address them.

For example, if your blood tests show a trend toward cardiovascular disease, you can take preemptive action to prevent it. Modern medicine is extremely reactive and has no interest in preventative care.

Not Just Low Testosterone…

When this young man’s blood test came back, it was immediately clear there was more to it than just low testosterone.

This is why I always want to know about a client’s lifestyle factors, such as sleep, diet, exercise, and stress levels. They can have a dramatic impact, not only on your testosterone levels, but the rest of your health.

The trends on his blood test showed not only sex hormone dysfunction (which we knew), but also immune, cardiovascular, and blood sugar issues.

Today, there is a lot on the internet about low testosterone. More and more men are starting to understand its critical role to their health. Indeed, part of what I do is to educate and bring awareness to this topic.

However, there is also a tendency to compartmentalize things. As a result, people jump to the conclusion that low testosterone automatically means you need to undergo testosterone replacement therapy.

The body does not compartmentalize though. Everything in your body is linked. So if one area of your health isn’t optimal, this has a knock on effect elsewhere.

In this man’s case, there’s no doubt his low testosterone was partly explained by his blood sugar regulation, thyroid and immune system issues.

The Hormone Panel

First, let’s take a look at his hormone panel. As with previous tests, his testosterone was on the low side. Most doctors would likely say his testosterone was “OK,” simply because he was within the reference range.

However, if you’re in your early 20s then you are in the prime of life. You should not have 542 ng/dL (18.8 nmol/L) of total testosterone. Even for an older man, this is still pretty average.

His progesterone was very low. Low progesterone is often a sign of underlying inflammation. We’ll see more of this trend shortly.

In addition, his DHEA-S levels were slightly low – suggesting adrenal stress. He didn’t drink that much coffee, but his day to day life business work was highly stressful. Decreased DHEA-S levels are associated with low sex drive and low mood.

low testosterone

 

All Roads Lead to Insulin Resistance

One major thing that stood on his test was his elevated glucose (blood sugar) and fasted insulin levels.

His levels are high given the test was done fasted first thing in the morning. This indicates he has poor blood sugar regulation. And for some reason, he’s not metabolizing carbohydrates effectively.

These are the first signs of insulin resistance and the road to type 2 diabetes. Indeed, studies indicate that low testosterone is associated with insulin resistance and an adverse lipid profile.

We’ll see later that his lipid profile (i.e. cholesterol markers) is not great. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that he had low testosterone, as cholesterol is a necessary precursor for testosterone production.

fasted glucose levels

fasted insulin

High blood sugar and insulin resistance is the genesis of many disease states. In addition to low testosterone and diabetes; it’s also associated with obesity and heart disease. Evidence even suggests that high blood glucose levels correlate with tumor malignancy in cancer patients.

Dehydration and Low Stomach Acid

The blood test also indicated his kidneys were under stress. Specifically, he had elevated urea levels.

When the body breaks down proteins, they turn into carbon dioxide, water, and ammonia. Ammonia is toxic to the body, so the body converts it into urea. This urea is then transported to the kidneys and excreted through urine.

This young man’s urea was on the high side. Urea can be elevated in the presence of high dietary protein intake. However, his protein intake was not dramatically high.

High urea can also be due to dehydration and low stomach acid. And given he had immune system issues; low stomach could have been a possibility

Stomach acid is vital to kill pathogens in foods. This stops you from getting bacterial infections and viruses. So if you have low stomach acid, this can compromise your immune system. Evidence suggests that up to 70% of our immune system is found in our gut – so this makes total sense.

He also had elevated hemoglobin, further demonstrating that he was likely dehydrated.

elevated hemoglobin

I also had reason to believe that he had digestive tract issues due to decreased globulin levels. Globulin are proteins in the blood that serve as the body’s antibody system.

