Tune into the audio version of my written articles found at tomnikkola.com, read by yours truly. I candidly cover nutrition, fitness, health, manhood, critical thinking, and bringing back traditional values.
After 20 years as a fitness professional, I've seen a lot of nonsense. In each article, I attempt to simplify confusing topics, bring truth to myths, and help you learn how to build strength and resilience in an environment and culture that glorifies weakness and victimhood.
Disclaimer on nutrition, supplement, and fitness content: The content is not intended to suggest or recommend the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease, nor to substitute for medical treatment, nor to be an alternative to medical advice. The use of the suggestions and recommendations on this website is at the choice and risk of the listener.
Testosterone: What men, women, and parents need to know.
Though people often associate testosterone with men, it’s essential for women as well.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of the population lives with low testosterone, which leads to numerous health problems.
In men, it seems to even increase the risk of a severe case of COVID-19.
What does testosterone do, and how can you maintain optimal levels throughout your life? Let’s find out.
How Common is Low Testosterone?
Some experts believe a quarter of 30-year-old men have low testosterone.
A 2006 study found 39% of U.S. men, age 45 and older, were testosterone-deficient. With about 40% deficient, most men are below optimal levels.
The situation is slightly better for women. Daniel Amen, in his book, Unleash the Power of the Female Brain, points out that 20% of women have low testosterone. He also suggests another 20% of women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is caused by testosterone levels that are too high.
Unfortunately, these numbers are based on people who have gone to the doctor and are experiencing symptoms. Chances are, many more men and women have testosterone levels out of balance. If you haven't had your testosterone levels checked, you could be among them.
Why Are So Few Aware of the Low Testosterone Problem?
Most people don’t know how important testosterone is. They see it as a hormone for making muscles and boosting libido.
They don't relate testosterone to heart disease, insulin resistance, degenerative brain disease, or depression. As you'll see, low testosterone plays a role in these conditions and many more.
It's for this reason I recommend adults, beginning at age 30, get a complete lab panel each year. If everyone did this, they'd likely identify trends leading to health problems, long before they became actual “health problems.”
Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Healthcare practitioners diagnose men as “low” in testosterone when it falls below 300 ng/dL. However, signs and symptoms of low testosterone often occur at levels much higher.
The “normal” range for men is 300 ng/dL to 1100 ng/dL. That’s an enormous range!
It would be like saying someone from Dallas lives near the Mexican border. They might live in the state next to Mexico, but it's still 878 miles to the border. It's far from Mexico.
And a testosterone level of 400 ng/dL is far from optimal, even though it's in the “state” of normal.
As far back as the 1970s, some endocrinologist actually knew the proper optimized range of total testosterone (800-1200 ng/dL).Dr. Dan Purser Improving Male Sexuality, Fertility and Testosterone
Here we are, decades later, and the optimal range is rarely discussed. Many doctors don't know of this “optimal” range. As a result, a doctor tells a guy he's normal as long as his levels are above 300 ng/dl.
In women, the “normal” range for testosterone is 15-70 ng/dL. Because testosterone levels are so much lower in women, doctors often dismiss the importance of measuring it.
Though their total levels are much lower, they still have a broad range in what's considered “normal.” A woman can feel entirely different at a concentration of 15 ng/dL, versus 65 ng/dL, even though she’d be considered normal in both circumstances.
The following two tables outline common signs and symptoms of low testosterone.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone in MenIncreased “central” body fat (“pot” belly)Irritability and anxietyHot flashesGynecomastiaSleep disturbancesPoor memoryOsteoporotic fractureFatigueLack of morning erectionsLoss of heightMuscle achesDecreased ejaculate volumeLoss of facial, axillary and pubic hairDecreased strengthInfertilityTesticular atrophyReduced libidoPoor memory
Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone in WomenGain in body fatReduced sex drive or sexual functionLoss of muscle or
Low Testosterone in Men Predicts More Severe COVID-19 Infection
Throughout the p(l)andemic, men have consistently fared worse than women. They've ended up in the hospital more often, and have died more frequently.
