By Matt Stone
In October last year I wrote about a young Dutch kid (Coldmember I called him) who was in really bad shape. He contacted me through the 180D Get Help program and I told his story (although I botched a few details I guess) in Fat Loss Secret. Then I discussed the guidance I gave him in Eating Disorder Recovery. To make a long story short, he’s doing great now. Not only was he able to restore his hormone levels from the basement (his testosterone is up nearly 1,000%) over the last nine months, but he managed to pull it off looking extremely impressive. While the process may seem relatively simple and obvious, keep in mind that the?doctors he went to discouraged him from eating more food! I won’t give away too much’though. Below is his version in his words…
Story of a deluded, diluted monkey
Most of pre-recovery story has been covered in Matt’s article on me from last year. Therefore, I will keep this part short, and mostly fill in the missing bits. I will structure my article as follows:
-What got me in a suppressed metabolic state
-What I went through trying to get back to being healthy
-What eventually brought recovery
-What advice I would give others based on my own experience
Alright, let’s start off, how did I get here?
When I tell people my story, I usually put the beginning at Dec 2010. At the time, I was on antibiotics for acne, prescribed by a GP who claimed there was no link between nutrition and acne. I felt generally off, but my acne reduced. I was also eating very infrequently, which probably contributed to my decline in health as well. My body temperature was slightly reduced and sometimes I would get extremely cold suddenly. I also had panic attacks and a generally instable mood at the time. At this time, I had an odd idea. I got the impression that most animals in the wild eating their natural diet were in fairly good health. Without reading much about the subject, I decided that since our species originated in tropical Africa, I would try a fruit-based diet.
I’d eat around 3000 kcal of fruit, mostly quite watery fruit, like apples and oranges. I started this in Jan 2011 and kept it up until July of the same year. I ate one egg a week, apart from that, nothing but fruit and some raw vegetables. At first, I had some health improvements. My hair became very thick, my acne finally cleared up completely even though I had gotten off the antibiotics, my libido improved, and my sleep was better. My mood may not have been stable, but I was much happier at the time. I ascribe most of the benefits to finally getting a steady dose of sufficient carbohydrates. After a few months though, things declined, dramatically. My temperature had already been reducing, but now it was really clear I was freezing all the time. More than freezing, most muscle contractions hurt because I was so cold. I was in pain all day. My hair became thinner, and?my sex-drive dropped to the point of not functioning anymore. I also became very confused, psychotic almost, but according to those around me, it was hard to notice. Still, I felt very happy, ecstatic.
In July of 2011, I, for a reason I do not remember, quit the fruit diet. I’switched over to?an average western diet. This did not go so well. I had all kinds of allergic-like reactions to food. My joints hurt all the time, my acne came back and my temperature actually became worse. I started reading about diet. I ended up with a pretty sensible diet, but didn’t know it was too low in calories. After two months of misery, I switched to a fairly good diet. My reactions were gone, my acne was gone, and I was slightly warmer in the beginning. However, as time passed by, I kept getting colder again, probably from my caloric restriction and overhydration. My sex-drive became functional again, but was really low.
What I tried to get healthy again and how I got misdiagnosed
Eating like this for months, I kept getting weaker and weaker. Eventually my diastolic blood pressure reached 35 and I could hardly get up the stairs. I went to my GP, and she refused to do any blood tests, stating it was probably all just in my mind (even though I looked pretty terrible). I switched GP and the second one ran some tests.
Well, to summarize, things were not good, things were not good at all. One of the most dramatic things was my testosterone level, which was 1/5 of the lower reference value. He suspected panhypopituitarism, a condition where the pituitary gland produces inadequately low levels of various hormones. He referred me to an endocrinologist. To summarize a longer story: the endocrinologist gave the same diagnosis and I was put on hormone replacement therapy for thyroid hormone (requested a T3/T4 mix), cortisol, growth hormone, and testosterone. I improved somewhat, especially when raising the thyroid hormone, but I was nowhere near fine. At the time, I was maintaining on 1800 kcal/day, which must have been a huge factor in why I was still very cold despite taking large doses of thyroid hormone. I was also still overhydrating. I kept insisting to the hospital that the treatment was probably not correct, and my previous diets must have been the cause of my condition. They never listened. The pic shown is how I looked at the time.?
So, what did bring me recovery?
In October of 2012, I and my mother had a consultation with Matt. He recommended some of his basic things. Pee yellow, eat enough carbs, and since I was, and still am, a strict macro tracker, he gave some macronutrient guidelines and recommended 3000 kcal. At the time, I thought this kind of calorie intake would make me gain tons of bodyfat (which was not even a bad idea). From my fear of this, I started eating 5,000-10,000 kcal (yes?paradoxical), including lots of alcohol. Despite my heavy drinking, I started improving. The next hospital visit, we managed, with some of the things Matt told us, to convince the endocrinologist they had misdiagnosed me. They told me I could wean off the HRT, but could eat no more than 2100 kcal unless I did a ton of cardio.
I started eating 2100 and crashed badly. I was as cold as ever. So I decided to go with the cardio. I did strength-training 3 times a week and 2+ hours of cardio a day and ate 3000-3500 kcal a day. At first, things improved a bit, then, I got colder and colder again. This was all while reducing HRT doses, which made things harder. Long story short again, I decided to stop caring about gaining some bodyfat, and went for 3500 kcal without any cardio. I gained fat rapidly, 1-2 kg of total weight gain/week, but felt much better. After a couple of weeks, I got too stressed out about my weight gain.
I decided to consult with Eric Helms. He gave me a very neat program that slowly increases calorie intake based on rate of weight gain. I started around 3200 kcal, and am now around 3300 kcal, hoping to increase my maintenance to around 3600. In the end, I think increasing my calorie intake and watching my fluid/salt/carb ratio were probably the biggest factors in recovering. I am eternally grateful to Matt for giving me that advice. And recover I did! My latest bloodtest, almost half a year completely off HRT, was very good. My testosterone level rose from 3.4 nnmol/l(before HRT) to 27.9 nmol/l (recently), and I think it had been even lower.
How do I feel? When I eat regular salty meals and eat strictly the way I think is best, probably better than most people. If I don’t, I still get cold and fatigued.
What advice would I give others based on my own experience?
First off, increase calorie intake SLOWLY, very slowly. I am currently increasing with 20-40 kcal/week. Unless you are in a really poor state, I think this is also the healthier way to do it. Yes, it requires some tracking, but I am?a big proponent of tracking (total calories or even macros), if it doesn’t get obsessive and allows for some exceptions. It makes a lot of sense to me to have a fairly consistent fuel supply.
Regarding the diet itself, I will give a list of priorities in my experience, from important to less important:
1. Eat enough total calories
2. Eat enough carbs
3. Have a good fluid/salt/carb ratio
4. Eat high quality food
5. Restrict PUFA
6. Have a good methionine/glycine ratio (gelatin, in high doses, 100-150 grams a day, has had a huge positive effect)
So, that’s it basically. And?how do I look now? Well, I gained a little bit of bodyfat, but I am still fairly lean, so I’d say the 15 kg I gained have landed in good places. Here are some pictures from a few days ago: