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Hormones Out of Whack Just from Dieting?


This is going to be a lot of information and hard to organize. And I will probably forget something. I have been talking with KSman through PM but wanted to get some more opinions on this topic.

I know natural bodybuilders have a tough time when they start getting to contest levels of body fat...

But in my case I was/am nowhere near contest shape(see avatar)

I have been getting my diet/cardio guidelines from Shelby Starnes since feb of 2010. Now some of these symptoms have been ongoing for a couple years. But since i started this journey 5 years ago I have always been bulking or cutting for the most part.

So anyway, the symptoms came to an all time high this summer. My diet was very low carb with 5 training sessions/week and 7, 60 minute cardio sessions/week.

The symptoms: which match up very well with my hormone levels.

non-existent sex drive, couldn't care less for females.
low overall zest for life, prefer to just lay in bed.
Poor sleep
losing strength and energy to train, just overall weakness the explosiveness is just gone.
Also lost my overall daily pep. Sometimes just going for a walk mid-day drains me.
I couldn't even play Frisbee golf one day. Literally had a hard time even taking another step.

Basically my question is with these low of numbers, should I just wait it out and see if they improve as my diet slowly but surely provides more and more calories? Is it possible for all these to come back online over time? Obviously I dont want to go on any kind of HRT if I dont have to.

Currently i feel better than 8 weeks ago, calories/carbs are up, i have put on 5-7lbs. cardio is down to 30 minutes, 4x week. I just now backed off to training 3 days per week and lowered volume and intensity. Kind of in a maintain/coast mode. If my adrenals were taxed, I am hoping they will recover. But even though i feel better. I went from death feeling to just ho-hum feeling. The big time fatigue has lifted, just mild now. The rest of the symptoms are still strong.

So to summerize:

Dieting since Feb. Slowly decreasing carbs and the last 10 weeks were 100 or less every day, then 30 or less every day for 4 weeks. 3 refeed/cheat meals in those 10 weeks.

I was using caffeine/ephedrine consistently for about 12 weeks. Towards the end it was twice daily. I did take a 3 week break in june.

Body weight at end of cut 189.

Starting august 2nd I went straight into a maintaining/slow gain phase. and stopped ephedrine. cut cardio by half.

First blood test sept 2nd AM Fasted - see below

sept. 8th started 50mg DHEA/day and an extra 150mcg iodine and added an additional 2000 IU/day vitamin D3. Was at 4000 IU/day.

Second Blood test sept 20th AM Fasted - See below

Sept 20th cut cardio to 4x/week along with training down to 3 days/week.

Sept 24th stopped all caffeine intake.

Current body weight 196

Average weekly morning temps since august 5th. As you can see they seem to be improving.

week 1 - 96.3
week 2 - 96.4
week 3 - 96.5
week 4 - 96.5
week 5 - 96.6
week 6 - 96.6
week 7 - 96.6
week 8 - 96.9 (not complete yet)

TSH - 2.630 uIU/mL [0.450-4.500]
Testosterone, Serum - 315 ng/dL [280-800]
Estradiol - 21.7 pg/mL [7.6-42.6]
DHEA-Sulfate - 201.9 ug/dL [160.0-449.0]
Free Testosterone(Direct) - 5.9 Low pg/mL [8.7-25.1]
C-Reactive Protein, Cardiac - 0.21 mg/L [0.00-3.00]
Prostate Specific Ag, Serum - 0.2 ng/mL [0.0-4.0]

HDL Cholesterol - 55 mg/dL [>39]
Triglycerides - 48 mg/dL [0-149]
Cholesterol, Total - 119 mg/dL [100-199]
T. Chol/HDL Ratio - 2.2 ratio units [0.0-5.0]
LDL Cholesterol Calc - 54 mg/dL [0-99]

Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy - 69.2 ng/mL [32.0-100.0]
Glucose, Serum - 67 mg/dL [65-99]

Triiodothyronine,Free,Serum 2.3 pg/mL [2.0-4.4]
Thyroxine (T4) 8.3 ug/dL [4.5-12.0]
TSH 2.380 uIU/mL [0.45-4.5]

FSH 1.4 mIU/mL [1.5-12.4]
LH 2.7 mIU/mL [1.7-8.6]

I went to my GP back in june, he just wanted to put me on an anti-depressant. And told me my protein intake was going to ruin my kidneys. Even after I told him I had testicular pain and all my other symptoms. He told me to buy a "box fan" to sleep better and take an SSRI... wtf doc. Shit.

So I chose to come out of pocket for those blood tests through LEF.org. Hopefully they are enough to at least give a doctor reason to order the next round of tests for me so I dont have to pay out of pocket.

So any input on diet/over training being the sole responsibility for my problems?