Until recently, many “experts” believed the difference between the sexes came from women’s higher estrogen levels and men’s higher testosterone levels.
Recent research debunks that idea. In fact, it seems that low testosterone in men, not high testosterone, significantly increases the risk of severe COVID-19 cases.
The Low Testosterone Problem
Low testosterone levels in men was a growing problem long before the COVID-19 Circus. Fifteen years ago, research showed that 39% of U.S. men, age 45 and older, were testosterone-deficient.
Since then, stress has only increased, more men deal with sleep debt, fewer men eat meat or strength train, more men live on statins, and few take good nutritional supplements.
Poor nutrition, insufficient sleep, obesity, a lack of strength training or physical work, low vitamin D levels, a reduction in meat consumption, and other factors have contributed to plummeting androgen levels.
Though it’s relatively easy to optimize testosterone levels, most men seem to ignore the obvious symptoms, such as moobs, a lack of sex drive or morning erections, or the ambition and drive that helps men to “man up.” Sadly, few doctors proactively measure their male patient’s testosterone as part of a standard check-up.
Low Testosterone, High COVID-19 Risk
Though the mechanism isn’t fully understood, evidence indicates that testosterone protects men with COVID-19.
As stated in one paper,
Studies carried out both in animals and humans have shown that hypogonadism is associated with increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and that testosterone treatment reduces IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α.Geoffrey Hacket and Michael Kirby
Low testosterone predicts worsening symptoms, even when men start with mild COVID-19 symptoms.
As we've seen, severe cases have hit more middle-aged men as time has gone on. We're not talking about plague-like numbers, but it's clear that some younger men can succumb to COVID.
We also found that those men with COVID-19 who were not severely ill initially, but had low testosterone levels, were likely to need intensive care or intubation over the next two or three days. Lower testosterone levels seemed to predict which patients were likely to become very ill over the next few days.Sandeep Dhindsa, MD, endocrinologist at Saint Louis University
Men who get hospitalized or die of COVID-19 are more likely to have hypogonadism.
Salonia A, et al. found that 90% of men hospitalized for COVID-19 had hypogonadism. They also found that testosterone levels were “significantly lower in men with greatest need of ICU and highest risk of death.”
Another study showed that low testosterone men needed ventilation more often, and were more likely to die.
One more study showed that hypogonadal men of reproductive age were more likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 than men with higher testosterone levels.
Kadihasanoglu, et al. found almost 74% of men with COVID-19 were low in testosterone. They also identified a correlation between low testosterone and longer stays in the hospital.
COVID-19 could suppress testosterone production as well?
While low testosterone levels could lead to a worse outcome from COVID-19, is it possible that COVID-19 could also lower testosterone?
Çayan et al. showed that COVID‐19 could decrease circulating T levels, and lower T levels at baseline were associated with a significantly increased risk in terms of ICU and mortality.Alonia A, et al.
I experienced a significant drop in testosterone after having COVID as well. Vanessa and I both got COVID-19 the week after Easter, 2021. I had noticeable symptoms for five days, and spent two of those days on the couch, catc
Mass Masking, Facts, and the Masker-Rage
Mainstream media and Hollywood celebrities, the public relations teams of left-wing politicians, have done an outstanding job dividing Americans. Those who follow their opinions and buy into their dogma become part of the cool club. They look down upon other citizens who ask questions, demand scientific evidence, or who present alternative solutions to the latest “threat” or “crisis.”
No doubt, they’ll ride the COVID Crisis Train as long as its renewable energy, solar powered, zero-emission, battery powered engine lasts.
The dividing line in this war against the COVID virus isn’t between our immune systems and the virus. They’ve defined the lines between those who obediently get the vaccine and those who don’t, and those mask up their families, and those who don’t.
A new study, completed through the University of Louisville, shows what many critical thinkers already knew: Mass masking doesn’t slow the spread of COVID.
