Ep. #1130: Ali Gilbert on Optimizing Men’s Hormones and Health

Mike: Hey, hey, welcome to a new episode of muscle for life and belated Happy New Year. I’m recording this introduction on January 2nd. However, I do think an episode went up yesterday on January 1st. And when I recorded the intro for that, I wasn’t looking at the posting schedule and didn’t know it was going up on January 1st.

So here I am on January 3rd with a Happy New Year. I hope you had a great holiday. And a great New Year’s celebration. And I hope that 2024 is going to be whatever you want it to be. I hope that you achieve all of your intentions this year. All of your goals, whatever they may be. And I hope that this year is your best year.

Assuming that you want this year to be your best year. And so anyway, to help you work toward that best year. Especially if you are a man I have. Today’s episode, which is about the purported testosterone crisis. Is there a testosterone crisis in men, and if so, why, what’s going on, what are some of the most likely causes, and is this impacting you?

Again, assuming you’re a man, are your testosterone levels declining? Are they already low? How can you know? What can you do about it? What should you probably not do about it? Including probably the number one most popular solution right now, which is testosterone replacement therapy. And as you’ll learn in this episode, that is not to say that I’m against TRT and my guest is also not against TRT.

It can be perfectly appropriate. However, in my experience, in many cases, it is not appropriate. I have personally, like on a firsthand basis, met virtually and offline. Hundreds of men over the last couple of years, who, in my opinion, should not have went straight to TRT, should have started with natural interventions that can help improve testosterone levels, and only turned to TRT if the natural interventions failed.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, so in today’s episode you are going to get answers to those questions that I posed just a couple of minutes ago. What is going on with Male testosterone levels, particularly here in the West and, and also globally, but particularly here in the West and what are some of the factors in play?

How is this impacting you or how might it be impacting you? What can you do? What should you do? And so forth. And in today’s interview, you are going to be hearing mostly from my guest, Allie Gilbert, who is a men’s health coach, an expert popularly known online as the queen of men’s health. And Allie has helped thousands of men of all ages and circumstances improve their hormones and thus their health, their energy, their physical, mental, and sexual performance, and more.

Hey Allie, it’s nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to come and talk with me and my listeners.

Ali: Thank you, Mike, for having me. It’s a pleasure. I’m super excited.

Mike: Yeah, this is going to be a good discussion because it’s something that I’ve written and spoken about a bit over the years, but I haven’t had an in depth discussion like we’re going to have today and it’s a hot topic.

So I’m always looking forward to things that. I can learn a little bit and we can talk about something that is relevant to a lot of people listening. And that is, we’re going to talk about men’s health. And we’re going to talk about hormones in particular, um, testosterone and other hormones that can influence estrogen, for example, in men.

And, uh, it came from its health and what, what men can do to improve their hormonal health and how that can improve various aspects of, uh, their physical mental health performance, mood, and so forth. And so. The first question I wanted to ask you is if it’s true that at least here in the West, I’ve, I’ve seen it claimed mostly here in the West, but maybe it’s also claimed that it’s happening elsewhere, that there is a general decline in testosterone in men that has been occurring over the last several decades and that it’s reaching levels on average that are concerning.

That on average, it really is becoming a problem. That’s one claim. And then I’ve seen people argue against this. I’ve seen people argue against the data showing the decline. I’ve seen people acknowledge a decline, but then argue against it being meaningful and that Essentially saying that men don’t have to worry about it.

Don’t have to take any special measures to try to optimize their hormones and so forth.

Ali: Yeah, it’s funny that there are so many arguments over this. I mean, I feel like no matter what industry you’re in, there’s going to be people. Arguing all the time, especially in fitness and nutrition and the hormone space, but in the TRT space alone, there’s a lot of its own hot topics and things that are argued.

But when it comes to the decline in testosterone levels, I think the best way to look at sheer evidence of that is the fact that a lot of the labs themselves, like LabCorp and Quest have lowered the range on labs. So we used to have the lab range of 350 to 1100. And now it’s the lowest that I’ve seen, I don’t know about you, but the lowest I’ve seen is like 186.

And I think it might have been bio reference or something, which is from back north, but I’m like, holy, like that’s. awful. Can you imagine being 26 years old and having testosterone level of like 192 and being told, yeah, you’re good, Mike. Have, have a good day. You know, don’t worry. This is normal. Like, hello.

That’s actually not normal.

Mike: Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s just a, this is just a right wing conspiracy. It has your testosterone is fine. You don’t need more of that stuff. That’s what makes toxic males. You don’t want to be a toxic male. Do you?

Ali: Yeah, no, we don’t want that to happen. And, and it is actually quite global. Um, I don’t know the stats globally, but I do know the sperm production in men is down globally. So that obviously correlates with testosterone levels to a point. And Dr. Shanna Swan wrote a book on it. And she actually create she did a study in 2017 because she herself did not believe. Of this decline and she’s like, there’s got to be things that they’re not accounting for.

And she went and figured it out herself. And she’s like, Oh my gosh, this is actually really a thing. And if you think about like our, you know, I’m 42, so my dad and grandfather’s generation, the way they look, the way they act, the way they go about their lives is completely different than men growing up nowadays.

So not only is there a physical characteristic. Correlation to the lower testosterone, which also has to do with our sedentary nature, but just the way men in general are acting, which has many different directions that can go, but like, honestly, it doesn’t lie when you’re seeing on lab ranges like, oh, this has been decreased.

Like, I think LabCorp did it in 2017. They may have done it again, but having those lab ranges lowered so much is just to account for the fact that men are showing up with lower and lower levels. And that’s a problem because testosterone correlates with health.

Mike: And can you talk a bit more about that point regarding health and how clinically low testosterone negatively impacts health, well being, uh, I mean, performance is probably generally understood that it negatively impacts performance, but maybe not, um, to What degree and also how, how broadly it can impact performance, body composition and so forth.

Ali: So if we think about testosterone as the main male hormone, then we think about the winning hormone. We think about how it exemplifies like everything that makes up a man, whether that’s secondary sex characteristics, the Adonis lines, having hair on the body, all of those things, and also providing. Very sharp cognitive ability and motivation and drive and just decisive action.

All traits that in some places are considered toxic or are trying to be suppressed. Those are things that make up a man. So. Not only that, but also the fact that testosterone aromatizes or turns into estrogen, which we’ll get into later, but that also helps produce a cardioprotective and neuroprotective benefit.

And it is a very powerful, uh, neurological hormone where it’s not just sexual performance, which I think many men associate testosterone with. And it’s not just physical, like they associate it with the. In the gym, it actually helps them think clearer. And I think many men don’t really realize that. And they may think, oh, well, that’s just old age, or I’m getting depressed, or, you know, it’s just a rainy day or something like that.

But when it’s chronic feelings of low motivation, high stress, Being lethargic, just not having that same drive and winning attitude for either work or family or even going to train that collectively can reflect low T and maybe a few other hormones. But if a man’s not feeling. Like he wants to protect and he wants to kind of take over and lead and all of that stuff.

Then absolutely that can be indicative of having suppressed testosterone levels, because I can go into like the reasons for that from a societal perspective of. The sedentary lifestyle and the fact that the need for men to go out and hunt has been replaced with video games and things of the same nature, because in a video game, yeah, porn, they’ll get that same thrill, but it’s easily accessible.

It’s. Very low effort. They don’t have to really exert themselves to do much and they get that same feeling of, you know, I’m I’m leading and taking over and I’m winning. So that’s obviously a problem. And that creates a very high inflammatory state of physiology, which in turn is going to suppress. Those hormones and the body is not going to be like, Hey, yeah, we could totally procreate right now.

It’s more like, um, yeah, this is not a good environment. We’re just going to try to survive right now because you’re feeding us crap and you’re not doing what you need to do as a human, which is get out and move and, and do all the things that a man is thought to do. Like when I grew up, we got called inside.

From playing on our bike or playing outside, like there was no social media, there was no texting, like we had pay phones, you know, so damn, I’m dating myself, but like, it’s so weird to think now, like, if I lost all that, if I couldn’t text somebody or whatever, like, aside from an emergency, I would be okay.

I do fear for the younger generation that if they were totally stripped of phones and screens and all of that, it would be. Very interesting from even like an experimental standpoint of how they would interact socially with each other.

Mike: Oh, a lot of awkward interactions. That’s how it would go. Or just a lot of no interactions.

I mean, I, I see it. I have two kids, 11 and six, and neither of them have phones and, uh, I allow them to have screen time, but it’s regulated. Um, and, but I see it with some of their friends in school who have smartphones, if that’s even like, I feel like that’s not even a word now, that’s like saying the worldwide web, but they have, they have, they have iPhones at 11 years old unrestricted, which is, uh, I have a hard time on processing that decision as a parent.

I mean, I see sometimes I just watch. And they’re, they’re going to that phone every few seconds. I mean, they, they can’t, it’s like five seconds of whatever over there, and then it’s back to the phone and then it’s on the phone on the phone. And then maybe it’s off the phone for 5 or 10 seconds and it’s back to the phone.

