The Delusions & Reality of Hormone Cycling

Are you delusional or realistic about your physique goals?

If I were to ask you point blank what your body fat is what would you tell me face to face?

If I were to show you a picture of someone else's body that is very similar to yours, would you acknowledge it or be in denial?

If you and your significant other see a man walk by twice the musculature that you are and much leaner would you credit him or tell yourself that if you took the same stuff (drugs) he took, you would appear the same?

These are all questions and scenario's that I have witnessed, and reminds me that some people cannot grasp reality. 

Let's start from the beginning…

When you first begin weight training, you are usually clueless and unaware of proper nutrition,rest, training and all the key variables involved in getting results. For the fresh beginner, results will manifest regardless, simply due to the "foreign" stress that is happening to your fresh muscle tissue. Muscle growth, increase in metabolic rate and a better sense of well-being will inevitably happen…..AT FIRST. Once this grace period comes to a plateau (usually a few months) you will need to further educate yourself about proper nutrition and more sound training routines to keep the results soaring.  

Let's investigate a typical hypothetical scenario –

Although everybody gets results in the very early stages of weight training, some people respond ABNORMALLY well to lifting weights and will leave their training partners in the dust! So if both trainees started weight training at the same time, but one surpassed the other by a huge margin, it is very apparent that genetics are crucial in muscle hypertrophy and favorable body composition. The training partners will both accrue more knowledge in regards to nutrition, supplementation, and different training techniques but the genetic superior will always stay way ahead.  As time passes the thought of hormonal assistance is becoming extremely tempting to the genetic inferior.  In fact, he begins his first cycle in hopes to surpass his training partner. He begins to put some weight on (water–>via–>glycogen retention), his strength begins to increase, muscles appear fuller (more 3-dimensional looking) but he still does not look like his training partner?

I mean, he has put on 15-20 lbs. in 4 weeks, and has gotten stronger, but he still is not as impressive as his damn training partner! 

This scenario is so harsh and disheartening for most people to accept that it literally drives them insane. If they don't accept the fact that some peoples genetic makeup responds better to muscle stimuli, food, drugs and all other pertinent aspects of muscle growth- they begin to make assumptions for their short-comings. Perhaps thinking their superior partners are taking some special product behind their backs, taking huge amounts of hormones or all of the above. Let's say that the genetic superior decided to dabble in hormonal assistance, most likely due to other experienced people noticing his potential, telling him how well he'd do in Bodybuilding and what not. 

This is when the genetic elite trainee EXPLODES! His already lean and muscular physique gets even more profound with big & round muscles and low body fat. 

As you can see from this common scenario, it will be obvious right from the beginning who is predisposition to be a lean & muscular elitist among people with mediocre genetics. 

So what can you do about this painful, yet rude awakening fact of life?

Well, first off get your training and nutrition down as best as you can before even CONSIDERING hormonal assistance. How many times have you seen younger "newbies" choose a harsh methylated, designer hormone before considering a high quality protein powder, let alone even looking as if they lift weights to begin with? People want to take short-cuts and assume that hormones are the missing link to them looking like a Greek God. 

Once you stress all variables at your disposal then you may need to turn to hormones for breaking through new grounds. Once you commit to going to the "dark side" of hormonal cycling understand that you will get results, but DO NOT get irate when you don't turn into Mr.Olympia afterwards, 

It is truly sad when someone who fails to grasp reality will cycle steroids and gain a respectable amount of muscle (8-14 lbs.), gains some strength, loses some body fat, yet are pissed off that they did not achieve more? 

For the newbie hormone user or experienced user, you must still continue on with your diligent eating and training regimen that you SHOULD HAVE been doing in the first place. To truly maximize your supra-physiological hormone levels, you must feed the muscle high quality protein, essential fats, and complex carbs every day. Just because you have an athletic friend from Nigeria who can eat candy, potato chips and fast food all day and go to the gym for a half -ass workout and look better than you does NOT mean that you shouldn't do everything in your power to make the most of what you got.

Let's now make a "Pre-Cycle Checklist" for variables that MUST be addressed before committing to a hormone cycle

The Pre-Cycle Checklist – 

1.) I have stressed all avenues of nutrition and found out what suits my body best.

2.) I have stressed all facets of training and found out what suits my body best.

3.) I have been training diligently for more than 6 months while eating and training consistently.

4.) I understand that genetics play an integral role in nutrition response, training response and hormone response.

5.) I understand that you CANNOT continue gaining 10-15 lbs. each and every cycle.

6.) I understand that there is a "diminishing returns" effect when using higher dosages of hormones and side   effects become prominent.

7.) I understand that to improve upon each cycle I must increase a variable to continue gaining – increase calories or increase weight on lifts or increase dosage of hormone or all of the above.

8.) I understand that SAYING I eat 5000 calories a day is much different than LITERALLY EATING 5000 calories a day.

9.) I understand that SAYING I am 8-9% body fat is much different than LITERALLY being 8-9% body fat with ALL abs fully visible and have very thin skin all over.

10.) I understand and acknowledge all of the above.

If you can understand & oblige to this list, then you are realistic enough and mature enough to engage into hormonal assistance. You must segregate yourself from false perceptions and accept reality. Please do not become discouraged from the information given and use it to your benefit and seek out your underlying potential, just be a realist about it.

I personally have witnessed several competitive Bodybuilders' with average genetics annihilate genetically gifted or "elite" athletes due to impeccable work ethic, adherence to perfect nutrition, and giving everything they had to achieve the end result they sought after. I have noticed a lot of the time, the genetic elite athletes understand that they can do the bare minimum and look better than 95% of everyone else. This awareness makes them LAZY. Can you imagine if that genetically gifted person had the drive, will power, and persistence as the average athlete that is a work horse? It would be a sight to behold. 

