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Recovery from Low Testosterone
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This past May I was diagnosed with low testosterone and have been working with an endocrinologist over the past few months to understand the cause, but so far the cause is unknown. Since May I've had four rounds of blood tests and I'm averaging 59 ng/dL (normal range 350-1100 ) of Total Testosterone and 10.6 pg/mL (normal range 35-155) of Free Testosterone with my most recent results in November of 30 ng/dL and 4.4 pg/mL respectively. I've also had my LH (0.9 mIU/L average with the normal range of 1-10) and FSH (0.5 mIU/L with a normal range of 1-10 mIU/L) evaluated and I guess my results indicate that my pituitary gland has pretty much shut down. I've been told by two different endocrinologists that my body weight (5'8" & 128 lbs: BMI of 19.5) and training volume (about 12 hrs / week for peak training volume) are not the cause of my lack of pituitary function and low testosterone. However, through my research I found some antidotes and studies on endurance training negatively impacting testosterone and I'm wondering if triathlon training isn't the culprit.

In light of this, I was wondering if anyone has seen endurance training negatively impact testosterone production as severely as my results show and if they've also had low LH and FSH? Furthermore, I haven't been able to find much evidence on natural recovery from low testosterone without replacement therapy (found a lot of recommendations, but not much on case studies or proof of success). Has anyone successfully been able to restore testosterone production naturally? If so, how long did it take and what was your keys to success? Any information anyone can share is greatly appreciated because right now I'm being told my only option is testosterone replacement therapy, with cause of low T unknown, and I'm trying to avoid medication unless absolutely necessary. Thanks.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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BigByte wrote:
This past May I was diagnosed with low testosterone and have been working with an endocrinologist over the past few months to understand the cause, but so far the cause is unknown. Since May I've had four rounds of blood tests and I'm averaging 59 ng/dL (normal range 350-1100 ) of Total Testosterone and 10.6 pg/mL (normal range 35-155) of Free Testosterone with my most recent results in November of 30 ng/dL and 4.4 pg/mL respectively. I've also had my LH (0.9 mIU/L average with the normal range of 1-10) and FSH (0.5 mIU/L with a normal range of 1-10 mIU/L) evaluated and I guess my results indicate that my pituitary gland has pretty much shut down. I've been told by two different endocrinologists that my body weight (5'8" & 128 lbs: BMI of 19.5) and training volume (about 12 hrs / week for peak training volume) are not the cause of my lack of pituitary function and low testosterone. However, through my research I found some antidotes and studies on endurance training negatively impacting testosterone and I'm wondering if triathlon training isn't the culprit.

In light of this, I was wondering if anyone has seen endurance training negatively impact testosterone production as severely as my results show and if they've also had low LH and FSH? Furthermore, I haven't been able to find much evidence on natural recovery from low testosterone without replacement therapy (found a lot of recommendations, but not much on case studies or proof of success). Has anyone successfully been able to restore testosterone production naturally? If so, how long did it take and what was your keys to success? Any information anyone can share is greatly appreciated because right now I'm being told my only option is testosterone replacement therapy, with cause of low T unknown, and I'm trying to avoid medication unless absolutely necessary. Thanks.

Sorry man, my sympathy is a bit low on any of these testosterone threads....get 56-60 hours of sleep per week, eliminate processed foods, eliminate alcohol, reduce stress in your life, and then go get a measurement. Go add some resistance training too. 12 hours of endurance training is nothing. Our forefathers or anyone working on a farm does 12 hours of endurance training just living.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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BigByte wrote:
I've been told by two different endocrinologists that my body weight (5'8" & 128 lbs: BMI of 19.5) and training volume (about 12 hrs / week for peak training volume) are not the cause of my lack of pituitary function and low testosterone. However, through my research I found some antidotes and studies on endurance training negatively impacting testosterone and I'm wondering if triathlon training isn't the culprit.

There are a lot of variables at play such as the intensity of those twelve hours, how much sleep you're getting, stress at work/home, etc but I'm assuming you covered that with both endocrinologists. I would say endurance training isn't helping your situation but it's probably not the underlying cause.

Did you just become symptomatic this year or do you feel like your body has been slowly creeping this way? Did you do more volume in the past? Any big/hard races in the last year (again I'm assuming you went over this with both endocrinologists).

As an aside, are you taking any protein powders or other nutritional supplements?
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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My dad's pituitary shut down on him, took them an entire year to finally decide to look and see if he had a tumor.

Sure enough, non cancerous pituitary tumor had screwed it all up.

They went in through his nose, but a hole through the back of his sinus and took it out. Fixed it.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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?? age

.

