Let’s clear something up right away. Optimal Health Medical Group’s (OHMG) healthy testosterone replacement diet recommendations are things every man and woman should be doing anyhow, regardless of whether or not he or she’s receiving testosterone replacement treatment (TRT).
However, it’s a safe bet these 13 dietary rules we’re about to recommend will, when combined with TRT, help you grow more muscle, lose more fat, look younger, feel better, and function better, much more quickly than TRT alone.
1. Do the right kind of exercise, and do it regularly. Okay, that’s not a diet recommendation, but exercise is essential to getting the most out of your diet and your TRT. OHMG recommends that you exercise with weights or machines 3 to 4 times a week for around an hour each time.
On days that you don’t lift weights, do fast walking, bicycling, or train on the elliptical; anything categorized as “cardio.”
2. Eat protein, and lots of it, with every meal. Your goal is to get between .7 and 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. Avoid carbohydrate or carbohydrate and fat meals. That means those days of a bagel with a schmear of cream cheese are gone. If you insist on a bagel, have it with lox, or turkey, or an egg sandwiched between the sides of the bagel.
If have a salad at lunch, make sure it comes with plenty of chicken. Dinner should consist of steamed or grilled vegetables liberally doused with olive oil and accompanied by 4 to 6 ounces of meat (fish, beef, chicken, pork, etc.).
You’re likely going to need a quality protein supplement to augment your intake. Opt for casein, whey, or a combination of casein and whey. And don’t skimp on the price. When it comes to protein powders, you often get what you pay for. By the same token, though, don’t bother to buy protein powders that come laced with dubious ancillary supplements. Just stick to basic protein.
Place a few scoops in water or milk and drink as needed to hit your protein goal. Have a serving or two mixed with milk at bedtime so that you build lean tissue all night long.
3. Eat a high protein, high carbohydrate meal about two hours before you work out. If you don’t have time for that, have a protein drink about an hour before your workout to supply your muscles with amino acids and other nutrients while working out.
Likewise, have a high-protein, simple carbohydrate meal (rice, potatoes, pasta) after your workout. That will elicit a rise in insulin and that insulin will carry those amino acids and nutrients to muscle cells where they’ll be put to good use
4. Consider using health-promoting supplements. OHMG currently recommends the following:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin B-12
- Fish Oil
- Glucosamine/chondritin formula
- Saw Palmetto, or some prostate formula that contains saw palmetto as one of its ingredients
- Metformin (not a supplement, but an extremely valuable drug)
- Baby aspirin, one a day (again, not a supplement, but a drug)
All of these supplements/drugs play important roles in overall health. The exact mechanisms and dosages of each are beyond the scope of this article, but all will be featured in future articles here on the OHMG website.
5. Get plenty of fiber (at least 20 grams a day) from sources like beans, vegetables, fruits, oatmeal, multi-grain bread, etc. If you can’t eat enough fiber through whole foods, consider a source of psyllium husk like Metamucil.
6. Avoid foods that come in a box. Before the 18th century, very few people had diabetes. Then came the invention of the high-speed milling wheel.
Prior to the advent of the high-speed wheel, flour was coarse. The bread that was made from it looked like it was filled with wood chips (and it pretty much was). As such it was slow to digest. But after the milling wheel rolled into the picture, bread was made from fine flour. It was easy to digest. In fact, it caused a spike in insulin like you’d get from eating cotton candy.
Diabetes eventually started to rear her ugly, serpent-riddled head.
It’s not much different today. A boxed food is generally made of highly-processed carbohydrates and they’re what cause a good deal of the obesity in this country. Stay away from them. Buy whole, fresh foods if possible.
7. Try to buy “grass finished” or “100% grass-fed” beef. Let’s get this straight, “grass fed” is often a scam. All cows are initially grass-fed before they’re moved to the feedlot during the last few weeks of their life. That’s where they get fattened up with corn, which alters the nutritional quality of their meat.