Even with this scientific evidence (and other studies like it), most masker-ragers won’t change their mind about masking up. They’ll probably dig their heels in further.
Nonetheless, I felt it was important to share this information for those with open minds. The study I’m referring to in this blog post is Mask mandate and use efficacy for COVID-19 containment in US States, published in the International Research Journal of Public Health.
Research Study: Mass Masking Does Not Slow the Spread of COVID
I'll start with the punchline:
We did not observe association between mask mandates or use and reduced COVID-19 spread in US states.Guerra DD et al.
Guerra and team analyzed mask usage and COVID cases from mid-2020 through March, 2021. They used data “from Premise, the Facebook Global Symptom Survey [University of Maryland], the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the YouGov Behavior Tracker Survey.”
The researchers categorized mask compliance into quintiles, or five levels of compliance.
According to their data,
Our main finding is that mask mandates and use likely did not affect COVID-19 case growth. Mask mandates were associated with greater mask use but ultimately did not influence total normalized cases or post-mandate case growth.Guerra DD et al.
Mask mandates increased mask usage, but the increased mask usage did not change the spread of COVID-19.
Am I surprised? Not at all. I do feel a bit of sadness though, as many of those who buy into Mainstream Media’s narrative would ignore such facts, and continue to spew disdain and hatred towards those who choose to ignore demands to mask up.
There’s more to this published paper, though.
Mass Masking Collateral Damage
I wrote about the collateral damage so many anti-science masker-ragers choose to ignore in my blog post Masks and Face Coverings: Who’s considering the collateral damage?
Guerra and team reinforce my concerns.
As masks have been required in many settings, it is prudent to weigh potential benefits with harms. Masks may promote social cohesion during a pandemic, but risk compensation can also occur. By obscuring nonverbal communication, masks interfere with social learning in children. Likewise, masks can distort verbal speech and remove visual cues to the detriment of individuals with hearing loss; clear face-shields improve visual integration, but there is a corresponding loss of sound quality. Prolonged mask use [>4 hours per day] promotes facial alkalinization and inadvertently encourages dehydration, which in turn can enhance barrier breakdown and bacterial infection risk. British clinicians have reported masks to increase headaches and sweating and decrease cognitive precision.Guerra DD et al.
The most disturbing in all of this is the impact masks may have on kids. Children are not miniature adults. They’re developing human beings, still learning how to c
Serotonin: Effects on Health and How to Raise Your Levels
As I was re-recording some audio articles the other day, I realized how often I mention serotonin. Yet, I’ve never written about it, and I can only assume that many readers don’t really know what it is.
I’ll briefly explain what it is, how it affects your health, and give you three things you can do today to naturally improve your serotonin levels.
What is serotonin?
5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), more commonly known as serotonin, is a neurotransmitter that not only affects cognitive function, it also plays key roles in metabolism.
Only about 2% of your total serotonin is found in the nervous system, yet that small amount plays a significant role in your mental health. The rest is found throughout your body, including your gut.
Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan, an amino acid that gives turkey its sleep-inducing reputation. In reality, it’s probably not the turkey alone that causes people to nap after Thanksgiving dinner. Carbohydrates also increase 5-HT production, and most people eat plenty of them with their holiday meal.
That said, supplements like 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) do seem to induce sleep and relax the mind as 5-HTP gets easily converted to 5-HT.
Effects of 5-HT
Serotonin affects almost every area of the body, from brain function to bone formation. The following is a brief overview of how 5-HT affects you and your health.
Serotonin depletion induces appetite and causes weight gain, whereas increasing levels inhibits appetite. In some people, increasing serotonin through supplementation or drug treatments reduces appetite and body weight.
It doesn’t work for everyone, though. Multiple physiological steps and other chemicals and compounds are involved in the appetite-reducing process. If one of the other steps is broken, 5-HT won’t be as effective at reducing appetite.
Some antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which inhibit serotonin transporter (SERT), interfere with its secretion and may increase appetite. That’s part of the reason some antidepressants are known to cause weight gain.
