Submitted Questions and Answers Page
Below are questions on a variety of health, fitness and weights training questions submitted by readers along with my answers to them. Neither questions nor answers have been altered in any material way.
If you wish to submit a question or to leave feedback about an article or product (on an anonymous basis), please do so using my Contact Me Page. I will do my best to answer as many questions as I can.
Note: Any information I provide is not intended as medical advice. I am not a doctor and have no formal medical training. Everyone is different and has different nutritional needs.
Question: Adrenal fatigue in menopause
'Hi Edward, I just read your articles on adrenal fatigue and found them very informative. I’ve battled adrenal fatigue for most of my life, at one point being completely incapacitated for a few years. Most of my issues were due to overconsumption of sugar, over-exercise/over-training (especially cardio), and heavy caffeine consumption. When I keep these in check and get proper sleep, I do alright. I take a few adrenal support nutrients and have every book on adrenal fatigue ever written! Your articles and suggestions provided some new insights about supplementation and diet that I haven’t read and which are very helpful. I am 53 year old relatively fit and healthy woman living in Los Angeles. The only medication I take is Westhroid for my hypothyroid condition. I have Hashimoto’s, so I am mindful of both fluoride and gluten as well as soy and goitrogenic foods. I have heard to stay away from Iodide if you have Hashi’s - not sure if you concur. I always assumed I was estrogen dominant, so have been taking DIM and Cal D Glucarate, but as I’m now fully menopausal and having little hot flashes and night sweats, my doctor has put me on very low dose HRT that seems to help. In questionaires at the naturopaths and according to my blood tests, I’m low estrogen and low testosterone. I have always had a “sludgy” liver - I don’t clear things well, and am frequently tired and cranky. That’s why I assumed I was estrogen dominant. When I eat very clean and avoid congestive foods and alcohol etc, It’s much better. At any rate, I have put on about 20 lbs which is difficult as I have always been very thin and trim. I also notice that my muscles are soft and floppy and my skin is loose and quickly aging. (I was worried that supplemental testosterone might convert back to estrogen? Or cause even more belly fat? ) At any rate, the low or no carb diets are disastrous for me (as you explained in your articles why this is the case for someone with adrenal fatigue. Also, eating six meals or snacking all day doesn’t work for me contrary to what all the trainers at my gym tell me to do to rev my metabolism - my insulin levels are probably too high as it is and it seems like if I graze all day I will never lose any weight. So here’s the question: I decided to get back to the gym and train hard as I wanted to get my old trim and firm body back, but it’s leaving me feeling spent. I am already feeling wired and tired, so I know it’s sapping my cortisol and upping my cats and if I’m not careful, I will really get myself into a pickle. I started a cardio barre class on Wednesday (I am more of a weight-lifting/yoga/hiker), and I am afraid it’s just too much for me - the cardio that is….and am feeling all nervy and jittery this a.m. and waking very early, which is always the harbinger of an adrenal crisis for me. How can I get my pre-menopausal figure back without putting myself back into adrenal exhaustion? How can I get my muscle tone back? If I eat three to four meals a day with good protein and fat and a moderate amount of carbohydrate, what else can I do supplementally te help me firm up, slow the aging process and lose this menopausal flab? Thank you for any suggestions that you might have! I would be so grateful for any insight - sorry for the overload of information!' Answer
'Hi, thanks for your email. I'll try to send over a more detailed response but here are a few points to consider: - stop cardio except for walking. If you want to do aerobic exercise, try one hour's walking per day. - your thyroid meds don't seem to include t3. Try armour or just t3. If you take this route let me know and I will provide you with links to some resources that you should familiarise yourself with. - you should minimise iodide consumption if you have Hashimoto's or low thyroid function. - DIM and Cal D Glucarate: I'm no longer convinced these are always helpful, particularly if you have low thyroid. - low thyroid causes 'sludgy liver'. T3 or armour could resolve this, potentially. - to improve your physique, perform regular weights/ resistance training and don't worry about the cardio, also always eat and supplement to maximise your thyroid function. I can send you a sample program and diet structure you would like/need.' Question
‘Hey how are you doing today Ed. I’ve recently come across your website and found it very informative, provides great insight and analysis. Me, 20 years old and play baseball. I’ve always had a hard time gaining weight. I am about 6’0 150-155 pounds. Currently trying to put on muscle mass and gain weight, overall just want to get bigger. Any possible way you could give me some pointers on what workouts to do and a potential diet? I appreciate your time, I hope you get back to me.’
