Tag Archives: testosterone

The Game Changer of Male Vitality: A Primer On Natural Testosterone Optimisation

Hear the word testosterone, and 99% of people will automatically link it to aggression, violence, and a whole host of other undesirable traits. This is understandable given that social media is saturated with stupendously big, vascular, aggressive bodybuilders; but these guys are usually pumping themselves with supraphysiological amounts of artificial testosterone, to gorilla status.



Testosterone is the major male sex hormone, but found in both men and women. It is mainly synthesised in male testes and female ovaries, but a small amount is also produced in the pancreas. In healthy populations, males should have 7-10 times more T than females, but this ratio is declining by the day with an unprecedented prevalence in obesity and other concomitant lifestyle habits.

Later, this article will be outlining practical ways in which we can naturally optimise our endogenous testosterone levels, and how doing so could change your life.

Although it is the predominant male sex hormone, associated with masculinity, testosterone positively affects the quality of life (QOL) in both males and females.

Yes, this post is mostly directed at the lads reading this. However, before the lady audience abandons the rest of the article, I want to allay any preconceived ideas you may have; and allow you to perhaps glean a few things you can share with your male friends 🙂

An imbalance between testosterone/cortisol may well manifest itself as low libido, stubborn body fat, unexplained lethargy, and general apathy with everyday activities.

If you can identify with these symptoms, it would be prudent to get a blood test done to confirm any imbalance, as I feel hormones are often the underlying reason why people are not reaching their fitness goals.


Healthy testosterone levels help to:

… Only to name a few of its positive effects.

Put simply, testosterone is an elixir of well-being!


Why am I so passionate about hormone optimisation, and particularly testosterone? And why should readers deem my word as tenable on this topic?

MY STORY (in brief)… How I Bounced Back From Rock-Bottom

Those who know me well are aware that I place a great deal of importance on hormonal health, but few know the story behind my disposition.

Through primary school and high school, up until late 2011, I had excelled at various sports requiring power and strength; while physically developing at an expected (or slightly faster than expected) rate for my age. In 2010, I won my football club’s BnF; my tennis club championships; and inter-school triple & long jumps. Puberty was running its natural course during this time, and I was gradually getting bigger, stronger and faster.

Coming in to the twilight years of high school, I decided to channel most of my energy and time in to study, so ultimately dropped all sport but running. At this point in time I was 70kg, and had just won $100 in a 5km fun run. I ultimately settled on running due to its inherent time-efficiency, simplicity, and the fact it was a nice psychological release from studies.

After winning this race, and the yearning to win more races that ensued, I started running every day while developing a somewhat unhealthy preoccupation with eating only ‘clean’/unprocessed foods. In the space of a year, my weekly mileage had increased and I was consistently training at sunrise before school; often back-ending the day with a ‘strength training’ session (naively performing countless exercises for 15+ repetitions).

By the end of 2012, I had faded in to a 58kg little boy. Naturally, my family and friends were concerned for me but knew I was sensitive and vehemently in denial about my deleterious habits.

I eventually conceded to my family’s genuine worry, and arranged a check up with the GP. A blood test was conducted, and the results I received 3 days later were exceptional. My serum testosterone count had registered 14ng/dl.

To give you some perspective, the ‘normal’ range for males is 300-1000; and 15-70ng/dl for women. I essentially had zero testosterone running through my veins.

I was absolutely horrified by my results, and even the doctor was befuddled by these unprecedented results. Never, had I been so shattered in my life. Here I was, an 18 year-old male who had no strength, minimal confidence, no assertiveness or decisiveness; and ultimately no passion for the things I previously loved.

It took me a number of weeks to come to terms with the fact I was responsible for plummeting my T to a negligible level, at an age where testosterone should naturally be sky-high. In hindsight, almost every aspect of my lifestyle at the time contributed to my disastrous bloodwork:

-Minimal rest & recovery with either endurance training or studying around the clock

-Boycotting many social events in order to ‘maximise my year 12 VCE results’

-Chronic calorie deficit (energy intake being far less than the energy my body required to maintain weight)

-Inanely minimising healthy fat sources & starchy carbohydrates, instead opting mostly for fibrous vegetables and protein… (endurance training + high protein (ala Atkins-style) diet lends itself to losing both fat and muscle; far from ideal)


I was quickly referred to an endocrinologist (hormone specialist) who did not hesitate in offering me testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). He showed no hope for my capacity to naturally restore my T, so instead prescribed the potent, smelly goo known as ‘androgel’. It perplexed me how a ‘specialist’ like this could just dismiss the need to explore the root cause of my deficiency.

I tried the gel for a few days, because I didn’t know better, but I could not bear the thought of being reliant for the rest of my life on artificial hormones, when I was only a kid. I threw the prescription out ambivalently, but with an immense drive to naturally correct my problem.

This was the turning point…The monumental wake-up call I needed to re-evaluate my lifestyle at the time. It was thus, I set about devouring as much research as I could on natural testosterone optimisation, and developed an unwavering passion for endocrine health.

Fast-forward to today, and my testosterone is on the high-end of the normal range; I weigh 85kg at 9% body fat; stronger than I’ve ever been with ample energy. I can safely say that I am very proud of my turn-around over the last few years, I am extremely glad I could do so of my own accord, naturally.

It wasn’t easy, and didn’t change overnight, but my accumulated knowledge of hormone optimisation facilitated this gradual transformation. It would also be remiss of me not to mention an awesome dude called Christopher Walker (from the USA), who had been in my shoes at a similar age and provided timely hope of naturally restoring my health.

I even deferred my Physiotherapy studies for a year to pursue Medicine, and ultimately specialise in endocrinology (although I ended up continuing Physio, doing my own research regarding hormone optimisation).

Anyhow, TRT is at its highest rate of prescription in the developed world, currently, and I believe most of these prescriptions are handed out prematurely…Before the root causes (lifestyle factors) have been adequately addressed. The thing about TRT is that if one decides to go on it, their endogenous hormone production will shut down. The physiology of our endocrine system is beyond the scope of this article, but essentially our pituitary gland (chief hormone regulator) realises we are receiving an external source of the hormone, and goes to sleep. Even after weaning off TRT, the pituitary gland may never fully function as it did prior to the therapy, so it is a decision that should not be taken lightly.


Basically, my focus over the years has been on optimising my hormones, rather than directly trying to improve my body composition . Correcting hormonal deficiencies will translate in to attaining a strong, robust physique, so this is crucial to note.