Decreased globulin levels are associated with digestive system inflammation and immune deficiency.

total globulin

As part of his diet, he mentioned that he was taking protein shakes every day. Protein shakes can work well – but they aren’t for everyone. In some individuals it can lead to inflammation in the digestive tract. This is especially true if you’re lactose intolerant. This can cause bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Vitamin Deficiencies

The report indicated he had low alkaline phosphatase (ALP). ALP is a group of enzymes found in bone, liver and the intestines. Decreased levels are associate with zinc deficiency.

zinc deficiency

Zinc contributes to numerous vital functions in the body. Zinc deficiency is associated with low testosterone, low sperm count and immune system dysfunction.

Low zinc levels can also lead to sugar cravings. This means more you’re more likely to binge on sugar and junk food. Therefore, zinc’s importance cannot be overstated.

As part of his metabolic panel, we also did a test known as the “anion gap.” Basically, the anion gap checks the level of acid in your blood. Elevated levels are associated with metabolic acidosis and thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency.

Vitamin B1 is essential for glucose metabolism. Remember his glucose and fasting insulin levels? Among other things, thiamine deficiency may help explain why his glucose was high.

anion gap thiamine deficiency

We also discovered he was low in folic acid (vitamin B9). Folic acid deficiency can lead to fatigue, lethargy, and irritability. And guess what? He suffered from all these symptoms.

Now that’s not to say folic acid deficiency was solely responsible for how he was feeling. Nonetheless, it’s important to note it’s not just low testosterone that could contribute to the way he was feeling.

low folic acid

 

Cholesterol and Inflammatory Markers

Chronic inflammation is the underpinning of all disease. Although not all inflammation is bad. Acute inflammation is key to muscle growth, because it helps them grow back bigger and stronger.

This man’s lipid panel (cholesterol markers) and inflammatory markers pointed once again to high inflammation. Low testosterone is associated with high levels of inflammation.

When you’re inflamed, the last thing your body wants to do is produce testosterone.

His inflammatory markers showed elevated levels of c-reactive protein (CRP). Increased levels of CRP are associated with heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

In addition, he also had high homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood. Elevated levels can increase the risk of heart disease, as it can damage the endothelial lining of the arteries.

High homocysteine is associated with vitamin B deficiency. And as we know in this case, he has multiple vitamin B deficiencies. Therefore, it’s no surprise that homocysteine is elevated.

high sensitivity c-reactive protein test

elevated homocysteine

The blood test showed he had low cholesterol. Low cholesterol is a strong indicator of inflammation and oxidative stress.

lipid panel

Decreased levels of HDL cholesterol are considered to be atherogenic, leading to the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries. This is the prelude to heart attack and stroke.

For most people, the elevation of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, is the issue. In this case however, LDL cholesterol is on the low side.Low LDL cholesterol is associated with anxiety and depression; two symptoms he also struggled with.

Due to a high saturated fat western style diet, many people have high levels of triglycerides. Interestingly, his triglycerides were on the low side. Triglycerides are a storage molecule for fat.

This points to a few possibilities. It could be the result of liver dysfunction, however his liver markers were good. It may also be the result of not enough dietary fat.

it appears he gets adequate levels of fat through his diet. The remaining alternative is guess what? Excess inflammation.

Inflammation is a recurrent theme with this gentleman. And if he doesn’t get it under control, it will lead to serious health problems.

Arguably, you could say he already has serious problems. But I contend this is just the tip of the iceberg. Remember, this guy is only in his early 20s!

Immune System Issues

The blood test pointed to issues with his immune system function. His monocytes and eosinophil levels were both elevated.

monocytes

eosinophils

Monocytes are a type of white blood cell. They act as the body’s second line of defense against infection. They also facilitate healing and repair. High levels of monocytes can point to the recovery phase of an infection.

For example, if you have the flu a few days prior to taking the blood test, then this may elevate monocytes. Alternatively, this could mean you have a chronic infection.

Eosinophils are another type of white blood cell. They fight disease and are typically elevated in the presence of a parasitic infection, allergies, or cancer.

It’s possible something in his diet is aggravating his gastrointestinal tract. He may have an allergy or sensitivity to the food he’s causing, which may require further testing.