Need to eat cholesterol rich foods. Total cholesterol of 180 - 200 would be good. Problems occur at 160 and lower, increase all-cause mortality. Bacon, eggs, oysters, cheese burgers.
Triglycerides are to0 low as well, eat more [healthy] fats.
You are currently a poor converter of T4-->T3. T4 is optimal. But TSH is high to get there.

You need T3 meds. - Could be a result of starvation. Situation could be worse as than it appears as you are at a high risk for elevated rT3 problems. Do not take a thyroid med that contains T4, only T3. Get rT3 tested.

Adrenals are shot, stimulants can do that. Read Wilson's book re adrenal fatigue, no quick fix. Cortisol may be useful during recovery. You need to reduce stress in your life, that includes dietary, training and stimulants. You should have a 4 sample saliva cortisol test. If you can't afford that, test at time of day when you typically feel the highest distress.

Increasing T or T3 with low cortisol would make you hit the wall.
Increasing T with low T3 can make you hit the wall.

Focus on what you need to have a healthy metabolism and stop making your ideal body image a priority. You will need to tolerate adding body fat, at least until you are well enough to take another approach. You need to reinvent your self to some extent and recover your health.

You will need a doc who will manage these things, or at least follow your lead.


I'm confused...other than cortisol (which I didn't see him post), from what markers are you able to deduce the adrenal issues?


low overall zest for life, prefer to just lay in bed | losing strength and energy to train, just overall weakness the explosiveness is just gone.
Also lost my overall daily pep. Sometimes just going for a walk mid-day drains me.
I couldn't even play Frisbee golf one day. Literally had a hard time even taking another step.


My diet was very low carb with 5 training sessions/week and 7, 60 minute cardio sessions/week.


I was using caffeine/ephedrine consistently for about 12 weeks. Towards the end it was twice daily.


DHEA-Sulfate - 201.9 ug/dL [160.0-449.0] - a bit low for his age


I would strongly recommend:
a Cortisol saliva test (with 4 readings through out the day)
AM blood Cortisol
ferritin/total iron capacity

check out the blood test sticky and see how many your doctor will go for.

you TSH is crap, Free T3 is low - which means you probably have high Reverse T3 (which is blocking your Free T3 from working), your cortisol is probably low as well.

LH and FSH look low as well - they need to be checked again to confirm.

Your glucose is scary!! I thought anything under 80 or 70 had major implications?? I wonder what your insulin levels look like?

Most healthy adults maintain fasting glucose levels above 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L), and develop symptoms of hypoglycemia when the glucose falls below 55 mg/dL (3 mmol/L).

You really need to find a doctor that will work with you to figure out what is going on.

Your current Endo is pretty typical meaning he sucks and doesn't know what he is talking about.


I can almost guarantee given his situation (diet/starvation), that is cortisol will most likely be constantly elevated if anything. Happens in eating disorders, crash dieting, over dieting, over exercising, etc.


Wow....same exact thing happened to me...and i jumped on TRT than pulled myself off to try and recover...Im hammering in close to 5,000 calories a day and have let body image completely go for the time being.


most likely you fail into the catagory I did many years ago. I over trained, under ate and weaking my immune system to parasitic infections from sushi which almost killed me. With low cholesterol it is mostly adrenal related because your body can not keep up with the demand for cholesterol which is used to help heal inflammation.

I would look into celiac and hidden gut inflammation as sign of low cholesterol is low bile out put, stagnant bile out from liver not being able to absorb fats properly. I would get on a digestive enyzme with oxbile in it to help provide the bile that your cholesterol is using for detoxifcation. with low cholesterol I would also look for heavy metal consumption such as mercury from fish or tuna over the years.

Due to the toxic environment we live in our bodies can not detoxify quick enough whether it be genetic or lack of nutrients or just plain toxic overload. Nip it in the ass before it spirals out of control.

Adrenal saliva test would be the first move -- wish I would had done this in the first place ...


If you are going to look into your cortisol output, do a 24-hour urinary cortisol test. It is a more conclusive and legitimate test than saliva and can be done at well-known lab such as labcorp. If you can't get your doctor to order the test, I know how to order it online from labcorp for about 80 bucks. Send me a pm if you want.


HANS i would be interested to know dealing with as many patients as you and DR. O see daily. How many cases of starvation induced hypogonadism do you see and do all of them involve issues with the thyroid as well?


I'm seeing a doctor tomorrow for a first visit. Just going to be trying to find a knowledgeable doc that will take insurance. For now I am done paying for tests out of pocket. But I will keep that in mind if later on down the road I can't convince him.

Thanks for all the replies.

I really feel starvation is a strong word though. I was losing the generally accepted 1-1.5 lbs/week. Nothing crazy. And I never even made it below 10% body fat which is when it is supposed to really get hard. Though 6 months is a long time to be in a deficit. But I guess either way you define it, starvation/over trained/run down. Its all the same. Too low of cals to support any levels of hormones, even low ones.

More than likely I went into the diet with already low levels of Testosterone and Low T-3. Because I have had these Low T symptoms for about 3 years. If only I could go back in time and check. I am sure 100% of the people that wait too long say exactly the same.