And I don’t know how long these kids have, have had access to screens like that, but I could only imagine if they were taken away, it probably, they would probably exhibit almost like withdrawal symptoms.

Ali: Yeah, I have to imagine that. I mean, the only thing that I can think of that I had when I was younger was America online chat rooms in high school, but you left the Internet where it was like when you got up, you didn’t take it with you like we do in our pocket all day.

And my first cell phone, I was 17 and had to, like, press the number 112 times to spell out one word. So, and I think you paid extra for texting or you had to be like, Hey, Mike, do you have texting? Because I’m going to text you like it was so bizarre. And now, just like you said, like the interaction. So, obviously, I think that plays into somebody’s confidence.

And, you know, I mean, the bullying, that’s another thing, but that’s out of control. Like, if. If you have trolls online, I really feel bad because I get a lot of trolls. Like I feel bad for kids with that can obviously affect confidence, which can also affect testosterone. Like there’s so many different variables now because of the inputs from technology that I think add to that overall decline in addition to the physiological state from just.

Not moving or exercising or doing hard things anymore, but it’s crazy when you actually think about all the different things that contribute. And then, okay, what if we took all that away? It’s not like it would just bounce back. Like we set everyone free into the woods, like survivor style. And we’re like, all right.

Pretend that you’re, you know, an Eagle Scout and camp and make your own fire. Like we’d all die.

Mike: I mean, if you, yeah, you transport just a cross section of, uh, of here in the U S at least of our population, just back a couple hundred years and probably within three weeks, most of the people are dead, just, just based on, on lack of physical.

Capability alone, just being able to like move enough to be able to find food and not get killed by something immediately disqualifies it probably at least half of the people.

Ali: Like forget like bugs and things that actually can sting you. It’s like, oh, no phone. I’m going to just definitely disintegrate.

Mike: And I have to walk how far to get food.

I literally can’t do that. So I guess I’m just going to. Lie down, give up, uh, but coming back to this global decline in testosterone, well, actually, first, let me ask, so some of these traditionally masculine traits, I’m just curious as to your thought. I’m sure this is something that you get challenged about because there is this idea now that, well, that’s more of a social construct.

We don’t even have to get into the infinity gender stuff, but more just the idea that these behaviors aren’t so. Mediated by hormones, as much as ideas that have just been, uh, indoctrinated that kids have been indoctrinated into believing that this is how a man should act. Uh, what are your thoughts on that line of argument?

Ali: I think that when I used to start talking about toxic masculinity in. Lectures at seminars, the look on a lot of the younger coaches faces was like, Oh my gosh, she’s going to go off on a feminist rant, which was the exact opposite. I was like, you know, I’m in men’s health. I’m a female in men’s health. My heart goes out to what you guys have to deal with because growing up in strength and conditioning and all that stuff, like I was always around men.

And when things started to shift, Was I forget what year it was where the me too movement came about, which, I mean, that’s the truth. It’s obviously a very sensitive topic and, you know, I obviously don’t wish anybody to be assaulted in any way, but that’s when things shifted socially to where I remember asking a bunch of my male colleagues.

I asked them, are you guys afraid to give a woman compliments now? And they were terrified.

Mike: Yeah, it’s something like in the workplace, for example, you do not do that period. Just don’t do it.

Ali: No, but growing up in working in gyms and training environments, like I could joke around with my male colleagues all day long and.

Nothing would happen, but if they joked around with me, that could be perceived a certain way in the corporate world world and stuff like that. So they’re like, yeah, I’m terrified to say like, Oh Allie, I like your sweater. Like, you know, I have a Barbie sweatshirt on for those who can’t see. I could say, well, wow, you’re a creep.

Like, I hate that for guys. And I asked that also on Instagram. And I also asked the women who follow me, granted, I only have 20 percent female followers, but I said, Hey. Is chivalry something you guys still appreciate? Do you get upset if a man holds a door for you? You know, a lot of these things that are pushing that social narrative, and a lot of, I think almost all women, again, 20%, but all women were in favor of things that were seemingly masculine or male.

So now I’m like, okay, so who’s really Making this a thing because any woman I’ve talked to, even in person, they’re like, I love when a man takes the lead. I love when he takes decisive action. Like,

Mike: I think of a book I read recently in the last 6 months. It was on. So, um, her name was Emily post and she wrote a book on manners a long time, 100 years ago or something that.

It was very popular and still is. And then it’s like her grandson or something who wrote a book specifically for men. And it was based on, uh, there, there was a bunch of survey data in there where they were, he and his team were serving a bunch of women who were somehow connected to his organization.

Maybe I don’t remember the exact details of where these women were, but it was supposed to represent a reasonable cross section of just women here in America. And it backs up exactly what you’re saying, where the majority of women by survey various ages, um, and various marital statuses, they wanted a.

Man who had traditional masculine behaviors, positive behaviors, obviously, and there are stereotypical negative direct traditional masculine negative behaviors to, and a lot of those are the things that annoyed the women, but the positive stuff, which some of it would probably fall under the heading of chivalry.

Some of it would just really fall under the header of having good manners, but that’s that’s what a lot of women. Said that they, they were attracted to and drawn to and wanted.

Ali: Yeah, no, I a hundred percent agree. And I was just trying to make sure that it wasn’t my own personal opinion. And I tell people, listen, some people will perceive me as a strong female.

However, it’s not so overpowering where my husband feels any type of way. And my husband doesn’t feel he has to ask me permission for anything. Cause that would be a turnoff. Like, you know. I want him to be able to take the lead and be a man. And so that I found very interesting. And again, this is not like, you know, a published global experiment, but it was more like in my circle, which happened to be quite male dominated.

And then asking women that I did happen to know that seems to be the overwhelming theme. And you do see socially, like on TikTok and stuff like that, where women want guys to step up and be a man and now I’m like, Okay, so what does this mean? And I think a lot of that younger generation, maybe because they didn’t have the exposure to androgens as the generation of us growing up, or because socially, it seems that they didn’t have the exposure to androgens as the generation of us growing up.

Masculinity, meaning high drive, maybe it’s aggression, maybe stuff like that is now being suppressed because testosterone is bad and testosterone is associated with aggression, you know, no one says like, oh, estrogen, like, oh, this person is going to go on an estrogen rage like that. That doesn’t happen like women don’t get.

You know, stigmatize the way that men do with this hormone. So there’s a lot of different areas surrounding it, including the stigmas of thinking that it’s cheating. And if a man goes on that, that’s cheating. Why is a man cheating if he goes on testosterone and what is he cheating at? Is that because it’s associated with sport?

Like, do you find that discussion comes up a lot?

Mike: It’s always, it’s always in the, in the comments of, uh, any discussion around testosterone TRT. And I, I agree with you. I think that, um, TRT is appropriate in some cases. It seems to be over prescribed. At this point, it seems to be more popular than. It should be, in my opinion, I’ve just seen too many young people in particular guys in their twenties with healthy testosterone levels, easy to find a doctor who will prescribe and they don’t, they shouldn’t be, it’s like, you know, oh, they test out at 800 NGDL or something.

You’re fine, dude. And, and going from 800 to even, let’s say 13, 14, 1500 doesn’t quite make sense. It’s not going to make that much of a difference. If you really want to get Jack, that’s why you’re doing it, you’re going to have to take more. Not that I’m recommending it, but yeah, that’s that’s another discussion.

But regarding the cheating point, of course, yes, that makes no sense. I mean, even in even in sports name a sport where. People where someone has been caught taking testosterone, that’s because everybody takes testosterone. It’s not unfortunately, the minority of people, this would be men who are not taking it are probably at a disadvantage and.

The only reason they can compete at that level is because they are a freak among freaks, just, just, they just have crazy genetics and maybe crazy work ethic. And they’ve somehow been able to stay at that level without the advantage that probably most of their. Peers, most of their competitors have, but if we take that down to a guy just working out and wanting to be healthy and not, not competing at anything other than just maybe competing against himself, he’s just trying to get a little bit stronger than he was yesterday.

And, um, he has low testosterone, clinically low. He’s done everything that he can within reason to correct it naturally. I do think that’s the smart place to start. And I have a quick story I’ll share on that. Um, but if that doesn’t work and then the next step, if it were me, the next step would be TRT, absolutely.

It wouldn’t even be to get big muscles. It would be for. Reasons you’ve already talked about. This is about health. It’s about quality of life. It’s about longevity. Clinical testosterone is associated with a higher risk of various types of diseases. It’s a bad thing to have. And there are some risks associated with T.

R. T. But when you weigh them against the risks of living with low testosterone. The decision is easy and, uh, just a quick little anecdote. I don’t want to, I don’t want to hijack the conversation, but I have a friend who he tested quite low. You said it was probably something around 200 between one 50 and 200, which is actually, I was a little bit surprised because he’s a smaller person, so he’s never been a muscular guy, um, but.

His I never saw any symptoms related to motivation, cognitive clarity is a smart guy is a very motivated guys, super successful in business, travels all around the world, speaks at conferences, he just go, go, go, go, and he doesn’t even he just does it because he loves the game and the thrill of growing his his empire at this point, he’s worth so much money, he could just stop, he doesn’t even have to do it, which which it takes a little bit extra motivation to do stuff that you don’t really want to do like all the traveling.