But given he has elevated monocytes, eosinophils AND low white blood cells, it’s possible he has a parasitic infection.

Many people suffer from parasitic infections without knowing it. H.pylori is the most common type of bacterial infection, and can be tested for via a stool test.

In my book Optimized Under 35, I wrote about how parasites and infections can actually disrupt hormone production:

Research suggests that, in addition to fungal infections, parasites such as roundworm and tapeworm can cause endocrine disorders. Multiple animal studies have shown parasitic infection to affect sex hormone production (i.e., lower testosterone) and dramatically affect sexual behavior. Anecdotally, in humans it can cause fatigue, joint pain, and anxiety.

This individual would require further testing to determine whether he had a parasitic infection.

Most stool tests check for h.pylori only. However, there are a whole host of parasitic infections out there. So it’s better to spend money on getting a thorough test done to rule out other possibilities.

Oxalates Are No Bueno

Remember how I said earlier that his diet looked great but it really wasn’t? Well, he was taking in raw spinach every day from a green smoothie. Most people think this is a great idea, because green veggies right?

Actually, eating raw spinach is a bad idea because it’s full of oxalates. These are natural pesticides produced by plants to ward off pests. However, research suggests that oxalates can have a very negative effect on your health, which include:

  • Neurological issues, leading to sleep disruption and memory loss
  • Increased calcium excretion

To find out more on the hidden dangers of oxalates, I recommend you read this excellent article: Health Dangers of Oxalates.

According to nutrition and functional health expert Paul Burgess, eating spinach every day with its oxalate content could do considerable systemic damage. This is potentially what’s happening here.

Research suggests oxalates can also impair mitochondrial and monocyte function. As we saw above, he had elevated monocyte levels. It could be a parasitic infection, or it could be due to his oxalate intake.

Final Thoughts

We didn’t cover every single blood test marker here. Many of this man’s results were very good. However, he had multiple underlying issues.

He had low testosterone, but as you an see, low testosterone was the least of his problems. And it was likely a result of everything else going on in his body.

Taking a medication like clomid or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) would not have fixed things for him. It would have only masked the underlying problems he had.

This is why I say TRT is only for those who need it.

Time and again, I’ve seen guys go on TRT, only to still struggle with fatigue and other symptoms that they had before it.

Instead of worrying about TRT, this man needed to spend time on reducing the inflammation in his body. His stress levels need to be managed better, because that’s clearly having a profound impact on his health.

Similarly, we would have to look into what causing his immune system issues.

He would also need to address his probable low stomach acid, which would lead to malabsorption of nutrients. Even if your diet is immaculate – ultimately you aren’t what you eat, but you are what you absorb.

Getting this man into a good place could take anywhere from 6-12 months – possibly more. We’d have to overhaul many aspects of his lifestyle, including his nutrition, exercise regime, and improve his sleep.

But 6-12 months of getting this right is far better than the alternative:

Lifelong medication.

Taking medication isn’t going to fix you if you don’t address what got you into that state in the first place.

In the end, he chose not to work together with me. I understand he was very busy at work – and that’s fine. Although I dread to think how his health is going to be in the near future unless he changes something.

If you can relate to this story and recognize many of the symptoms, get in contact with me about my 1on1 coaching. We can take you through a comprehensive blood test and find out what’s really going on inside your body.

References

Ferrari C, Barbieri C, Caldara R, Mucci M, Codecasa F, Paracchi A, Romano C, Boghen M, Dubini A.”Long-lasting prolactin-lowering effect of cabergoline, a new dopamine agonist, in hyperprolactinemic patients.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1986 Oct;63(4):941-5.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3745407

Sachin V. Bendre, Pamela J. Murray, and Shehzad Basaria. “Clomiphene Citrate Effectively Increases Testosterone in Obese, Young, Hypogonadal Men.Reprod Syst Sex Disord. 2015 Dec; 4(4): 155. Published online 2015 Nov 13. doi: 10.4172/2161-038X.1000155.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734653/

