Testosterone. It’s what puts hair on your chest, gives you those big manly, muscles, and fills you with fiery thumos. But testosterone levels in men living in the West have been on the decline during the past 60 years. Your grandfather and dad likely had more T when when they were the same age as you. To remedy the decline, offices in strip malls have been popping up that provide prescription testosterone replacement therapy.
My guest today argues that while testosterone replacement therapy certainly has a place in treating low testosterone, it’s often used too quickly as a first recourse. He argues that the vast majority of men would be better off increasing their T levels through simple, natural lifestyle changes — a process he’s successfully accomplished himself.
His name is Christopher Walker and he’s the author of the book Master Your T: The Definitive Guide to Raising Your Testosterone. Today on the show, Christopher shares how he raised his own T levels from almost nonexistent to optimal. We then discuss what the symptoms of low testosterone are, the main culprits of low T, and why this vital hormone has been decreasing in modern men. We dig into the benefits of having optimal testosterone (and no, it’s not just about sex and muscles). Christopher then goes deep into how testosterone is produced in the body and where things often go wrong in this process. We also get into brass tacks advice on what you can do to raise your T levels naturally and when you should visit a doctor for testosterone replacement therapy.
- The biology of testosterone — how it works and is created in the body
- How pituitary tumors affect puberty and testosterone
- Why have testosterone levels been decreasing in men for the last couple decades?
- How too much cortisol and stress hurt your T
- Does exposure to unnatural chemicals — xenoestrogens — decrease your T?
- The damaging effects of low testosterone
- The benefits of optimal testosterone levels
- Raising your T levels naturally vs drugs
- What an optimal T level is, and the best way to get tested
- Total T vs Free T
- The importance of micronutrients to T levels
- How important sleep is to your overall health, and T levels
- Sex, masturbation, and testosterone
- Training, exercise, weightlifting, and testosterone
- Herbs and minerals to take to help with stress, fertility, and ultimately your T levels
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- Our comprehensive AoM series on testosterone
- The pros and cons of intermittent fasting
- The Late Bloomer (based on the book Man Made: A Memoir)
- How to Manage Stress
- Leashing the Black Dog series on depression
- Why Every Man Should Be Strong
- How to Develop Superhuman Healing Power
- Do T Boosting Supplements Really Work?
- A Primer on Meditation
- What Every Man Should Know About Sleep
- 22 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
- Creatine: A Primer on Its Uses and Benefits
Master Your T does a good job of summarizing and bringing together all the research out there about increasing your testosterone levels naturally. It also does a great job breaking down how testosterone is produced in the body which allows you to understand what you can actually do about low T levels. Pick up a copy on Amazon.
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. Testosterone, it’s what puts hair in your chest, gives you those big manly muscles, gives you that deep manly voice, and fills you with fiery thumos, but testosterone levels in men living in the West have been on the decline in the past 60 years. Your grandfather and your dad likely had more T when they were the same age as you.
To remedy this decline, offices and strip malls have been popping up across the country that provide prescription testosterone replacement therapy. My guest today argues that while testosterone replace therapy certainly has a place in treating low T, it’s often used too quickly as a first recourse. He argues the vast majority of men would be better off increasing their T levels through simple, natural lifestyle changes, process he successfully accomplished himself.
His name is Christopher Walker. He’s the author of the book Master Your T: The Definitive Guide to Raising Your Testosterone. Today on the show, Christopher shows how he raises his own T levels from almost nonexistent to optimal just making simple changes in his life style. We, then, discuss what the symptoms of low testosterone are, the main culprits of low T, and why this vital hormone has been decreasing in modern men.
We dig into the benefits of having optimal testosterone and no, it’s not just about sex and muscles. Christopher, then, goes into how testosterone’s produced in the body and where things often go wrong in this process. Then we get into brass tacks of what you can do to raise your T levels naturally. We also discuss when you actually go visit a doctor for testosterone replacement therapy.
Great podcast for listening interesting insights. I’ve enjoyed our series on how to increase your testosterone naturally. You enjoy this show. Also, a medical disclaimer: Before you make any lifestyle changes, go talk to your doctor, seek some medical advice. Also, check out our show notes aom.is/testosterone where you’ll find links to resources where you delve deeper into this topic.
Christopher Walker, welcome to the show.
Chris Walker: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Brett McKay: You’re an owner of a website called Anabolic Men. You’ve also published a book called Mastering Your T: The Definitive Guide to Increasing Your Testosterone Naturally. What got you started? This has become sort of life work, helping men increase their testosterone levels naturally. I’m curious, what got you started researching and writing about testosterone?
Chris Walker: Yeah, it’s actually a roundabout story. It’s something that I’m, honestly never thought I would ever be doing as a career. I actually fought it in terms of becoming a business because I was like, “I just want to do this,” but I guess starting from square one, it was, the reason that I never excepted to go down this road is because I was pretty young. I was a teenager when, I was about 19 years old when I started have … I was actually still in high school. I think I was 17 when I started actually have the symptoms of something was going wrong with my health.
I didn’t, I was not aware of enough nutrition or anything back then, so I just went a long with things, thought it was just stress for no reason kind of deal, and ended up, when I was 19, the doctors found a pituitary tumor after couple of years of a lot of depression issues, a lot of anxiety issues. I had to actually take a year off of college because I just couldn’t cope with things, and there was a lot of things going wrong, a lot of insomnia, just all these symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
Eventually, it became a thing that … I went into my doctor because I had no sex drive as a 19 year old. I said, “Hey, I just need blood test.” It was crazy. This was what got me into my current belief of helping people do things naturally now because back then, it took two years for them to even do a blood test on me, a 19 year old with a lot of issues, a lot of health issues. I thought that was insane.
When they finally did the blood test, it became evident that something was wrong. Right away, my general practitioner sent me to a hematologist-oncologist in Northern Virginia. I went to that guy. He did a full blood and hormone panel, instantly said, “You have a brain tumor in your pituitary. I will bet money it.”
We got an MRI, found it, boom. At least I knew what I was going on and how to go from there at that point, but what I thought was so insane was they were putting me in therapy programs, they were putting me on all sorts of antidepressants and all these drugs. When it comes down to it, none of that was issue. It wasn’t a behavioral problem, it wasn’t an antidepressant depressant deficiency, it was really just I had a tumor, and no one ever thought to do a blood test.
That experience basically instilled the passion in me. I was like, “Oh my gosh. This is kind of a messed up system right now.” Then later, when I started to teach and write about stuff that obviously became laced, that sentiment or the ethos became laced into my mentality of why I think it’s really good for people to explore a natural option because a lot of people’s health problems don’t have anything to do with a drug deficiency and they … I mean drugs have helped a lot of people, but they’ve hurt more than they’ve helped. I think there’s a current resurgence right now that’s really cool of the natural, going back to our roots and figuring things out naturally and having a problem-solving mentality. There’s like an awakening happening, generally, but there’s still a lot of work to do on that end.
