The Importance Of Hormone Opitimization: A Review
This is a guest review post written by Chad Cilli:
In an era riddled with bad diet advice, bogus supplements, and fitness gimmicks promising miraculous results with no effort, Mike Mahler is a breath of fresh air. I first became familiar with his work a few years ago when I started researching natural testosterone boosting protocols. Since then, I have followed his YouTube videos, training advice, and hormone optimization articles. One thing I can tell you is that Mike Mahler practices what he preaches, and that in itself should tell you something. Unlike some fitness experts who recommend one thing to the masses and do something completely different themselves, Mike delivers big on quality information as he recommends training programs, diet, and supplements that he utilizes himself.
Most recently, I had the opportunity to enjoy his course, “The Importance of Optimizing Hormones” provided through the Entheos Academy. The textbook for this class is Mike’s book Live Life Aggressively. The course was a series of 4 classes, each covering one of the “master hormones” as Mike calls them. Too often we become overly focused on a single hormone like testosterone for example. I can’t count the number of ads I see these days about “Low T” and testosterone replacement therapy. These ads and propaganda miss the mark by failing to address why you might have low testosterone in the first place. Mike offers a natural approach to optimizing all of your hormones by focusing on optimizing the 4 hormones that control the rest of our body’s hormone production; leptin, insulin, adrenaline, and melatonin.
By optimizing those hormones, your own natural levels of other hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, growth hormone, prolactin, dopamine, and so forth will naturally fall into place without having to take expensive pharmaceutical products that can come with unwanted side effects. In this course, which is still available for download, Mike addresses each hormone individually and how to improve deficient levels. He covers what that hormone does, the negative effects of that hormone being deficient, and how to optimize it through lifestyle, diet, and supplementation. Mike always makes the point that you do not have to supplement, but if you want to supplement, you should take the lowest dose needed to elicit the results you are trying to attain. The take away message is that hormones are optimized when we do many things correctly and not just one thing will be a miraculous fix-all.
Mike addresses in detail what he refers to as the “Master Control Hormones.” Leptin is arguably the most important of the Master Control Hormones. Recently there has been some discussion about “leptin resistance.” Leptin receptors become “fatigued” and “worn out” from all the garbage like high fructose and overly processed ingredients of modern diets. You may hear people say “I’m always hungry,” which is a result of the brain no longer picking up the signal from leptin that you are satiated.
Obviously, as Mike points out, the first line of action is to make better food choices. Especially better food choices that are specific to you. Mike makes the point that no “one size fits all diet” is going to account for individual variability. You must choose foods that you are not sensitive to. Eat quality food, and especially when eating meat, you should eat the highest quality meat. Eating sick animals is not conducive to good health.
Additionally, you need to improve your digestion. Chew your food slower and better, take probiotics and glutamine for your GI tract, and digestive enzymes to help your body better break down and absorb food.
Next up was insulin, which is really just as important as leptin. High insulin and high inflammation go hand in hand. Our goal should be to optimize our insulin so that we are using as little insulin as possible to transport sugars. And again, this begins with diet. Avoiding high glycemic foods, high fructose, excess caffeine, and processed foods is necessary to help restore our insulin sensitivity. The ultimate goal is to adopt a healthy lifestyle with an intelligently balanced diet centered on quality food.
Adrenaline is the double edged sword of hormones. While it can help burn stored body fat, it can also wreck havoc on your system when you are excessively stressed. Adrenaline resistance, like leptin resistance, occurs when the receptors are over taxed. The brain senses that you are depleted, and so it increases your fat stores. Adrenaline, when out of control, is highly inflammatory and increases cortisol levels. To combat this, Mike recommends a variety of activities from tai chi and qi gong to meditation and deep breathing. He also notes that fat burners are a “deal with the devil.” While they burn fat, you gain that fat right back when you come off of them due to the adrenaline resistance and adrenal dysregulation that they can cause.
Finally, melatonin is the last of the Master Control Hormones. If you’re reading this, you probably already know that sleep is extremely important. Melatonin is critical for deep sleep and GH pulsation. Not only does melatonin help with deep sleep and growth hormone, but it also lowers estrone (the bad estrogen) and is a powerful antioxidant. Supplementing with melatonin sounds like a simple solution, but it can lower free testosterone and downregulate hormone production, so Mike recommends either cycling melatonin or focusing on other aspects such as meditation, black out curtains, and magnesium.
In the following classes, we addressed inflammation and how to reduce it through lifestyle, training, nutrition, and supplementation, we examined testosterone and more importantly DHT and how to optimize your androgen levels, and finally the course ended with a discussion of growth hormone and how to gain the most benefit from your natural GH pulsations. The real value in this course is learning how to adapt your diet and lifestyle to your specific needs. Not everyone needs to take a supplement like mucuna pruriens, but some people that may be exactly what they need.
Mike Mahler is truly a master of his craft and an expert in his field. Each week, I readily began integrating and implementing the new information that I learned in class, and I can tell you that even for someone whose bloodwork shows very healthy hormonal levels across the board, I feel even better since implementing Mike’s recommendations. The classes are extremely well organized and the information is presented in an easily digestible format so that anyone understand what hormones are and how they work with no endocrinology doctorate required.
About Chad Cilli
Chad Cilli is a former Crossfitter turned Strength Coach, and a former Zone Dieter turned Paleo. You can find more about him and his current projects at http://chadcilli.com