Vakkat Muraleedharan and T. Hugh Jones. “Testosterone and the metabolic syndrome.” Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct; 1(5): 207–223. doi: 10.1177/2042018810390258.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474619/

Ge Cui, Ting Zhang, Fan Ren, Wen-Ming Feng, Yunliang Yao, Jie Cui,Guo-Liang Zhu, and Qi-Lin Shi. “High Blood Glucose Levels Correlate with Tumor Malignancy in Colorectal Cancer Patients.Med Sci Monit. 2015; 21: 3825–3833. Published online 2015 Dec 8. doi: 10.12659/MSM.894783.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4677694/

Patel M, Yarlagadda V, Adedoyin O, Saini V, Assimos DG, Holmes RP, Mitchell T. “Oxalate induces mitochondrial dysfunction and disrupts redox homeostasis in a human monocyte derived cell line.Redox Biol. 2018 May;15:207-215. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2017.12.003. Epub 2017 Dec 15.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29272854

 

 

 

 

 

The Anti-Aging Blueprint: How to Beat Aging [Review]

It’s a sad indictment of our society that as many people enter their later years, they end up in care homes. That doesn’t mean I have anything against care homes. Because for some people, that’s the right option.

However, growing old doesn’t mean you need to retire to a care home and lose your health and your mind.

Far from it, in fact. Yet because so many people end up like this, we think it’s the norm.

There are several anti-aging strategies that you can follow to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. And in this article, I’ll share some of the strategies I learned from PD Mangan’s Anti-Aging Blueprint.

Man vs Machine

A machine can’t repair itself.

At the beginning of his course, PD Mangan poses the following question:

What’s the difference between a machine and a person?

It’s a great analogy and one that makes you think about the traditional view we have of aging. Many people think the human body is like a car that gets rusty and eventually gets worn out. A

However, what people fail to recognize is this:

Human beings get worn out too. But we can repair ourselves through mechanisms such as autophagy.

Although the key point Mangan emphasizes is that you must allow yourself to do so. And living an atypical couch potato, Netflix-binge lifestyle actually ages you faster.

Whereas the opposite (and you’d do well to do EXACTLY the opposite of mainstream health advice); i.e leading a fit and active lifestyle, protects against aging.

Indeed, the aging process can be likened to a computer that needs servicing. The components are faulty, and may need repairing or replacing. If nothing is done, eventually the system ceases to function entirely. In your case – that means death.

Mangan refers to this as the “Garbage Catastrophe of Aging.” That is, the detrimental effects has on the body if left unchecked.

Keep this idea at the forefront of your mind whenever you think about not taking care of your body. Because the less you do about it, the worse it gets.

Inflammation is necessary mechanism for the body to be able to repair itself. However, chronic low-level inflammation is terrible for your health.

What do most diseases have in common? Inflammation. And it’s also a characteristic of aging.

Mangan says that chronic Inflammation is: “like driving down the road with your feet on the accelerator and the brakes simultaneously.”

To reduce your chances of age-related disease, it’s important to reduce inflammation. And in a moment, we’ll see some of things you can do to reduce inflammation.

According to Mangan, in addition to inflammation, to fight aging, we must also stop oxidative stress. That means damage induced by free radicals.

There is no doubt about it that oxidative stress leads to the many of the diseases we find in aging.

In my book, Optimized Under 35, I wrote about the effect of oxidative stress on the testes. It appears that oxidative stress can be induced by poor lifestyles – not merely the result of “aging.”

And I believe this is why we have an untold epidemic of young men with low testosterone. Because their poor lifestyles (among other things) result in oxidative stress and damage to their sexual organ function.

Our bodies have their own protection to oxidative stress in the form of antioxidant. And among these antioxidants, one of the most noteworthy being glutathione, which declines with age.

The Big 5 of Long Life

In the Anti-Aging Blueprint course, there is a segment called, “The Big 5 of Long Life.” These are 5 basic anti-aging principles you should follow to ensure a long and healthy life.

