I failed. I was staring low testosterone in the eyes and had to stop.
I sort of knew this was coming deep down, but I thought I’d put my neck on the line & try it anyway. Who dares wins, etc.
So, have you got low testosterone?
No, I don’t quite have low testosterone.
Let me start off by saying that my testosterone is still pretty high (sitting at 750ng/dl), but it has gone down in the past 30 days by 17% even though I thought I had been following quite a strict protocol which was actually aimed at increasing my testosterone, not decreasing it.
After having an internal breakdown about how on Earth this journey towards low testosterone could have possibly happened, I sat down and analysed the main factors that went well & those which didn’t.
What went well…
The food side of things went very well. I managed to stick to the full diet for about 80% of the time. This included eating 200 grams of steak every single bloody night. I must confess, I was getting a bit tired of it towards the end.
My pairing of foods was quite good as well, pairing garlic and onion heavy dishes with a glass of orange juice to increase to boost my nitric oxide levels. This could definitely be felt in the workouts – I was getting pumps like there was no tomorrow.
My supplement game was on point. I was gulping down 20 pills a day and taking my massive pill box with me everywhere I went. If other factors were dialled in then I think the supplements would have had a far greater effect than they actually did here. If it wasn’t for these I think I’d be walking away with relatively low testosterone.
I do however, attribute the fact that the testosterone didn’t decrease even further to the strict supp regime. Obviously though, these shouldn’t be the main part of any overall wellbeing plan – which has been proven here, as they weren’t able to raise my testosterone singlehandedly.
If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I recently went self-employed. This was a huge risk on my part and is an action that has been proven to improve testosterone.
After 3 years of working a soul debilitating customer service job – I am now officially self-employed.
Gonna be a massive challenge but I’m ready(ish) for it.
The only way is up 🤙🏻
— The Man Blueprint (@TheManBlueprint) April 21, 2018
People with higher testosterone are also more likely to take bigger risks – meaning it’s a continuous cycle of Risk > Testosterone > More risk and so on.
Limiting Plastics & Chemicals
This is already a given for me. I don’t like to drink or eat out of plastics and don’t even really like to touch them as they are full of hormone disrupting chemcials – namely BPAs, which everyone is finally cottoning on to.
I also don’t like to use chemical-laden products such as conventional toothpastes, deodorants, hair product, etc. I already do this most days so this wouldn’t have made much difference to me compared to someone who currently uses all of these.
If you’d like to read more on why your grooming essentials are killing your health then give this a read.
What didn’t go so well…
Usually I’m a great sleeper. I’ll constantly get 8-9 hours every night but there were a couple of factors that have currently been affecting my sleeping pattern.
Firstly, the job that I quit was a massive commute away from my house. If I finished at 8pm I wouldn’t be home til 10 and then I’d have to make dinner etc. Before I knew it, it would be gone midnight and I’d have to be up at 7 to commute again.
And since I have quit said job, I’ve been doing some major all-nighters trying to drum up as much business and produce as much content for the blog as possible. Basically, I’ve had to make the decision between making a living and optimising that beauty sleep.
Those who consistently sleep less than 8 hours a night have been shown to have up to half the amount of testosterone as those who continuously get 8+ hours, meaning soft arse over here was clearly not being the optimal god he claims to be…
I’m not going to lie, this was probably the most stressful month of my life. Not ideal when your testosterone levels are made or broken by the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body.
A few things contributed to this, such as the stress of meal prepping for travelling, missing meals, trying to work everything around my birthday (discussed later on), hating every second of a horrible customer service job, commuting 2 and a half hours most days of the week, learning to drive, taking a personal training course, trying to make self-employment work and about a million other things.
It didn’t help that I didn’t really implement my grand meditation plans either but having the hectic month to end all hectic months meant it probably wouldn’t have done that much anyway.
Getting stress under control is definitely one of the biggest issues for us all and I suggest if you suffer a lot like I do then you need to be practicing some form of meditation and shifting your thought process to an abundance mindset.
If you need extra help you could also invest in counselling. Having a professional listen to your problems and offer practical advice may be the final hurdle you have to overcome to beat stress into submission.
I’ve been aggressively bulking over the past 9 months or so, meaning I had accumulated quite a bit of excess fat mass. If you really want high testosterone, you should be between 8-15% bodyfat.
Coming into this, I was probably at around 18% which is far from ideal. Estrogen is literally stored in fat mass, meaning the fatter you are, the more estrogen you are carrying and the less testosterone there is floating around.
This is why we see a lot of guys get past around 20% body fat then begin to develop man boobs and huge love handles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing larger fellas but if you really want to optimise your hormones, you can’t really afford to be fat.
