Healthy levels of testosterone is important for your health and quality of life. As a result, many guys rightfully desire to optimize this important hormone. Today, countless men are doing TRT (testosterone replacement therapy). However, most of them are making a HUGE mistake you don’t want to make.
Disclaimer: I’m a trainer and an educator. I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice. If you are considering testosterone replacement therapy or are concerned about your testosterone levels, please talk to your doctor.
To understand this huge TRT mistake, we need to look at a common pattern we see in modern medicine.
The Common Modern Medicine Pattern
- Live an unhealthy lifestyle
- Experience symptoms of health consequences from this unhealthy lifestyle
- Go to the doctor
- Get a medication to treat the symptoms
- Create more health issues as a result of the side effects of the medication
- Take more medications to deal with those side effects
- Spend the rest of supporting the pharmaceutical industry with multiple medications
Yes, there are men who have a health condition caused by an issue with their testicles or with their pituitary gland and hypothalamus. These men will need medical treatment. Again this is where you want to work with a qualified, experienced doctor.
Legitimate medical issues aside, the problem for most guys is their lifestyles. Thus, we see a trend very similar to the modern medicine trend we just covered.
The HUGE TRT Mistake
- Live an unhealthy lifestyle that results in lowered testosterone
- Experience the symptoms of low testosterone
- Start TRT
- Ignore the lifestyle choices that caused the lower testosterone and thus experience other health & performance consequences (remember these unhealthy lifestyle habits cause far more problems than just lowering your testosterone)
- Create other health issues as the result of disrupting your endocrine system
- Spend the rest of your life on TRT and other medications
As a trainer, a university human kinetics professor, a man in his mid-40s, and a lifetime drug-free (including no TRT) meathead (i.e., someone who loves lifting weights to get bigger and stronger), I’m very interested in optimizing natural testosterone. I’ve looked at a lot of research on testosterone. Here is what the science says:
The biggest secret to optimizing your natural testosterone levels is living an overall health lifestyle.
I know that was the most boring statement you have ever read. However, it is the truth! When you look at the lifestyles of most men today, it is easy to see why they have far less testosterone than their fathers and especially less than their grandfathers. For example, in 1987-89, the average total testosterone level of an American male was 501 ng/dL. By 1995-97 it was down to 435 ng/dL. In 2002-04 it was down to 391 ng/dL (Travison et al., 2007).
Lifestyle habits that lower testosterone and/or raise cortisol
- Lack of sleep
- Poor sleep quality
- Physical inactivity
- No training (or ineffective training: small exercises, light weights – think much of mainstream fitness)
- Insufficient protein, fat, or carbs
- Excessive ultra-processed foods
- Insufficient vitamins and minerals
- High stress
- Endocrine disruptors in various products
- Excessive time on screens
A better approach
If you are concerned or even just curious about your current testosterone levels, get things checked out. If it is low, talk to your doctor to see if it is an underlying medical condition. If that is ruled out, get to work on changing your lifestyle. Don’t try to change things all at once. While drastic change may bring faster results, it is almost always unsustainable. Instead, accumulate one healthy habit at a time. Once your new healthy lifestyle practice is a habit, move on to the next one. In time, you will have the habits in place that help you to optimize your natural testosterone levels and improve your overall health and well-being.
Again, I’m not a doctor and I have never used steroids or any form of TRT. However, if you need to or choose to use TRT, you need to respect the complexity of your endocrine (hormone) system. Don’t just order some testosterone over the internet and start taking it. Find a highly qualified, experienced endocrinologist and work with this doctor to ensure proper dosage and healthy levels of all your hormones and health measures.
Travison, T. G., Araujo, A. B., O'Donnell, A. B., Kupelian, V., & McKinlay, J. B. (2007). A population-level decline in serum testosterone levels in American men. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 92(1), 196–202. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2006-1375