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I am a regular on The Survival Podcast as an expert on health, finance, and life simplification. Below is the transcript of my answer to a listener question on understanding the causes of low testosterone or low-T.
Listener Low-T Question
Question: Why would a young healthy male have low testosterone levels? Gary, I had my blood testosterone levels tested, and found that my testosterone level was 249, while ‘average’ is around 300-1000. I am 32, and this puts me at lower levels than a 100 year old! I eat reasonably healthy. I try to keep my diet around 40% fat, 30% protein, 30% carbs in terms of calories. I don’t eat grains. I do eat copious animal products, dairy, beef, pork, eggs. I eat vegetables, though they probably only make up 1/3 of my food volume. Though I do have a bit of a sweet tooth. I don’t exercise, though I do live on a homestead, which keeps me active. I get >8hrs of good sleep. My stress level is usually low. I do have regular sex. I am not overweight. I do have RLS (restless leg syndrome), which I can’t help but think could be related. Maybe a mineral imbalance?
I can’t say I’ve noticed any symptoms of low T, though I am a bit concerned for my age. What might be causing this, and what can I do about it? Thanks, JoshJosh
Gary Answers the Low-T Causes
Today, a good question as always. The testosterone question with men aging. Even though this individual is not that old in their early 30s, this has become quite a hot issue. Especially, I deal with clients talking about this with all of the testosterone replacement therapy or TRT, as they call it.
I think, cybernetics, if you’ve ever seen those commercials of the 70‑year‑old rent dudes huge. They show before and after pictures. Guess what? They’re jacking them up with testosterone. There’s no way to get that big any other way. With that, it’s become a big industry.
This individual was worried that they got their blood work back and that it showed that they had a low level, right around 249. He is right. The correct level is anywhere between 300, 400 to 1,000.
It’s an arbitrary number. I’ve gotten answers from doctors all over the board there, but as a general rule that does apply. I found something out last year though about these numbers that throws it way off.
I got my physical done. I get a physical done every year where I get my blood work drawn. My testosterone came back. I want to say between 230 and 240, so not too far off of the individual’s question here.
I was like, “Holy cow, what happened?” The doctor looked at me and goes, “No, you’re fine. You’re actually a little bit above average.” I went, “OK.” I went, “Why? I don’t understand the numbers.”
Get this. What has happened with the industry of testosterone replacement therapy, and bioidentical hormones, and all these new anti‑aging doctors? As I said, it’s turned into a multi‑billion dollar business now.
Everyone’s got low testosterone ‑‑ trust me ‑‑ because they want you to have low testosterone just like everyone had high cholesterol. Same deal, same scam, creating a condition that really doesn’t exist.
Don’t get me wrong. There are low testosterone levels, there is, but not anywhere near what people are getting diagnosed with today. He went, “Well, it depends on the lab.” I didn’t realize this, but different labs will actually have different indicators and numbers. Your level, that number, could be different at another lab.
I asked him, “How do I know how that compares with the old numbers that I know?” He goes, “I don’t know.” I actually, after this, I asked a couple of doctors in the hormone replacement world and said, “Hey, how do you know what these numbers are?”
I told them what my number was and they go, “Well, I don’t know. What lab?” They even dug and I told them what lab and they went, “Well, I still don’t understand what that number means.”
You better go back to your doctor and ask. I’m wondering if they told you it was low. The thing is that the doctor may not even know that the lab could give them a different number as opposed to the old readings. This individual seems to be doing everything very right.
Here is the key indicator for me when dealing with clients to know if you have low testosterone levels on top of a blood test is you’re lethargic, maybe if you have slight depression, or depressed, loss of muscle mass, also low libido, low sex drive, maybe erectile dysfunction.
If you don’t have those and you have normal sex, you have normal erections, you haven’t lost muscle mass, you look normal. Guess what? You probably don’t have low testosterone. I like to look at the symptoms that go along with it besides just a blood test.
You guys know I’ve talked about that several times. Blood testing, that’s a snapshot of that particular time. You got to be really careful with blood testing.
If you are possibly suffering from these, I would try a natural way first which is obviously getting optimal vitamin D, Omega 3s, get resistance training, lift some heavy objects, get plenty of sleep, reduce stress because stress increases cortisol which also doesn’t increase testosterone, but it increases estrogen as well at a higher rate.
This is what stress does. It will actually diminish your testosterone levels because they will counteract each other.
As far as he also has RLS which I’m guessing he means restless leg syndrome. I actually had to go look that acronym up real quick because I was like RLS. Gosh, in the government we used to say that with the boss with meaning retard loose somewhere. [laughs] Hope I didn’t offend anyone there.
He has that. With that, these are two separate questions. This may run a little long. He’s asking if possibly the RLS could have something to do with his possible low testosterone. I would say no, because he doesn’t have any of the symptoms of low testosterone he just has a blood test reading. I would say no.
With the RLS I would simply ask, does anyone in his family, mother or father have it? Is there any genetic previous disposition for this prior? If not, I would say maybe it has something to do with diet, but if it’s a genetic defect from one or both parents, I would go there’s a good chance it’s genetic. Doctors don’t even really agree with what causes RLS. They really don’t have a good grasp of it.
Yes, Could it be a mineral deficiency or mineral imbalance? Yes, it absolutely could be. What I would do is I would start and think of it this way. There’s a short-circuiting going on somewhere, and you have to remember the body is nothing but a neuroelectric network. A very, very, very complicated one.
There are ways for the nervous system to reroute in certain circumstances, but if permanent damage has happened which I have in my left leg from my back injury, so my left leg doesn’t work as well as my right leg. It’s not going to recover, the damage was permanent. This could happen.
Did you have any impact to your head, unconsciousness, maybe several concussions? Did you have trauma to your spine? There could be several mechanical factors that could go into that.
Now, for a mineral deficiency, I would simply start with calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D supplementation. I know Jack’s probably going to go nuts on this. Why is he telling you to take all of those when they usually focus on magnesium?
The reason why is simply this, especially because most Americans get plenty of calcium. By doing this, first, you’ll find out does it get better. If it gets better, you know you’re on the right track without having to take each individual supplement trying to figure out if you have one deficiency.
The thing is if you are deficient in one of those, usually you’re deficient in all of them. I’m talking about potassium, calcium, and magnesium are key electrolytes. Calcium will contract your muscle, magnesium will relax it. I like to keep all that together.
From there, if you notice improvement what you do is you simply eliminate each one at a time. I would start with calcium, and then I would go to potassium, then I would go to magnesium. More than likely, as I said, usually it’s magnesium if it’s going to be one. I like to put all three in there and Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential for synthesizing those three minerals. You need to have vitamin D and to simulate those. That was complicated, but there were actually two questions in one.
I would say for Josh, I think he’s good testosterone‑wise. I don’t see any issues. It seems like everything is working great. The RLS, as I said, is it could be many, many things. I hope that helps.