  • No smoking
  • Lean and not overweight
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • Regular exercise (and being strong)
  • Eat a healthy diet

And by following these basic rules; both men and women can several years to their life span.

You might be thinking: “These 5 anti-aging measures are obvious!” But ask yourself this – how many people actually apply them?

Very few.

And that’s exactly why so few people remain in good health as they age.

Instead, the vast majority of people (in the west at least) age horribly. Walk around any shopping center and you’ll see elderly people struggling to walk. Many are keeled over their zimmer frames and don’t even know their own name.

Now, is it simply because of their age? Or perhaps it has something to do with how they took care of themselves?

Want proof? Check out PD Mangan’s physique below. He’s in his 60s, an age when most people are retiring, ready to go quietly into the night. Yet he has a better physique than most men in their 20s.

How many people do you know in their 60s that are in that kind of shape? Likely none.

pd mangan physique

It comes as no surprise then that most people are in terrible condition when they enter their twilight years.

Make no mistake, following these principles will put you into the top 1% of people. This way, you’ll avoid the disastrous fate many find themselves in during old age.

As I’ve always said; maintaining good health is not difficult. It simply requires consistent, applied discipline.

We all grow old – that’s a fact of life. But it’s up to you whether you do it gracefully or in sickness.

And as Mangan says:

Average people have average lifespans.

They also have average health. And today, “average health” means sickness and dependence on multiple medications.

That’s no way to age gracefully.

So if you want to age well and avoid the disease of average; follow the Big 5 of Long Life.

Does Alcohol Age You?

Another interesting part of the course concerns alcohol and aging. This is a big topic for most people, particularly because our culture glorifies alcohol.

Drinking alcohol in our society is so widespread, that it has become a religion unto itself. Alcohol is so ingrained into our culture that expressing a desire to abstain is almost akin to heresy. I call this: “The Cult of Alcohol.”

alcohol and aging

I’ve written in the past about my own experience of quitting alcohol. Suffice to say, I gave up drinking alcohol altogether and this had a positive on both my health and quality of life.

However, many are simply not ready to give up alcohol. Now, we know that excessive alcohol consumption is bad news for your health.

But the question here is – does alcohol age you?

According to Mangan, low to moderate alcohol intake is associated with longer life. He cites numerous studies that show that those who drink 1-2 drinks a day have a lower death rate than those who don’t drink at all.

And if you didn’t know already, excessive drinking is bad news for your health and is associated with:

  • Higher death rates
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Low testosterone
  • Low sperm count
  • Depression

Mangan says that moderate alcohol drinkers is have up to an 18% lower death rate. That’s pretty big. Although he is quick to point out here that association doesn’t necessarily mean causation.

He goes on to say that maybe health causes drinking, not the other way round. In other words, healthy and intelligent people choose to drink alcohol in moderation.

What’s more, there is a broad definition as to what constitutes “non-drinkers.” Indeed, non-drinkers may be less health conscious and simply don’t drink. A non-drinker may also be a former alcoholic that damaged their health through excessive drinking.

However, in the studies once former alcoholics were removed the category of non-drinkers, there was still a positive association with alcohol intake and good health.

It appears that moderate alcohol consumption can improve a number of health markers. These include; lower cholesterol, increased insulin sensitivity

This all comes back to hormesis – fascinating concept that PD Mangan discusses at length in the course. Hormesis basically means toxins in small amounts can actually be good for you. And in this case alcohol.

Another example is broccoli. It contains a substance called sulforaphane, which in large enough amounts can lead to cancer. In small amounts, however, it can be very beneficial to your health.

Alcohol and Aging: My Grandfather’s Story

My grandfather Bill was born in the 1930s before the outbreak of WW2. Like many of his generation, the events of those times became etched deep into his psyche. I fondly remember him telling stories of those times, such as the Battle of Britain.

He was definitely a child of his time. And at that time in post-war Britain, regular alcohol consumption was the norm.