‘Sorry for the slightly slow reply. Thanks for the positive feedback.
‘Sorry for the slow reply. The percentage you quote is correct but mainstream supplements quote in the nutritional information on the back of the pack the amount of elemental zinc from the type of zinc chelate that the supplement contains.
‘Confession time! Discovered 12hrs ago I am wheat intolerant. This limited my carbs which lead to weight loss, wedding coming up I was very happy!!
Except,now,after having my daughter and competing in 13 body building shows, I have now discovered why I am such an unpredictable personality, even I scare my self…seriously low carbs, (max 50g day) and low serotonin levels.
My family have been through hell. I am not exaggerating (truly ashamed). Today, with guidance of a good friend who knows me very well, lead me to read your article (http://www.muscle-health-fitness.com/foods-that-increase-serotonin.html/) last night, whilst on night shift.
My problems are due to lack of carbs. I have stepped out in faith, increasing my carb intake (cycling carbs according to daily activities) but at least doubled on low carb day.
What I am afraid of is how will I look? I train as if I am still competing, cardio and heavy..I still want the physique. Goal is, 10 weeks out look right. Now I’m around 14-15 weeks.out. Just the ‘layer’ especially lower abs.. Any more information, please let me know.’
‘Hi Wendy, thanks for your message.
Question: Low E2
‘Was on a buccal testosterone for a year. Didn’t raise my t aboove 200, and also for that year my estradoil was so low it was unreadable. Switched to the im shots and my t has come up but my estradoil is 17 pg/ml. Can e2 being too low cause libido problems?’
‘Yes, low E2 will often cause libido problems. Testosterone replacement should raise your E2 (testogel). Alternatively, try Tongkat Ali without using any type of aromatase inhibitor.’
Reader submitted question:
‘I currently use 20mg of levitra for ed, is tongkat ali safe to use with the above until such time as I no longer need the ed drug?’
‘Yes, there are no known negative interactions between tongkat ali and PDE-5 inhibitors such as Levitra. I am aware of quite a number of men who use the combination to enhance performance.
It is likely that after a few weeks you will be able to reduce your required dosage of Levitra and, depending on the severity of the ED and how well you respond to tongkat ali, you will quite possibly be able to discontinue using the ED drug and only cycle the tongkat ali.’
Click here to read more about using Premium Tongkat Ali to improve your sexual prowess:
‘I am 55 in good health. I work 3 days a week from 6:30 to 10:00 and hit the gym every day about 4:30 pm for about 40 mins. Do you think it would be a good idea to take 1 in the morning when I get up and one 1 hr before i go to the gym. Your thoughts?’
‘Whilst you are in good health, studies show that tongkat ali improves energy and mood in men, particularly men who’s steroid hormone levels may have begun to naturally decline due to age.
The dosage timings you suggested are ideal for taking tongkat ali.
I personally would try one capsule with breakfast for six days and briefly note down the effects/ changes you feel each day, and take the next three days off. Then try one capsule with breakfast and one capsule one hour before your gym session for the next six days and briefly note down the effects/ changes again, and then again take three days off.
If you feel better taking two capsules then stick with the timings you suggested. If one capsule produces similar effects to two for you then you will only need to take one capsule a day (still cycled six days on three days off).’
Follow up question:
‘I guess I meant to ask, this is the first time I have ever took this type of supplement. Do you think after just 6 days on 3 days off with 1 and then 2 – 6 days on 3 days off i should notice the difference between 1 and 2 in that short period of time?’
‘People’s responses to all supplements vary, but yes I would fully expect that you will be able to tell the difference in this short period of time.