That’s what got me into it. The pituitary tumor, one of the biggest symptoms, the one that I cared most about was low testosterone. My testosterone was 11 nanograms per deciliter, which is basically zero. The tumor was acting like a blocker, so blocking hormone production of my pituitary. There’s a couple of other types of pituitary tumors, some of them, the other three types actually hypersecrete, so then you have people, in that case, with extreme growth, other sorts of hormonal issues because of that hyper-secreting tumor, but mine was a blocking tumor, so it was blocking all the production of these key hormones that are really needed.
It became my personal fit and problem to solve, and all I cared about was testosterone because I was 19. I was like, “I need to have a sex drive,” but I was tired of the drugs. I knew how terrible it made me feel, so I set off to figure out how to do it naturally, and that’s how this all ended up.
I got my testosterone to almost 1,200 nanograms per deciliter completely naturally with nutrition, smart nutrition, start smart stress management, training, et cetera. I ran the gamut and tried to figure it out, trials, different stuff, and then after that, a lot of my friends were asking me how to do it. I ended up writing a book. My book turned into a website, eventually turned into partnering with Ali Kuoppala on anabolicmen.com, and now the book is in its fourth edition, Master Your T, like you said, and here we are.
Brett McKay: Here we are. Well, so do you still have the tumor in your pituitary gland?
Chris Walker: I actually haven’t gotten an MRI in a couple of years. I would imagine it’s not there. It might sound like a radical thing to say, but one of the things I’ve been doing is fasting for almost eight years now, yeah, about eight years, and I did the fasting initially to try and get rid of the tumor. I need to go back, definitely, and get another MRI. It’s been a few years but it hasn’t grown at all in terms of last time I got it checked. I think it’s potentially gone because all symptoms of it have been gone for many years.
Brett McKay: That’s interesting. Do you know why these tumors pop up? Is it just genetics, is it environmental? A combination of the two?
Chris Walker: I actually, I have absolutely no idea. That’s one of the things that I haven’t been able to figure out, like trying to self examine and look back, like where did this come from, because I was always really active. I was in great shape through high school, an athlete.
It might’ve been caused by a nutritional issue. That’s the only thing I can think of because really, all I ate, my diet, when I was in high school, middle school, growing up was, consisted of frozen foods, pizzas, and whatever, chips, Gatorade. That was about it. It could’ve been a nutritional stressor, but other than that, I don’t really know where these things come from.
They’re surprisingly common, though. It was one thing I learned was that more people have pituitary tumors than they know. I’ve actually talked to people since then, personal friends who, they’ll tell me their symptoms. They’ll open up and be vulnerable about what they’re going through. I’m like, “I guarantee you, you have something going on in there. You definitely want to get an MRI,” and still, people, when they hear that, even though I’ve had the experience with it, they still are reluctant to accept it, which is interesting but they’re actually really common.
Brett McKay: Right, yeah, I think there was, recently, there was a book that was turned into a movie about a guy who didn’t find out he had a pituitary tumor until his 30s, and then he did, he got rid of it somehow, went through medication or surgery, I don’t know what he did, but then basically he went through puberty during his 30s. He just talked about the experience that it was absolutely insane, like acne showed up, sex drive was just out the roof, never experienced that before, just, it was just like what you experienced through in puberty when you’re 13, 14 years old.
Chris Walker: You remember the name of that movie? I’d love to watch-
Brett McKay: I can’t remember it. I can’t remember it. I thought … We’ll put it in the show notes-
Chris Walker: Okay, cool.
Brett McKay: … whenever I look back at it, but yeah, he didn’t know. All through high school, he thought … He wasn’t developing like the other guys, but he didn’t think it was anything more. “I’m just a late bloomer,” and it wasn’t until his 30s that he finally found out, “Oh man, I haven’t gone through puberty yet because I had this pituitary tumor that was preventing testosterone,” which is that’s what kick starts puberty, the androgen.
He had a tumor that basically stunted testosterone production. We’ll talk later on about how testosterone’s produced in the body because I think it’s important for guys to understand so they know how to tackle the problems of low T, but besides pituitary problems, what other things cause low testosterone in men because I think I’ve read research, and we’ve written about on the site that testosterone levels in men in the West have been decreasing for the past century. What does the research say is going on there that you’ve found?
Chris Walker: Over everything that I’ve read over the years, basically, I came to the conclusion, people, they tend to chalk it up to aging as like, and so that, so time causes it to lower, and that’s just what people commonly accept as, but when you look in the context, there’s a couple of things, like the context of the last hundred years, you have to look at what’s changed for people in our Western world, what’s changed for us. That can lead you to some clues, but then also the idea that aging itself or time passing forward is in some way causing low testosterone, I think is, it just ends up being a bit lazy for when researchers say it. It kind of frustrates me because it doesn’t tell you the whole picture. It’s kind of like they just accept it and then stop there.
The thing is, aging is, there’s a lot that goes into aging. If you take, for example, if anyone listening to this, if you just picture two people, we’ve all seen it, there’s like, basically around 50 years old, you can typically, like I know people that are 50 that look they’re 30, and then I know other people that that are 50 that look like they’re 70.
What’s the difference between those two individuals? What it really comes down to is it’s on a cellular level, obviously, but it goes up to a more macro level, which is more tangible for people to understand has a lot to do with micronutrient deficiencies, which accumulate over time, and a lot of those end up starting on a deficiency train when we were kids, like think back to what I was just saying my diet was as a kid was terribly nutrient-deficient.
If you accumulate that and push that over decades and decades to the point where someone gets into their 30s, 40s, and 50s, that’s why a lot of people start to experience problems with their hormones, and they never had those problems before. It’s basically because it just, at that point, seems to be with the, kind of the combination of these micronutrient deficiencies, these key, which are really raw materials, so people understand what they are. The vitamins and minerals are the raw materials that your body needs to produce hormones. It needs these things to, also to regulate your metabolism through your thyroid gland and so forth.
What happens is when it starts to run out of these … If you’re not getting it in your diet, and also, if you’re not assimilating these things in your gut, it’s going to start, what your body does, it will literally pull and create this material from other tissues also and other places inside the body just through processes where maybe it has to take something like two or three steps to get some vitamin that it needs to fuel this other thing, but eventually, you run out, and that’s when these health problems start to happen.
It’s also around the time when people, when they’re in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, they start to have all these health issues because of a lot of the stress has begun accumulating and starting to manifest in symptoms that are unavoidable or unignorable at that point, and this is, like if there’s one thing to point at, it’s the elevated cortisol levels.