Serotonin inhibits appetite, which means compounds and drugs that increase serotonin may decrease appetite. Since sleep debt reduces 5-HT production, it’s little surprise that insufficient sleep leads to an increased appetite and food intake as well.
Serotonin plays an essential role in bone formation and bone remodeling. However, at extremely high levels, it can contribute to osteoporosis.
Serotonin stimulates gut motility, helping to move food through the digestive tract and enhancing nutrient absorption along the way.
Beyond discomfort and the growth of a BIF (butt in front), reduced motility or constipation can lead to numerous digestive problems.
Serotonin also impacts the bladder, which further serves to remove unwanted compounds.
Serotonin levels impact heart rhythm, vascular tone, and blood platelet aggregation. A dysfunction in any of these areas could lead to serious health complications.
Though it isn’t to the same extent as thyroid hormone, serotonin does affect energy expenditure.
Research shows 5-HT activates brown adipose tissue, a highly thermogenic type of fat tissue.
At the same time, serotonin may enhance energy intake by stimulating gut motility and increasing nutrient intake from the gut.
Serotonin clearly plays a role in mental health. Not only does serotonin reduce depression and anxiety, but its levels may also affect other conditions such as:
SchizophreniaObsessive-compulsive disordersAddictionsParkinson’s diseaseAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)Autism
Treating these conditions is usually far more complicated than shifting serotonin levels alone, but som
Are we puppets mastered by puppets?
As a rational-minded adult, you have to admit that either our current political leaders have zero intelligence, or someone else controls what they say and do.
I don’t believe they’re all complete idiots like some of the media suggests. They wouldn’t have worked, cheated, or arrived at their level of power if that was the case.
I’m of the belief that someone else calls the shots. They’re merely puppets.
Aside from its definition as a movable toy, the Cambridge dictionary defines puppet as:
puppet: a person or group whose actions are controlled by someone else
I must applaud the example they use for this definition, too:
Why else would our President cut off George Stephanopoulos when he said “We’ve seen those hundreds of people packed into a C-17. We’ve seen Afghans falling", with “That was four days ago, five days ago.” Zero sign of remorse or responsibility.
Or, how could Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield say something as mind-boggling ridiculous as “we expect the Taliban to respect women’s rights” and “to be respectful of humanitarian law,” less than a week after the terrorists took over Afghanistan?
One more example: Nancy Pelosi applauding Joe Biden’s actions with Afghanistan, stating, “I commend the President for the action that he took. It was strong. It was decisive. And it was the right thing to do.”
I could go on and on with examples, not only with what's transpired in Afganistan, but also surrounding COVID-19, racial issues, violence, crime, the economy, energy, and so much more.
The point again is this: These people and their colleagues are either without intelligence, or someone else controls their words and actions. I don’t believe in the former, so I must believe in the latter.
And if that's the case, why would you go along with anything they say without much discernment?
Are we puppets of the puppets?
As Americans, if their words and actions influence us, or the words of their public relations team, the Mainstream Media, influence us, then we become puppets of the puppets.
You might think, "I'm no puppet." That would be my first reaction, too. But then, I have to check myself to see if I've altered my way of life to satisfy the agenda of the far-left. If I have, then I'm playing right into their hands (or strings).
In fact, the greatest risk to the future of our country isn't the people who buy into the ideologies of the far left, hook, line, and sinker.
The greatest risk to our future comes from those who don't agree with what is going on, yet act in accordance with the agendas and ideologies they don't agree with.
It's easy to roll your eyes at the person who rides in their car alone while wearing a mask and gloves. But, if you wear one to get into a restaurant, even when knowing it does nothing to stop the spread, you're still acting in alignment with what the left wants. Like a puppet.
Many people speak in criticism, yet act in compliance.
They don’t consider the long-term implications of their choices. They don’t consider how complying to wearing useless masks today may mean future generations never leave home without them.