He didn’t. Particularly, he still does it. He doesn’t particularly love it, but he does it because it’s in service to a goal that he doesn’t have to. He could just be like, Oh, that’s right. I don’t have to do anything. I’m rich. I’ll just stop. And I’m going to, I’m going to spend every minute every day of every day now, just indulging in whatever whim pops into my mind.

You know what I mean? But he doesn’t. And so I was a little bit surprised. Um, however. His, his doctor said, Oh, let’s get you on TRT. You definitely need it. And for context, he’s probably 36, 37. And so he came to me to ask my opinion and I said, no, no, no. Let’s start with, let’s go down this checklist of things we can do naturally.

What does your diet look like? What are your cows start with your calories? And so it went down. The list and turns out he was chronically under eating to see we get busy and he just wouldn’t eat much food on average. And, um, he wasn’t doing much strength training and the strength training he was doing was more like calisthenics.

So it wasn’t very vigorous. He, his diet was low in protein. Um, it was also kind of low in fat. So it was kind of a vegetarian, but higher carb, which is. Okay, ish, um, and he would eat nutritious food, but it just was macro nutritionally wacky. It was a bit imbalanced. So, so address that addressed his training, got him doing a few strength training, proper strength training workouts.

Like you have to, you have to work hard. You’re going to do some, some resistance training. We can do the cardio as well. It’s smart, increased calories, increased protein, um, balanced out his, his macronutrients. It balanced out some of his food choices, um, to get some more healthy fat in his diet. Also get some more saturated fats.

He had like basically none in his diet, which is not a good thing. Um, and, and then some natural supplements that are speculative, but are not going to hurt boron, um, deaspartic acid, tonkat ali, anything with at least some evidence of efficacy DHEA, which actually has some good evidence for people who are low in testosterone.

So there are some things that if you’re low, there’s good evidence for efficacy. There’s some, there are some things, as you know, that are more speculative that I would never sell as a testosterone booster because that’d be dishonest. But if somebody has low testosterone, there are no downsides, like the worst it’s going to do is nothing.

So let’s just do it all. And, um, within a few months, he, he redid his labs and his testosterone levels were. Up around 400 between 350 and 400 and just a few months. And so he’s he is still going on it. So now it’s probably been 5 months and he’ll get he’ll get labs done. I think in the next month or 2, but he’s noticed more energy.

He’s noticed more sex drive. He’s put on some muscle. Now he has people who see him and they’re like, Oh, dude, you’re like filling out your clothes. And so, and so it’s great. He loves it. And he’s happy that he didn’t have to get on TRT because he understood. And I mean, I explained to him, but he knew that once you get on, you can’t stop.

So again, that’s not an argument against it. It’s just an understanding that. You may be able to correct the situation naturally and then one day we’re probably all of us men are going to are going to want to get on it. Maybe we can make it until 60. I don’t know. Maybe, maybe, but there is a point where as the body ages, things just don’t work so well anymore.

And so my personal goal is to. To just stay off as long as I can and do the natural things that work. And so that’s my little story.

Ali: No, I love that. Cause I think people don’t understand the power of getting your act together. So to speak, like that is a huge component and contributor, because there are a ton of guys who see, well, Testosterone is just going to solve all my problems and it’s not the panacea they want it to be and they find out real quick that you have to dial in your nutrition and your sleep and your fitness and all that stuff because it’s literally taking a man who is operating like.

a Ford Taurus, and they’re going to purchase a Lamborghini engine and put it in the Taurus. Good luck. It’s not going to be very much fun, even though the idea of it seems like this is going to be rad, like your body’s not ready for that. And those are things that you have to take care of regardless if you go on testosterone or not.

So it’s not an either or it’s you actually do have to like pay attention to this and bring the best most elite version of yourself as a man to the table just to add testosterone as kind of like the polish everything else has to be seen as. The building blocks and the platform and all of that stuff, which I mean, we can expand on in various different ways as to why that’s important, but that’s like a great story to talk about because not a lot of people think that that’s possible.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, his doctor was skeptical and. His doctor didn’t really agree with me. I, I laid it all out in an email and sent it to my friend, like, this is what we’re going to do. Here’s your diet plan. You know, here are all the details. And his doctor was like, meh, meh, sure. You can waste your time with that if you want.

Ali: Oh my gosh. That, I mean, yeah, nothing, nothing shocks me anymore, but you know, kudos to you guys for getting that done. And granted 400’s not, What you know in the levels where but still from where you came from to going to that I mean That just shows the power of like, oh, okay, look what happened now. What happens if he actually started TRT at such a low level, then he probably would have had to increase his dosage so much to way too quickly too soon.

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I wanted to come back to this, this, uh, general decline in, in testosterone in men and ask about some of the factors you mentioned sedentary living, which, uh, not moving your body is bad for that. And then that also leads to weight gain inevitably and higher body fat levels. We know that’s not good for testosterone.

You mentioned not only being sedentary, but doing just. Dopamine driven activities like video games, and I guess they’re almost like proxies for getting out in the world and achieving things where you can get this kind of false hollow sense of achievement in a virtual world. What are some of the other factors?

Like, for example, there’s a controversy over how much, um, the. Artificial type of estrogen mimicking chemicals in our environment. How much does that matter? Um, is that something we should try to as men or really as women? Just should people try to limit their exposure to these chemicals? Are there practical ways to do that?

Like, you know, that’s something that many people listening have probably heard. And then whatever other factors you feel are the driving influences in this decline.

Ali: Yeah, I’ll always go with, uh, obesity and too much body fat being the number one driver. And I think the definition of what actual being too big has changed also socially.

But for what I tell our guys is if we’re over 20 percent body fat, then that’s something that we’re going to have to work on and getting down towards 15%, which. Most people would think is like stage lean, which it’s really not. It’s actually like visible abs, uh, especially in a man like 15%. That’s so low.

No, actually, this is something that’s really healthy. And if a man inevitably does go on TRT, the leaner he is, the better it will work for him. So if we paint the picture as like, let’s work towards 15%. Then we know that we’re already working in the trend of the direction that we want to go for more optimal testosterone.

But as far as the other contributing factors, I think, uh, knowing men and coaching men, it’s very overwhelming for anybody to hear about all these chemicals that are going to kill us. And like, the only way to avoid it is to not leave the house. Well, clearly we tried that and look how that worked out for us.

So I think. Compartmentalizing it to what is actually important because I’ve had guys and I’m sure you’ve had to where they’re trying to biohack their way into their health because of everything they’ve read and heard, which it may not be you’re doing bad things, but it’s more of the hierarchy of prioritization.

So if he’s working on nutrition and fitness and sleep and the things we mentioned, then it would make sense to take a bigger look into what am I actually putting on my body every day? What am I drinking? Where is the source of all my things? And I would say for men to make it easy, if there was A top three list for what do I start with?

Number one would be switch any of your plastic Tupperware, anything that you use to store or heat food, to glass. That’s a very easy fix. There’s tons of glass containers everywhere now. So gone are the days of heating up Tupperware in the microwave because of the estrogenic chemicals in there that get in the food.

So that’s easy for them to do. Number two, There’s tons of products now for men geared towards natural ingredients for the shower, soap, all that stuff. So anything that you’re putting on your body every single day, I would say switch that out with a brand that is reputable, that does not have the bad chemical things that are going to act as estrogens.

And then the third thing would be switch the water bottles for stainless steel or glass, which is also quite an easy fix. Again, I understand that if you’re traveling and it’s easy to buy a plastic water bottle and stuff like that, but we’re more saying pay attention that if you have a plastic water bottle in your car and you’re in Florida like us and it’s hot, I wouldn’t drink it.

It’s getting in the weeds of what, when, when, uh, you read about things like red number 40 and the, the dyes and things personally, um, I tell guys, listen, obviously it’s not something that you should seek out to purchase and over consume. If you have a red Gatorade zero once in a while, like it’s not going to kill you.

It’ll be okay. Because it can get really like crazy, like, you know, obviously the receipts that CVS gives you is a scarf and it’s slathered with BPA, and I remember I used to talk about that a lot, and guys would be like, I throw the receipt back at people whenever I go anywhere and it looks really weird and blah blah blah, and I’m like, alright, am I overdoing it by talking about this?

But again, that’s not like the main thing that we have to focus on again, other than.

Mike: Yeah, it’s more like if you work in the receipt factory and you’re like touching receipt paper all day every day, then maybe you should be wearing some gloves.

Ali: Yeah, like don’t, you don’t have to, yeah, so I was like, this is getting out of control, because like, there’s no way to avoid any of these things, like, we are literally born into the world, put on a plastic tube, like, you just can’t avoid it, so.

What can we do to kind of cut down exposure? I tell guys like those three things. I’m like, if we start there, that’s probably already more than most of earth is doing. And I think that’ll get you a long way. And for guys who are really more into it, like if they want to change their shower filter head and all that stuff, like that’s perfectly okay.