Running Myself In To The Ground, 2012
Running Myself In To The Ground, 2012…58kg
Today, 85kg And Training Correctly


Now, there are many, many tips I could provide you to raise your own testosterone, but I will give you 5 significant ones so that this article doesn’t get too big!


  1. Perform Power-Based Exercises

This was the game-changer for me. Up until 2013, I had been running 7 days a week for prolonged bouts of sub-maximal intensity efforts. I thought I was addressing strength with 3X weekly gym sessions but, not only was I working in the wrong rep/set ranges, my nervous system was fried from all the endurance work I was doing and thus made strength gain impossible.

A training program incorporating either ballistic (plyometric) based exercise, and/or heavy weight training will stimulate the neuromuscular system in a profound way, such that significant post-exercise increases in growth hormone (GH) and testosterone occurs.

This kind of training usually requires at least 36 hours of recovery time between bouts, so in order to preserve the quality/explosivity of your training, I would suggest training in this manner every other day (3-4Xweekly). Enjoy a brisk walk as active recovery on rest days.

-> Prioritise heavy compound lifts that recruit a greater number of muscle fibres (i.e deadlifts, squats, chin-ups, standing press, bench press); and free weights over machines

-> Perform the movements as quickly/explosively as you can with weights that allow you to perform 4-10 repetitions. Stop as soon as you feel your form compromising and/or the risk of missing the next repetition.

->If you enjoy running, you can substitute 1-2 of the strength training sessions for a series of windsprints (~50metres), with ample recovery (walking) between each effort. Aim to work up to 10-15 quality reps at 95% effort.

->If you are an endurance athlete (though I do not advocate this pursuit for optimising T), the damage can be attenuated by the order in which you concurrently train your endurance and strength (if doing more than one session a day). This study demonstrated a greater spike in testosterone when endurance training preceded strength training, rather than the other way around.


2. Appreciate The Power Of Consistently Deep Sleep

If someone asked me what I believe the most important supplement available to improve health is, I would unequivocally say sleep. Chronic sleep deficiency is linked to a plethora of diseases, yet it isn’t addressed anywhere near as much as other modifiable lifestyle factors like smoking or fast food consumption.

In this study, a group of older men doubled their testosterone levels with ~4 more hours of deep sleep, compared to the control group. This averaged out to 15% more T with every extra hour of sleep.

Sadly, the great majority of us are sabotaging quality sleep with our social media addictions. The modern bedroom has become inundated with blue light-emitting technology, impeding our production of ‘the sleep hormone’ melatonin. This hormone, emitted by the pineal gland in our brain, essentially reduces the time it takes for us to fall asleep and enhances the quality of our sleep. Also, the darker your room while sleeping, the stronger your melatonin production.

To maximise my quality of sleep, I:

  • Wear orange glasses that filter out blue light, ideally as soon as the sun goes down
  • Switch off my phone while sleeping
  • Don’t have a led-light clock in my bedroom
  • Try to maintain a sleep routine of ~11pm-7am
  • Installed f.lux on my laptop and phone (an app that reduces blue light emissions)
  • Don’t consume caffeine after 2pm (excluding green tea because it contains theanine, which negates the caffeine response)


Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex, only, and watch your T levels (and health) rise.




3. Supplement Wisely

While good sleep trumps all other nutraceutical supplements on the market, there are a handful of these that I would recommend to boost T & QOL. There aren’t many scientifically proven supplements available, but the following have consistently demonstrated efficacy in human studies:

Vitamin D deficiency is more common than most believe, with >30% of Aussie adults falling at least mildly short of their daily quota. Even if you aren’t necessarily deficient, non-optimal levels of vitamin D may be limiting your testosterone and health potential.

Many don’t realise that this vitamin is in fact a hormone, playing a major role in the conversion of cholesterol to testosterone in leydig cells (testes).

This study showed how simple supplementation with a vitamin D tincture could raise T by ~25%. A nice summary of scientific articles backing this supplement can be found here.

I believe it is a necessity to supplement with vitamin D in winter, especially. I take this Vitamin D3 tincture made by Thorne Fx, through iHerb.

  • ZINC

Hard-training athletes are at highest risk of deficiency in this micronutrient, but stressful lifestyles also deplete our zinc levels.

Supplementation with zinc can preserve both total and free testosterone during times of harder training. This study showed 3mg/kg to work in elite wrestlers.

I usually buy this zinc by life extension, as most studies favour zinc citrate for its benefits.

  • ASHWAGANDHA (‘Withania somnifera’)

I came across this herb in 2014, and was amazed by its immediate stress-relieving effects. A herb dating back to ancient Ayurvedic practices in India, it is an ‘adaptogen’ (a term denoting an aid that helps the body maintain homeostasis during imposed stresses).

The main mechanism by which ashwagandha improves testosterone is given by its cortisol-lowering property. Cortisol & testosterone are opposing forces in the body, just like the yin & yang concept; cortisol breaks down tissue, whereas testosterone builds new tissue.

This study shows a 40% increase in testosterone with 5g (or 500mg extract) of ashwagandha taken daily.

Barlowe’s Elixirs make an impressive extract here.


4. Practice Some Form Of Mindfulness

It was only after I implemented mindfulness practice in 2014 that I experienced significantly greater calmness in everyday life. Combining mindfulness with ashwagandha may reap potent dividends for your psychological well-being.

A study conducted on medical students suggested a significant stress-lowering capacity in those who practiced mindfulness for 4 days (by virtue of cortisol suppression).

I try to listen to Eckhart Tolle’s ‘Practising The Power of Now’ while walking in nature, daily.



5. Revise Your Diet (Do Not Eschew Fat Or Carbohydrates)

All macronutrients play unique roles in our body composition and health, but I feel people go wrong when they vilify one of these in lieu of another.

Yes, it is important to maintain a high intake of protein (~1g/lb of body weight) for muscle protein synthesis and satiety. However, fat and carbohydrates are the most important macronutrients when it comes to optimising testosterone.

Many studies have positively correlated fat (particularly saturated fat) with higher testosterone levels, with this particular paper suggesting a diet comprising 40% of fat as superior to 20% fat intake.

Choose monounsaturated and cholesterol-rich foods, such as olive oil & eggs. Olive oil can assist in converting cholesterol in to testosterone in the testes.

Other studies have shown reductions in T when carbohydrates are replaced with protein.

Ultimately, I would advise consuming as much protein as you can without lowering your intakes of fat and CHO to <30% of your daily intake. Whole food sources where possible as they will ensure greater satiety, micronutrients, and better health in the long-run.



