I am afraid that this might be a rant... first draft.
I see guys investing a huge amount of time, sweat, gear, money and food to optimize their bodies. For some; they feel great, empowered and confident. Some are struggling against negative body image. Some are on a power trip.
Some younger guys seem to have the drive to do heavy training when their supporting T levels and thyroid function are low. Those issues really undermine ones energy levels. When youth and adrenalin drive through training with these problems, the adrenals are stressed and one can end up with adrenal fatigue which can be come disabling.
Lack of knowledge creates many problems.
Most PCT methods here and in other such BB+steroid forums is actually very harmful. But most guy's bodies survive the insults, at least for a while and they believe that things were done perfectly. I see the failures and the lives ruined, as well as lost fertility. We see these cases in this forum and some guys end up in the TRT forum.
Energy and vitality, libido and sexual function:
Libido and sexual function is brain function. When men have a strong libido, that is a measure of heath and vitality. For most guys, low libido is a problem flag. While training and doing gear to seeking perfection in body shape and/or strength, one should feel great, but some problems can be masked by drive and adrenalin.
The foundation of your energy is ATP production inside your cells. ATP is made by mitochondrial, little bodies inside your cells that have their own separate DNA. These resemble the small bacteria which they were when they became symbiotically incorporated into the cells of higher bacterial life forms.
Thyroid hormone free T3, fT3, is used to regulate mitochondrial activity as part of your metabolic rate control. All of this is managed by your body's temperature control loop. If fT3 levels are low, your natural energy levels are low, body temperatures fall.
Your metabolic rate control is mostly "thyroid function" and that can be checked by looking at your oral body temperatures. When you wake up, you should be 97.7-97.8F, higher would be OK. This is your low body temperature for the day. You also need to checking that you get 98.6F /37C mid-afternoon [peak]. Oral body temperatures can be more informative than most thyroid labs. TSH should be near 1.0. T3, T4, fT3, fT4 should be near or a bit above midrange. Thyroid normal lab ranges are useless. Thyroid issues are much more complex than testosterone replacement issues. Can't expand those issues here. We deal with these issues in the TRT forum.
Please note that most of the guys who come to the TRT forum have some thyroid function issues and most seem to have self-imposed iodine deficiency. As these guys have low-T and most have some thyroid/iodine issues, one can lean towards cause and effect. But perhaps what we are seeing is a problem with most in the general population not getting enough iodine.
Most cases of low thyroid function are caused by iodine deficiency, mild perhaps, but serious enough. I see guys with problems all of the time caused by not using iodized salt. Sea salt, pink salt, Himalayan salt, kosher salt are all inadequate. The iodine that we used to get [USA] in bread is gone, iodine in milk from iodine teat wash is mostly gone. Iodized salt in prepared foods and snacks is almost always not iodized. Restaurants typically do not use iodized salt.
Iodine in diets historically has been greatly reduced. The only way you can depend in getting iodine is sea food, your cooking with iodized salt and iodized salt on your table. As most BB guys are very fixated on their diets and do a lot of their own meal prep, they have a great opportunity to get enough iodine. If you take a multi-vitamin product, look for 150-170mcg iodine AND 150-200mcg selenium. Selenium deficiencies can promote thyroid autoimmune diseases [explanation withheld].
TRT guys with great TT, FT and E2 levels can feel like shit with low thyroid function. You need to know that most of the symptoms of low thyroid function are the same as low T levels, you do not want to be there.
Signs of low thyroid function:
- feeling cold easily
- generalized hair thinning - not male pattern baldness, but could be both
- sparse outer eyebrows
- low energy
- fat gain or inability to loose fat
- dry skin in more extreme cases
- moody or depressed
You cannot optimize your health and body without awareness of some thyroid issues.
Starvation diets can increase SHBG lowering free testosterone FT with T getting bound up in SHBG+T which is not bioavailable. Starvation diets stress the adrenals and that can increase reverse T3, rT3, that blocks some fT3 at T3 receptors, creating a effective lack of fT3, even when fT3 levels otherwise would seem optimal.
rT3 can increase in response to other forms of stress:
- over training
- starvation diets
- extremely low body fat
- training through impediments of low-T and/or low thyroid function
- accidents, illnesses, surgeries, job loss etc
- chronic infections, gum disease as one example, chronic inflammation
- over use of stimulants or living on adrenalin
Some young guys simply have their hormone systems fail and need TRT. Others are fragile and are easily broken by a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor hair loss drugs, a stupid cycle or a typical [stupid] PCT. Very often a HPTA restart will not work. Sometimes guys get damaged with a pro-hormone they found on the WEB. With many of those products, you are getting a complete unknown. These fake or zeno-testosterones can flip gene expression switches permanently. These molecules get into cell nuclei and cause damage. True human hormones do not have those risks. There was one guy here who I worked with, his 'friend' put him on a deca only cycle. Got him to a good TRT doc and HPTA restart efforts failed. Young guy on TRT for life. We see a steady stream of new unexplained TRT guys 19-23 years old. I don't think it is that common in the general population, but they show up in large numbers in the forum.
So what other things do we see where some guys process or react to drugs differently?