Having said this, the effects of tongkat ali are cumulative so, if you do not notice an obvious effect after the six days on one capsule, I would move to two capsules a day and remain on this (cycling it six days on three days off).
Some people notice obvious effects after as long as a few weeks but it is more common to notice an increase in energy and sex drive in just a few days. Increases in strength and muscle growth tend to become apparent after a few weeks.
I previously suggested that you test the effects of one capsule first simply because you stated that you were in good health and therefore one capsule a day may be all that you require.’
Question: (Relating to my article Adrenal Fatigue Diet For Bodybuiders and Athletes.)
‘Tyrosine without licorice/cortisol did create anxiety every time I took it. I’ve avoided it for years, but will introduce it tomorrow since I now take 1 tablespoon of licorice for adrenal fatigue. I’ve wondered about this for years, since tyrosine such be good for my hypothyroid. Thanks again. Where did you get that info? Thanks again’.
‘In my opinion, if you include sufficient high quality protein in your diet (I would suggest at least 80 grams per day for a man) there is no need to take supplemental tyrosine.
For a lot of people, tyrosine raises stress hormone levels too high (it is the precursor of the catecholamines) and this tends to cause anxiety. High stress hormone levels actually negatively affect thyroid function. For people suffering from adrenal fatigue, this stress inducing affect of tyrosine is not at all helpful.
There is no one source where I learnt this – there is a section about the imbalance between cortisol and cataecholamines in ‘The Immune Restoration Handbook’ by Mark Konlee. This book contains some very good info along with a lot of information I no longer agree with. Mark Konlee references: Jeffries WM, Lid adrenocortical deficiency, chronic allergies, autoimmune disorders and the chronic fatigue syndrome: a continuation of the cortisol story. Med Hypotheses 1994;42(3):183-9.
Licorice can be helpful for adrenal fatigue sufferers due to it slowing cortisol breakdown but I rarely recommend men take licorice as it is well documented to lower testosterone and to raise prolactin levels.
If you are suffering from low thyroid function, I would suggest you take natural thyroid (without iodine) and avoid supplemental tyrosine. Having said this, if you want to take tyrosine I would predict that the licorice will help you handle it better.
Since thyroid hormone speeds the clearance of cortisol, if you start taking thyroid hormone, you may need to add some cortef along with the licorice you are taking. I would suggest that you read the information on www.drlowe.com to learn more about this.’
‘Hi. I am reading your articles with great interest. I am female with low adrenals and low thyroid. Since the low thyroid is caused by Hashimotos thyroiditis is it a good idea for me to take large doses of Vitamin D (around 3,000-5,000)?
Recently I read that this much vitamin D can be harmful if you have Hashimotos. I don’t take any meds and rely solely on nutritional supplementation to counter the low adrenals, thyroid, fibromyalgia, etc. problems.
Also, any advice on what to take or do to help Costochondritis. Have it severely and find little info about it. You’re spot on with your nutritional information. Terrific site. Will now be a regular. Thank you.’
‘Thank you for the positive feedback on my website! I’m glad to know that I will have you as a regular visitor.
Whilst I am not an expert on this, I am aware of a reasonably high number of studies linking vitamin D deficiency to autoimmune conditions, and Hashimoto’s in particular. Visit this page for a good set of studies:
I am not, however, at all informed about Costochondritis, so I cannot offer any suggestions to help you with this unfortunately.
Your question about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and vitamin d is an interesting one. Before reading my answer, please bear in mind that no-one knows for sure how vitamin D affects Hashimoto’s – below are my beliefs at this time.
I am aware that some physicians are recommending currently that people suffering from Hashimoto’s avoid vitamin D supplements as vitamin D has been implicated in the development of the disease by some researchers. I personally find this highly unlikely and I believe that people aiming to lower their vitamin D blood level to combat autoimmune diseases are misguided and are doing themselves great harm. You probably know I’m referring to the Marshall’s protocol (which I have no faith in whatsoever).
I have also heard that some people with Hashimoto’s have to build up their vitamin D dose very slowly to avoid experiencing side effects such as nausea, heart palpitations etc., despite knowing that they are deficient – whether this applies to you, I do not know. You should certainly be careful when trying higher doses of vitamin D.
