The late, great, Dr Laurie Williams and I worked together for several years to build a practice we called Recomp Medical. We specialise in hormone optimisation therapy; also known as anti-aging medicine. I am the Hormone Therapy Consultant. What does that really mean? Read on…
What is Hormone Therapy
Anti-aging hormone optimisation therapy involves the legal prescription of hormonal medications to address the decline in all measures of physical and physiological health and performance as we age. I am quite partial to the explanation I wrote on it here…
To be blunt, the primary hormones involved with anti-aging or hormone optimisation therapy are testosterone and growth hormone; those 2 naturally-occuring hormones that have been demonised by a ratings-hungry, mainstream media, sloppily regurgitating hysterical propaganda from the conservative medical community.
Testosterone & Growth Hormone
Testosterone and Growth Hormone (HGH) are infamous for being the drugs of choice among bodybuilders and elite athletes. Testosterone is also famous for giving women beards. Less well known is that a lack of testosterone – in women or men – results in true, clinical depression, sexual dysfunction, chronic fatigue, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, extremely weak immune function, increased risk of several cancer types, worsened cardiac risk profile, muscle wasting, cognitive impairment and a slew of other miseries. Basically, in the absence of testosterone your entire life sucks, you are always sick, and then you die of something ugly and painful. For this your doctor is most likely to prescribe anti-depressants to treat the symptom of feeling miserable as you die. We prescribe testosterone to give you optimal, ‘normal’ levels to treat the problem!
Growth hormone deficiency is less overtly miserable than testosterone deficiency. Its decline tends to lead the “normal” decline in mental function and physical form that comes with age. Maintaining growth hormone levels (or IGF-1 via HGH) tends to maintain much of the mental and physical performance, muscle, low body-fat, energy, skin elasticity and general wellbeing of our younger years. We prescribe HGH to achieve these benefits. Most doctors warn that this unnecessary because the gradual disintegration of your physical and mental faculties is “normal”.
Basically, in the absence of testosterone your entire life sucks, you are always sick, and then you die of something ugly and painful.
Call me crazy and irresponsible but I believe that having ‘normal’, healthy levels testosterone and growth hormone is less dangerous and undesirable than having a deficiency or imbalance. And unlike most Doctors, the specialists I worked with also agree that simply having your hormones in the ‘normal’ range does not mean that the levels and balance are optimal.
Drugs in Sports
Drugs in sports are a completely different ‘kettle of fish’ to medical hormone therapy. Generally, doping in sports is about using supraphysiological doses of drugs to achieve an artificial metabolic response. For what its worth, while it is well beyond the scope of Recomp Medical, I have far more liberal views towards drugs in sport than is politically correct.
I personally believe that “unnatural” means can be the healthiest way of achieving “unnatural” ends. In my view, it is the goal that is unhealthy or unwise; not the means by which it is achieved. For example, if a man is going to make himself 150kg at 4% bodyfat doing 500kg squats, he is probably going to get sick and injured at some point. If he tries to get there naturally then he is undoubtedly going to get extremely sick and extremely injured, long before he even gets close! The safest, healthiest way to achieve such a dangerous and unhealthy goal is to use available technology (i.e. drugs) to prevent getting sick and help the body cope with the abuse and stress. That doesn’t mean that most athletes are so intelligent with their drug use. Nor does it mean that the drug use is completely harmless. It means that athletes could be more intelligent, measured and healthy when going about their stupid, unhealthy goals if it were not for the hypocritical political climate making healthful, intelligent medication impossible.
At Recomp Medical we absolutely do not get involved with people involved in sports drug abuse! The point I am trying to make is that it is the sport that can be very, very bad for your health. Regardless of whether its riding a bike non-stop for several days straight, getting punched in the head repeatedly for 30 minutes, running into a wall of 120kg men charging at you at the speed-of-sound or walking around with 70kg more muscle than necessary, elite level sports are unhealthy and destructive to the body. Technology exists to minimise the damage. All pharmaceuticals exist to help people become or stay healthy despite their inappropriately unhealthy lives. Athletes should be offered the same respect.
My Hormone Therapy Consulting
Given my attitude towards drugs in sport and hormone therapy generally, it surprises most people to learn that, in my role as hormone therapy consultant, I primarily advise people NOT to use hormone therapy and drugs! At least, certainly not for the vast majority of body composition concerns.
Optimal hormone levels are essential for the normal physiological function of the body. But the vast majority of people’s hormones are absolutely fine and appropriate for achieving all they could ever want. Spectacular things! Natural is not a synonym for ‘handicapped’. Natural is natural! The things most people think they need hormone’s for, really just requires a total overhaul of their misdirected training and nutrition!
99% of the time, the reason people can’t grow muscle and/or lose fat is because their diet and training is utterly woeful and inappropriate!
99% of the time the reason people are exhausted and injured is because their diet and training is utterly woeful and inappropriate.
99% of the time, in the handful of cases where people who do have shambolic hormone levels, it’s the result of their diet and training being utterly woeful and inappropriate!