That’s great. You know, I’m not going to say that that is unnecessary, but again, it’s somebody’s budget. It’s what they deem important stuff like that. But I think if you’re putting something on yourself every single day, then it might as well be something that’s not going to be harmful over time. Because I think it’s not so much the acute usage or 1 Gatorade.

It’s. If it’s multiple times a day over the course of years.

Mike: And if it’s then multiple methods of exposure, basically, every day for a long time. So, um, maybe it’s moisturizer. I don’t know how I put moisturizer on my face, which is something. My wife, I just take her word on it. That’s a good thing. I don’t know if it really does anything, but I, but I do it anyway.

Um, but I don’t put it on my body, but you know, probably most women do. And then, and then there’s makeup. So this is more applicable to women, but this is something I told my wife to think about, like you’re putting this moisturizer on your body, you’re putting some sort of makeup on your face. Most days I would be thinking.

About that, because it’s going to absorb into your skin. So the same would apply to men. And then in addition to maybe, so let’s say they’re getting exposed to these chemicals through their shampoo through their soap through their moisturizer, maybe some whatever else they’re putting on their skin. And then maybe you add on top of that.

Regularly eating out of and drinking out of plastic, especially as you said, plastic that’s been heated up. So they microwave their lunch in the plastic Tupperware, which, um, helps the chemicals leach out into the food and maybe a couple other avenues of exposure. And now we’re actually at a clinically meaningful.

Level of exposure, and so if you can’t eliminate, as you’re saying, a few of those, and maybe you can’t eliminate them all, but you can bring it down to where the effect is negligible. And, um, something I’ve always told people, men or women, when having this type of discussion to keep in mind is the net effect is what matters the most.

And so what I’ve seen is that. People can get very wrapped up in trying to biohack these things and optimize, uh, if we’re talking about this specifically, but this has come just like a macro trend in, in biohacking without, so they’re picking hormones and they’re in some cases, I would say imposing a fair amount of inconvenience on themselves and.

There’s a regular amount of kind of cognitive overhead that is going with maintaining this, this lifestyle, but, but they’re not, they’re not actually even tracking the net effects, the results. So in this case, doing blood work and seeing if any of this even matters, like you might start before you start spending a lot of your time and effort on.

Trying to avoid all these different types of foods and different types of, uh, chemicals in your environment, and then trying to add certain activities into your, into your routine at very specific times, blah, blah, blah. Start with getting blood work done and, and at least understanding where you’re at.

Like you might, you might be great. You, you might, it doesn’t mean you can’t do those things, but. You might not have a problem at all, and then you do those things, make sure to then look at the results and you might find that all that stuff that you did had basically a meaningless effect on if we’re looking at testosterone, your testosterone, and then you can choose.

To continue it or not, but at least then you have some data that you can work with as opposed to in some cases, it’s like fears and anxieties that are stoked often by people on social media who are exaggerating the dangers and the purported harms of different foods and different chemicals that were exposed to and so forth.

Ali: Oh, yeah. I mean, if you think about say that you’re it could be any age man where you look on social media for how to best get myself in the best health and it starts with a morning routine that takes four hours of like getting in touch with your chakras and journaling for half an hour. Like nobody has time for that.

In addition to like all these other rituals that are Oh, yeah. Seemingly different than what most of society does now. I’m not saying don’t have a morning routine. I think routines are fantastic, but I think a lot of it is very contextual because if you’re a 25 year old who has no Children and works from home, like different story.

Mike: You should probably just get up and go to work. That’s that’s that should probably be your routine. That’s probably the best routine is just get up, go to work and start working. Maybe drink some water. I’ll let you do that. You drink some water. Do not put the Himalayan salt in it. You can drink some water and you can go to work.

Ali: Oh my God. That’s why I tell like, like a lot of my followers know that I love energy drinks. Like I’m drinking one now and they’re like, Oh, you drink those. I’m like. Yeah, sometimes I drink two a day and they, they’re like, Oh my God, like, they’re shocked that I’m not like following the inspo of most influencers that to avoid things like that.

I’m like, listen, you know, it’s not like I’m drinking 15 a day, every day with sugar. In addition to all, all these other carcinogenic habits, like, you know, I am a real human too. It’s okay. But a lot of these guys, I think it’s so, like you said, very, very overwhelmed and, and, Too much into that because it doesn’t matter as much as The easy part, which is walking outside.

Mike: It’s the unsexy stuff. It’s the stuff of eating well, training hard, training regularly. Like you said, get enough sleep. It’s so much. I mean, of course it’s the 20 percent that gives you the 80%. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m just, I’ve never generally been a fan of the biohacking space. And I’ve, I’ve seen it mostly as misleading marketing more than anything else.

Ali: Yeah, we’re, we’re on the same page with that because yeah, like a lot of the contraptions and stuff like it’s cool, but it’s just another thing that the consumer needs to worry about and I don’t know about you, but I used to really focus on sleep with clients early on and then as I evolved, I realized that and by focus, I meant it.

Sleep hygiene, but actually placing more of an importance on it than it really was because a lot of clients would buy the blue light glasses, start a routine before bed, which are all great things, but nothing was changing. And I realized over time, if they really dialed in training and nutrition. Then better sleep is actually a byproduct, especially with men, including aerobic fitness, because they’re terrified their muscles are going to fall off.

But if they incorporated that, it was like a whole new world. Resting heart rate came down or a ring got better. You know, all the technology is great, but it also, unless you’re working with a coach and you’re on your own, you’re like, Oh, Aura says that I should rest today, but I feel amazing, but I don’t want to overdo it, you know?

Mike: Yeah, I’ve, I’ve talked about that. I had a, it was an interview or something, but, but yeah, that we’ve discussed that here on the podcast thoroughly, at least, uh, at least a few times and. I’ve used various, uh, little gadgets for tracking sleep, and I guess I found them kind of gimmicky. Some of the data is kind of interesting, I guess.

But as far as if you’re if your goal is to get better sleep, you can, whether you have a ring or a band on or not doesn’t isn’t isn’t going to matter very much. It’s going to be these other things. And I also found that I didn’t need a device to tell me when I slept well or didn’t sleep well, like I know when it’s time to get out of bed in the morning, I either feel good or I don’t feel good.

That’s basically and and there’s a spectrum of that. So I could feel really good, really rested or really bad and really unrested and. We know, uh, where we’re at approximately, uh, on, on that spectrum. And, uh, it’s interesting, you said about improving training, improving nutrition, and then better sleep naturally comes and you have sleep routines that in some cases it’s supposed to consume like an hour or an hour and a half or something of, of your time just to get ready for bed.

So I’ve had, uh, I’m kind of a light sleeper. And so for years now, really since my daughter came, so six years for the last six years. I don’t really sleep through the night. I’m going to wake up anywhere from probably one to three times on average. And usually I have to pee, but it’s just, it just kind of is what it is.

And, um, so I’ve tried everything short of sleep drugs because those, I mean, ironically, it was actually at this point, there’s research showing that some of these drugs don’t even work. They work no better than a placebo. They just come with serious side effects. And so I haven’t, I haven’t bothered with them.

And I’ve tried different routines and blah, blah, blah, all the name, something that makes sense, even remotely. I’ve tried it. The, the only things that have worked well for me are cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. That actually worked quite well. I was a little bit surprised. And even, even some of the educational material helped kind of dispel some sleep myths that are just generally accepted, like the absolute importance of getting at least eight hours of sleep per night.

Well, there’s a large body of. Evidence that suggests that actually closer to 7 hours, uh, per night is, is, is better for most people. Like, that’s when they report best, the best, uh, physical performance, cognitive performance, mental clarity and so forth. Um, also a large body of evidence shows that while you might not feel great on, let’s say, 6 to 6 and a half hours per night, that basically.

All of us could live indefinitely on six and a half hours of sleep per night and, and be fine. Uh, again, it’s not ideal. It’s not recommended, but it’s not as harmful as some people, especially sleep influencers would have you believe that if you only get six or six and a half hours of sleep, it’s if it’s a few nights, even if it’s a regular thing, a few nights per week, you’re going to be fine.

Uh, so long as you get your core sleep, which is only five and a half hours of sleep, you should feel. Okay, you should be able to perform. You might notice that your mood is a bit worse, but there’s there’s research that shows that in many people, some, if not a lot of the negative effects they associate with not sleeping enough.

Especially when it’s in the range of 6 to 7 hours. Okay. If it’s 2 hours by the end of that day, you’re not feeling so great. But if they, if they got their core sleep and maybe even a little bit more than that, that some, if not many of the negative side effects that they associate with not getting enough sleep are.

Psychosomatic basically, like it’s not a physical physiological thing. It’s a psychological thing. And some of that comes with the ideas they start to have about sleep, but you know, they wake up and they realize that they didn’t sleep well. And the first thought they have is, Oh, today’s is going to be terrible.

I’m going to have a terrible workout. I’m not going to be able to do my work. And, and so there are other negative ideas that, um, you can naturally develop. And I understand cause I’ve gone through it. Periods of not sleeping well, where it seems almost like the logical conclusions, especially given some of the, at this point, I would say it’s kind of misinformation about how fragile our bodies are in relation to sleep.