So basically, I had too much fat and that was definitely an issue for my T.
Overall Caloric Intake
With that being said, I entered a calorie deficit in order to try and lose some flubber. It was successful and I am now probably at around 14% however, because I had been eating in a calorie deficit my testosterone simply could not climb.
To increase your testosterone you simply have to be in a calorie surplus. I was hoping that the being leaner aspect would increase my T more than deficit would decrease it but I was wrong.
Because I wasn’t too fat the difference wasn’t too big, meaning my body just couldn’t produce the amount of testosterone it was when I was giving it a surplus of calories and nutrients.
With this being said, if you were playing the long game like all of us should, then decreasing your calories to get down to the ideal body fat percentage is definitely what you want to be doing. From there you can then eat in a constant surplus that isn’t too large so that you will gain muscle and feed your testosterone.
I have been working out 6 days a week for the past couple of months and my body has taken an absolute hammering. I’ve really been focused on building my physique and so I’ve had to push my body to certain limits by adding a tonne more volume and intensity to my routine.
In reality, a plan that is conducive to testosterone production would include minimal sets based around weighted bodyweight exercises, intense but low volume compound lifts, Olympic lifts and then sprints. This would then be done 3 times a week complete with walking every day to stimulate testosterone increases and cortisol decreases.
I have written a minimalist workout routine here and plan on writing a full workout cycle in my testosterone e-book whenever that comes around. But for now, if you want to build muscle but more importantly, boost T, then read that article.
However, this just isn’t optimal for maximising size, which is my current focus. Your central nervous system can become depleted when it is put under physical and mental stress for such prolonged periods of time.
Since I was already stressed, the mental aspect was there. Add to that the physical stress of squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing and overhead pressing twice a week , along with 8 hours of working out every week and there’s a lot of workload for the CNS to handle.
Signs of a fried CNS are lowered quality of sleep, sex drive, strength, energy, recovery abilities and mood. There’s more but these are the main ones. To combat this, I should have really taken a deload week which I recommend to clients but I was really pushing for that #size. There was a decision to be made and I made it – I’m paying the price now in that I’m writing the most excuse-laden article you ever did see.
I have now decided to back off to a 4-day split which allows for ample recovery time whilst still getting in enough work to stimulate muscle growth. This is what I would recommend to people who want to achieve the balance between muscle growth and hormone production.
I have written about the benefits of intermittent fasting at great length here and how it can aid with balancing hormones, energy, etc, etc.
Basically, I wanted to fast for 18 hours per day drinking only coffee and water during this time and then eat during the other 6 hours. I felt this would give the best hormonal response, however my schedule meant I simply couldn’t stick to it. If I wasn’t travelling into Liverpool, I was going into work or going to do some work for the blog or going on a driving lesson or going to my PT course.
Unfortunately, if I wanted to get my calories in I simply had to eat before these otherwise I wouldn’t get a chance to eat at all for hours. This meant my eating schedule was up the bloody wall and I just didn’t get a chance to fast.
If your schedule allows for it, then you should definitely give it a go but if you can’t then don’t beat yourself up over it like I did. It won’t achieve anything and you’ll won’t die.
So, the culprit.
This month was the catalyst for a lot of testosterone-unfriendly activities. April was full of the stressors such as the driving lessons, training course, horrible job, etc. BUT it was also the month of my birthday.
This meant I ended up indulging in a lot of booze, pizzas, burgers, cookies and cake. Not ideal for a man looking to clean up his dietary act.
There were also late nights, lots of travelling and just about anything else that could lower testosterone. The all important thing though is that I had some bloody good fun and at the end of the day, that’s more important than an arbitrary number.
Remember that when you feel yourself getting fixated on numbers on scales, screens and wherever else. There are bigger things in life. As long as you’re looking after your health the majority of the time, you can have the cake, have the blowouts and have anything else you want. Just eat healthy-ish the rest of the time and at the end of the day, everything will balance out.
When you break it down like that it looks a bit silly for me to have thought I could turbocharge my T in 30 days.
One thing that did stand out to me during my test was that every other health marker in the Wellman Ultra Vit test actually improved. Last time I had a few minor discrepancies where the doctor pulled me up, however the only two that were highlighted this time around were high levels of B12 (which is fine) and high levels of creatinine, which is just the norm for those with increased levels of muscle mass & high protein diets.
Maybe I should have renamed this experiment ‘how to improve all areas of health except for the one you want’.
What this does go to show is that no matter how many supplements you take, you simply can’t beat getting good quality sleep, eating correctly & keeping a lid on stress.
This whole experience has taught me a huge lesson in terms of just how important the basics are. If your foundations are wobbly, it doesn’t matter how expensive and complex your building materials are, the end result is still going to be subpar.
