by Nils Osmar. January 2, 2022
I was thinking more this morning about the progress I made in pushing back against sarcopenia in 2020 and 2021. (See this post for information about how I approached it and my results so far.)
The reason I was able to reverse the sarcopenia was in part because I had started taking supplements to boost my testosterone levels. My testosterone had been sinking for a while, enough so that I was thinking taking injections. But I wanted to see first if I could increase my body’s own production of the hormone.
Low Testosterone is Unhealthy
According to a Cleveland Clinic article, symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Low sex drive.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Decreased sense of well-being.
- Depressed mood.
- Difficulties with concentration and memory.
- Moodiness and irritability.
- Loss of muscular strength.
In my case, I was also visibly losing muscle mass. So I added T boosters such as boron, L. Reuteri 6475, and tongkat ali and some other supplements. See complete list here.
It worked. My T levels did start going up. This surprised my doctor, who had insisted that “supplements don’t work.” In January, 2020, after a few months of taking supplements, it had risen to 579 ng/dL
When I saw that my T levels were rising, it occurred to me that I might be able to add some muscle. I was told that this was unlikely at my age: “Adding muscle is a young man’s game”. But I thought it would be fun to try.
Then I Added Resistance Training
So I bought some gym equipment and started working out. I also started taking some hGH boosters such as arginine (with lysine), creatine (with HMB) and beta alanine. This was in August of 2020. After four months of working out, I was tested again and found my levels had gone up again. InJanuary of 2021, they had reached 826 ng/dL.
I was happy about this, but my doctor was actually a little concerned. Testosterone can also go up due to some medical conditions that need treatment, so my doctor ran some tests, but didn’t find anything bad going on; no health problems; the increase really was being caused by the supplements.
Eight Months Later…
So I kept taking them (and kept working out). My last test, in September 2021, showed a continued increase:
All in All…
… I added a lot of muscle between August 2020 (when I started exercising) and the fall of 2021. If my scale is right, I added 25 pounds of muscle total while losing 15 pounds of fat.
Since then, while my muscles have kept growing, the gains have not been as fast as in those first twelve or thirteen months.
I’d been told this might happen; that the most progress is always in the first few months when we’re trying to add muscle; but I think it may also be because I’ve shifted a bit away from activating anabolic pathways. I had been taking hGH boosters five or six days a week; I cut back to taking them only three.
Growth vs. Longevity
The reason that I cut back a bit on the hGH boosters was that they’re anabolic. That’s great in one sense; we need to go anabolic to build muscle. I’m sure my. higher hGH was a part of the reason I my muscles were growing so fat.
hGH is a growth hormone, but is not identical to IGF-1, which is considered pro-aging. IGF-1 is associated with higher insulin; hGH, with lower insulin. IGF-1 increases when we eat a lot of leucine; hGH increases when we do a lot of fasting. hGH injections were the primary component of the first TRIIM trial, which showed that it’s possible to reverse epigenetic aging and revive an involuted thymus gland by raising hGH).
I wasn’t doing injections; I was raising hGH (like I was raising testosterone) by taking supplements; but since hGH is associated with growth and anabolism, I didn’t want to go endlessly in that direction.
If my only goal was to keep building muscle, I wouldn’t worry about going too far in an anabolic direction. But I actually have three goals:
- Adding muscle (I was sliding into sarcopenia before I started working out; my muscles were getting small, weak and flabby; so it was key to reverse that)
- Maintaining a strong immune system (we need some anabolism and some mTOR activation or our immune systems shut down)
- Slowing aging and living longer
Points 1 and 2 involve activating anabolic (growth) pathways, associated with eating more leucine and a higher protein diet. Point 3 involves activating catabolic (longevity) pathways, associated with eating lower protein and doing more fasting.
I’m still taking hGH boosting supplements and testosterone boosters. But I’ve cut the hGH boosters back to three times a week. I take them only on my workout days. I’m drifting in the same direction with my testosterone boosters.
I work out fasted on my exercise days, then have a high protein meal and take my hGH boosters. I eat lower protein on the other four days each week.
It’s a little tricky sometimes finding the right balance, but I think the general approach of eating more protein (and taking more anabolic supplements to boost hGH) on workout days (right after the workout) and eating less protein the rest of the time is a good one, even if it means slower progress in terms of building muscle. I’ve still made a lot of progress, even if it’s slowed a little bit.