And so then these ideas can perpetuate. The problem can exacerbate the problem and so, so anyway, I went through, um, cbti and that was that that was helpful, like just going through that educational material and the program I went through was designed by, I think he’s like a Harvard guy professor. Um, I wouldn’t even recommend it because he was, or the person who answers his emails.

Was hilariously rude, like I actually, I didn’t even get offended. It was a joke, how rude this person was, and I’m, I’m not a rude person. So I wasn’t asking for much, but I did, I did like his program and I liked his material. And so I didn’t dig into his references and try to fact check everything. I did take him at his word to some degree, given his credentials.

This is so with that being said. In learning some new things that I hadn’t really come across because I’ve, I’ve come across more of the alarmist kind of stuff regarding sleep hygiene and less of the, I guess, just more relaxed and almost, um, non, that sounds too, too negative, just more balanced and a message of, yes, sleep is important and yes, you should be trying to get about 7 hours of sleep per night.

If you don’t, it’s not a big deal. Like, if it’s, if it’s every day forever, you’re maybe, maybe you should try to get a little bit more sleep. But certainly if it’s here and there, don’t worry about it. You do not need to strive for eight hours of sleep per night. Actually, ironically, a large body of evidence shows that certainly once you give a Get above eight hours of sleep per night.

That’s actually, it’s associated with an increased risk of mortality, not decreased. So you certainly shouldn’t be trying to force yourself to sleep nine or 10 hours per night, unless maybe, okay, you’re an NFL player and it’s game day and you’re trying to get extra sleep to perform better. Okay, fine. Uh, but that, that also would be almost like a, uh, an intervention that wouldn’t be a lifestyle really.

And that would not be recommended as a lifestyle. And so I go through the educational material and strangely what I noticed immediately, like immediately before I did any of the behavioral stuff, which was just, I wasn’t getting up at the same time every day anymore. I used to do that in the past and I wasn’t, and that’s actually very good for, I didn’t, I didn’t know how important that point alone is more important than when you go to bed is when you get up and I wasn’t.

Restricting my time in bed properly. That’s also very important behavior. No more than one hour, more than you actually sleep per night. And, um, so before that, though, I go through the educational material and immediately I didn’t notice an improvement in my sleep per se, but the. I, I immediately dealt with too little sleep better, like it affected me less.

I noticed I had more energy despite not sleeping enough to feel fully rested. I noticed that I had better concentration, better focus. I was. Uh, able to do my work better. Um, I was able to have conversations like this better. Whereas previously I just would feel kind of fuzzy headed and that was immediate from just the education.

And so I just thought that was interesting that, you know, it speaks a little bit to the. I mean, what else happened there? It was a psych, there’s something psychological that was going on that, um, that, that changed is the easiest and even evidence based explanation for what happened there. And so anyway, that’s a, that’s a long tangent, but for anybody who’s having sleep issues, I would highly recommend looking into some cognitive behavioral therapy pros are there for insomnia.

There are different ones out there. Um, And, but they all work mostly the same. I’ve looked into other ones as well. And one other thing I’ll add before I shut up is what also has worked well for me. I’ve tried every supplement that has any association with improved sleep. The ones that I’ve stuck with are magnesium.

That does seem to reliably just help with relaxation. Um, 300 milligrams, about an hour or so before bed. I take sucrosomal magnesium and glycine, which I don’t use every day because it has this an interesting effect that I still don’t think has been fully explained. Um, in that if you don’t sleep enough, taking glycine the, before you go to bed that night before can help reduce the, uh, negative effects associated with under sleeping.

But if, if you use it. Too often that seems to wear off. It still can help with relaxation. It still can improve sleep quality, but that point of helping you feel better on less sleep will wear off if you use it every day. So I’ll use it a few days and then go off a few days. And those are really the only two supplements.

Valerian root has seemed to have a slight sedative effect, but That’s not something that I take regularly. The two that are now just my, my kind of little night routine or the magnesium and then glycine on and off. And lastly is no TV at night. I don’t think it’s just the, the, the blue light. Um, I remember in this CVTI program.

The guy who created his, his comment on TV was that if you’re sitting, let’s say, six plus feet away from the TV, which you normally are that the light at that distance shouldn’t have a significant impact on melatonin levels, melatonin production, which I, which was interesting. And that actually did make a note.

Like, I’m curious to see his. Source on that. Not that I necessarily doubt him because although he’s a rude person or his assistant is a rude person, I mean, he’s a Harvard sleep professor. I’m going to, I’m going to defer to his expertise over mine, but, but regardless, I’ve noticed consistently that watching TV at night, if it’s within an hour to two hour, an hour is.

Probably cutting it too close. Like if it’s within, let’s say an hour and a half to two hours of going to bed, there’s a good chance I’m going to wake up too many times. It’s just not going to be a good night. And so I don’t watch TV basically at all, because that’s the only time I’d watch TV and, um. Go to bed at more or less the same time every day.

Wake up at more or less the same time every day. Sometimes if I don’t sleep well, take a 30 minute nap no later than 3 p. m. so I don’t get into any deep sleep and that can help a lot. Uh, if I, if I didn’t sleep enough and I, if I want to be more mentally sharp for maybe something like this, or I need to do work 30 Is more cognitively demanding, just 30 minutes is enough where I’m only falling asleep for probably 15 minutes.

And but it’s actually strange how that can take me from a 10, just in terms of cognitive alertness and energy to like a 7 or 8 out of 10. So I’ve talked a lot. I usually don’t try not to do that, but I know firsthand what it’s like to not sleep well. And so if anybody listening is having any issues and any of that is, uh, can help them, I think it’s, it’s time well hijacked.

Ali: No, I I think that’s so powerful because I didn’t even know that that was a thing for insomnia and I think a lot of guys not only struggle.

Mike: Which insomnia sorry to interject but just so people know insomnia is not only just not being able to fall asleep It’s also not being able to stay asleep.

So that’s the type of insomnia that if I get insomnia, it’s usually not Um, I I generally don’t have trouble Falling asleep. It’s staying asleep. So I just, uh, there probably are people out there who, who do factually have some level of insomnia. Maybe it’s not terrible, but they don’t even realize that it’s insomnia because they think, well, I mean, I can fall asleep fine, or I don’t wake up at 2 a. m. and can’t fall back asleep until 6 a. m. or something, you know?

Ali: Yeah, I think those are great points to make, but bringing to attention the fact that there are other things besides every supplement on planet Earth. Granted, most people try the ones that you named. I personally also take magnesium and glycine can be a real game changer, especially for reducing stress and people who tend to be hyped up for whatever reason at night.

So I even personally, like I, I’ve got clients in Australia and 5 PM and on here is their morning. So sometimes I have to deal with things. 8 p. m 9 p. m and then i’m like all jazzed up or i’m doing a podcast or something late and so that can actually help but looking into the uh cognitive behavior therapy for that is cool but also the fact that you’re telling People, they don’t have to get 8 hours, which thank you because I try to also get that message across because it can make people feel like they’re failing and then subconsciously have that placebo effect.

Well, if I don’t hit 8 hours, then this is why I’m not performing my best. And this is why I’m not doing this and.

Mike: And then and then and they can go down that. That that path of okay, you get your ring or you get your band and now you’re trying to micro optimize your sleep and you can get almost a little bit pathological.

I mean, I’ve seen it. Maybe that’s not commonly how far people take it, but it can go in that direction when you add devices and you add data. To it, where it also can lead to even anxieties. Like if you look at your data first thing in the morning and then you immediately decide basically how your day is going to go based on that data.

Maybe you, maybe you actually feel okay, but the data says that you didn’t sleep well because you had maybe 50 percent more disturbances than usual or something. And now you’re a little bit concerned that come 4 PM, you’re going to be unconscious because. Well, you know, you had the disturbances and, uh, so again, I’m not anti gadgets per se, but I think there needs to be a purpose for them.

And just monitoring data isn’t necessarily a worthy purpose.

Ali: No, and knowing how to not be reactive. And I’ll tell you that the best time to use it is I have very quick story. I have a client who literally would take red eyes. He’d come off the red eye. And this is back when I trained in person, like five years ago, or a ring just came out.

So he would come to the gym for a 6am session and he would be late. It would be like 6, 10. And I text them. I’m like, yo, where are you? He fell asleep in the locker room, putting on his shoes. Clearly, that’s, that’s an issue and he’s like, I don’t need to sleep. You know, I could sleep when I’m dead type of thing.

And I’m like, dude, and I would send him home. I’d be like, I’m still charging you, but you have to go home. Like, this is absurd. I’m fine. I was like, all right, and make him get an aura ring. He’s got like 20s as his score and then I made him get blood work. And when he saw his lipid profile and inflammation markers and blood sugar, I said, now do you believe me?

And then he was able to confront that. But it literally, it was just, to try to get him to realize like, this is not okay. Like you don’t go to the gym. I don’t know how you got here. Cause if you’re falling asleep in the locker, like it’s, it was always like my finance guys that are like that, that, you know, like, anyway, but that, that would be a time to get somebody in or a ring so that they have some evidence.