Cortisol is important to having a balance and to utilize for certain reasons, especially, the example that I like to use is get out of the way of the taxi, for example, acute things, so things that are going to activate your fight or flight response in a survival scenario or in a scenario where it can be constructive. For example, during weight training or some kind of physical training that you can, then, recover from and become stronger because of it, but your body does require an increase of cortisol to actually lift that whatever it is, 250-pound bench, 300-pound bench, whatever you’re doing, but then you need to be able to recover from it.
Where a lot of people run into the problem is they have chronically elevated and increasingly higher levels of cortisol throughout their life, decade after decade, especially as, just logically, you’re a kid, you don’t have to pay pills. Then you start to get hit with a lot of realities, the world, then you have kids, then you have jobs, et cetera, you move around, a lot of stress starts to come into people’s lives, and typically, it’s around the 30s, 40s, and 50s starts to really manifest in potentially health issues, and then you got, on top of that, the micronutrient deficiencies that are basically throwing your hormone production into a state of chaos.
The combination of those two things, I think, are the biggest levers that lead to disease and obviously, an imbalance and health issues in people later, and low testosterone is definitely one of those.
Brett McKay: Right, and I mean, besides testosterone lowering as you get older because of just stress and just not taking care of yourself, it’s actually lowering amongst men who should be at their peak, like a 20 year old today, I think, has lower testosterone than, say, their dad or their grandfather had at the same age.
Chris Walker: Yup. That was another thing I also, the topic I wanted to talk about with what happened in the last a hundred years. Chemicals and the rise in these chemicals that act as estrogens in the body, well, they can act as estrogens, and there’s a lot of them out there. There’s a surprising amount of things, but also, if you think about from just kind of, everything that we tend to consume or rub on our bodies, whether it’s soap or lotion or suntan lotion, that sort, shampoo, stuff are rubbing into our scalp, things that people don’t even think about that they do on a daily basis, even down to the clothes that we wear have dyes in them that potentially have heavy metals in them.
There’s a lot of stuff getting into our body, and our skin’s extremely absorbent. There’s a lot of stuff getting into our bodies these days that we’re not even, they didn’t even exist a hundred years ago. It definitely, on top of all the micronutrient deficiencies and the stress, we’re starting to see these low testosterone levels in guys in their 20s, like you said, and I think it’s from the constant exposure to chemicals that are unnatural for our bodies and easily absorbed because our skin’s extremely absorbent.
Brett McKay: Right, these are called xenoestrogens, right? It’s in chemicals, plastics. I’ve read that even from a pediatrician that he’s been noticing, this is sort of anecdotally, an increasing in hyposidious I think is what it’s called, amongst young boys. It basically, it’s when the penis doesn’t fully develop, and so the urethra, instead of the hole instead of being at the tip, it’s like at the bottom or closer to the scrotum. He’s seeing an increase in that, and one of the theories, and again, this is all anecdotal, is that mothers being exposed to all these chemicals, plastics, et cetera, it increases estrogen in their bodies, and then that has an effect on the male fetus in terms of the development of the genitals.
Chris Walker: Yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s a very plausible theory. I would agree with that.
Brett McKay: A lot of people think, well, low testosterone. That’s not that big of a deal. I mean, you might not have much of a sex drive. You might not be jacked or whatever, but I mean, besides, though, are there downsides or other ill-health effects that come with lower testosterone, particularly in men?
Chris Walker: Oh, definitely. The … Well, I think there’s this thing, because having had such low testosterone at some point, and now having very healthy testosterone levels, I can think back the biggest thing, it was less about a specific, like oh, I wasn’t jacked or whatever, something like that that people typically think about first, but it was literally, I did not feel like a man.
I think that, I don’t know if there’s some definition of that, but that was the biggest thing, and I think that’s the biggest asset that a man can actually have is to feel masculine and to be in touch with that. I felt like an it. I remember thinking that back then. I was like, I just feel like I am asexual, and that went just not from a reproductive standpoint only, but literally from a gender standpoint.
Having that masculine energy restored meant everything to what happened after that. Now, I’m very ambitious. I do whatever I want. I completely, I see freedom in my life, and I’m building my life the way I want it to be. I think on a, not really a physical level, but more of a psychological or spiritual level, that is the biggest thing that a man needs to have and balanced to really succeed, and in their own way, like however that guy wants it to be, but if someone has low testosterone and they really are in that situation where they don’t have a lot of masculine energy, then restoring that testosterone is going to really, really help.
Brett McKay: Right. Decreased drive, depression is often ill-effect of lower testosterone, and I think that’s because testosterone is a precursor to dopamine, so there’s a lower testosterone, there’s lowered dopamine. Something like that.
Chris Walker: Yeah, well, yeah, dopamine helps to increase testosterone. It’s all in a feedback loop.
Brett McKay: Yeah, it’s all in a feedback loop. What are the benefits of optimal testosterone? I guess you’ve been kind of mentioning it. It’s, you just have more energy, more vitality, anything else beyond that, like physiologically that comes with testosterone that makes us healthy men?
Chris Walker: Yeah, I mean, hair, hair growth. That was a big one. I can grow a pretty good beard now. That was good. The ability to put on muscle and really develop your physique and just be strong in general. I think it’s important for men to be strong. See a lot of guys that are weak, and it just … I think as a man, you should be strong. You don’t need to be some jacked bodybuilder, but you should be pretty strong. That’s really important as a protector, as a provider.
I mean, just the fact of not having to deal with depression, the fact of sleeping really well, relaxed, having your mind in a really clear place, like the clarity of mind that I would definitely attribute it to having a balanced, healthy testosterone level because if anyone who’s gone through depression or have anxiety problems, if anyone who’s gone through that knows, you have no clarity at all. You’re foggy. Imagine how much more effective you are at anything you do if you have clarity of mind.
I mean, that’s … It’s, again, it’s like, seems so basic and simple. It’s not like, oh, yeah, you’re going to grow some giant biceps, but it’s like if you have that level of execution on a daily basis, you’re going to get so much more done, you’re going to feel so much better in general, and that, obviously, that everything, I think, works in a feedback loop in the body, that helps to keep your stress low, helps to keep your testosterone high, also obviously, the benefits with your sex life, which is also major.
I mean, people that, if you’re having problems in that department, anyone can empathize with how decapitating it can be, and then also, just the fact that there’s plenty of research showing that more frequent sex not only increase testosterone but also lowers stress level and helps men relax, and women.
I mean, there’s a lot of major benefits and obviously, you don’t need to have ridiculously raging high testosterone levels to feel this way, to feel good, but you need to make sure that they’re not low. If they’re in the nice, healthy range, which typically for guys would be over 600, but between 500 and 1,200. I’ve seen guys get up to as high as 1,500, naturally.