I hope everything discussed in this article will "sink in" and let each and every one of you acknowledge the importance of all variables involved in this muscle-building equation. Leave no stone un-turned, and give it everything you got, because for most humans……..building high-quality muscle isn't easy.

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Avoid Milk and Sugar for a Clear Complexion

Acne sucks and no one likes it….

Why is it so prevalent in our present times and how can we rectify this current epidemic? 

Well, an interesting, yet alarming tidbit is that currently 85% of our adolescents are experiencing acne as well as men and women in their twenties. It is common knowledge to assume the main culprit of this problematic condition is hormone related, and pubescent teens are pulsing the greatest hormone production of their lives during these times. Fluctuating hormone levels do elicit side effects such as acne, BUT there might be some environmental factors that are magnifying these effects.

Let's face it, our current nutritional guidelines that are being recommended is insanity. High carbohydrates, low fat and low protein based nutrition. Also, how many teenagers do you know that adhere to meticulous nutritional regimens and properly stay hydrated and avoid excessive empty calories and other "anti-nutritious" foods?

I would guess your answer is "not many." 

Recent research has demonstrated that the consumption of milk and dairy-based products are major players in contributing to the acne epidemic we currently face. Milk is loaded with hormones and growth factor's such as; bGH (bovine growth-hormone) IGF-1 and also trigger's insulin release. Elevated plasma IGF-1 levels from milk further exacerbate endogenous production of hormones that are already high during puberty. The presence of 5a-pregnanedione, 5a-androstanedione and other precursors of 5a-dihydrotestosterone add to the potency of milk to increase the formation of acne. 

Most cheaper milk products currently available derive milk from prenatal cows, which are jacked full of hormones from the pregnancy. DHT is then transferred into the milk product and then consumed by adolescents and young adults in conjunction with their sugary morning cereal!

(High consumption of milk & high glycemic carbs like French fries can trigger acne)

 Let's consider the role DHT plays on the production of sebum. As DHT gets elevated from milk consumption, new sebocytes are produced which ignite more sebum production, which trigger more acne. This vicious cycle is even further magnified by a diet rich in sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates. Sugary foods with high glycemic loads will induce abrupt pulses of insulin production by the pancreas. The bolus amount of insulin will also spike IGF-1 levels, which are already high in teens and young adults to begin with. 

IGF-1 is a mitogen and after IGF-1 attaches to its receptor sites in various tissues, it induces cell division, cell proliferation, and prevents cell apoptosis (which is the death of cells) Keratinocytes (epidermis cells), sebocytes (epithelial cells) as well as the adrenals and gonads, which get stimulated by IGF-1 production.

Here is something to think about – 

Notice how you will occasionally see what appears to be a young women, meaning fully developed and looks "of age,' then your jaw drops when you realize that this young female is 12 or 13 years old…..

There is sound reasoning for this mind-boggling occurrence. It would be unethical and twisted to inject 8-9 year old females with several hormones such as; estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, testosterone, IGF-1, rHGH and various other growth factors right? Well drinking milk in high amounts is doing just that – saturating their endocrine system with a multitude of growth spurting, powerful hormones. There is research indicating that average height's and body weights of young females have increased dramatically in the last 50 years. I suppose drinking a substance that contains over 59 bio-active hormones can have such an affect.

Back to the subject at hand pertaining to dairy & sugar promoting a greater incidence of acne.

What can be done?

Well, for starters stay away from milk or dramatically decrease its consumption. I would suggest exchanging milk for Almond Milk or Coconut Milk. These 2 substitutes are low in calories and do not contain unpredictable hormonal fluctuations and contain MCT fatty acids (coconut milk) & Monounsaturated fatty acids (almond milk). Trust me – YOU CAN STILL ENJOY CEREAL! Of course to keep insulin under control and igf-1 levels stable, the cereal selection should be scored low on the glycemic index and be enriched with dietary fiber

Some useful herbal based supplements to take for insulin control would be gymnema sylvestre, banaba leaf, bitter melon and cinnamon. For pharmaceuticals Metformin also known as Glucophage would lower IGF-1 levels and keep insulin and blood sugar at low baseline levels.

If persistent acne stays with you well into adulthood, you need to take charge immediately and get your IGF-1 levels down. As adulthood acne may be considered a health risk factor for increased risk of cancer, which will require dietary modifications and proper natural or pharmaceutical treatment of insulin-sensitizing agents.

As always, I write these articles to give you (the reader) something to think about and consider. Do I personally stay away from all dairy products? I would be a liar if I said yes. I eat cottage cheese, low-fat mozzarella cheese, Greek yogurt (occasionally), and as a competitive Bodybuilder, various forms of dairy protein in powder form is consumed at key times of the day. I do however; avoid milk consumption and use almond & coconut milk instead. 

If you suffer with mild to severe acne, try eliminating the consumption of dairy products and also monitor your carbohydrate intake, namely simple sugars. I personally adhere to high fluid intake to constantly stay hydrated and to flush toxins out of the body. I find when I drink 2 gallons of water per day, my complexion improves dramatically.

 

References:

1.)Danby FW.Nutrition and acne.Clin Dermatol. 2010 Nov-Dec;28(6):598-604.

2.)Melnik BC, Schmitz G.Role of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, hyperglycaemic food and milk consumption in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris.Exp Dermatol. 2009 Oct;18(10):833-41. Epub 2009 Aug 25.

3.)Melnik BC.Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products.Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:131-45. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

4.)Melnik B.[Acne vulgaris. Role of diet].Hautarzt. 2010 Feb;61(2):115-25. 

5.)Melnik B.Milk consumption: aggravating factor of acne and promoter of chronic diseases of Western societies.J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2009 Apr;7(4):364-70. Epub 2008 Feb 20.

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