They don’t think about what might happen to their kids who get the vaccine since there is zero long-term safety data to show the vaccine won't cause harm to them in the future.
And in acting against what they believe, they influence others to do the same. To get the majority of the nation to side with the left, they don’t need to believe in the left’s agendas. They just need to act in accordance with them.
Becoming Aware You’re in the Puppet Show: Be Honest
Strength Training Stimulates Fat Loss: Here's How
Weight training is the most important type of exercise for fat loss, overall health, and mental and physical strength and resilience.
No, that’s not a typo. Weight training is more important than cardio, even for getting and staying lean.
Unfortunately, through public health propaganda, we’ve been led to believe that low-fat, minimal meat diets and lots of cardio are the solution. They’re not.
A new study adds to the fat-burning benefits of resistance training.
How Resistance Training Stimulates Fat Loss
Strength training helps you shed fat through multiple mechanisms, some direct and some indirect.
Catecholamines and Lipolysis
This one is a bit technical, but I wanted to include it for those who get geeked out by physiology like I do.
In August of 2021, Vechetti IJ, et al. published Mechanical overload-induced muscle-derived extracellular vesicles promote adipose tissue lipolysis. Their research showed, for the first time, how resistance-trained muscles directly increase fat metabolism.
The catecholamines norepinephrine and epinephrine stimulate -adrenergic receptors in fat cells, which enhances insulin sensitivity, muscle mass, and metabolic rate.
Ephedrine was one of the most powerful supplements for triggering this process, which is why it was so effective for fat loss. However, the FDA banned its use in supplements in 2004 based on concerns of cardiovascular risk.
First using animal and human in vitro studies, and then animal and human in vivo studies, NAME, et al. found that overloaded muscle tissue, like that exposed to a hypertrophy-style strength training session, has a similar effect.
When skeletal muscles are overloaded, they release microRNA 1 (miR-1) containing extracellular vesicles (EVs). Epidydimal white adipose tissue (eWAT) then takes up those EVs, which increases B-adrenergic (AdrB3) expression, which increases lipolysis (fat breakdown).
Since the increased levels of catecholamines also increase overall energy expenditure, the fatty acids can then be used for energy, reducing fat mass.
Increased glycogen storage and reduced blood sugar
When you eat carbohydrates, you use them one of four ways:
Burn them for your immediate energy needsStore them in your liver and muscle cells as glycogenLet the glucose float around in your blood, which causes significant damage as is seen in those with type II diabetesConvert them to triglycerides and fat
It would be impossible for most of us to eat a meal's worth of carbohydrates, and then burn them immediately afterwards. That means the last three scenarios are the most likely. This is where resistance training comes in.
The more muscle you have, the more capacity you have for storing carbohydrates. That means when you eat them, you have a place to put them so they won't leave you with elevated blood sugar and you won't convert them to fat and get fatter.
Unfortunately, most diabetes doctors significantly under emphasize the importance of resistance training. They leave a patient feeling like strength training is an optional activity, rather than hitting them over the head with its importance.
Type II diabetes need not be a lifelong condition. At its core, it's an issue of carbohydrate intolerance. By reducing dietary carbohydrates and increasing carbohydrate storage capacity through resistance training, most people can regain their health and don't need to survive by using pharmaceuticals.
Supplements like berberine and other lifestyle hacks can help, too. But if you're serious about controlling your blood sugar, you'll make strength training a nonnegotiable part of your lifestyle.
By controlling blood sugar, you maintain lower insulin levels, which allows you to tap into your fat stores for more of your energy needs.
Improved strength and stamina which increases physical activity
Tom is a wealth of info. Truly a real deal when it comes to health, wellness, strength and “Manning Up”
Good content with variety
I have listened to almost a dozen episodes and so far I have really enjoyed the variety of content. Tom discusses the things I am passionate about. Essential oils, fitness, nutrition, supplements and Faith. If you are looking for a good podcast, look no further!
Great podcast on Amino Acids! Big fan of Tom Nikkola.