I would be retired and living in Monaco if I had a dollar for every person following a ‘paleo’ diet and doing Crossfit who thought their constant injuries and fatigue must be a hormonal problem. Likewise for girls doing 4 hours of aerobics on 800 calories of chicken and asparagus
It’s Your Training & Diet, Stupid
I cannot overstate how badly the vast majority of people I see have been misdirected in their diet and training. As a general rule, women have been taught to follow abusive starvation and overtraining practices that are so bad they cause hormonal dysfunction. Men have been taught that the only way to grow muscle is to take as many supplements and drugs as possible, causing hormonal dysfunction, while training to be as weak as possible. The advice could literally not be worse! People fail to get the outcome they seek and make themselves very sick in the process!
Most young men are training with such pathetic weights that it is a surprise that any of them have any muscle at all! I am shocked at the number of healthy, grown men who believe that 200kg is a significant deadlift. Its significant for a 14 year old or a 70 year old. Its significant for a sub-60kg girl. But an average, healthy male who has never trained with weights should pull close to a 200kg deadlift their first day, if coached correctly. 240kg is the best first-time deadlift I’ve coached an untrained person to. And there have been plenty of untrained men I’ve had pull 200-220kg, day one! 180kg is most common. But most men are literally training themselves so badly that they become incapable of lifting weights they could have lifted had they not trained at all!
Similarly, women have been taught to be scared of lifting weights. They think that a 100kg deadlift is heavy and could make them ‘huge’. The reality is, the majority of healthy, regular women (55-65kg) should deadlift around 100kg on day one! 100kg is common. Its a respectable starting point and nothing more. Less than 100kg is a disappointment. Many trained girls can lift 140kg at 50kg.
I would be retired and living in Monaco if I had a dollar for every call I got from a person following a ‘paleo’ diet and doing Crossfit who thought their constant injuries and fatigue must be a hormonal problem. Likewise for girls doing 4 hours of aerobics on 800 calories of chicken and asparagus to ‘prep’ for a bikini contest. If they were training to be as fat and broken as possible for the rest of their lives, then they’d be doing the right thing. Most of them just want to look like athletes and hope drugs will change the result of their misdirected efforts. They won’t! You need to train properly. And that starts with overhauling your expectations of what you should be doing and capable of! If you can’t lift the weights I’ve listed above, seek out the training solution. Don’t seek drugs!
When it comes to training and building muscle, even with terrible, low testosterone, any otherwise healthy man can develop a 220kg deadlift. Any (non-disabled) man who trains with weights and cannot deadlift at least 180kg within 12 months of training should be disgusted with themselves! Any man who thinks he needs drugs to deadlift 220kg should hand in his penis and apply for a disabled pensioners card instead! In fact, any man who thinks he needs drugs to deadlift 240-260kg should be disgusted with themselves. I have trained plenty of natural athletes to 300+kg deadlifts. So if you are using unnatural means to achieve naturally achievable ends, you are doing yourself a multitude of disservices. Learn to train! Failure to deadlift 220+kg without drugs is irrefutable proof that your training and diet are so disgracefully misguided that you will only gain a fraction of what could have been gained from adding drugs and you will probably lose it all if and when you discontinue the drugs!
For most women contacting me the issue is being unable to lose fat and weight. Many of them do test with hormonal dysfunctions; many do not. But the hormonal mess is not the problem; the hormonal mess is another symptom of a misdirected approach to diet and training! If you abuse your body with starvation and overtraining then you are simply training it to resist starvation and overtraining! If one day your body finally knocks you on your ass to stop the abuse, the solution is not to take drugs so you can abuse it some more! The answer is to stop being an idiot! Start training with your body instead of against it. Then all you can do is hope your body eventually wants to play nice with you again. You will not fix your abuse with more abuse. Nor will drugs change the result of the abuse!
Any man who thinks he needs drugs to deadlift 220kg should hand in his penis and apply for a disabled pensioners card instead!
If you are a 35+ year old male (or female) and feeling the ‘slow down’ (or looking to prevent it) then there are tests and treatments we can offer at Recomp Medical that your regular doctor will not. However, if your primary concern is your inability to drastically improve your body composition despite following all of the popular practices, the greatest likelihood is that there is nothing wrong or sub-optimal about you at all. Those popular training and diet practices are probably the issue.
My role as a hormone therapy consultant is to objectively analyse blood tests and explain, in plain english, how everything lines up compared to the best you could have been when you were 30. I can then explain any treatment options you are eligible for and what those might mean for what you are looking to achieve. Most of the time that means I tell people that their hormones are not a solution to their poor body composition and lack of training progress. Most of the time I don’t even need to look at their blood test to know their training and nutrition is at fault. Most of the time, a person with a poor hormonal profile who trains and diets properly will achieve more than a person with an outstanding hormone profile who trains using popular protocols. Get your training and nutrition right and you’ll probably find your body composition problems disappear.