Ali Kuoppala, my partner in Anabolic Men, he has been at 1,500 before, but beyond a certain point, you don’t see many, I guess it’s more asymptotic in terms of the benefits. At a certain point, there’s not massive returns on it. Then you see the guys that go into super physiological levels by injecting it or using creams or some kind of anabolic steroids, they start to run into a bunch of other issues at that point.
Brett McKay: Let’s talk about that. Why try to do this naturally? Why not get testosterone replacement, like why didn’t you ask the doctor when you were going through all this stuff, “Just give me some cream or give me an injection?”
Chris Walker: Yup, so at this point, when I got to that point, I was just tired of pharmaceuticals. I was like, “I want to figure out a way to see if I can do this naturally.” I was just pretty bold-headed, like when I get a thought in my mind, I just want to do it. I know my parents were kind of freaked out, and people, they advised against it, but I, pretty quickly, had figured out, because I also, I went to Duke University for neuroscience, I was learning about the brain and the body, the way things work.
I know there’s a feedback loop, there are tons of feedback loops. In this specific case, the testosterone feedback loop is pretty simple, and we can get into … I mean, as simple, like on an overview level, it’s actually extremely complicated, but if we just want to keep it simple here, there are certain areas to manipulate. I knew that if I could at least figure something out in that axis that it feeds back to the brain and will upregulate and increase testosterone production.
I was like, well, I want to do this naturally because also, just on a really, on a basic level, if I have to be on testosterone replacement therapy, even as a 19 year old, but anybody that’s considering it, you have to think about this, you’re going have to be on it for the rest of your life to feel good, to feel the way you want to feel because what happens is you use that testosterone, that exogenous testosterone, the body, because of the feedback loop, it sends signals to your brain that says, “We have plenty. Thank you.”
What happens is, your brain stops signaling to produce more testosterone. You’re actually just relying on this, whether it’s synthetic or bioidentical, this exogenous testosterone for the rest of your life in order to feel the way you want to feel, and that did not seem like a good idea to me, so I thought I’d try my hand at figuring it out naturally because I know, also, with the feedback loops, and this is something that a lot of people get worried about. They’re like, “Oh, well, what if I get too hot? Isn’t that going to run into problems?”
Thing is, if you do it all naturally, it’s not possible to get it too hot because that feedback loop doesn’t just increase production, but it will decrease production, so when you get to that high level, which I think is about probably 1,500 nanograms per deciliters, the highest I’ve ever seen someone do it with completely natural methods, but when you’re on that level, it’s going to start to just slow down. It’s not going to cut it off, but it’s going to say, “Okay, we’re good. We don’t really need any more now. We can just hang around here.”
Did that answer your question, or did that help?
Brett McKay: Yeah, no, that was perfect. I mean, but is there a point where you think, like say, guy just, “I’m going to try to do it naturally,” but he’s not seeing any progress. Is there a point where he should talk to a doctor about TRT?
Chris Walker: What I would say for guys that, the people that I recommend guys that use TRT, there’s a couple of different things.
First off, if someone has an issue with a gland or some aspect, like a real medical issue where something is not there, like for some … I’ve gotten emails from guys that have no pituitary gland, for example. I’m like, “Well, sorry. You obviously can’t … ” and they want to do it naturally, but I was like, “I don’t know, really, if there is any way you can. I think TRT is probably a good option.”
Also, guys that have to get their testes removed, for example, for cancer, testicular cancer, that, again, throws kind of a fork in the spokes of the whole system. Anyone with certain brain damage or organ damage or something that really, like for example, say someone has really terrible liver problems, or maybe they’re an alcoholic for many, many years, and they, because when your liver’s out of balance, what’s going to happen is there’s going to be a lot of production of SHBG and aromatase, so there’s going to be really high estrogen, and really low free testosterone, but high SHBG, which is going to bound that serum testosterone. It’s going to bind the serum testosterone.
There’s certain issues like that where these are real, kind of nuance medical issues that I would say you might want to consider it if you want to feel better more immediately, but it, or, and in guys, like some guys, I actually have people that’ll read our stuff or read our books and whatever and have emailed in that are in their 60s, guys that are in their 60s that say, “I do this all naturally here. I’m using supplement advice,” that sort of thing, and they increase their testosterone levels. I had a guy who was 62, and he had over 700 testosterone, and he was just, he was loving it, but he did it all naturally.
But there’s another group where there’s guys that, they’re over 75, 80 years old, maybe they feel like they’re on their last leg of life, and they really want to feel better for a period of time, that might be a good opinion at that point, but for the most part, I think people are way too quick to get in there, try and get it because they think it’s a quick fix, but really, what’s going to be happen is you’re going to be relying on it for the rest of your life.
I think there’s, plenty of people are perfectly capable of increasing their testosterone naturally, and then getting it to a point and developing the habits that are necessary to get it to that point, just developing those habits is going to change your life because most people don’t want to look at what caused it in the first place.
If you look at all the bad habits that you’ve been doing that caused the low testosterone in the first place, and then you start to adjust those and adjust them towards something that’s healthier, you’re not only going to feel better, but you also now have these much better habits in general that are going to carry you forward.
Brett McKay: Gotcha. You mentioned earlier that you want to shoot for optimal testosterone, around 600, what’s it, mega, I don’t know what the measurement we’re using here. I’m always-
Chris Walker: Nanograms per deciliter. I wouldn’t say that was, I’d say like somewhere in the 800 to 900 range, but I’d say 600-ish is where it’s-
Brett McKay: You’ll start, you’ll feel, you’re start feeling like, is it below 600, you might start feeling like, “I’m not, this isn’t, I’m not doing well right now.”
Chris Walker: Yup.
Brett McKay: How do you recommend guys go getting tested because when I wrote our series about testosterone a couple of years back, I remember we got a lot of comments saying that they’re, these guys are going to the doctors and saying, “I want a testosterone test,” but their doctors were really reluctant to give them a blood test for testosterone, which is really simple. How do you go, I mean, what’s the best way to go get tested for your testosterone levels?
Chris Walker: Yeah, I mean, luckily now, there are a lot of services out there that make this easy because I think personalized medicine is really becoming a thing. It’s going to be a big movement here in the next 50 years, but something like WellnessFX offers testosterone test, Life Extension offers a ton of test, and so if people haven’t checked out, Life Extension is pretty good. They do mail-order test.
I just saw another one called, let me look, I think its called WellPath, yeah, see. Customize … This might not be the one. There are some other one, I saw another one that did, they’re advertising a lot on Instagram right now. But yeah, well, that’s, it’s not this one. This is like a shake. But there’s one that’s advertising on Instagram right now that they do saliva testing.
