Test & Insulin Conundrum, No Gains No Matter What

Hey all

Just came back from the endo and, thanks to the knowledge I gained on this site, gave her a real challenging conversation - the bottom line I don’t really know what to do next and I feel like I have nowhere in Fitness year after year. This post could be a bit long/details but I’d appreciate any and all advice fellow members can provide.

A bit about me: former 60kg amateur boxer til end of university, always lean as a greyhound despite zero knowledge of diet made up of high carbs (mostly bad ones and rice), moderate protein and little fat. Well - at 21 I didn’t want to look like a greyhound anymore and lifting did nothing. With little body/facial hair I saw a doctor who gave me 3 shots of Sus - resulting in gyno (not your paranoid BB teen, I mean a proper A-Cup!). A sedentary working life soon started and I got bigger on the chest especially, but also abdominal, reaching 80kg at my peak. I found a trainer, did full body x3 times pw + 1 run pw and got to 64kg at ~20%BF (so mostly loss muscle?) but still with seriously evident Gyno.

NOW: 5 years later (today) I sit in the early 70Kgs (172cm tall) ~25%BF and eat <60gram carbs per day (the rest is 45% Protein >1g per lb/bw, and 35%-40% fat) with one reefed meal or day (depending on hunger) per week. I maintain on holidays and during festive periods but generally eat a 500cal deficit for the past 2 years and am increasingly sensitive to carbs (I just seem to store them instantly).

I CAN NEVER GAIN MUSCLE NOR LOSE FAT AT AN APPRECIABLE LEVEL, literally no matter what I do. Believe me - I train HARD - I’m the guy in the gym at 6am doubled over gasping for air when other chumps are sitting on their iPhones and playing with the baby weights. I have a skinny frame and a round torso - people think I’m slim in a t-shirt, but I look ridiculous on a beach


  • to get my BF down to ~12% first so I can see if the Gyno is pseudo and if not, have surgery on the true gyno (What little gains I CAN make (e.g. doing Poliquin work for 5-6 days pw + sprints the best I could do was lose 8.8lbs in 20 weeks and I basically looked the same)
  • Then I want to bulk 10kg - slow n steady at my age (36yo) I know. I’m going nowhere, fast. something HAS to be wrong.
  • I must be missing a major variable in my fitness ‘regression model!’… At this rate it will take me 20 years to look like I’m even remotely fit. I look at other [average] guys in the gym and I honestly don’t know how they even got CLOSE to looking the way they do.

MY CONUNDRUM: getting to the point now, after a ton of research, trial/error and pragmatic thinking I think there are 2 key problems:

  1. My testosterone is so low I can’t build mass (see BLOOD WORK BELOW - my Doc wouldn’t give me TRT so gave me LETRO instead to attempt fixing Gyno - which it didn’t - but also to indirectly boost T, which it did, at the expense of my libido. The idea is to spur metabolic changes), AND THEN

  2. I feel sense I’m insulin resistant, so I can’t lose the fat like other people even though I’m not obese. One idea - that didn’t inspire me with confidence was to try using the diabetic drug Metformin - but I’m on the fence with that one and cant find much fitness related research on it.

1+2 = I’m standing still in this weak ass “skinny fat” situation at 74kgs!

You’ve got the outline of my program and diet above. Supps are multi, carnitine + zinc in the morning pre-WO, Whey PWO, probiotics with food, magnesium at night and a fish oil - which I like. (+ I’ve tried all the Vitamin D, Tumeric, DIM, Calcium D-Glucarate, Resveratrol and it’s all BS)

        • I feel like I’ve tried it all and am simply the bottom of the Gene “bell curve” - but I’m not a quitter. If you can think of anything that would help me I’d be truly grateful for your responses * * * *

(no “eat clean 'n train hard” responses thanks. I’m already doing it)


2000 - Low T, no pituitary gland or chromosome issue = 3 shots of Sus (the idea to ‘kick-start’ my T, which it did, but gave me f*kin Gyno)