Thank you for reading my story, and getting this far. I hope it was insightful for you all, and I wanted to illustrate that my journey has by no means been without its hardships. The hardships have made my improvements much more fulfilling, though.

P.S. Get a blood test done if you are not entirely satisfied with your mood, energy, and general health – both the ladies & gents. Get your hormones right, and everything else will fall in place with much less effort.

I am happy to work with you one-on-one if you would like some guidance.

Healthy regards,






Strategies To Lose Stubborn Stomach Fat

It can be incredibly disheartening when you have been training consistently and eating ‘clean’ at least 80% of the time, yet still are plagued by the stubborn accumulation of belly fat.

Although men and women tend to deposit fat in different locations, in light of distinctive hormonal profiles, a large proportion of both genders have struggled (and continue to struggle) with fat that covers their abs. Health-conscious men, in particular, often feel as though they have exhausted all potential exercises and ‘fat-burner’ supplements in pursuit of the elusive ‘six-pack’.

For many, visible abdominal musculature is regarded as the pinnacle of fitness and some may perceive it as a representation of one’s immense discipline.

But it doesn’t need to be that difficult.

Today, I will be sharing with you 4 powerful strategies to eradicate that frustrating stomach fat that is seemingly so persistent. Not only have these strategies been effective for me in carving out my underlying 6-pack (that is inherent in EVERYONE), but so too are they backed by scientific literature.

If I can maintain visible abs while gaining on average a kilogram a month (+26kg since 2013), you can be assured that my advice will similarly assist you even if your goals are not necessarily to gain lean mass.

Implement these tips and you should expect to see major inroads to a dense & flat stomach within several weeks.




1. Delay Breakfast For At Least 2 Hours After Waking

Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained a lot of momentum in the world of human nutrition in recent times, and I strongly believe it can be an effective tool for most people to maintain muscle mass while diminishing body fat.

So many of us mindlessly eat immediately after waking up, rather than being intuitive to our body’s signalling.

I attribute my ability to stay lean over the past three years, while gaining healthy weight, to delaying my first meal on a regular basis. Rather than sticking to a rigid eating and fasting window, I would simply push my breakfast back by ~4 hours after waking up, and use this opportunity to drink plenty of fluids and attend to tasks at hand.


*But wait – doesn’t eating earlier in the day kickstart our metabolism?*

Yes, one tends to be more insulin-sensitive in the morning, but people neglect the fact that both fat and muscles cells possess insulin receptors.

While our metabolism of food will invariably be triggered by an early meal, and fuel our precious muscle, so too will our fat cells have the propensity to mop up substrates we consume.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and plays a central role in regulating the level of blood glucose during periods of feeding and fasting. It is a powerful anabolic hormone, due to its substrate storage mechanism, and our cellular sensitivity to insulin declines gradually as the day progresses.

Cortisol, which is our ‘catabolic’ hormone, similarly peaks upon waking and wanes throughout the day. Cortisol is responsible for breaking down tissue (hence catabolic), but is negated by the presence of insulin.

Martin Berkhan – ‘The Godfather’ of Intermittent Fasting

*While the above photo of Martin is an extreme example of the fat-burning potential that IF gives rise to, we can see that it clearly works. You can read more of Berkhan’s work here.

So, from the background science above, we can now better understand how to use cortisol (extensively feared for its muscle-wasting potential) to our advantage during the early hours of the day, as it mobilises fatty acids to be used.

To facilitate this, we must minimise or completely negate insulin. Both carbohydrates AND protein-rich foods are insulinogenic (promote insulin release), so it is best to avoid breakfast altogether or you can put a stick of butter in your coffee (AKA ‘Bulletproof Coffee’, made famous by David Asprey…Please do not do this …) XD

On the topic of coffee, though, caffeine enhances the fatty mobilisation that cortisol initially stimulates. Compounding this is the knowledge that caffeine also suppresses appetite, making a morning fast much more feasible.

Therefore, enjoy 1-2 (preferably long black, but a splash of milk will be okay too) coffees before your first meal.


When we eat first thing in the morning, we sabotage this wonderful ability to tap into stomach fat stores.

*But won’t muscle mass be broken down too?*

Unlikely. Growth hormone (GH) is acutely amplified by a short-term fast, having been shown to increase by ~2000% in humans during a 24-hour abstinence from food.

GH is vital in the preservation of lean body mass, and aids in fat oxidation. As such, your hard-earned skeletal muscle will be spared.

…Lower insulin levels, higher GH levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.

Ideally, given this information, one would train in the evening when our insulin sensitivity is lower. By exercising our muscles in the PM, we are ultimately manipulating our cellular activity in a way that heightens muscle cell sensitivity to glucose uptake and, conversely, nullifies fat cell insulin sensitivity.

I have taken this approach while eating 1kg+ of potato (or equivalent in rice) at dinner and have experienced this nutrient-channeling phenomenon first-hand.

A few other cool benefits on this strategy before moving on to #2:

  • Breakfast energy intake has been positively correlated with total daily energy intake in recent studies; to test this anecdotally, I have been eating a large breakfast for the last 2 months and have gained 4kg in a month as I have found hunger to quickly ensue an early meal
  • Creating an energy buffer (and ‘wiggle room’, as my friend Christopher Walker says) in the back half of the day is socially convenient. We are more likely to dine out or enjoy food in the company of friends/family at night time, rather than in the morning. Knowing we can eat a substantial (and perhaps indulgent) meal in the evening, without overblowing our total daily intake, is peace of mind. It also makes the adherence to a morning fast much more achievable.
  • After roughly 16 hours without food we become the beneficiaries of a physiological cleanse, termed autophagy. This process leads to cell turnover, and has the major benefit of neurogenesis (increased neurons in our brain; and associated prevention of Alzheimer’s disease)
  • When compared to constant caloric restriction, alternate day fasting not only reduces weight to a similar extent but is also superior for retention of muscle mass; who wouldn’t want to maintain muscle while losing weight?



2. Do Not Fear Carbohydrates, But DO Consider WHEN To Eat Them

As much as you may be told by famous personal trainers, or social media, that carbohydrates are inherently evil, they are actually crucial for long-term healthy eating and any body composition goal.

Generally speaking, however, the more lean an individual is the more efficient they will be at disposing of glucose (the simple form of carbohydrate). This is by virtue of the correlation between insulin sensitivity and degree of body fat.

So overweight or obese persons reading this should either scale back the amount of carbohydrates consumed accordingly, or trial a ketogenic diet for rapid weight loss. I only advocate the ketogenic diet (rather extreme) for very sick and/or diabetic individuals, so if you want to read more about this paradigm please follow the works of Professor Timothy Noakes.

Notwithstanding this, the timing and application of carbohydrates I am about to suggest remains the same for unhealthy and healthy populations.

Conventional nutrition wisdom purports that starchy carbohydrates are best avoided the deeper we go into the evening, and especially at dinner time.


I propose, in line with my first tip of intermittent fasting ^, that we maximise the anabolic effect of carbohydrates around the times that we train (predominantly post-workout), and even reserve our intake of such for dinner time on days that we do not train.

*If you prefer or have to train in the morning, which is not ideal with these principles but can work, I would advise you to consume ~50-100g of simple carbohydrates (obviously dependent on the nature of your training and goals) immediately post-workout, and then consuming the bulk of starchy carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, rice) with dinner. The other meals will be protein & fat-centric, alongside fibrous vegetables.

I was first infatuated by this approach when I came across the work of John Kiefer, of ‘Carb Back-Loading’ (CBL). Kiefer is a Physicist and avid researcher of human nutrition, so I took credence in what he said and applied his advice for roughly 2 years before modifying it slightly in 2015. One fundamental difference in my approach to Kiefer’s, however, is that I prefer complex starches (with a low glycaemix index) while Kiefer advocates purely simple (high G.I) carbohydrate sources.

In short, back-loading our carbohydrates is prudent because:

  1. As with IF, it is socially convenient to eat carbohydrate-rich foods in the evening with dinner.
  2. The majority of people I know who strength train do so in the evening, so the ensuing uptake of glucose (that elicit insulin) will be shunted to muscle cells more so than fat cells.
  3. Carbohydrates induce the release of serotonin and tryptophan, which are hormones that can be considered sleep-inducing agents. Quality of sleep is improved, recovery is optimised, and insulin sensitivity is improved. Serotonin has also been linked to appetite suppression, and decreased stress. Low levels of serotonin receptors are associated with depression.
  4. Carbohydrates are superior at reducing levels of ghrelin, an appetite-regulating hormone, when compared to protein and fat. Decreased ghrelin is a positive thing because we are less likely to overeat when we have this big buffer of energy at the end of the day (after our morning fast 😉



My main modification to Kiefer’s philosophies has been to consume at least 1 gram of carbohydrate for kilogram of bodyweight (~83grams for me) a few hours prior to a training session. I have found this has worked more effectively for both strength and muscle gains, compared to training without any circulating glucose. Kiefer vehemently proposes that a ‘hulk-effect’ (surge in strength) occurs when training without circulating glucose, but I am dubious over this theory for my goals.

An important consideration is the type of carbohydrate you consume. Generally, carbohydrate-rich beverages are void of nutrients and lend themselves to excessive calorie intake. If you want to seriously lose weight, eat/chew your calories and avoid liquid calories where possible. I would even admonish people that seek to lose weight from consuming smoothies. People who know me will be aware that I consume a daily smoothie, but I believe it should be reserved for the crowd that wants to gain weight (like I do). Eating three solid meals a day, in my opinion, is idyllic for weight loss.

Personally, I LOVE potatoes (both white and sweet) so predominantly eat these starches. Fruit, rice, and oats are my secondary preferences, with a focus on low-fructose fruits such as berries and citrus. Fructose is a simple sugar densely present in honey and certain fruits like apples, and is directed to the liver for its metabolism; too much fructose may cause fatty liver disease and it is useless at replenishing our skeletal muscle glycogen stores after exercise.

Finally, understand that I do not mean to exclude fibrous carbohydrates (i.e: cruciferous vegetables) until dinner so feel free to consume these ad-libitum. I do not even count vegetables like brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower towards my total energy intake.

*But Jonny, I thought you were a proponent of a balanced diet and macronutrient intake…?*

By the end of the day, my macronutrients almost always hover around 40/30/30 (%) carbohydrates/protein/fat, thus being balanced.

My philosophy is just to strategically capitalise on the different hormone-signalling that occurs with the three macronutrients, and their timing. As such, my meals are usually disproportionate in favour of one macronutrient over the other, but I ultimately maintain a proportionate spread of the major food groups.

An average training day for me would look something like this:

Wake up: Drink lots of water and some coffee/green tea.

Meal 1 (2-5 hours after waking): High fat/moderate-high protein/low carbohydrates

Meal 2: Moderate Fat/ High Protein/ Moderate Carbohydrates (1g/kg BW)

…Train between 2-6pm

Meal 3 (largest): Limited Added Fat (but enough for taste)/High Protein/HIGH Carb

3. The Nature Of Your Training Is Extremely Important

Strength training surpasses aerobic training by a mile and some.

As a former middle-distance runner (over-zealous you could say), I can greatly appreciate performance-related goals in the way of running events that you may have. In saying this, I believe there is a pervasive delusion carried by the general public that sub maximal ‘cardio’ training is a pre-requisite to burn fat.

Yes, we can observe many elite runners that sport a ripped stomach, but they:

a) Are usually underweight and so do not possess much absolute muscle mass


b) Are genetically blessed, with a favourable physical capacity to perform exercise and assimilate food

You cannot argue that a six-pack is MUCH more impressive to look at on someone who has a bit of extra bulk on their frame.


Having already posted an article that goes in to depth regarding the ‘ripple effect’ of strength training (here), and the most effective approach to getting stronger, I will keep this tip as concise as possible. Please read that article to assume a better perspective on the rest of this piece.

Not only does high-intensity strength training facilitate muscle growth but, as I mention in the aforementioned article, it also significantly improves muscular endurance (without having to train for it directly!).

Exercising at sub-maximal intensities for extended periods of time is effective for weight loss, but it will impede your strength gains and concomitant muscle. Jogging, for example, is a purely catabolic exercise that will catalyse the breakdown of both fat and muscle. On the other hand, PRE can assist you with both weight loss and muscular development.

I believe, from experience, that the effort required to merely eat less calories pales in comparison to that required to burn the same amount of energy through steady-state cardio.

Heavy resistance exercises (relative of course to an individual’s ability) that are multi-joint (or ‘compound’) in nature are the key to abdominal muscle recruitment, and render direct abdominal exercises futile if progression is constant.

I rarely perform isolation work on my stomach. This is because I prioritise compound lifts that require the abdominal muscles to contract maximally. You see, one must fully engage their deep and superficial stomach muscles during bang-for-your-buck movements like the deadlift, as to not compromise on posture and subsequently risk injury.