When you talk about 3000 to 5000 IU as being a high dose, recent research shows that most people need 9000 IU daily to correct a vitamin D deficiency! This is much higher than was previously thought. For more information on this visit www.grassrootshealth.net.
Do you know what your blood vitamin D level is at the moment? If I had Hashimoto’s and was deficient in vitamin D, I would certainly aim to get my levels up (monitoring closely any side effects, however, and if necessary lowering the dose for periods of time).
As said above, no one currently knows for sure how vitamin D affects Hashimoto’s, so you will have to decide what is best for you.
I would be interested to hear what nutritional changes you have made to control your Hashimoto’s and/ or what supplements you take?’
‘I’ve seen a number of recommended cycles for Tongkat Ali (longjack). Which do you feel is best? On the extreme side, one article felt one day on, one day off was the best cycle to keep your body from adapting (and Tongkat Ali have minimal future results). Can this happen?’
‘I’m not sure why people have become so paranoid about developing a tolerance to Tongkat Ali. I would imagine it’s partially due to the effects of anything becoming more obvious after a period of not taking them. However, this applies to synthetic testosterone patches, creams etc. and even minerals such as zinc, magnesium etc.
The vast majority of studies on Tongkat Ali have been done on rats and these have shown increased testosterone levels after daily administration, and the studies showing good improvements in libido in men have also administered it daily.
I have seen the test results of people who have used Tongkat Ali daily for periods of time such as 6 months and have seen significant increases in their testosterone concentration, so I struggle to believe that it becomes completely ineffective if it is not cycled.
However, I have found that the people I’ve recommended take Tongkat Ali have done well on a 6 days on 3 days off cycle, and then to take a week or two off between 6 to 8 week cycles – I don’t think there is any reason to use it less frequently than this. I think 1 day on 1 day off would work but not as well as letting it build up in the system over a period of at least a few days of sustained use.’
I read with interest your piece on Zinc supplementation. I have a very obvious zinc deficiency and have been taking Ionic liquid zinc for 6 months. After reading your article, I noticed that it has 4 mg of copper per 100 mg zinc – do you think this could explain why I’ve felt headachy and sick, while progress has been noticeable but slow?’
‘From my experience and people I’ve worked with, 4mg of copper could easily be causing those symptoms. Other symptoms of too much copper in many people are an ‘on the edge feeling’, spaciness and racing thoughts. This is because copper strongly activates the sympathetic nervous system. 4mg of copper is a high dose that can lead to over arousal symptoms such as headaches and nausea.
Zinc taken alone, on the other hand, should give a relaxed, calm feeling after about 10 minutes. If you want to distinguish between how copper affects you and how zinc affects you, try 50mg of zinc without copper and note effects and another day/ later in the day take 4mg of copper and note the effects – -they will be very different.
Zinc can cause nausea in some when taken on an empty stomach and in some people with sensitive stomachs even when taken with food. It should not be making you headachy like that, however.
How do you know you have a zinc deficiency – have you tested with zinc sulphate solution (‘zinc tally’)? If not I would highly recommend using this to check your progress in correcting your zinc deficiency.
I would suggest taking 100mg of zinc picolinate on an empty stomach (50mg twice a day) and see how you react to this – this should correct your zinc deficiency in 6 months or less. Stop taking copper and I would expect you feel better after a short period of time. If you can handle zinc on an empty stomach I would recommend this.
Some men for whatever reason don’t absorb zinc from food at all well and therefore develop deficiencies. They might however absorb and retain copper well and therefore do not need to supplement at the same time they take high doses of zinc to correct their zinc deficiency. Zinc taken away from food does not affect copper absorption from food so copper status does not neceassarily decline even when taking high doses of zinc.
If you wouldn’t mind telling me, what were the improvements you’ve noticed since starting to build up your zinc reserves? Better strength in the gym, energy levels, mood?’
Ed Clements is a fitness and health writer who offers advice to men and women explaining how to optimise hormone balance through diet, training, lifestyle improvement and through intelligent supplementation.
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