I will update the thread when i get more news from my upcoming visits with doctors.

Thanks again guys.


5000? That sounds awesome right now! For me though, since I paid shelby to run my diet I am still following his guidlines. I am up to about 21-22k cals/week. I'm happy with this though. I would definitely rather coax the hormone levels up higher over a longer period then gain too much fat like I always do coming out of a cut. And that right there could be part of the problem. Too much time spent in deficits and not enough time letting my hormones recover before i start dieting again. All Because I blew up too fast.


Speaking of hidden inflammation. I just had a food sensitivity panel run. 150 different foods. 3 of the ones that came back as allergies were in my daily diet. According to the test I am moderately sensitive to peanuts and almonds. And BEEF was in the high range. I was eating 16-24 oz/day of cooked beef. Probably 1 oz of almonds/day and about 3-4 Tbsp of PB/day. So as of Monday all those have been removed.

Have you had any experience with food sensitivities and the types of impacts they can have on a body?

The good news is, I wasn't eating pork before, I would rather have beef. So i replaced all my beef meals with pork. So higher fat, hopefully get my cholesterol moving up. I smoked about 25lbs of pork loin this weekend. :smiley:


Im telling ya man. Your hormones are never gonna recover if you starve yourself. Have you asked Shelby if he has ever encountered this before? It took me about 3 months after figuring out i had Low T to actually get over my body image and start eating some food. Now i look like shit but hopefully im healing. I know what its like to be down at 6% bodyfat and lower. I know what it feels like to look sweet as hell and be obsessed with it. However you can bulk and cut anytime man. Messing with hormones is not something you wanna do.

Not being an Ass just trying to help.


I did ask him... he wasn't too concerned, but also this was around the time we reversed the diet to gaining. He didn't really say much about it. I know it happens all the time in natural bodybuilding. The problem is, for most it doesn't happen when someone is still 13% bodyfat or more.

Obviously i am not starving myself now if i am gaining weight. Right around 1 lb/week. I dont think i will recover any faster by getting fatter faster. Like you said, it just takes time for the body to heal. But for me, i think healing up to where i was before i started the diet would still be low levels of T/high E/ Low Thyroid. But we shall see. I am definitely not dieting again until i have good levels of all hormones.


I hope all works out well my man.


Being a nationally level bodybuilder and also trainer I have seen this happen more often then precieved. Trainers are complete idiots when it comes to biochemistry of the body. I have all clients get pre blood work focusing on thyroid, adrenal, sex hormones, and other parameters from their dr before even starting with them. They also get blood work in middle of contest prep to make sure that the diet has not affected hormones due to caloric deficit.

With the human body anything is possible. Shellby I have heard that name before. I see it quite often but more no I would not say starvation but self castration by causing nutrient imbalnace from improper balancing of eating. People that eat too clean and healthy can also cause there body to go out of balance the same way I did. One of my biggest down falls was using flax seed oil for prolonged peroid in my protein shakes and of top food. Thinking that something was good for me almost ended up killing me.


Interesting...so do these people usually recover? If so what are time frames?


Just to keep this thread up to date. I got another small round of tests done and am being sent to an endocrinologist. Still no sex drive, still feeling unmotivated/low energy most days. And definitely not sleeping well without something to help. Diet is still high enough to maintain a weight gain every week. I am up to 202 now. I was hoping there would be some type of improvement with the fact that I have been gaining weight since the beginning of august.

Dr. thought I would probably need to get an MRI of pituitary and wanted the Endo to order any testing he thought necessary.

This doc isn't as promising as I once thought though. He said if my LH and FSH numbers weren't low then he still wouldn't be prescribing testosterone because I was in "range". So 12 points lower and I am ill, but I am perfectly normal here. Thanks doc.

10/14/2010 8:54 AM

Total Test - 261 ng/dL [250-1100]
Free - 44.4 pg/mL [35-155]
% free - 1.7 [1.5-2.2]

LH - 1.3 mIU/mL [1.5-9.3]
FSH - 1.3 mIU/mL [1.6-8.0]

T4 Free - 1.1 ng/dL [.8-1.8]


LH levels jump around. Yes, LH is low. FSH levels are relatively steady and are a better diagnostic. Your low FSH tells the story. You might be an candidate for hCG mono therapy. If T levels do not correct with hCG you would then have primary + secondary hypogonadism.

TSH is too high, fT4 seems is a bit below mid line. Would be better near 1.3, sort of fits with your lower fT3.

I do not see your iodine intake discussed here or waking body temp.

I can't recall your insurance/budget situation. There is still the out-of-pocket option with a doc that I know.

Food allergy testing: There are implications if some tests are false positives. I would be wanting to have a confirmation before I eliminate a food that I like from my diet for the rest of my life. You have a sensitivity to beef but not milk from cows?