Exercises like the deadlift, that recruit huge amounts of muscle fibre units, have been scientifically shown to recruit as much or more stomach muscle than direct work. Note that the participants in this study were performing 80% of their 1 reptition-max (1RM), thus constituting a challenging load that stimulates the neuromuscular system meaningfully.

Only when you reach an advanced level of strength and power-to-weight ratio should you consider implementing direct abdominal work, to accentuate your already visible abs. In these cases, the ab-wheel rollout, hanging leg raises, and reverse crunches are the most fruitful choices.

Finally, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is considered to be proportional to the intensity of exercise undertaken. EPOC is the measurement of residual oxygen uptake seen after strenuous exercise.

We have all been witness to the huffing and puffing of a 100 metre sprinter during their interview, even if it is 10+ minutes after the race has finished. It was essentially due to this phenomenon that the ‘Tabata’ high-intensity interval training style gained popularity in the fitness world in the 21st century.

Although EPOC has undoubtedly been blown out of proportion, it is a worthy thought for exercise selection purposes.

There are few pretty awesome studies that elucidate the elevated energy expenditure after intense strength training:


4. Minimise Unnecessary Stress


Stress is not only a silent killer, but also under-recognised as a bane for fat loss.

This 2014 study evinced that an additional 435 kilojoules was consumed, on average, in the stressed group relative to the control group of participants. This equates to ~5 kilograms of fat gained over the span of a year. That is quite substantial!

In a nutshell, periodically experiencing even small stresses throughout the day may easily disrupt our metabolic efficiency.

Stress has also been implicated in the development of diabetes.

We must not confuse chronic psychological stresses with the intermittent physiological stress incurred during intense exercise, though, as the latter is necessary in order for us to elicit hormesis (adaptive stress response that is a potent anti-ageing agent).

We do want to rapidly curb cortisol (stress-hormone) post-workout though, to commence these adaptations that we are after (‘anabolic’/rebuilding phase).

A few easy ways to alleviate unnecessary stress:


  • A regular pattern of 7+ deep hours of sleep is crucial to reduce stress, so try to avoid blue-light (emitted by smartphones, TVs etc.) after the sun goes down. This can be achieved by turning technology off or, as most would prefer, blue-light blocking apps or glasses. Blue light confuses our brain by thinking it is daytime, and consequently suppresses melatonin production (vital for deep REM sleep).
  • Practice some form of mindfulness daily. This meditative practice has demonstrated significant reductions in stress, and can be performed for just a few minutes a day. I usually do so by walking in nature while listening to the ‘Practising The Power of Now’ audiobook by Eckhart Tolle. This was recommended to me by my friend Greg O’Gallagher (of Kinobody), and I have observed massive differences in my overall calmness.
  • SMILE! Even if you are not genuinely feeling happy, exhibiting a strong smile can drop blood pressure, heart rate, and stress. This was achieved with a certain type of smile though, known as ‘Duchenne’s smile’. This is a smile that engages the muscles surrounding the eyes, as well as the mouth muscles. Standard smiles that do not involve the eyes, interestingly, did not induce the same response. Smiles are contagious, so spread that happiness 😀




I hope that you have enjoyed this post, and gleaned a few points that you can put to practice.

Remember, this article is predicated on my own anecdotal evidence (and some research), so it is what I have had success with. Not everyone may experience this same success from my methodologies, so experiment at your own will and let me know how you go.

By the same token, people have achieved flat stomachs with various other approaches, so do not take this article as dogma; it is what I consider the most sustainable way to achieving and maintaing a lean physique.

I initially planned to outline 7 strategies, but the post quickly became too expansive to do so. These are the most important points.

Ultimately, losing stomach fat occurs when we are consistently burning more calories than we consume. The strategies I outline above should make this process easier, and assist in the preservation of muscle mass while targeting fat stores.

I managed to minimise stomach fat while gaining 26kg over 3 years, so this is why I have faith in these strategies.

Ladies, please be aware that studies concerning intermittent fasting have generally conveyed more positive (and substantial) results in males than females. So, IF may not be prudent for you. Simply avoiding starchy carbohydrates at breakfast may be a more effective strategy for fat loss goals, if you do not succeed with IF.

Also, if anything does not make sense or you require further clarification on certain points, do not hesitate in contacting me and I will be more than happy to discuss with you.

Thank you for reading!

Healthy regards,



A recent photo to substantiate credibility: I try to be the product of my own advice.

You can contact me at jonnysouter@gmail.com for consultations.












The Profound Ripple Effect of Strength Training


Before I begin, let’s be clear on what I mean when I mention ‘strength training’:

I am not talking about bodybuilding or ‘pump’ training, which stimulates puffy muscle and some degree of strength gains. This type of training is generally high volumes of 8-15 repetition sets, often comprising super-sets (immediate succession) with another exercise.

While bodybuilding training has its purpose for those competing, I feel it should be reserved for this small population of people (unless of course you want to build superficial mass and thus not maximise your strength and/or power-to-weight potential). Moreover, higher repetition training with sub maximal loads can be an appropriate choice for those of us with joint issues, who cannot tolerate higher loads.*

Proper strength training is resistance training that stimulates the neuromuscular (NM) system in a significant and meaningful way. This is usually achieved with a weight that is only able to be moved between 3-8 repetitions (reps). Training at such a high intensity necessitates a 3-4 minute recovery between sets to prime the nervous system for subsequent efforts.

The NM system is similarly strengthened by short, infrequent, sprints that are carried out at near maximal effort.

Challenging the NM system in this fashion is important because it increases the frequency and number of action potentials that stimulate muscle fibres. Moreover, lower rep ranges of high intensity induce myofibrillar hypertrophy and hormesis.


Myofibrillar hypertrophy (hypertrophy = muscle growth) induces a dense look (muscle that is more sustainable and powerful), as the myofibril is the smallest contractile unit of a muscle fibre. This is in contrast to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which essentially constitutes the fluid-centric surroundings of the myofibril within a muscle fibre (giving a soft yet bulky look; this muscle is transient and will generally diminish if not active for a 5+ days).

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy can be useful for those wanting to ‘bring up’ a weak group or area of muscle(s), but if used as the foundation of a weights program will lead to PMS (‘puffy male syndrome’). This condition is commonplace in most suburban gyms, and is far from a desirable look…

Hormesis is a very important factor in anti-ageing, as it is the adaptive response to small doses of potentially toxic activities or substances. These things are potentially toxic in that they can kill a person if one’s exposure to it is prolonged. Hence, heavy resistance training alters our gene expression in an immensely positive way.



Prior to a recent running event that I participated in, I had held a certain hypothesis for a while, without looking to deeply in to it.