Obviously, blood testing, I think, is more accurate if you’re trying to measure how much testosterone’s in your blood, but saliva testing is still a measurement point. It’s like a scale. That’s how I view it. It’s like if you’re going to test saliva, then just keep testing saliva if that’s what you want to base your point of reference on, but now, yeah, there’s a lot of options out there.
What’s that other, did you, are you familiar with WellnessFX, or it’s talking-
Brett McKay: Yeah, I’m familiar with it.
Chris Walker: Yeah, Talking20 is the other one.
Brett McKay: Not familiar with them.
Chris Walker: They’re like the alternative to WellnessFX.
Brett McKay: Do you recommend like, how do you go about getting tested, because from what I understand about testosterone, because, and we haven’t gotten to it yet, how testosterone’s produced, there’s so many moving parts, and there’s this feedback loop, and it’s high sensitive that you can go in and measure your testosterone on one day, and it’s out the roof, and then the next day, measure it the same time, and it’s like way down. How do you go about measuring testosterone so you get a good outlook of what your testosterone, like your base testosterone level’s at?
Chris Walker: I would take multiple data points if someone’s concerned with that, or I would always measure under the same conditions.
For example, obviously, if you’re going to measure under the same conditions, say if someone was going to get, if you were going to test at 10:00 a.m., and you weren’t drinking a lot the night before or you have the same level of sleep as the previous test, that’d be a pretty accurate reference point in terms of looking at different areas as long as you know what variables you need to control for.
The other option is to, if you can afford it, to take multiple tests at different times of the day, and then also to control for similar variables every time you do it because you could have a different level, potentially, in the morning than you do in the even, and you likely will, but you’ll find is there will be a standard deviation, basically, and as long as you know what to expect there, also, as long as people don’t really emotionally tie themselves to always having the perfect level, but really staying within a good range, I think that would be helpful.
Brett McKay: Yeah, that is helpful, because yeah, you’re right, your testosterone levels do peak in most men in the morning, which is why it’s hard to go to the bathroom when you first wake up in the morning. You guys know what I’m talking about it.
Chris Walker: I do.
Brett McKay: Other weird things too is like, I’ve read that research has shown that your T levels actually increase, generally, in the fall for some reason and like Thursdays are a day that, I don’t know, that might be just some kind of like Men’s Health stupid study, but that was something else I read.
Chris Walker: That’s, yeah, I’ve never seen those, but I mean, it kind of makes sense, like you can correlate that. Thursday, like the week starts getting really long, people are getting tired.
Brett McKay: Thursday’s like-
Chris Walker: At that point, maybe the stress has built up.
Brett McKay: Right, right. Blood test is ideal because you can actually see what’s in your blood. Saliva test is just another data point. You can get this online. You don’t necessarily have to go to your doctor. Of course, if you go to these other services, insurance doesn’t cover it, but I think the price you’re going to pay, I’ve seen like 70 to a hundred dollars for a serum blood test, and it’ll tell you your total and free testosterone levels.
Chris Walker: Yeah, exactly. I think, I mean, if someone wants to get more extensive on what they’re looking at, it does help to, it helps them know, because for example, if somebody measured a free serum, DHT, cortisol, and E2, so they have a gauge on their estrogen levels, then that would be a really good test to take regularly because a lot of people, they’ll get a test and they’ll send me a test that they have and say, “Hey, what do you think about this?” but it’s like just serum testosterone or something, and it’s low, so I have no idea what they should do with that because if they have these other markers, it would help to know, oh, your …
Oh, even if SHBG is a really, really good one to test. If your SHBG is really, really high, it’s pretty damn obvious why your free testosterone’s low, that it’s because of your SHBG. That’s not that difficult to regulate. Then it’s like you’re saying, when you understand the system, then you can know where to go in, so if you have more data points, it’s really helpful.
Brett McKay: We’ve been throwing around terms like total free testosterone, SHBG. A lot of people, there’s a misconceptions, like, “Oh, look at my total testosterone number. That’s going to tell me everything I need to know about testosterone, like I’ve got a really high total testosterone, but I’m still not seeing the effects.”
What’s the difference between total testosterone and free testosterone and then what role does SHBG play in that?
Chris Walker: Basically, the common two measurements are the total and free. There’s also the albumin bound but typically, they lump that in with the, what do they lump it, I think they lump it with total because it can easily return into free, like you can easily break the albumin binding.
The SHBG is basically a hormone called, it’s produced by the liver, or it’s a protein called the sex hormone binding globulin. What it does is in the blood stream, it binds to the testosterone molecule. When it’s bound, that testosterone molecule now cannot bind to an androgen receptor, so you want a … SHBG is necessary in the scheme of things. It’s necessary as part of the whole feedback loop, but what happens is, the bad thing is when people have too high of SHBG, and they need to lower it.
There’s ways to lower it. There’s also ways to lower estrogen naturally. There’s ways to manipulate all these things, but understanding that when it’s too high and it’s binding too much testosterone, that your free testosterone, the act of testosterone that’s going to be able to bind to the androgen receptor is now going to be much lower than it needs to be, and then you’re going to have the downstream issues, the effect, any of the symptoms associated with low testosterone.
For example, the example you used with the guy that has really high total but still has symptoms of low testosterone that that would be a good guess of, he probably and he definitely should measure his SHBG and his free, so you can kind of get a hold on stuff.
For example, SHBG, it’s interesting because it is produced by the liver. I see people that take, and this might be a helpful for some people is people that take regularly acetaminophen, like over-the-counter pain medicines, it typically, it’s very tacking on the liver, especially if it’s taken frequently. There’s be a link between acetaminophen consumption and higher SHBG levels. Obviously, if people that are excessively drinking, like alcoholic, who’s going to have higher SHBG as well, also higher estrogen.
Hopefully that’s helpful, like clearing the air on some of the basic hormones and proteins involved here.
Brett McKay: Right. We got total testosterone, which is all your testosterone combined, free testosterone is the stuff that can actually work on your body and have that androgen effect on you, and then this SHBG is what binds your testosterone that makes testosterone not free testosterone.
Let’s talk about how testosterone’s produced. You’ve mentioned it before, there is sort of this feedback loop. Let’s just start, like where does it start? How does our body decide it’s time to make more testosterone?
Chris Walker: Really what people should focus on is what’s called the HPG axis, and the HPA axis also plays a role in this because that’s tied to your adrenal. HP, those stand for hypothalamic pituitary, and then the G is gonadal, like your testes, basically, and then the A is adrenals.
This is where we can talk about the interplay of cortisol too, because that’s produced in the adrenal glands, but really, what happens is it starts, it’s a cascade of signals, it’s not like it starts. I guess it’s a loop, but you get information from your gut, initially. If you really want to go back to the root, the gut has a ton of neurons that are signaling constantly to your brain telling it we’ve got these resources, we’re good here, we’re good there, but we don’t have these resources, et cetera, so there’s a lot of signaling that goes on from your gut to your brain.