Nov 2013 (after 2yrs of regular gym/boxing with no real program)
11.14 nmol/L Reference 9.90-27.80 by my GP Doc
(which would put me 328 n/dl and bottom slightly above/below 1 standard deviation by most sample sizes)

July 2014 (towards the end of a 9 month program, mostly Poliquin-based full body + sprints work)
19.88 nmol/L Reference 9.90-27.80 by my GP Doc
(done naturally with more fat, lots more veg, less alcohol, less refined carbs, more lifting and ZMA + a very chilled out job)

Dec 2014 (after negligible, if any, real results in mass or strength)
11.27 nmol/L Reference 9.90-27.80 now by Endo
(after having backed off from gym due to discouragement and a new job)
SHGB 19.66, with other measures like Liver Function (all being within middle of reference range)

Feb 2015 (mid-way thru Jim Stoppani â??shortcut to shredâ?? and eating clean 500cal deficit most days)
28.23 nmol/L Reference 9.90-27.80 now by Endo
(reminder: taking LETRO daily - halfway thru 4 months course, gaining minor weight despite deficit, no libido but feeling ok)
SGBH 18.4, Insulin Serum 15.5, Glucose Serum 5.1 (all being within middle of reference range)

  • Needless to say the Letro is not sustainable -

Thanks in advance

How much do you weigh? How much can you squat/bench/deadlift?

If you can improve those lifts at an appreciable level, you will find yourself making progress.

That said, testosterone isn’t linear with muscle gain. In other words, an individual who has 400 ng/dL testosterone can make similar, if not, the same, progress as an individual who has 800 ng/dL. Hypogonadal ranges (<300 ng/dL) and hypergonadal ranges (~1000 ng/dL) are when massive changes to muscle growth or impairment will be seen. There’s tons of literature to support this, go look it up yourself.

If you’re suspecting insulin resistance, get your HbA1C checked. It will determine how often your blood sugar levels have been above range. Even if your insulin production is normal perhaps genetics is playing a role in how sensitive your adipose receptors are in comparison to your muscle receptors of insulin and whether the transport proteins are the same or if the insulin is impaired. The A1C test should at least eliminate diabetes. Another test that you could have done is the glucose tolerance test which shows how quickly a dose of glucose is cleared. Another simple way to do it is buy a CBG meter or borrow one if you know a diabetic (they usually have 4 somewhere in a drawer).

You mentioned you had to cut back on alcohol at one point in your training. I would look at that as a possible cause. It sounds a lot like weight gained due to this.

HI GUYS. Thanks for the replies and apologies for the delay in responding. Some answers and (sorry) more questions:

"How much do you weigh? "

74kgs / 163lbs

“How much can you squat/bench/deadlift?”

BB 40kgs (88lbs) on each of those in the ~5 rep range.
In other words BB 20kg plates. I can do 20kg on weighted dips too, weighted chins are only 10kg though

" If you can improve those lifts at an appreciable level, you will find yourself making progress"

My strength is nothing compared to you guys on here. The reason is last year I was doing higher-rep mostly full body workouts (endurance / metabolic conditioning said by PT… whatever that is) so strength basically went nowhere, particularly on a 500 cal deficit 6 days pw.
I since started Jim Stoppani’s “shortcut to shred” program, which although I’m not shredding, I am definitely getting stronger as it mixes low/high rep ranges (body twice pw) and getting some slight arm definition
You are right buddy. I know that Strength

Have you read the advice for new guys sticky?

Always used iodized salt?
Check body temperatures as per the thyroid basics sticky.

I don’t know if you’re saying 88lbs total or 88lbs + the barbell x5 for all of those lifts- bench, squat, deadlift…but if it’s either of those, I found part of your problem. unless you have some muscle wasting disease or something, you should be able
to greatly improve these. I’d say to stop hopping from program to program, stop spending so much time in the gym, and do a simple 3 days a week strength program, like Starting Strength, 5/3/1, etc. Focus on your strength. I’m sorry to be so blunt with you but with those meager numbers, there’s literally no point in doing all sorts of fancy advanced stuff, which I can only imagine 6 days a week of Poliquin bs must be. It’s like you’re trying to create Michaelangelo’s David from a pebble.