My hypothesis was this: strength training alone (even in the absence of cardiovascular-specific training; i.e running in this case) can drastically improve one’s endurance capacity. And on the other hand, endurance training does not contribute to heightened strength ability, but diminishes it (as I experienced first-hand).

Now, to give you some context before I elaborate…

Between 2011-2013 I became quite obsessed with middle-distance running, and the competition side of things. Up until 2010 I had a decent aerobic ability, but considered myself more power-based as I was somewhat talented at triple jump, sprinting & tennis.

From 2011 until the end of 2013 I was running 40-60km a week, seldom missing a day of training, although I did have an injury-induced hiatus here or there. I was good at middle-distance events, but nothing more by AthsVic’s (Athletics Victoria) lofty standards. I had PBs of 17.27 & 35 minutes for 5km & 10km, respectively, in cross country.

Achilles tendinopathy dampened my enjoyment from late 2011 onwards, as my weight wittled down to a meagre 58.5kg. Family members and close friends frequently commented with concern to my well-being, but I would retort with the erroneous mentality that ‘the lighter, the better’, and “all distance runners have my weight-to-height ratio”. This was true, but I neglected the fact that this applied to fully developed elite runners who were paid to perform at the highest level.

A skinny me in July 2012, after a 5km cross country PB
A skinny me in July 2012, after a 5km cross country PB

I was only 18 years old, competing in grassroots athletics, and naively taking running way too seriously.

Anyway, in light of my injury frustrations and the havoc wreaked on my adolescent hormones (I looked about 14 years old when I graduated from year 12), I put running on the back burner in August, 2013. Christopher Walker, an entrepreneurial neuroscientist from LA, had been in my shoes and offered me invaluable advice to get me back on the right path.

Since then, I have taken a very minimalistic approach to training, training 3 days a week. These training sessions are ~60 minutes of the aforementioned type of strength training, and I try to walk 30 minutes or so on the days I do not train. I am often guilty of sitting all day though, and know I should move more frequently! Also, I will go for a few windsprints (nothing more than 100metres with long recoveries) if I feel zesty – this is perhaps once a fortnight.

Two years on, since following the incredibly effective programs designed by my friend, Gregory O’Gallagher (of Kinobody)…

I am now 80kg (180cm), 8% body fat (from a recent calliper-test by a PT), and feeling better than ever.

My development is not the major reason for writing this post though.

I reluctantly decided to compete in the Airlie Beach Running Festival 5km last Sunday, after 23 months of exclusively heavy weight training and 21.5kg extra baggage. Apart from one 3km jog done 3 days prior the event, I had not jogged more than 100 metres in one given instance.

I say ‘reluctantly’ because I usually hate doing things that I am not prepared for! This was foreign territory for me.

There I was at the start line, a beautifully sunny Whitsundays morning nonetheless, pre-meditating the pain that I would incur. I was always going to try my best, because of my competitive nature, but in no way expected a sub-20 minute time.

For a fairly undulating course, I was pleasantly astounded by my time of 18.48 (3min45secs/kilometre), which placed me 3rd in a field of 215 people.

Post 5km-race on Sunday, at a more healthy 80kg
Post 5km-race on Sunday, at 80kg

Now, this time may not be impressive to the seasoned runner, but I feel it defies the law of specificity (to quite a large extent): which emphasises the importance of training in a way that simulates the event being trained for. My time was only 15 seconds per kilometre slower than my personal best, without running training.

Bulgarian Split squat with 40kg dumbbells for 5
Bulgarian Split squat with 40kg dumbbells for 5

I attribute one particular leg exercise, the ‘bulgarian split squat’, to the majority of the crossover effect of strength to endurance performance ability I experienced. This exercise is perhaps the closest exercise to running I have been doing, performing it once a week (3 sets: 5,6,8 reps; weight decreasing each set). Importantly, it is unilateral like running, and serves to maximally activate glute-quadriceps coordination and the deep core muscles.

Why does strength training, perceivably on the other end of the spectrum to endurance training, benefit endurance performance so profoundly?

  1. Resistance increases endurance via increased cardiac output (amount of blood ejected by the heart per minute). Cardiac output (Q) = stroke volume X heart rate, and strength training greatly enhances stroke volume by virtue of cardiac muscle hypertrophy, and ventricular volume.
  2. Resistance aids in lactic acid clearance. With every muscular contraction, breakdown of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) releases a hydrogen ion which can lead to an acidic cellular environment if not disposed of efficiently. Frequent resistance training accelerates the rate at which the H+ ion can be used by the mitochondria (aerobic powerhouse) to re-produce ATP. In short, aerobic energy production is facilitated.
  3. Resistance translates in to greater muscle motor-unit recruitment through action potential propagation. This is important because reduced action potential signalling is often a limiting factor in endurance events, when the nervous system fails to continually stimulate the desired muscle. In this instance, the muscles may still be capable, but they are not receiving the commands from the central governor (the central nervous system).

I write this article empathetically, both to those who think regular cardio (beyond the intensity of brisk walking) is the panacea for fat loss and body composition goals; and to those who fear adding too much ‘bulk’ will interfere with their endurance endeavours. The bulk misconception needs to be allayed, particularly for people who already train a lot.

A few strength training sessions substituted in for your runs will only benefit your progress. The truth is that your nutrition will determine how much added mass you gain, and I recall from my own experience how even 40km a week of running made it increasingly difficult to put on weight. While I lost a lot of weight, I was weak as hell and likely lost a proportional amount of muscle to fat.

It pains me to see older adults pounding either the treadmill or pavement day in, day out, going the same pace and intensity…Junk miles. Rather go for a nice, long walk or hike. I once dug myself this hole too, and with the privilege of retrospect, I would have ensured to establish a dichotomy between EASY and HARD days.

Dr Life, aged 70, has the right approach
Dr Life, aged 70, has the right approach

If I had my time again and was still competing in running events, I would run 2-3 quality sessions a week of near maximal effort, and supplement this with ~2 whole body weight training sessions, making sure to have a few easy days.

Strength training is even more-so apposite for the older population because of sarcopenia, age-related muscle loss. Sarcopenia is generally thought to cause a 1% loss of muscle per year after the age of 35, and is accelerated exponentially after 60.

Why would you want to accelerate this morbid process that drains your youthful muscle? Running at this middle-ground, sub-maximal effort is tremendously catabolic (breakdown of tissue). Infrequent bursts of high intensity efforts is anabolic and hormetic.

One should strive to enter their older adulthood with as much lean-mass as possible. This would undoubtedly contribute to enhanced quality of life in twilight years, and reduce the likelihood of incidents related to physical incompetence.

