T Nation

High Estrogen? Insulin Insensitivity?

I hope this is the right place to post this and apologize if it is not.

Stats: 25 years old, male, 5’ 7", 185 lbs, 3 years training experience, never used AAS/PH, total testosterone tested at 950 ng/dl 1 year ago (although the Dr. did not order a full hormone panel so this is the only relevant number I haveâ?¦ he did not take my concerns seriously.)

Problem: My physique has a very soft and puffy appearance, even at RELATIVELY low body fat percentages (top abs visible in most lighting). I have a very difficult time losing fat while maintaining muscle and performance. I’ve been advised to reduce carb intake (currently around 350 grams a day) but when I do my performance in the gym suffers drastically and immediately and my muscles shrivel up, making me look very skinny-fat. This makes sticking to a “cut” psychologically difficult. I store the vast majority of my body fat in my love handles, lower belly, upper thighs, and chest. I have pubertal gyno (puffy nips and small lumps). My appearance changes noticeably from day to day and hour to hour, sometimes with my muscles looking relatively full and “hard,” sometimes where I look very soft and bloated but still big, and other times utterly skinny-fat. I have a history of depression and disordered anxiety (diagnosed but untreated) and had eating disorders throughout high school and during puberty. Prior to lifting I weighed 120 lbs and still had noticeable love handles, no abs, and chest fat.

I recently was able to cut from 183 to 175 over the course of 7 weeks using carb cycling, although I looked and felt small and weak at the finish. A few days after reintroducing consistently higher carbs to my diet, my physique looked great (hard, relatively dry) and my performance in the gym took off. This continued for 2 weeks, after which point I began to look soft and sloppy again, albeit still muscular. After another week I stopped looking big, my muscles no longer seemed full, and I’m fat and soft again.

My goal is essentially to be big and strongâ?¦ Not just “bigger” and “stronger” but BIG and STRONG, but I don’t want to be a soft-looking fat ass. I don’t care about having abs, but right now I can’t stand the soft and feminine look that my body fat distribution and what I assume is water retention causes. It’s really getting in the way of me being able to eat my way towards my goals. If anyone has any insights into what the cause of my issues might be or how to solve them, it would be greatly appreciated.

How your fat is distributed can be important. You mentioned a puffy face i think, nipple puffiness, and water retention in general. Inability to cut fat without burning off muscle, decreased energy and depression right?

My impressions without an actual exam are that your electrolyte balance is off, hormone imbalance, or the like. Stress believe it or not can be the cause of symptoms like yours so consider that. Thyroid function could be a huge factor considering you’ve got lots of T but no growth. Is your diet high in sodium and low in fresh fruits and veggies?

Thanks for the reply. I haven’t noticed fat gain to my face but some of my friends have commented on it while seemingly only partially joking (this year I’ve switched my focus to more of “get big and strong” than a typical bodybuilding focus so I sit at a higher BF % now than I used to.) Definitely lots of fat gain in the love handles, chest, and I have puffy nips for sure. As for the vegetable question, I eat a lot. Tons of spinach in particular, but also broccoli and brussel sprouts when I’m not too lazy to cook. I do eat a lot of sodium though, particularly via scrambled eggs, protein shakes, and things like jarred salsa. Stress may be a factor in that I have issues with anxiety, but on paper my life is about as stress free as you could hope for. Good job that supports me while only working part time, great girlfriend, etc. I also have trouble sleeping and have frequent urination if that is relevant at all. How would I go about isolating the causes of these problems?

Also, yes to the low energy and depression. These are issues that I’ve dealt with since childhood, occasionally being so severe that I was at risk for suicide. This is no longer the case, but largely due to improved perspective and personal maturation rather than an actual alleviation of symptoms.

Sounds like you need some bloodwork done. Read the stickies at the top, all of the recommended tests are listed.