RayGovett
Hughson CA
Be Prepared-- Strike Swiftly -- Who Dares Wins- Without warning-"it will be hard. I can do it"
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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I'm 29 and I've been taking whey protein. As for supplements, I've only been taking a multi-vitamin, but recently started taking B12 and Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I feel as though my sex drive has been decreasing since college,but it became most apparent about a year ago when my wife and I started trying to conceive. My training load over the past year has been similar to the prior year (I focus on Olympic and HIM distances). I've also had two MRIs: the first one stated that there was potentially a small cyst on my Pituitary Gland and the second didn't find a cyst but stated that my Pituitary Gland is very small. Processed foods have been pretty much out of my diet for over a year, I have basically eliminated soy and gluten for about 5 months, and I probably average about one drink per week.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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OK, thanks for sharing. Seems like you are pretty young, so there is more to this. How many hours do you sleep per week and how stressful is your work/environment?
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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What kind of whey? I ask because a friend of mine went through a bout similar to what you're going through a few years ago and his endocrinologist had him stop taking whey and stop taking supplements. It turns out the whey he was taking had tested positive for all kinds of crap in third party testing (it was a big brand too).
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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get some sleep, eat a steak, hit the gym, take some time off from structured endurance training.

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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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yea bring it back a bit and see if that helps. if you think it's the cause then it polly is
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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Yeah, go check the average age of our "forefathers" that worked the farm. They didn't live very long on average compared to rest of the general population.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [mrburch] [ In reply to ]
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our forefathers did not run 6min/miles for 2 hours. 12 hours of endurance training can be a lot that's like almost 2 hours a day that's like a half marathon everyday just for funsies
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for everyone's feedback. I wouldn't say my work environment is overly stressful and I average 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night. I take 100% Whey Protein Isolate made by Optimum Nutrition; the company says its free of banned substances. My season ended in late August and I've been pulling it back ever since; I'm now down to about 6 hrs/week with three strength training sessions per week and have been on this reduced schedule for about two months.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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Just out of curiosity... were you diagnosed with Low testosterone from a men's health clinic created specifically to sell "T", or were you diagnosed from your regular doctor?
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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BigByte wrote:
Thanks for everyone's feedback. I wouldn't say my work environment is overly stressful and I average 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night. I take 100% Whey Protein Isolate made by Optimum Nutrition; the company says its free of banned substances. My season ended in late August and I've been pulling it back ever since; I'm now down to about 6 hrs/week with three strength training sessions per week and have been on this reduced schedule for about two months.

Can I also ask why you take supplements at all? I'm 49 and can get plenty of protein off real food even during big 25 hour training weeks and average 14 hours per week all year (>730 hours per year). I say ditch the supplements. Eat from the outside aisles of the grocery store. At 12 hours per week, there should be zero need to eat get protein out of a any package/magic powder.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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I typically just take whey as a protein source for recovery. As for the diagnosis, I was diagnosed by my primary physician and confirmed by the endocrinologist as having "chronically low T". I have not gone to one of those male centers.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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Lift heavy weights 3x week, slow down A LOT any endurance training, sleep more and meditate every day (download "headspace" on your iphone) to reduce stress.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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BigByte wrote:
In light of this, I was wondering if anyone has seen endurance training negatively impact testosterone production as severely as my results show and if they've also had low LH and FSH? Furthermore, I haven't been able to find much evidence on natural recovery from low testosterone without replacement therapy (found a lot of recommendations, but not much on case studies or proof of success). Has anyone successfully been able to restore testosterone production naturally? If so, how long did it take and what was your keys to success? Any information anyone can share is greatly appreciated because right now I'm being told my only option is testosterone replacement therapy, with cause of low T unknown, and I'm trying to avoid medication unless absolutely necessary. Thanks.


I'm hesitant to post on threads like this, but I think it's worth sharing my experience with "natural" recovery from low T.

I'm also a young guy (24yo) who has had issues with low T for years. Two years ago, my free T tested at <10 pmol/L. The lab's reference range is 31-94 pmol/L for the general male population and the average for men 25-34 is ~43 pmol/L. Suffice it to say that I felt pretty awful and experienced most of the associated symptoms. The causes for me were likely some combination of chronic overreaching in training, underfueling, dietary risk factors (possible deficiencies), insomnia and mental health factors (stress, anxiety and low level depression). Of course, some of these issues form a vicious cycle with low T, so cause and effect are a tangled web. Training volume in 2012-2013 averaged 17-20 hours per week over the entire year with very high monotony. Body weight was under 140 lbs (at 5'11.5") for a long period of time.

Over the past two years I've made a science of boosting my T without resorting to replacement. T therapy was never even a consideration due to the fact that it would end my competitive triathlon career, there are many negative side effects and there was strong evidence that the causes were self-inflicted and reversible in my case. I did a ton of research and began working with a sports doctor with expertise in this area (who has been involved with anti-doping activities for several governing bodies) as well as a dietitian. Without getting into great detail here are some of the key changes I made:
  • Giving up compulsive, "self-coached" exercise and letting very competent coaches take over my training.
  • Temporarily reducing training load and introducing more recovery both on the micro scale (one day off per week) and macro scale (a few weeks of downtime throughout the year).
  • Adding strength training several times per week throughout the year (weights, plyometrics, core, bands).
  • Fueling workouts appropriately
  • Overcoming insomnia and making sleep a very high priority
  • Gaining weight (~20lbs over two years) and generally eating more, particularly more fat
  • Dietary changes - e.g., adding fish back into my vegetarian diet, avoiding soy (low risk, but easy to do), taking a few supplements with research supporting links to testosterone (zinc, Vitamin D, fish oil)
  • Dealing with mental health issues (mostly just finishing my degree!), managing stress better

Taken together, these comprehensive changes represent a fairly dramatic lifestyle change. Over two years, I've managed to triple my free T levels and double LH levels on my latest test, although free T is still below normal and FSH and LH are still "inappropriately normal". It was not easy and improvement has come very slowly, but my quality of life and triathlon performance have come a long way.