On a somewhat similar note, the constantly perpetuated myth that ‘your metabolism slows down as you age’ is only true if YOU slow down. Metabolism will remain high as long as we keep moving as much as possible. Incidental activity is a blessing.

Muscle mass will mostly be preserved if a few high quality resistance sessions are performed consistently. Gregory O’Gallagher’s philosophies have shown me that 2-3, 45 minutes sessions is all that is required. Of course, a wholesome diet will be paramount in whether or not connective tissue problems manifest themselves as one ages*.

If you have read to this point, I greatly appreciate your interest! I really hope that you can discern my intense passion for strength training, and are similarly surprised at how weight training can so impressively benefit endurance.

Healthy regards,


PS: Please email me with any ideas for future blog posts, or areas that interest you.

The Beer Paradox

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, it is without question that beer is esteemed as the most manly. This link, tying masculinity to beer, has been perpetuated on a global scale for centuries. Whether it be a few ‘frothies’ had after a hard-fought footy victory with the boys; tradesmen heading to their local to sink a ‘brewski’; or University students proudly double-parked with a jug and glass of the golden ale… Beer is perceived as a quintessential symbol of manliness.

Well, it may then come as a surprise to you that beer in fact is the most feminine alcoholic drink one can consume.

In this post, I will outline:

  • The feministic properties of beer
  • How to benefit from beer (if you must drink it)
  • Why spirits are your best option in the context of alcohol
  • My recommendations for an ideal day leading up to a night out (that won’t sabotage your hard-earned fitness)

The basic ingredients of a brewed beer are grains, water, yeast, and hops. Hops, dried female flowers derived from the humulus lupulus, contain two particular compounds that are potent phytoestrogens. A phytoestrogen is essentially a plant-derived oestrogen that is not produced endogenously by a human, but exerts the same effects as oestrogen (the major female hormone produced by the ovaries). Phytoestrogens act antithetically to testosterone in males via a process termed aromatisation (conversion of testosterone in to oestrogen).

Ever pondered why we are in the midst of a man-boobs endemic? Aromatisation -> higher oestrogen:testosterone ratio in males -> gynaecomastia (‘moobs’). *Uh huh…*


It is also important to note that too great an oestrogen:testosterone ratio and/or exposure to environmental xenoestrogens may pose as a breast cancer risk factor. In saying this, breast cancer is obviously an immensely complex phenomenon that goes beyond the scope of this article. There are several lifestyle choices that can be made to mitigate aromatase (the enzyme that synthesises oestrogen), which I will elaborate on soon.

8-Prenylnaringenin (8-PN), and xanthohumol are some of the most powerful phytoestrogens in existence. 8-PN, for instance, has demonstrated the ability to reduce hot flushes and other symptoms of menopause in middle-aged women. This would indicate a drastic surge in physiological oestrogen levels. Similarly, xanthohumol exhibits potent anti-cancer properties, to the extent that it stymies prostate cancer development. In doing so, however, xanthohumol binds to androgen receptors and and thus blocks testosterone production. It would be prudent to ensure that men get their daily dose of lycopene-rich tomatoes, rather than relying on hops in beer to decrease the likelihood of prostate cancer.

The other problem with beer is that it is relatively calorific, in light of the combination of ethanol and sugars. Do not get me wrong, I am a big proponent of carbohydrates consumption at night time (and in general), but consuming too many carbohydrates alongside alcohol makes for a nasty cocktail (pun intended). Why? Ethanol is metabolised before any other macronutrient (carbohydrate, fat & protein). This makes sense since ethanol cannot be stored in the body and is toxic, so the body prioritises its oxidation to eradicate it. Beer, and other sugar-laden alcohol mixes, can easily facilitate fat storage if not consumed in moderation and if one is not accountable with their diet. Hence why I find fruit juice/spirits concoctions, popular amongst late-adolescent girls, cringeworthy…

The good news about ethanol as a fuel substrate in the body is that it has a greater thermic effect than the other macronutrients. Theoretically, then: if we were to take two iso-caloric (same amount of energy, e.g. 2000 calories) diets for someone and replace a proportion of someone’s fat or carbohydrate consumption with alcohol, they could expect to burn more energy.

James Bond knew what he was doing with his scotch & soda water
James Bond knew what he was doing with his scotch & soda water

Distilled beverages (think whisky, gin, vodka) with a non-caloric filler like soda water is a winner, if you want to drink socially guilt-free. Ciders are good in that they do not contain hops, but they are calorie-dense like beer. And red wine has shown promise as an aromatase-inhibitor, even eliciting excitement from researchers as a preventative agent against breast cancer. We also know that red wine is loaded with antioxidants (chiefly resveratrol) that positively influence our cardiovascular biomarkers.

A handful of studies suggest that ethanol consumption below 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight either has no effect or a small increase in testosterone levels. This would mean an 80kg male could enjoy a threshold of ~5 standard drinks before experiencing the ill-effects of ethanol as an endocrine disruptor. I am sure we are all acutely aware of the cross-sectional studies that elucidate the superior longevity of social drinkers VS. teetotallers.

Yes, social drinking may be associated with a greater lifespan, but I believe the correlation of alcohol consumption with greater lifespan is by virtue of the concomitant social interaction it begets. I personally enjoy drinking 3-5 gin & sodas to get a euphoric ‘buzz’, and it is even more comforting to know that gin is actually packed with benefits.

IF you absolutely must continue to drink beer on a frequent basis, there are a few things you can do to attenuate the damage:

  1. Consume plenty of cruciferous vegetables (brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage). These veggies are nature’s best source of di-indolemethane (DIM), which is an amazing aromatase inhibitor.
  2. If you are averse to cruciferous vegetables, be sure to purchase a DIM supplement. Another fantastic proprietary blend that supports androgen production is Mike Mahler’s ASTB, and it contains stinging nettle root which aids in oestrogen metabolism.
  3. Make sure to eat plenty of zinc-rich foods (oysters, beef, dark leafy greens) or supplement with zinc. Zinc deficiency is more prevalent than most people realise, and it is associated with a 57% increase in oestrogen receptors.