My grandfather had a lifelong career in large British firm (imagine that today!). Eventually, he worked his way up to management, and was fortunate enough to retire in his 50s.

This was great in many ways, because it meant that he could travel and enjoy life to the fullest. But that also meant he had a lot of time on his hands.

And what did people from his generation do to pass the time? Drink alcohol.

does alcohol age you?

Now, my grandfather was by no means an alcoholic, but he drank daily. As I recall, he drank 2-3 drinks – maybe more. And doing this over the course of several decades did serious damage to his body.

By the time he reached his 70s, Bill already had type 2 diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver. I’m convinced that his daily alcohol habit made him age significantly and played a big part in his poor health

Indeed, alcohol does age you, but as PD Mangan points out in the course; the type of alcohol you drink matters. My grandfather drank beer and whiskey. Whereas from the scientific literature, it appears the protective effects of alcohol derive mainly from red wine.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t just alcohol that contributed to the demise of his health. In his younger years, my grandfather was a fit and active man and often went cycling.

While he didn’t smoke, as he grew older he exercised little and paid scant attention to his diet. In short, he failed to follow the Big 5 of Long Life.

As a result, in 80s and in his final year of life Bill admitted himself to a care home. Mentally, he was still sharp, but at this point he had sarcopenia (muscle waste) and was very frail.

He was also on a laundry list of medication that he needed to manage his diabetes and other conditions. And I’m positive he had low testosterone, which contributed to his low muscle mass and sombre moods.

It was sad to see a proud, kind and intelligent man reduced to such a poor state of health. And he passed away in 2015. Yet his health had nothing to do with his age and everything to do with his lifestyle.

I am convinced that had he followed the Anti-Aging Blueprint, he would still be here today.

Aging: A Modern Phenomenon?

There is no doubt that today, if you want to avoid the Garbage Catastrophe of Aging, you MUST follow some sort of anti-aging strategy.

There are no two ways about it.

Our environment is full of toxic chemicals and endocrine disruptors (EDCs) that conspire to lower your testosterone, lower sperm count and keep you in a poor state of health.

Poor nutrition choices – such as the western diet – and lack of exercise have led to an obesity epidemic. Yet this is in spite of all the information and technological advances we have made.

So what went wrong? We forgot how to take care of ourselves.

If you’re not convinced that aging in its current form is an entirely modern phenomenon, check out the pictures below.

These images are of veterans from the Napoleonic wars in the 1800s. When the photos were taken, these men were in their 70s and 80s. Yet they still manage to fit into their original uniforms. And they look as fierce as when they marched with Napoleon.

Does it look like “age” was a problem for these men?

Final Thoughts

There are two things that I enjoyed above all in both about this course.

Mangan backs up his assertions with scientific evidence. However, he like many “evidence-based” people today, he doesn’t simply take the studies at face value. He interprets them in an intelligent manner, tells you how they may be flawed and crucially; how they apply to you.

In addition, he breaks down complex scientific subjects and makes them easy to understand. And even as someone who had good understanding of anti-aging prior to the course, I got plenty of new insights.

The best thing about the Anti-Aging Blueprint is that it makes anti-aging interventions available to you from the comfort of your own home.

And that’s the incredible thing about the time we live in. Knowledge that was once only accessible to the rich and famous is now available for all.

No longer do you have to go to an expensive anti-aging clinic in Beverley Hills or Harley Street, and pay thousands of dollars for the privilege.

The quality of information contained in the Anti-Aging Blueprint is well worth the admission price alone. And what’s more, the bonuses in the course are fantastic. They include three of his best selling books, as well as a fascinating interview with physician Leo Zacharski.

This makes it an offer, you simply can’t refuse.

Remember, if you want to remain in average health, do what average people do. I believe in paying it forward when it comes to your health. Either way, you’re going to pay.

You can either do it now by paying for a gym membership, expert coaching, eating organic food or education.

Or you can pay for it later with care home fees and medication.

Invest in your health today by signing up for the Anti-Aging Blueprint here.