- Some guys, not rare, are anastrozole over-responders who need 1/4th the dose that most require. How do they react to letro? - no data
- Some guys feel horrible, not rare, using Clomid. Nolvadex does not have that effect.
- Most TRT guys have optimal energy, mood, libido and sexual function near E2=22pg/ml. But a few, somewhat rare, need much higher E2 levels to feel right.
So we are not all the same. There are many different enzymes in the population and we get a random shuffle of these. Some may be different genes or different gene expression. Some gene expression can be permanently change by drugs or starvation. These are epigenetic changes and some actually can span generations as seen by health records of Dutch women who were starving during WW-II and effects were seen in daughters and grand daughters. Some of use have unique vulnerabilities.
Speaking of enzymes: Most enzymes have metal atoms in their catalytic reaction sites. This is why we need many trace elements. Some vitamins have a good spectrum of trace elements, check yours.
Most are magnesium deficient unless supplementing. The amounts are relatively huge and cannot be fit into a multi-vit, so you need a product like ZMA. If you get foot cramps or leg cramps, you are deficient! If you can tense up your foot and leg muscles and get them to lockup, you are deficient. You also want your heart and arterial muscles working properly too.
Back to energy. Vit-D3 is very important. The daily recommended amounts have been sufficient to prevent bone deformations in children. But those intake requirements were never deeply understood and are far from optimal. Most should be taking 5,000iu Vit-D3 unless they are getting good sun exposure. If your skin is darker, you have a harder time making your own Vit-D3 from sun exposure. As man migrated from the tropics to colder climates, genetic variations for paler skin were favored [others did not survive well] and skin changed. That is one illustration of the importance of Vit-D.
Vit-D3 is stored in the body, as a survival factor, and slowly converted to Vit-D25 which is a true steroid hormone that is absolutely required for gene expression in the cell nuclei to work. If you are trying to be optimal, you should not ignore this steroid hormone.
Low fat diets and low cholesterol: The whole steroid hormone cascade starts with, drum role, mitochondria processing cholesterol to make pregnenolone. I see a lot of young guys will very low cholesterol levels. Extremes of low body fat are dangerous. Total cholesterol < 160 is associated with increased all cause mortality. There are a few who simply have low cholesterol. You do not want to push your self there.
What else can interfere with mitochondria? Low CoQ10. CoQ10 is made in the liver. Statin drugs that lower cholesterol production in the liver interfere with enzyme pathways that also are needed in CoQ10 production. Some, a few, are very vulnerable to this and mitochondrial function gets messed up, ATP production drops and muscle function suffers and there can be muscle pain and the left ventricle of the heart cannot keep up, blood backs up in the lungs and intra-lung blood pressure is high causing fluids to seep into air passage ways and you get a persistent low level cough, which is exactly the mechanics of the symptoms of congestive heart failure. That can be fixed by taking CoQ10 supplements [Ubiquinol suggested, not Ubiquinone]. This yet another example of a genetic variation.
Your vitality, libido, mood and sexual function can be trashed by high E2 levels, even if T levels are great. I see so many posts were guys state they have AI on hand in case they get itchy nipples or gyno. That is simple wrong. Elevated E2 should be avoided and lab work should be done. Anastrozole and letrozole are competitive drugs that compete for FT at aromatize enzyme reactions sites where FT-->E2. With the long term following of TRT guys and their labs, we see that E2 management is mission critical. Elevated E2 also interferes with T at T receptors, as E2 is competitive with FT at the receptors, so that interference is unwanted. E2 also drives gene expression that opposes the beneficial effects of T. This shows up muscles and the brain. 10 week cycles are hiding some negative effects, yet the results are affected.
As FT-->E2 production rates are driven by FT and bio-T levels, when you change your gear during your cycle, you are changing the game and E2 labs and AI dose management and changes simply will be whacked. Some cycles look like a menu in a Chinese restaurant. Needlessly complex. Sometimes less is more!
Do not take high dose SERMs or high dose hCG. Do not stack SERMs, Do not stack SERM+hCG. Those practices over-stimulate the LH receptors in the testes, causing high T-->E2 inside the testes. [All T inside the testes is FT, no SHBG there.] A competitive AI [anastrozole, letrozole] cannot compete with the resulting high intratesticular testosterone levels, perhaps a 100x higher than serum T, so your AI will not be able to manage E2 levels. SERMs typically increase E2, many do not understand that. SERMs only protect "Selected" tissues from the effects of estrogens, others see the E2 flood. Use small doses of SERMs and always use an AI during your cycle, during PCT and for a while after. Dosing details are elsewhere.
Where does this lead too?
- Do not neglect the roles of iodine, selenium and Vit-D3.
- Get trace elements and magnesium.
- Understand what PCT should be doing why most practices are wrong.
- Avoid high doses of hCG and SERMs and do not stack.
- Do not neglect proper E2 management, use AI's and labs intelligently.
- Do not undermine your ability to manage E2 with needless cycle complexity.
- Understand that we are wired differently and react to drugs differently, some times disastrously. Know that there are risks for yourself and any that you are guiding.
- Avoid starvation diets and be aware of the issue and roles of cholesterol.
- Do not over train, your body, organs [liver, adrenals] and muscles need to recover.
There is more involved than sweat, iron, gear and food.
This is a first draft, do don't kill me...