Suggestions for an ideal day leading up to a social night of drinking

  • If possible, sleep in on the morning of the night you are going out. Most nights tend to push on until the next morning (2am+), so staying awake for ~20 hours will set you and your training back for a few days.
  • Occupy yourself with important tasks in the morning (especially) and the first half of the day. Savour a cup or two of coffee, be productive, and you will find that food won’t be on your mind. Sip continuously on water during the day.
  • Pushing your breakfast back a few hours after waking will create an energy buffer and allow wiggle room to indulge later on.
  • Have a generous lunch that is scarce in starchy carbohydrates (if you are intending on consuming sugary alcoholic beverages later), and instead centred around fibrous vegetables and dense protein. If you intend to drink clear liquor at night, you can consume moderate amounts of starch (potatoes, rice) without too much concern. Also, add healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, cheese, nuts) for flavour enhancement and hormonal support.
  • Try to schedule a training session about an hour or two before heading out. I will post a future article on the specifics of training, but strength training (or any training that challenges the neuromuscular system significantly) in the evening before a night out is ideal – this is because it shunts carbohydrate ingestion toward the now insulin-sensitive muscle and diminishes the chance of fat storage for a few hours.
  • Enjoy a big, satisfying dinner out with your friends (or at home) before drinking 3-5 standard drinks…Preferably straight liquor with soda, or cider, or red wine 😉
  • Aim for a glass of water between each alcoholic drink
  • Relax and lose your inhibitions in this sensible range of drinks, and turn it up on the dance floor! Dancing after a handful of drinks, while you are still in control & buzzing, is the best aspect of a night out (and is fantastic exercise).
  • DO NOT opt for a ‘Macca’s run’ on the way home at 3am in the morning…! Remember that ethanol will be circulating in your system for at least a few more hours, so we do not want to be consuming food (let alone processed junk) just before hitting the hay. Unless body composition does not matter to you; but of course you care about your body (your temple), because otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post!

Thanks so much for reading this post, and I hope you learned a few things! Email me if you have any questions, and/or have any suggestions for future topics to be covered.

Healthy regards,


The Power of the Cold Shower

Cold Shower

It is something we do every day, but the thought of turning the shower to cold is unpalatable for most. Although immersing yourself with cold water may seem a scary prospect (especially in winter!), doing so on a daily basis for just a few minutes carries an array of benefits. These benefits are derived from ‘cold thermogenesis’ (CT), which is just a technical term for heat production brought about via exposure to cold temperatures.

Perhaps the most notable benefit associated with cold showers is brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation. There are two types of fat within the human body: white, and brown. White fat is much more plentiful than brown in the human body, and it stores excess calories. Brown fat, on the other hand, is more akin to skeletal muscle in that it consumes considerable amounts of glycogen and fat when stimulated. It is important to note that leaner people have a greater amount of this ‘good’ fat than their overweight counterparts, and it is mostly situated around the upper back, neck, and collarbone regions.

brown_fat_webImmersion of cold water accelerates fat loss through mobilisation of free fatty acids, and enhanced beta oxidation. The mean drop in body temperature initiates thermogenesis, with fat utilisation increased by up to 63% and carbohydrate utilisation by as much as 588%! Metabolism is elevated for several hours afterward, depending on one’s adaptation, meaning a few hundred extra calories burnt throughout the rest of the day. The mechanism to explain activation of BAT is due to the metabolic hormones irisin and FGF21, which may play an imperative role in fighting obesity. Forget high-intensity interval training (HIIT) I say, and make a cold shower a part of your daily routine! Just 2-5 minutes is all that is required, and can be implemented at the end of a warm/hot shower.


An impressive cosmetic benefit of finishing a shower with cold-only is the significant effect it has on smoothing one’s skin. It makes sense that hot water dries our skin, stripping it of its natural oils. I noticed that, within just 2 days, the stubborn patches of dry skin on my face had disappeared. Even lukewarm water can tighten pores and cuticles which will prevent clogging of dirt. Moreover, cold showers serve to diminish dandruff by flattening hair follicles and strengthening their rooting with the scalp.

Despite the continually perpetuated belief that ‘cold temperature exposure causes flu-colds’, the science refutes this misconception. Cold water immersion in fact has been shown to improve one’s immunity and emotional resilience. The stoked metabolism is thought to create additional white blood cells and, perhaps the most important antioxidant, glutathione. This is a crucial adaptive response to frequent oxidative stress, and thus serves to reduce your likelihood of infection or illness. Rather impressively, acute cold exposure also mimics the anti-ageing benefits associated with intermittent fasting and/or caloric restriction, brought about by a down regulation in mTOR pathways. In short, the profound common benefit of all these methodologies is the process of autophagy which cleans out metabolic junk within cells. As such, our cells become hardier and healthier.

Anecdotally, I have found cold showers to significantly improve my mood, even to the point of dancing like a fool while getting dressed post-shower. I even find myself involuntarily giggling and smiling in the aftermath of the slight noradrenaline rush; you will find your energy soar through the roof. No, I am not weird – cold showers genuinely evoke a powerful sense of euphoria! A 2008 study alluded to the potentially analgesic effect cold showers may have for depression sufferers. Although the authors concede that further research was required, these implications are quite remarkable.


For my male readers, you will be encouraged to know that substantial scientific literature suggests a mild boost in testosterone. When the testes are subjected to temperatures that exceed the body’s homeostat of ~37 degrees celsius, specialised leydig cells (which convert cholesterol in to testosterone) become inefficient. Conversely, fertility has been observed at its peak in the colder months from a sample of 6455 males. This is due to elevated luteinising-hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which act as precursors to testosterone production.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the most frequently touted purpose of cold hydrotherapy; that of speeding up recovery time from delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). Ice baths, and hot-cold showers have been employed by sports teams and athletes for eons, and to great effect. Increased circulation of blood to the outer extremities is known to flush away metabolic waste products while distributing nutrients to the cells. Cold thermogenesis, like exercise, induces arterial & veinous dilation by virtue of the endothelial nitric oxide which lines blood vessels.


So, I hope that this article has inspired you to consider turning the hot shower knob to the left. As you can probably tell, I am a HUGE advocate of cold water immersion and believe the profundity of its benefits go largely unacknowledged. Some consider cold thermogenesis as the true ‘the fountain of youth’. I have only been performing 3-5 minutes of cold showers (after 1-2 minutes of warm water) for the last few months, and trust me when I say it has had an immensely positive effect on me holistically. Turn your music up and allow the cold stream of goodness to fully contact your brown fat zones!

NB: Cold showers may not be a sensible idea for people with:

1. Pre-existing heart conditions (You will notice a much faster heartbeat in the acute stages).

2. High blood pressure (blood pressure and blood glucose are elevated via sympathetic, or ‘fight & flight’, nervous system)

Thanks for reading, and let me know how you go! Remember, it is merely the thought of the cold shower that deters most people…NOT the experience itself.