I wrote a two-part post describing my recovery experience in detail, which you can find on my blog linked below.

CodyBeals.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you for your response Cody. I read your blog and I think you're the only case study I've found where you've successfully, at least to some degree, been able to improve your condition naturally and have evidence to support it. While two years is a lot longer than I was hoping or anticipating to hear, it's still good to know that there's hope.
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [Cody Beals] [ In reply to ]
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Cody, are you vegetarian out of choice or for some other reason (could be spirtual). For 4 years, I did that path to give my dad some support as he was doing it for spiritual reasons....but it was a disaster and I probably lost the 4 best years of my life as an endurance athlete from around 35-38. Then I went back to eating meat and eggs constantly and in 18 months I Kona qualified, something that he eluded me for 15 years. Not really that smart on my part. It's just tough to get enough protein and iron from non animal sources and at the time I had also started a job where I had to travel a lot and it was getting really tough trying to stay on a "non mainstream diet". My general health is much better now at 49 than at 39.

Not sure of your reasons to be vegetarian, but as a pro, traveling to races all over the place, it just makes the already tough gig even tougher. I say you go to the steakhouse at least once per week!

Dev
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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devashish_paul wrote:
Cody, are you vegetarian out of choice or for some other reason (could be spirtual). For 4 years, I did that path to give my dad some support as he was doing it for spiritual reasons....but it was a disaster and I probably lost the 4 best years of my life as an endurance athlete from around 35-38. Then I went back to eating meat and eggs constantly and in 18 months I Kona qualified, something that he eluded me for 15 years. Not really that smart on my part. It's just tough to get enough protein and iron from non animal sources and at the time I had also started a job where I had to travel a lot and it was getting really tough trying to stay on a "non mainstream diet". My general health is much better now at 49 than at 39.

Not sure of your reasons to be vegetarian, but as a pro, traveling to races all over the place, it just makes the already tough gig even tougher. I say you go to the steakhouse at least once per week!

Dev


Dev, that's really interesting. I went vegetarian in 2008 to reduce my environmental impact. I'm not convinced that a meat-free diet is significantly more or less healthy, if done correctly. The problem is that doing vegetarianism correctly as an athlete requires a lot more attention to detail. I didn't do very well at first and quickly became iron deficient, among other suspected issues. It's taken years of trial and error to dial in iron supplementation (100+ mg/day for me) that maintains decent levels. I have never been vegan and one of the ways I've gotten by is eating eggs and dairy on a daily basis. This year, I also started eating fish a few times per week for its many health benefits.

I have never found vegetarianism to be much of an inconvenience. When traveling to races, I bring as much of my own food as possible or hit a grocery store. I can almost count on one hand the number of times I eat at restaurants each year. It also helps that I have no other dietary restrictions.

Although we tend to associated meat with muscles/manliness/testosterone, I have not found strong evidence linking meat consumption with higher testosterone levels. In fact, some studies point the opposite direction. Given my ongoing issues, I would start eating meat again if I thought it would help.

Regarding protein, I think that many people overestimate their needs. Some research is suggesting that any more than 20-30g in one sitting is simply burned for energy. So that big steak isn't delivering as much protein as some may think. I did a few days of food tracking and found that I was taking in ~20% protein (~200 g/day) without really even trying. It partly comes down to the fact that protein needs don't scale linearly with total energy needs. So you can get away with lower quality protein sources if you're consuming over 4000 Calories most days like I am. My dietitian (who works with many Canadian Olympic team athletes) saw no cause for concern with my diet.

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Last edited by: Cody Beals: Dec 3, 14 4:29
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Re: Recovery from Low Testosterone [BigByte] [ In reply to ]
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BigByte wrote:
Thank you for your response Cody. I read your blog and I think you're the only case study I've found where you've successfully, at least to some degree, been able to improve your condition naturally and have evidence to support it. While two years is a lot longer than I was hoping or anticipating to hear, it's still good to know that there's hope.

My sports doctor sees male athletes with trashed hormonal profiles all the time. My understanding is that when overtraining, energy imbalance and/or stress are major causes of low T, "natural" recovery is pretty much a given if the athlete address the issues. Testosterone can respond slowly, but the bottleneck is how quickly you can make lifestyle changes. I laughed when my doc first told me this, because I thought I would reinvent myself overnight. But I found that embracing all those changes I listed took longer than I expected, partly because I was stubborn and burying my head in the sand was the easiest course of (in)action. My point is that recovery could have been quicker in my case, and maybe in yours as well. Good luck and please keep us posted!

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