Cause some men need to see on paper that they’re failing in order to take action on it. Blood work is usually like the scariest if it’s something that’s like, you might die if you continue like this, you know, and aura ring is kind of like, you can gamify it. But yes, there, there are times where people like you, you’ve already done it a million times, or they look at it and they’re like, I don’t need to train that hard cause aura ring tells me not to, so please don’t be that person.

Mike: So there’s a lot of attention that’s put on Testosterone you and you had mentioned earlier in the podcast that it aromatizes it turns into estrogen and that estrogen has some beneficial effects as well. And I thought it would be interesting maybe to follow up on that because there is a lot of attention on boosting testosterone and there.

It’s almost like there’s a false corollary there that you mean, if you want the testosterone high, it means you want the estrogen low and the higher the testosterone, the lower the estrogen, the better. And that can lead men to try to optimize. Their diet optimized, quote unquote, their diet in certain ways to get a bunch of dim in their diet or something or other purported natural estrogen blockers, or maybe even turn to drugs or other things again to get that testosterone out the roof and bring the estrogen down as low as possible.

Why? Why is that bad? And why is estrogen not our enemy?

Ali: So I love this because it’s like one of the hottest topics in the TRT space also. And at my men’s health event, silverback summit, I literally had like a panel dedicated to talking about that because there is so much fury amongst different practitioners and, um, I don’t think that a lot of people understand where it comes from, and I think that the understanding is that the misconception about estrogen comes from the fact that, obviously, it’s the predominant female hormone, so men think, oh, I’m going to turn into a girl.

The bro science world, so for bodybuilding, that It’s always been, well, no matter how much testosterone you’re on and what other compounds, you’ve got to block and suppress that estrogen. So, the best analogy that I’ve heard is, if you think about what happens to women when they go through menopause, insulin resistance, they’re prone to osteoporosis, they can gain belly fat, they’re very prone to heart disease, cardiovascular events, and so on and so forth.

So, a lot of that can also happen to men if they try to block and crush their estrogen. Thanks again. And I’ve had clients where 47, 48, they’ve been on anastrozole is the main aromatase inhibitor that is prescribed. He was on that for a very long time, did a DEXA scan. His bone density was showing osteopenia.

And this is a guy who’s jacked, lifts very heavy, very healthy. And I was like, dude. So obviously he came off of that, but I don’t think they realized that. Part of the reason why that happens to women is because they lose estrogen in menopause and that’s a big problem. So the same thing is going to happen to a man, but people think that if they have high estrogen or estrogen, that’s out of.

And also arbitrary range on lab work, that something bad is going to happen. And there are a lot of clinics that will prescribe this as part of what I call the TRT starter pack, which is testosterone and astrozole, and then something for fertility. But they don’t know why they’re prescribing. They’ll just say, well, high estrogen is bad.

It’s going to cause strokes. It’s going to cause all this stuff. There are no studies that have a causative effect with high estrogen in men that’s aromatized from testosterone, and that’s frankly a process that you want to happen because it’s an enzymatic natural process. Blocking any enzyme is not going to end up in a good time.

Similar to finasteride for hair loss, blocking 5 alpha reductase for DHT. So, it’s now becoming more accepted that men can let their estrogen fly freely on labs, and they can be in triple digits as long as they feel fine. Then, there’s really no reason to do anything about it, and Then the argument for guys would be, well, I feel like I’m going to get gyno and I have quote, estrogen side effects.

And that goes back to our discussion about why is testosterone low in men? Well, if you have too much body fat, You have a lot of inflammation. You have the suppressive effects of testosterone. So now you’re bringing the Lamborghini engine, putting it into the Taurus, so your body doesn’t want to produce this hormone.

Now you’re getting it exogenously, so of course it’s going to freak out, and then you’re going to have things like sensitive nipples and water retention and all these things. Because of the inflammation and insulin resistance, not because of the estrogen, and that’s one of the biggest misconceptions amongst doctors and clinics and, and men in general, because normal fluctuation issues are going to result in having weird things happen.

So when you start hormones, you’re going to have itchy nipples, maybe, or stuff like that, but that does go away over time. It’s not a reason. To grab something to block another hormone that is literally a chemotherapy drug that you’re going to give a guy to shove down a hormone to satisfy a lab marker, which is actually not truly reflective of how much estrogen a man is actually producing.

So that’s, I’ll get off my soapbox now because that gets me very passionate and I’ve just heard so many of the arguments and everything that I legally can’t tell any of my clients come off anastrozole if they’re on it. However, when they have been advised by a doctor to come off of that, they actually do feel better because it also can dry out their joints.

They can actually, I tell them, hey, number one, it could drive down your sex drive and you could lose. Your libido and then

Mike: I’ve, I’ve had, uh, heard that from a number of men over the years who are open about, uh, their use of anabolics. And that just, I thought that was interesting hearing that point in particular over the years from men where they thought jacking up their testosterone would turn them into sex gods.

And then they couldn’t even, they couldn’t even perform like it, it, it basically, you know, gave them ed.

Ali: Yeah, it’s crazy. And testosterone is a very sympathetic hormone.

Mike: With, with also bringing their test, their estrogen down. It was the, it was the, the starter pack, which maybe it’s more like the steroid starter packs.

It’s like the TRT super dose, you know, with the estrogen blocker.

Ali: I can’t tell you how many men have said, like, you know, I get a lot of DMs on Instagram where they’re like, I’ve got erectile dysfunction. They don’t know why. And like I said before, most men associate optimal testosterone with sexual performance.

So if they have really high testosterone and low sexual performance, that’s very confusing. I understand. I completely understand. But testosterone is not the main contributor to sex drive and erection strength and all that. You actually need estrogen for that to happen. And so when that goes away, because they’re on this medication, then they start going down the rabbit hole and then they’re in forums and they’re getting medical advice from Reddit and all that stuff.

And it’s a nightmare. And I’m just like, are you on an astrozole? And they’re like, yeah, like three, four milligrams a week. I’m like, oh my gosh. And so I educate them and I explain to them, you know, how that can be detrimental. And again, I don’t tell anybody to do anything with their personal medical situation, but They look into that, they end up coming off of it, and then they actually feel a lot better.

I’ve seen guys where their belly fat has improved from allowing their estrogen to come up. There’s a reason why it’s neuroprotective and cardioprotective. Heart attacks are a big thing with bodybuilders, so that’s something to look into and consider too. Is, is crushing estrogen a contributing factor to that?

It very well could be. From the bro world, they think it’s very scary, but there’s men that are like, my estrogen is 300, I feel amazing. There’s no reason to do anything whatsoever, just because. It’s a number.

Mike: Similar to testosterone to some degree, right? I mean, if in the case of my friend where, uh, let’s say he’s at about 400 now, not, not great.

That’s at the bottom of what would be considered normal, but he’s feeling good. And so if, if that’s the highest, his testosterone were to go. It probably would if I were him, I wouldn’t go straight to T. R. T. From that. If that’s the best I could do, you know, I’m doing all the natural things well, correctly, but I also feel good.

I have good energy. I have good sex drive. I have good motivation, mental clarity. I generally am enjoying my life and there are no anomalies in my blood. Work that that suggest otherwise if it were me, I wouldn’t go to just because that number isn’t very exciting.

Ali: Right. Yeah, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Just just like the other way around. Like, I’ve had guys who, uh, on paper are 600 or 625 and they are highly symptomatic. And they may just need to operate at a higher level. And I think many men actually think of their total T number as a bench press number. And that’s, I mean, you know, it literally how it shows up, like on social media and stuff, but.

Mike: And then you take the next level and then you also start talking about your free tea and you start bragging about how your, your free tea is so high, so, so, uh, above average, that’s, that’s the real alpha male is the high free tea with the high total tea.

Ali: Yes. And then, you know, the SHBG is like 17 and it’s just like, and what would you like me to comment on guys, but like, they become so obsessed over the numbers, which I understand why, because also like conventional medicines, like, Hey, let’s give you this massive range.

So that forces you to hyper focus on satisfying a certain number in order to. qualify to actually receive the hormone that you should already be biologically producing, but that’s a whole other story. But I do think that guys hyper fixate too much on that number. And it’s like, okay, so similar to some food intolerance tests.

What would the result of that be? So you have to change your diet and you got to maybe Not do what you’re doing right now and try something different to be able to become better because this is some this is objective What about you? How do you feel if you feel good at 400 if you feel good at 350 like cool Let’s see how long you can feel good and then not worry about what the number does And then check again in six months or whatever, you know?

Mike: Totally agree.

Totally agree. One more question. Are there any other lifestyle factors, environmental factors, uh, any, any other important things that, that men can do to. To optimize not just their testosterone levels, but also their estrogen as a consequence of optimizing testosterone levels. You’ve mentioned quite a few.

We’ve talked about quite a few, but I just want to make sure that we touch on all the most important ones before we wrap up.

Ali: Yeah, aside from, uh, like the chemicals and things that people are using every day, as well as the plastics and stuff like that, I think that, you know, men getting outside and getting sunlight was a very basic thing, but it’s something that’s very.