What happens in this case, the hypothalamus signals gonadotropin-releasing hormone to the pituitary, which then basically, based on what it said with the gonadotropin-releasing hormone signals with LH and FSH, which is luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, to the testes. That’s the signal to the testes about here’s what we’re looking in the body, the blood serum testosterone, free testosterone, et cetera, so you should produce this much right now.
The one that produces it, the info is fed back based on the current state because obviously you’re also always providing new stressors into the body, new situations, so that feedback goes back to the hypothalamus, through the spinal cord, and you’re back to starting again. This is just constantly always going on.
Brett McKay: Right. Once your body produces enough testosterone, it’s going to tell your pituitary gland, all right, we don’t need anymore, shut things off.
Chris Walker: What happens when people take the testosterone replacement therapy is that that’s what it says. It says shut it off, we’re good, because it’s always in your blood, there’s always a ton of it.
Brett McKay: Let’s talk about where things can get messed up and where, and it causes the testes to produce less testosterone. What are some things that can disrupt that access?
Chris Walker: On a basic level, the things that I mentioned with the signaling hormones, the signaling hormones are interesting, and those are always a good clue for people that want to do a blood test. If you look at your levels of LH and FSH, that’ll tell you a lot of information.
The LH is typically what’s sending, the luteinizing hormones is what’s sending the signal for the testosterone, the FSH is for more like sperm biomarkers, like reproductive stuff, so if those are low, then it’s a good sign that something’s off, then I guess, think of other hormone, well, the cortisol in the adrenal gland, cortisol basically is antithetical to the testosterone also, but it’s regulated through the same, the top of the axis is the same. If something goes wrong in that signaling, obviously if you’re producing, you have excess cortisol production, it’s initially interesting coming from the same place as the testosterone production, however they act opposite of one another. I guess what, maybe … Did that answer the question or?
Brett McKay: Yeah, and like, I mean, what role … You mentioned estrogen levels. Men have estrogen levels, right?
Chris Walker: Yeah.
Brett McKay: It’s healthy to have estrogen, but too much can be a detriment, so how come too much estrogen in the body disrupts testosterone production?
Chris Walker: Estrogen’s interesting because also, right now, if we want to talk about the last hundred years, men also have much higher estrogen levels than they used to because of chemicals and stuff, but so basically estrogen, you need to have a good balance, and it’s really like people, if you want to get more granular but more accurate with things in terms of what to look for is the testosterone to estrogen ratio.
People … Basically, when that ratio is off, like when the estrogen is too high compared to the testosterone level, that’s when they start to have the issues with the estrogen. Not necessarily … I remember … You mentioned the increase in estrogen, your body’s naturally going to try and maintain a ratio there, a healthy ratio, so that’s really why you see guys start producing more testosterone. They also will see an uptake in their estrogen levels; however, if that ratio is good and healthy, where it should be, you’re not going to have any symptoms of higher estrogen because of the, the ratio’s really what controls it.
I mean, is that helpful? Is that what you’re asking?
Brett McKay: Yeah that makes sense. We’ve got this system in place that there’s a feedback cycle that determines how much testosterone we have in our body. Let’s talk about what we can do to manipulate this or optimize this feedback system.
I think a lot of guys, when they say, “I want to increase my testosterone,” the first thing they do is they go right to searching for a supplement that will fix the problem, but in the book, you don’t advocate for that. What should men do first when they’re wanting to increase their testosterone levels?
Chris Walker: We, actually … This is honestly the most common question in terms of what supplements should I take? Everyone going toward the supplement right away. I even, I own a supplement company called Truth Nutra, but I, in the essence of what’s actually is going to solve the problem, I was trying to figure out a way to illustrate this visually.
In the book, in the beginning chapters, there’s a pyramid, it’s what we came up with. We were like, how do we visually illustrate this so anyone can think about it, and then I could, obviously, speak it over a podcast or a video or kind of have it so it’s easy to understand.
The base of the pyramid is what’s the most important thing to do to optimize your testosterone, and on the top of the pyramid is the least important, but it’s still part of the pyramid, and it’s still helpful. The base of the pyramid is micronutrients, and this is what it all comes back down to. You need the raw materials available to be able to produce the right amount of each hormone and keep that in a balance.
The micronutrients also, it’s insanely simple, but most people, it’s almost too simple where people just want to ignore it, but it’s so simple, and there, I mean, it’s radically simple because there’s actually been, there was a field of research back in, I think it was in the ’80s called Nutrient Therapy that got totally just hammered by the pharmaceutical companies, but it was doing some revolutionary things where they were using these nutrients to cure major, quote, “diseases” in people, and there’s still a guy out there that does it named William Walsh. He’s a PhD in biochemistry, and he cures people of schizophrenia and other psychological disorders using nutrient therapy, which highlights, really, how powerful it is when you bring the nutrient balance back to where it should be.
The micronutrients are really, really important, and one of the easiest ways, obviously, if you can get the data, it really is very helpful. There are micronutrient testing companies. You can also order blood tests that will give you your micronutrient levels, but what the one that I recommend, I met these people in LA a few years ago, it’s called Reset Yourself. They do, it’s a hair analysis of baseline micronutrient levels, and they give you all the helpful ones, basically, that are required, the essential ones.
If you get the data, and you can see, oh, I’m deficient in this, this or that or whatever, and for example, it’s never going to be perfect. It’s something that’s always helpful to have some data on because for example, I went through a period last year where I was just feeling out of nowhere, just very anxious, kind of depressed. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was like, “Shoot, what’s going on? Something’s wrong.”
I went and got a micronutrient test. I was deficient in four things, and they were key things like magnesium, sodium, potassium, and selenium. I was like, “Boom. I got some data.” I went, and I started to consume a lot of high mineral content water, started supplementing with those specific things. Within two weeks, I was feeling amazing. It’s just this very simple, basically, what is called Nutrient Therapy, and that will help to solve, also, this issue, the testosterone issue because if your body doesn’t have the raw materials it needs, it can’t actually produce enough testosterone.
The next thing on the list up on the pyramid, the next level up is the nutrition, and we’re talking in terms of leverage here, so you’re going to get the highest leverage from getting rid of your deficiencies, next level up, the nutrition aspect.
Another radically simple idea is that balance matters in terms of the nutrition. There’s … If you look at the landscape, especially nowadays, the keto diet is very popular, when in the past, just a few decades ago, the low-fat diet was very popular. There’s a fair amount of research on both ends of the spectrum out there, but you have to, if you’re going to look at it with intellectual honesty, you have to look at it with, look at it the full gamut of the research, look at the actual context, which a lot of people don’t.