Look for the terms “grass finished” or “100% grass-fed” to make sure the meat you eat has the proper ratio of healthy fats as well as higher levels of vitamins.
8. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can. You know they’re good for you. You don’t need us to tell you why. However, eat them in whole food form when possible. Juicing is problematic as it destroys the fiber and raises insulin levels (as the pulverized fruits are digested much more quickly than whole fruits or vegetables).
Plus there’s also the problem of plain ol’ physics of volume: While eating one or two oranges can fill you up, juicing allows you to ingest many more oranges because pulverized fruits take up much less space in the stomach. More fruit means more calories. More calories gives you a body like a bear getting ready for the long winter.
9. Weigh yourself every week at about the same time. Weighing yourself every day, or at different times of day, is a bad idea. Daily weight fluctuations caused by dehydration, over-hydration, an incomplete bowel movement, or a big, weighty meal will cause you to go crazy. The frustration will make you want to fill your bathtub with ice cream and eat your way to the drain.
10. Don’t skip breakfast. In fact, don’t skip any meals. Because of the testosterone you’re receiving, your body is under construction and as such you need bricks. The food you eat, particularly the protein, is the bricks and you want to make your building tall and strong like a skyscraper instead of short and dumpy like an outhouse.
11. Avoid environmental estrogens. Modern life is subjecting us to a chemical barrage every second, and lot of the weapons in its toxic arsenal consist of what are known as xenoestrogens. In short, they’re chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen, and in males, excesses can cause cardiovascular problems and potentially even cancer (most likely of the prostate), in addition to making you pudgy.
Follow these simple rules to avoid some of these xenoestrogens:
- Don’t heat your food in plastic bowls, or cover it with plastic wrap (the heat causes xenoestrogens to leech into your food)
- Don’t use air fresheners
- Don’t drink water from a bottle that’s been sitting in your hot car for more than an hour
12. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. This goes hand-in-hand with the “don’t eat anything that comes in a box” recommendation, and it’s taken directly from one of nutrition writer Michael Pollan’s books.
The gist is this: most “unrecognizable” foods like things that come in tubes or strange packaging are criminally short on nutrients. They often replace one “bad” nutrient (like fat) for another and the result is something pretty pathetic.
Consider dairy products, specifically low fat or skim milk. They take out the fat, but in order to preserve the creamy texture, they add in powdered milk, which contains oxidized cholesterol. Similarly, removing the fat also removes the fat-soluble vitamins, which then have to be added back in. And when you drink them, these vitamins aren’t even absorbed unless you ingest some fat with the milk!
So yes, drink whole milk, or at least 2% milk, but not too much as it’s calorically denser.
Pollan likes to point out modern bread as an example, too. Traditional bread is made from flour, water, yeast, and salt, but something like Sara Lee’s Soft and Smooth Whole Grain White Bread has about two-dozen chemical ingredients in it.
So stop eating weird “Frankenfoods.”
13. Cultivate gut bacteria. You hear about how regularly eating yogurt and taking bacteria-filled capsules can make you poop like a rock star. Unfortunately, neither practice is probably going to do much to populate or repopulate your gut with the right type of bacteria. There are thousands of species of bacteria in your gastrointestinal system and the typical yogurt or capsule only contains a couple of varieties.
To add to the problem, a lot of products are the victims of mishandling, especially when it comes to pills or capsules. If they’re not continuously refrigerated, the bacteria up and die to the great Petri dish in the sky.
To cultivate gut bacteria, you’re better off eating probiotic foods, aka fermented foods, to create a gut environment that nurtures bacterial growth. Consider regularly eating foods from this list:
- Sauerkraut (must be refrigerated)
- Pickles (only those marked “fermented”)
And if you insist on eating yogurt, avoid the stuff with sugar as it feeds competing bacteria. Buy stuff that doesn’t look totally industrialized and taste-wise is pretty much indistinguishable from a Dairy Queen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard. You know, eat stuff that your great grandmother would recognize as yogurt.