Underrated where sun exposure early on, especially after 2020 and people staying inside can help reset their circadian rhythm, which can help them produce the right amount of hormones at the right time, which includes testosterone.

Mike: How much, how much does the timing matter on that? The reason I asked that is that is some advice that’s very popular, uh, right now, and I, and I think it’s good advice, but some people are very specific about, Oh, it needs to be within 15 minutes of waking up or you lose X percent of the potential benefits or within 30 minutes or an hour.

I’ve seen different claims. Curious as to your thoughts on that and then and then also I’m asking for people because I’ve shared this advice. I mean, my advice is when you can get outside, get outside, maybe try to make it make it make it high on your priorities when you wake up. I don’t know if you have to try to rush outside within 15 minutes, 30 minutes.

However, there are many people who wake up very early and it’s still dark outside. Also people who live in England, I hear from them and the weather is just shit always basically. And so their, their question is not so much related to timing as, as, uh, exposure, they, they can’t just go bathe in the sun like we can here in Florida.

Does going outside help them if there’s a cloud cover? And so a couple, a couple of questions just want to follow up on that.

Ali: Yeah. So, uh, regarding like the specifics there are, and I know people who actually research this and talk on those specifics. I see it similar to when people ask, well, what’s the best time of day to work out?

There’s been studies done that peak testosterone levels at certain times of day are best. And I’m like, well, when can you get to the gym? So similar to sun exposure, not everyone’s going to be able to do it when the sun gets up because Especially now, like a lot of people get up for work or they have, you know, kids.

It’s like, can you imagine leaving your three year old like doing something? I have to go get sun exposure. Like, that’s just not realistic. So if you can get out during lunchtime for maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Just to get vitamin D.

Mike: It’s more than just vitamin D, because some people they’ll say, well, I supplement vitamin D, so I don’t need sun.

Ali: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Hello. We live in Florida and we have the opposite problem where we’re in the sun and we still need to supplement with vitamin D. So like, no, it doesn’t. I wish it worked that way, but I think people don’t realize just getting outside in general. So rather than timing it at specific times that maybe have been studied and maybe that’s, you know, better overall.

Can you at least get outside, you know, versus giving someone like a, what’s the equivalent of a meal plan in terms of like biohacking, you know, that’s very restrictive and stuff. So I personally am not afraid to say I don’t know when it comes to The studies that have been done and all of that. So I have friends that know if people really want to understand that if people I can direct you to, but the way I see it, as I work with a lot of guys who are very busy and don’t have time to be as precise and specific and it’s doing the best we can when we can, can you get outside today is usually the goal, you know, especially if they’re on a 5 a.

m. train to Wall Street and maybe they don’t come back until it’s dark out and they have to. Leave during lunch or, you know, a time when they have a quick break. So not everyone lives the same life.

Mike: Yeah. Don’t, don’t be discouraged if you can’t get sun immediately upon waking, or maybe you can’t get a total of 20 minutes per day.

Getting, getting some when you can, let’s say, as long as it’s a, a meaningful exposure, maybe anything over five minutes, certainly over 10 minutes, if you can do that at least a couple of times per day, even if it’s only five or 10 minutes, you just get outside a couple of times a day, go for a walk, clear your mind.

You are going to benefit from that. Yeah.

Ali: And that to me, I think can be a very free underrated contributing factor to. Overall hormones, neurotransmitters, everything that can kind of elevate the hormones, anything else. I mean, I think it goes without saying. Alcohol is very toxic and that can have a massive suppressive effect on a lot of things, but I think we covered the big rocks as far as the environmental exposures and toxins.

Obviously, smoking and alcohol are not going to serve you.

Mike: Can you comment on on alcohol? I think the, from what I’ve seen the discussion, at least in the evidence based fitness space has, has gone more now toward what you just said, basically, uh, disavowing the quote unquote research that has been used over the years to claim that alcohol is healthy, that, that, that now I think is generally rejected.

And, and so now it’s, I think it’s generally in the evidence based space from what I’ve seen recognized as. As it is, it is a toxin and that some people’s bodies respond to it. Let’s say better than others can, can, can clear it better than others. And some people are going to experience less negative side effects than others, but no alcohol is the best choice.

If we’re talking about optimizing health and wellbeing, and if that’s not an option for you, then as little as you can drink to satisfy whatever you’re trying to satisfy, that’s the next best option. Do you agree with that? And if so, how does that impact hormones in particular?

Ali: Yeah, my clients and followers, they know that I’m, I’m very hard line in the sand with alcohol because they’ll ask, you know, well, how much weekly or and I’m like, weekly, weekly.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of like, how much can I drink? How much can I get away with? It’s kind of a question,

Ali: right? That, yeah, that, that’s what they’re asking. And I am not afraid to be very direct and be like none. So are, are we, after living this type of life and looking a certain way, a lot of our clients want.

the aesthetic benefit, you’re not going to get that with alcohol. I’m sorry, that does not come with it. So it’s very direct in, in the sense that at least if you have a lot of body fat to lose as well, then absolutely not because we have to get that off. And that’s only going to contribute to inflammation in the body.

So. I tell them quite literally that yes, like you said, it’s a toxic substance. So what does your body want to do when you give it something toxic? It needs to metabolize it. Yeah, it’s got to get rid of it right away. So anything that you eat with it gets put on hold. And your body’s like, yo, you, you stay over here, steak, rice, potato.

We have to metabolize. This really quick because this is a very quick form of energy. So now it’s not so much that it’s like increasing fat storage more so suppressing any fat burning. So then we’re already behind.

Mike: Right with with the net effect of increased fat storage from from certainly of dietary fat that’s eaten, which is mostly stored as body fat anyway, but that also that effect has been shown with carbs as well, which generally.

Are not directly converted into body fat that only happens in the case of massive carbohydrate overfeeding. But when you add alcohol into it, you’re gaining more fat from that meal than you normally would, or then you would without the alcohol. I think that’s a, an accurate, simple way of putting it.

Ali: A hundred percent.

A hundred percent. And people will argue, well, it has a high thermic effect. Well, because it’s toxic. So, okay, don’t eat anything for 24 hours. Just drink. Like, who does that? I mean, when we were in college, maybe, but again, you’re resilient to like, fat storage.

Mike: You’re invincible. No, you’re not just resilient.

You’re invincible, actually. So it doesn’t matter when you’re 20. Nothing mattered. You did that and then you felt great the next day. You yourself are even confused. You’re like, how do I feel this good?

Ali: Considering how can I go to the gym? Yeah. Talk about like sleep deprivation, toxic substances, like recreational things that can’t be discussed.

That’s college. Like if you’re trying to actually Obtain muscle and look a certain way and show up as the best man father husband like Alcohol just not has a place and I think it’s also understanding. What place does it serve in your life? Is it habitual where you like to have a drink every now and then with your wife at dinner?

Okay, every now and then can be like every month every couple months we can get to that point but if it’s used as a form of escapism because they’re so You know, anxious or they’re depressed or they’re using it for other reasons, then we need to confront that if it’s habit from when they were at a college and they used it to relax, it does not help you relax and it doesn’t help you sleep.

It just makes you pass out. So that would actually be a fun experiment for people on their aura ring, where if they saw what actually alcohol does, it actually is very eye opening for clients who do have that, and then they occasionally drink, and then they see that their scores, and like, they go to hell, and they get yelled at.

Like our wedding was a perfect example because we had so many fitness professionals that everyone was posting their or score at the next day because we never drank and we all obviously got very drunk and everyone’s like, you know, you’re going to die in the twenties. Take a rest. Oh, this is bad.

Everyone’s elevated temperature and heart rate. So that can have a profound effect of like, Hey, if you do this all the time, every weekend, that’s probably not a good thing. But other than that, people really don’t realize how It just contributes to, it’s the culture and the toxicity in that too. So if it doesn’t serve you, I don’t know.

I tell people, I’m like, I’d rather wake up and not waste a day trying to recover from something the day before that was not necessary.

Mike: And maybe have lingering effects that are, are a couple of days, maybe, maybe the following day, there’s a little bit of mental fog. And then the following day is finally when you feel better, especially as we get older, our bodies just are not as invincible anymore.

I mean, that’s just the reality, no matter how well we take care of the body. Um, there are things that we just can’t get away with anymore. The negative effects are just. Yeah. Too profound or too severe.

Ali: Yeah, it’s just not a good time So that’s why I I don’t drink really anymore The last time I drank was after my summit because everyone wanted to take me out And I ended up riding a mechanical bull and fighting a jedi In the street with a plastic penis water gun

Mike: Well, at least you made the most of it at least you got a memory you got a video out of it

Ali: Yeah, that was actually a lot of fun and I was like, all right, you know But that if I did that every weekend like I couldn’t I, yeah, I doubt I would look a certain way by being able to do that, but and then, of course, you’ll always get somebody who argues that so and so drinks all the time and they have a 12 pack and they’re very jacked and blah, blah, blah.


Mike: Yeah, the, the Naxal fallacy, right? Not all Xs are like that. Okay. Yes. Thank you for pointing out the outlier among outliers. That does not disprove the rule. Can we move on? Like, why don’t you do it then? Try it. Try and realize that’s if we’re talking about somebody on social media, that’s maybe what they say they’re doing.