They just try and confirm what they want to hear, but if you actually look at the full gamut, there are people that, there is research showing that people are, in terms of macronutrients are increasing their prior levels when they do a low-fat diet, and then there’s also the opposite, the high-fat diet. People are cherry-picking that stuff to fit their agenda at this point, but if you look at the full gamut as what does that mean, and then you add the protein into the mix, people that are on high-protein diets typically have lower testosterone levels, guys, so understanding the … That’s because they aren’t consuming enough of their calories from the carbs and the fats.
If you look at that altogether, what it means is there’s really this winning ratio or, which is going to be a little bit different for every individual based on, even insulin regulation, but the ratio ends up being somewhere around where the protein levels are pretty moderate, like pretty, almost low, well, a lot of bodybuilders will consider lower, somewhere around a 20% of your intake from protein, and then the starting point that I tell people is 40/40 on carbs and fats, and not just any fats, though.
Monounsaturated fats and saturated fats are typically good. The polyunsaturated fats, which always, they come from vegetables oils are pretty toxic to the body and very bad for your thyroid, and thyroid imbalance also causes low testosterone. I would say get saturated fats, monounsaturated fats from good sources, essentially because monounsaturated fats come from fruits, they don’t come from vegetables, the vegetables oils. It’s fruit oil like avocado, olive oil, that sort of thing.
The saturated fats, which people can get from animal meat, and obviously the quality of the meat does matter also because a lot of shitty quality meats injected with all these hormones, too. It’s like this constant minefield to be aware of, but yeah, on the nutrition side of really having a balanced, not eating a ton of protein all the time is just something that a lot of bodybuilders think to be cool because, “I’m a bodybuilder. I’m manly,” but there’s tons of research showing that competition-level bodybuilders have extremely low testosterone, especially when they’re dieting.
Hopefully, that’s helpful on the nutrition side, and I obviously go, I go in a lot more detail in the book but also on anabolicmen.com, assuming you guys want to Google that. We have specific articles related to carbohydrates to fats to protein. It’s all up there for free.
Then on the training side, or the lifestyle is actually next up on the thing, on the pyramid, and the lifestyle elements, that includes stuff like sleep. Sleep is extremely important. Anyone who’s dealing with low testosterone, I just tell them across the board to sleep 8 to 10 hours a night until you’re feeling better.
A lot of people sleep way too little. They see it as a sign of strength to sleep less, when in reality, it’s leading to hormonal imbalance over time. There’s probably ways to sleep less in a healthy way, but it probably takes a long time. Things like meditation, there’s research showing that when people are meditating deeply that they don’t need as much sleep, but very few people meditate on that level.
Also, this include things like sex in that element of the pyramid. If you’re having more actual contact, sex, there’s obviously the difference between autoerotic, touch, basically masturbation, and then actual sexual intercourse. The sexual intercourse has been shown to increase testosterone levels reliably in men, but then the masturbation, it’s interesting because it only depends on basically the amount of guilt that the person has, it’s what it seems, over the process.
The ejaculation itself is, I mean, the body can tell when it’s not authentic, but it seems like there’s a cortisol rise in studies where people are, they somewhat feel guilty for having done it, which is also strange because it’s a study of people masturbating. It would probably be a bit skewed because it’s an odd, who would feel comfortable in that scenario.
Brett McKay: Right? Sign me up. Also, just relaxing, making time for play is also, because that just reduces stress levels and things like that.
Chris Walker: Yeah, oh, definitely. Anything that’s going to help people regulate stress. Stress, probably the biggest, huge lifestyle lever that someone could pull. If you can lower your stress, you’re going to just be feeling much better because that cortisol does lower your testosterone.
Brett McKay: Beyond lifestyle, it’s training. Any particular type of training?
Chris Walker: Yup, so in looking at all the research out there, I basically put together a formula. I call it the Testosterone Work Principle, and it essentially comes down to activating as much muscle volume as possible in as little period of time as possible under a stress threshold.
Each of those elements matters quite a bit, but what, and that’s based on, I was looking at actual research of researchers that were trying to elicit as much testosterone and as much growth hormone as possible from training. They were, obviously, they were looking in elite athletes, and a lot of this research is done in elite athletes, and then comparing elite athletes to regular people to try and figure out how they can get an edge for these Olympians or whatever, but it’s pretty cool because what you see is by activating a lot of muscle volume …
For example, sprinters are common subjects in these studies, but if you look at a sprinter’s body, it’s like the classic thing of, it’s like holy shit, all these sprinters in the Olympics, they look amazing, their physiques look great.
A lot of them are also juicing, so I’m not going to be naïve about that, but in general, even people, like high school sprinters, they tend to have better physiques than a high school distance runner before the juicing is introduced, so the muscle volume activation really does matter, and the explosion really does matter, and that’s where … Especially if you’re in lifting weights, making sure that you’re not lifting with terrible form at a too heavy of a weight that will injure people. Then it’s no good to anybody, but if you’re lifting heavy to really use an explosive movement.
I see a lot of people lifting extremely slowly, and there’s probably some research showing that, I know everyone’s got research on everything, but specifically for testosterone production, the explosion over a large amount of muscle volume really does help elicit a bigger anabolic hormone response.
The other element to the equation was the stress. It’s good to have, like I mentioned earlier in the podcast, it’s good to have the cortisol spike to really help you lift heavy; however, what happens is there seems to be a threshold over which the body becomes just too stressed out from the experience, and typically, you can display this graphically over time, like time elapsed in the training session.
A lot of the research that I saw was, it was right around a 45 to 60 minutes is where this starts to happen for people that are training at a really intense type environment, but also what happens is, you have to look on a macro level over time because you need to recover from your training bout in order for your muscles to actually recover and have a good chance at repeating this process, basically.
But what a lot of people, even in something like crossfit, they do a lot of good movements for this, for the first parts of this equation. For example, doing power cleans, for example. You’re activating a lot of muscle volume, doing a lot of work on the muscles by displacing that weight over a distance, but the problem is, a lot of people in cross fit, they’re like puking their guts out afterward, and then they’re … But some people are more intense about it. They’re doing it every single day of the week.
What happens over time, they’re getting into a really stressed state in their body. They’re not really recovering from it, so you have to look on a micro and a macro level. The micro being the training session itself, in terms of what the sweet spot is for time for you as an individual where you start to feel the stress, really, from this session is becoming unproductive.
Then also on a macro, like a week level where you have enough recovery inside that week to actually have good training sessions where you’re lifting more and you have a progressive overload because the way the body works is it’s going to, especially with muscle gain, it’s going to, you gain muscle with the help of these anabolic hormones that are released so you need to constantly put your body into an increasingly elevated homeostases because it’s always going to want to have that homeostases, that level of balance. In that zone, you’re not actually going to be producing any more of these hormones because your body has no reason to. There’s no stimulus for it to adapt to at that point, so you need to have a progressive overload constantly, going for more weight.