I do plan on writing an absolutely bloody massive e-book on the entire topic over the coming 18 months. Over this time I’ll be taking a methodical approach to balancing my hormones and putting into practice every single thing that I write down.
I see a lot of testosterone ‘manuals’ out there that like to spout all this info about how to be healthy and avoid low testosterone but I haven’t seen a single one of them show their blood work, which suggests to me that their advice isn’t so golden. This is why I like to practice what I preach. Whenever the book does come to fruition, you’ll see real results, not just made up, vague hogwash.
As a massive advocate of the fundamentals (Greatest guide to fundamentals you ever did see) I can wholeheartedly say, this backfiring has been the reality check that I needed.
Although I’m technically ‘healthier’, my brain feels a little more foggy and I don’t feel as sharp in general – is this a placebo? Maybe. But I bet I’d feel better if I’d have nailed the simple things.
Let this be a lesson. Build the foundations & then go from there. Start at the bottom, not the top.
I would like to say a massive thanks to the team at Medichecks for sending me two of their Wellman UltraVit tests. They have helped me track my entire health in numbers over the past month or so and this has been vital in hammering home the importance of certain behaviours.
Taking the guesswork out of health will be one of the greatest things you ever do. The NHS is practically on its knees thanks to successive government funding failures, so trying to get a full health check with them for free is going to be harder than winning Takeshi’s castle.
Investing in yourself is the best investment you’ll ever make (unless you’re investing in me).
With this in mind, I’m going to get my health checked every 4 months from now on. This will help me to address issues before they become problems. Being able to track things like cholesterol, testosterone, blood cell count, etc is invaluable when it comes to staying fitter, stronger and healthier in the long run.
Want to try it?
If you’re interested in getting the full health check that I did, you can get it hereor if you want to browse all the other tests that Medichecks offer such as sporting performance indicators, testosterone, fertility, body fat DEXA scans and anything else you could possibly dream up – their tests are here.
If you use my affiliate code ‘MANBLUEPRINT10‘ you’ll get yourself 10% off anything you buy. I also get a little slice of the profit pie too so you’d be putting towards my weekly coffee fund.
Anyway, that’s my cautionary tale to anyone looking to optimise their hormones. Get those foundations in place: sleep at least 7 hours per night (ideally 8-9), eat at maintenance or in a calorie surplus, de-stress, train for your goals and eat the right macronutrient split. After that it’s all cherries on top.
Check back with me in 18 months – I’ll have written the best bloody testosterone 101 you’ll have ever seen, my T levels will be higher than a pack of Horny Gorillas and we’ll have all stopped ribbing me for being a big fat failure.
My challenge to you
If you are feeling some of the symptoms of low testosterone such as lowered mood, low libido, lack of energy, decreased strength, low motivation or increased fat mass, then you might have low testosterone.
This can be completely turned on its head with a few simple changes. If you implement these six tips gradually into your life over the next 6 months I guarantee you’ll increase your T:
- Sleep 8 hours a night. Lack of sleep is the biggest culprit for low testosterone. If you’re having trouble with this then switch off your phone off an hour prior to going to bed, do some reading, stretching and meditation. You’ll sleep like a baby.
- Eat in a calorie surplus. If you are above 20% bodyfat then you should eat in a calorie deficit to lose that estrogenic fat mass before going into a surplus. But if you can afford to pile on some extra pounds of muscle then do it.
- Relax. Easier said than done but if you can get a meditation app like headspace then it’ll make your relaxation a tad easier. You’ll feel the benefits, trust me.
- Eat the right macro split. Eat an even balance of protein, fats and carbs. I recommend about 25% protein, 30% fats and 45% carbs. Try to eat mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats with some cholesterol from eggs in there. Also try to limit packaged and processed foods as much as you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t be super strict though.
- Eliminate deficiencies. Micronutrient balance is key to optimising your hormones, in particular zinc, iron & vitamin D. Try and get 100% – if not more – of your RDA for all 26 essential vitamins and minerals and then try and get your non-essentials (such as boron) if you really want to optimise your intake.
- Train. The optimal frequency for perfecting testosterone levels is around 3-4 days a week. Focus on those compounds, loaded bodyweight and explosive exercises. Make sure to stretch to keep yourself injury free and you’ll be golden. If you train 6-7 times a week you may risk low testosterone.
As long as these are in place then you’ll feel better in no time. Once you’re nailing this day in, day out then you can start to get into things like intermittent fasting, cold showers, competing & limiting plastics and chemicals.
These are things that I’ve already covered on the blog so you can read up on them to get yourself prepared but don’t lose sight of them bloody basics – don’t make the mistake ya boi did. You do not want low testosterone.