You don’t know what they’re actually doing. And, and people lie, especially. When they can use it to make money, you know, that’s kind of how the world works. Unfortunately, most people are mostly motivated by money. And so if they can lie to make more money, a lot of people are going to do that. So the person on social media, they may say they’re doing certain things, eating a certain way, drinking, living a certain way.

And they may not, they may just show. Uh, performances and then, and then want you to believe that the performance is the norm and it’s not, it’s just performance.

Ali: A hundred percent. That’s why I love transparency. And when you meet somebody off social media in person, and they’re the same. That’s awesome.

Mike: True. Very true. Uh, well, this was, this was a great discussion. I know I’ve kept you 30 minutes longer than I said I would. And are there any, are there any points that you wanted to make, anything you wanted to share before we wrap up? Anything that I didn’t ask that you really wanted to make sure the listeners heard?

Or have we covered all the stuff that you think should be covered in such a discussion?

Ali: I think we covered everything. I think the natural curiosity of people may be wanting to get blood work will come up and where to go and what to do. And I would just say, don’t go to a GP or somebody that’s not competent in hormone optimization, because then it’s going to be a series of.

Being in circles, trying to find somebody who knows what they’re talking about. So, cause people usually like, Oh, okay, I’ll get labs. And then if you do go to a GP, they probably won’t run the necessary labs because number one, if they put it through insurance, the insurance company might send you a nice bill of like three or because if they get it run and then something is Low or high or whatever, they actually have to do something about it legally, and they’re not all trained to do that.

GPs are great if we need, you know, like something for a cold or whatever, but not for longevity and hormone optimization.

Mike: And where should people go then to get that kind of work done?

Ali: So I personally work with Merrick Health, which is a telehealth company nationwide. Um, but there are clinics and doctors that I have in, in my network pretty much all over the U.

S. Internationally, it’s hard because it’s not something that people can do telemedicine in the U. S. internationally. So by country, if you guys want to shoot me a DM on Instagram, if you’re in Canada, the UK or Australia, there’s practitioners that I work with there, but yeah, I personally like Merrick because they do a very comprehensive panel and they wouldn’t dismiss somebody for any reason.

I think a lot of guys, it takes a lot of for them to actually get labs done. And confront that and to think like, you know, Oh, if my testosterone is 900, or if I use PEDs before, or I’m just scared, like they’re not going to be dismissed for any reason, because it can be overwhelming for a lot of guys. And especially here in Florida, there’s a clinic every 5 minutes that you can literally write your name on a piece of paper and you qualify for

Mike: There’s one right next to the gym that I go to what an interesting choice of location and half of the guys who are on something, uh, who I talked to in the gym, they get their, they get their drugs right next door.

Ali: How convenient Florida is a Wild West for that. It’s yeah, but other than that, I don’t think that there was anything, uh, really outstanding because there there’s so much when it comes to testosterone and understanding why it’s low and all of that. But I think you hit the nail on the head with the discussion over sleep and, um, the big rocks to really hit as far as the environmental toxins and everything that it is.

Guys, just don’t be overwhelmed. Just take care of fitness and nutrition. Cause that’s the most basic unsexy thing like Mike said, but that will take you far

Mike: and body composition. Like you said, as a rule, this doesn’t apply always like all rules. There are exceptions, but as a rule, leaner. And stronger is better.

That just means healthier as a rule. And yes, you can take that too far, but it is extremely hard to take that too far. Like as a man, okay, if you get to 5 percent body fat, no, that’s not healthy. That’s that’s now you’re talking about stage lean. That’s truly stage lean. I know you know that alley, but people listening like 5 percent is is like striated glutes, then then you are stage lean and that doesn’t just happen though.

That’s that’s if you’re not using. Cut different drugs to lose fat faster and so forth. That’s months of suffering. You get there because you are very determined to get there. It doesn’t, that doesn’t just happen with a, you know, a couple months of, of easy cutting with a couple of cheat meals a week. And so.

So practically speaking for probably most guys listening, if not every single guy listening, and this would apply to women as well, to a point, if you can get leaner and stay leaner, and if you can get stronger, which is, is probably going to mean you’re going to gain some muscle. Uh, if you’re an experienced weightlifter, your body is just going to work better.

Your health is going to improve and your wellbeing is going to improve.

Ali: Yep. I hundred percent. Yeah, no, sorry. It’s a. Yeah, and it’s something that I think people don’t talk about enough because body acceptance has obviously gone different directions and everything.

Mike: But it’s also just not what people want to hear.

They don’t want to hear that they just have too much body fat. And because I, you know, I understand it can be obnoxious to depending on how you have your life set up. It can be difficult to, um, to just sustain a calorie deficit long enough to make a difference. And it can be difficult to maintain a. An optimal body composition, which you mentioned 15 percent men, and I think that’s a good place to start if you really, but they’re probably, you probably could argue that there is a meaningful difference in hormone health and other aspects of health between 15 percent and probably, let’s say 10%, which in my experience seems to be about the bottom threshold, or let’s say, let’s say the top threshold if we’re talking about The higher you go and the leaner you are, the quote unquote, better can be comfortably maintained if you’re willing to, it does take some discipline, but you don’t have to live like a monk to maintain 10%.

You can have a social life and you can eat foods that you like, and you can eat off plan here and there. Maybe you have to, uh, quote unquote, make up for it. By under eating a little bit, like the weekend gets a little bit out of control. All right. So you’re gonna eat, you’re gonna eat less food for the next few days.

And I think that’s very doable trying to maintain sub 10%, especially as you approach seven or 8 percent in my experience is much more difficult, disproportionately more so than you would think because it’s only a couple of percent. And so in men, I think that that 10 to 15 percent is probably a sweet spot.

And, uh, maybe in women, 20 to 25%.

Ali: Yeah, I actually like I’m so programmed with guys that I don’t really know Because i’m about 15. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, that’s just your typical that’s like Athletic and women can get leaner for sure it just if you’re around 15, then you know that takes a little bit more work and you have to pay a little bit more attention and be a little bit more active probably than many women who uh, just because of Maybe it’s personal preferences, but then just also lifestyle.

It simply is not possible. They only have a few hours a week to exercise and they work at a desk and, and, and, and, but 20, 25 percent is that’s your typical athletic muscle definition still look, still look feminine. Not that you can’t look feminine at 15%, but. I think in my experience from the many, many women I’ve heard over the years, it’s probably the look that most women are thinking with when they first get into fitness, at least is they want to have some muscle in the right places in their body, and they want to be lean enough to look athletic, but not quote unquote jacked per se.

Ali: Yeah, I think you painted the picture correctly. And yeah, for guys, like also to the leaner that they can get, like, then it’s easier to maintain. And then they can, you know, when you see influencers eating cheeseburgers and stuff, like, you know, you don’t blow up and have reactions like the same way that if somebody was eating that all the time.

So it’s actually easier to maintain a certain level of leanness as they get the body fat off, but they have to go through that. Stored energy first to get it off, and then it’s a lot easier to maintain as a lifestyle. And I think a lot of people don’t realize just how easy it really is theoretically to go from 20 to 15.

But from 15 to 12 to 10 is a little bit more difficult. But literally, it’s like when you’ve been through dieting. And then you see what people do just to shave off a few percentage. It’s really not that hard, but I think they think that they have to do what the people going sub 10 percent have to do.

And you really don’t.

Mike: That’s true. Yep. That’s very true. And like you said, maintaining is so much easier. It’s the same thing with. Muscle and strength, it’s so much easier to maintain muscle, muscle and strength than it is to gain it. And, um, body composition and body fatness in particular, uh, I’d say that also applies to that as well.

So that’s kind of, that’s part of the, the, the payoff of putting in the hard work and, and it can be hard work to get to that goal. Uh, and you can continue working really hard if you want, but it’s totally okay. To work less hard, uh, if, if you want, if you’re happy and you just want to maintain it, it takes a lot less conscientiousness in the gym and in the kitchen.

Well, um, let’s wrap up here. We’ll just end up going another, another hour. Uh, but, uh, it was, it was a great discussion and let’s tell people where they can find you. You mentioned Instagram, but I don’t think you mentioned your username and then anywhere else, if you have a website or anything in particular you want them to know about.

Related to this conversation.

Ali: Sure. Uh, Instagram’s where all my content is, where I’m the most active at the Allie Gilbert, a L I. So feel free to DM me. I answer all my own DMS and then all the links in my bio lead to all of my products, coaching, all that stuff. My main thing is my men’s health event, the silverback summit, which we’ll be doing again next November.

That’s in that link in the bio also silverbacksummit. com and pretty much anything having to do with men’s health testosterone or anything is concentrated in that event and on my page. So let me know any questions.

Mike: Awesome. Well, this was a great conversation. Thank you.

Ali: Thank you, Mike, for having me.

Mike: Well, I hope you liked this episode.

I hope you found it helpful. And if you did subscribe to the show, because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other. Who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, Mike at muscle for life. com muscle F O R life. com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode and I hope to hear from you soon.

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