For example, it could even just one pound on the lift or two pounds, but always increasing the weight and trying to do that on an interval that’s considerable, like every week or every two weeks, up, increasing the weight in your lifts, that’s going to help with this because your body, what your body’s going to do to respond to that increase in the high stimulus is just going to release more of these anabolic hormones, and in turn, you’re going to build more muscle.
That’s kind of in a nutshell how the training principles work involved with this. It is relatively simple and almost logical. Hopefully, that’s helpful.
Brett McKay: Right. Basically lift heavy, explosion, if you’re going to do cardio, do the high-intensity training.
Chris Walker: Yup. Yeah, and yeah like sprinting, that kind of thing.
Brett McKay: Sprinting and things like that. Basically, what you’re saying, I think, in my own life, when I did my own experiment with increasing my testosterone levels naturally couple of years ago, basically just making simple lifestyle changes did it all. It was just eating right, exercising, and just managing stress was the big one for me. People who can do that, they’re going to see a lot of bang for your buck, and then the capstone of the pyramid is supplements.
I mean, there’s a lot of, you go to Whole Foods, you go to the, there’s the Men section and there’s Viper, Cobra Supplement or whatever. Are there supplements that actually increase testosterone or … I mean, what does the research say on that?
Chris Walker: People … Basically, what I would advise is looking on an ingredient level. People are going to go look at the Viper, Cobra, whatever, Testo-Max 10,000 or whatever, you’re going to see is a formula sitting there, but if you have a basic understanding of the ingredients that do increase testosterone, the specific minerals, the herbs that have good research behind them in terms of increasing testosterone, it can be more helpful in selecting what supplements someone wants to take.
Turn to the minerals, magnesium and zinc and boron, across the board, increase testosterone in the research, especially in people that are deficient in those minerals. Those are what I would consider the big leverage to pull with minerals.
Magnesium also, I mean, it’s really good for free testosterone specifically because it helps to control that and reduce the levels of the SHBG. If that was something that from earlier an episode of people who have higher SHBG levels, and they want something specific to help regulate, that magnesium definitely helps.
Zinc is just, in general, really, really important for your body. It helps to regulate over a hundred different enzymatic reactions in the body, and so if you’re deficient, obviously, it’s going to be affecting all of those things, but especially in testosterone, in androgen receptor availability, DHT production.
We accumulated quite a few studies, and also around Anabolic Men, we’ve got a lot of free content if anyone wants to read more about magnesium or zinc, but there’s just, across the board, these things really do work, and they help. They help also with thyroid function, they help in the entire system, which one of the pitfalls that people … It helps to understand what works and then what really doesn’t work because there are things like the common things like fenugreek and saw palmetto that are really commonly marketed out there as tea boosters, but they only increase testosterone levels in by basically blocking the DHT conversion.
It’s basically by almost like a negative manipulation in this system. What people end up experiencing, especially with saw palmetto is really common, people have really, really adverse reactions to it in the same way that people have adverse reactions to a drug like Finasteride because of that DHT blocking capacity, so it’s important to stay away. Also, be educated enough on the subject. If someone’s picking a tea booster in the store, make sure that doesn’t have certain ingredients in it that could be potentially damaging.
In terms of herbs, Ashwagandha is awesome. Ashwagandha is so good for regulating. It’s got a ton of studies behind it. There are legit research, specifically for regulating stress. Then there’s also studies showing really big increases in fertility biomarkers, sperm quality, that sort of thing, also testosterone levels, and just direct testosterone type research around Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is awesome, and the best form of it that I know of is KSM-66, which is an organic, it’s like a trademark version of it. It has double the withanolide content in it, which is the active ingredient.
Then forskolin, which increases cyclic AMP production, which downstream increases testosterone production and helps with androgen receptor activation. Those are really, really good ingredients in terms of high leverage ingredients.
There’s a couple others. I mean, creatine is very, very well studied. Creatine monohydrate has been shown to increase testosterone levels naturally. I think creatine is probably the most, if not the most studied natural compound with relation to this stuff. It might be, it’s among the top three, probably. It has like 88 human studies on it, specifically, which is rare for a supplement to get that kind of attention.
Also, Mucuna pruriens because Mucuna pruriens helps to increase the dopamine levels, and so what people are going to see is not only an increase in testosterone levels, but they’re also going to see a heightened good feeling, basically, in a way, it’s not like a euphoria where someone’s taking more of an illicit drug that was working on them in the dopamine levels, but more of a like a nice, calm, focused type thing when you take the Mucuna.
Those are probably the high leverage things that work, so if you understand it on an ingredient level and the research around the ingredients, then that’s when someone can make an accurate, I guess, assessment of whether a supplement that they’re looking at is good or not.
Brett McKay: Gotcha. But yeah, this is the capstone thing, like you wouldn’t go to this first.
Chris Walker: Yeah, I would say that this is … If you are doing everything else and you’re making progress on all the other things and you really want to enhance things, that yeah, then start looking at this stuff because it’s also fun. I mean, it’s fun to mess around with, in my opinion, I enjoy messing around with different supplements and seeing how things feel, as long as I do my homework on them, but yeah, some people just love supplements.
Brett McKay: But, so yeah, start off the base thing, eat a balanced diet, exercise, manage stress, and that’s going to take you along way, and then to cap it off, maybe take some supplements if you’re still having some deficiencies even after you do all those base things.
Chris Walker: Yup. Yeah, and then something like a really, a good probiotic can really help someone because really, the first step in the sequence is it really involves the food that’s going to your gut and the ability to assimilate the nutrients from that food. It’s another really common thing nowadays, people have just really terrible gut health. If someone thinks that they do, symptoms would be obviously stuff like diarrhea, brain fog, just poor digestion in general, like consistently, probably have issues with that, so that’s where a probiotic would be helpful.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Well, Christopher, this has been a great conversation. Where could people go to learn more about your work?
Chris Walker: In terms of the content, anabolicmen.com. In terms of my company is truthnutra.com. We’ve got plenty of free information across the two of those, and then our book is Master Your T for anyone who likes to physically read a book.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Well, Christopher Walker, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Chris Walker: Thanks a lot, Brett.
Brett McKay: My guest today was Christopher Walker. He’s the author of the book Master Your T: The Definitive Guide to Raising Your Testosterone. It’s available on amazon.com. You can also find out more information about his work at anabolicmen.com. Also, check out his show notes at aom.is/testosterone where you can find links to resources, where you can delve deeper into this topic.
Well, that wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness Podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out The Art of Manliness website at artofmanliness.com. If you enjoy the show, got something out of it, I’d appreciate if you take one minute to give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Helps us out a lot. As always, thank you for your continued support. Until next time, this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.