“Energy is the key to creativity. Energy is the key to life.” – William Shatner
2.) Energy & Social Skills
3.) Identifying The Cause
4.) Methods for Improving Energy Levels
5.) In Closing / Relevant Reading
In this piece I will depart from my usual lofty prose to bring you something less abstract and more practical. Even though I lean toward the more literary, strategic and theoretical side of things most of the time, I think it’s important to write about practical things in a simple manner on occasion.
After all, I’m not just here to embellish my own love of wordsmithing, but likewise to help people by sharing what I’ve learned from my experiences and observations.
Now on that note, energy optimisation is of great importance to me. I’m not naturally high energy, but I’m naturally pretty smart. And I’ll tell you this. High energy guys with shit for brains will kill it more in life than low energy smart guys ever will.
Energy is king. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. A high energy dumbass will outperform a low energy genius every time without fail. Not only will his peak in any one scenario be higher, but his ability to endure will be greater.
Without energy, you just can’t get shit done.
When genius boy wants to lay back in his chair and do fuck all, dumbo the elephant wants to zoom around town completing errands.
It is energy and energy alone that underpins every single human’s ability to do anything. And so there should be nothing, absolutely nothing, that is more important for you to get under control than this.
If you’re not a high energy person, and you’re reading this, your objective should be to change this. Firstly, identify why and how you’re low energy, then engage in lifestyle changes and/or therapeutic treatments to fix the problem.
This is your true route to a better life, not binge reading self-improvement material. Self-improvement material can’t give you energy, it can only tell you what to do assuming you actually have the energy to follow its advice!
Being low energy is not a an acceptable state of living. It’s normal to average people, because average people are accustomed to being in poor health, but if you read IM, you are obviously someone with zero interest in being average, and will do whatever it takes to win at life.
It doesn’t matter how capable you think you are, how smart, how talented, how whatever. As a smart man who’s had to deal with far too much fatigue throughout his life, I can tell you this:
Smart men are smarter when they’re not fatigued.
Having sharp effortless focus and not having to battle brain fog not only improves your performance, but rids you of the emotional frustration that comes with brain fog.
So however smart you think you are in your constant state of tiredness? Yeah, you’d be smarter if you weren’t tired all the time. If you’re not a high energy person, you will never reach your potential, you will find it hard to be motivated, social and productive.
Nobody who is ambitious wants this for themselves.
It’s not because you suck. It’s not because you’re lazy, or some other garbage where people with better physiology due to genetics or drug consumption look down on you for being less productive than them.
It’s because your hormonal profile sucks. It’s easy to kill it at life when your hormones rock, which is why a lot of winners are into blood panel monitoring and hormonal optimisation. If you are tired all the time, your hormones suck, and it’s holding you back. Period.
A lot of people who don’t achieve much and are deemed lazy, may actually be very mentally ambitious and driven. But if they don’t have the energy to act on their ambitions?
Then for all and intent and purpose the world thinks you’re a loser. It doesn’t care you’re tired. It just wants results. Wanting to produce results isn’t enough. You need to be actually able to produce them!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a god damn rocket ship. If you have no rocket fuel, how are you getting to Mars? You’re not.
It’s easy for a high energy person with good hormones to tell a low energy person with bad hormones to work harder, that they need to get out of their head, that it’s their fault and theirs alone they suck and blah blah. I see egotistical chest beating fucks talking like this all the time.
Nonetheless, my objective is not to bitch for the entirety of this article – it’s to help. I believe this opening rant is necessary, because if you believe you suck innately, and don’t realise it’s a fixable biological problem that is to blame, there’s no hope for you.
Once you recognise the world is unfair, and that the reason you’re sucking at life stems from subpar health, you can find a way to do something about it.
And that my friends is the scope of this article.
2.) Energy & Social Skills:
Many lethargic people who think they have bad social skills actually do not. It’s simply their tiredness which prevents them from being as present and socially powerful as they would be if they were hormonally optimised and had high energy levels.
Children tend to be very social because they’re very energetic. The elderly less so, because they’re not.
One thing you’ll notice about popular people is they all tend to have very high energy. Low energy people can’t bring the hype because they’re always tired, and if your energy is really low, you may not even have it in you to socialise.
Fatigue induces involuntary introversion.
And even should you make the effort to socialise whilst fatigued, your ability to connect with others and have a rich interaction will be subpar.
If you are suffering or have suffered from fatigue for a long time, don’t identify with it, that’s not who you are. Who you really are, your true self, is being suppressed by sub-optimal health and it’s time to do something about it.
3.) Identifying The Cause:
Those of you who don’t like needles (that’s going to be most of you) aren’t going to like hearing this, but if you’re tired all the time, you’re going to need to get blood tests done to determine what’s wrong with you.
I believe the most common reasons for low energy are as follows:
– Untreated low testosterone
– Untreated hypothyroidism
– Untreated diabetes
– Lack of Vitamin D3
– Lack of B Vitamins
Now there are plenty of other conditions and mineral deficiencies that can cause fatigue and I more than suspect people to discuss these in the comments, however I can’t cover everything in one article.
So I’ve picked the five health issues I believe are the most common causes of fatigue in men.
You can start off by simply buying vitamin D3 and a decent vitamin B complex and seeing if that solves your fatigue problems. If it does, great, you can avoid getting blood tests done to check your hormones because you’re not tired anymore. Honestly though, I don’t recommend this.
It’s smart to keep your own health records and archive them over time to spot trends. The younger you are when you start doing this, the better.
So say you want to get checked for these things, what blood tests should you order? Should you trust your doctor to know what to order on your behalf because you told him you suspect you may have a certain ailment?
No. You’re a man and your doctor doesn’t give a damn about you. You find out exactly what to test for yourself. You don’t waste time convincing a doctor you need certain tests done, you pay a lab directly out-of-pocket to get it done hassle free.
For example if you go to your doc and say “hey doc, I think I have low testosterone” guess what the idiot is most likely to do, assuming he even tests you at all?
He will just order a testosterone test. Nothing else. He will quite literally just have your total testosterone checked, which by itself, is an utterly useless metric because it tells you nothing about the other hormones and proteins that interact with and affect your testosterone.
Your doctor not only makes you wait longer to see your result than if you’d ordered the test yourself, but when you get your result back he’ll tell you you’re fine without ever letting you see the numbers.
This is sub-optimal care, in fact it is damn right negligent and unprofessional, but such is the state of modern medical practice. I am not being dramatic. This experience reflects that of many men who have gone to see their GPs concerned with their health, only to be turned away without proper testing or adequate treatment.
As a man, you have to look out for your own health and do your own research. Nobody really cares about you, least of all the medical profession.
“Okay IM, you’ve gone off topic in your disdain for the medical profession, if I suspect I have low testosterone, what blood tests should I order?”
– Total testosterone – self-explanatory – this is the total amount of testosterone circulating in your blood – higher is better
– SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) – this is a protein that binds heavily to your testosterone, making it unavailable to your tissues for general use – lower is better
– Albumin – this is essentially a weaker form of SHBG, it’s a protein that binds loosely to your testosterone – lower is better
– Estrogen/Estradiol – lower is better
This is spelt as Oestrogen/Oestradiol in the UK. Alternate spellings can be confusing. This is worth noting to avoid potential confusion. E1 is Estrone, E2 is Estradiol. You’re interested in E2.
– Prolactin – this is the hormone responsible for lactation, in high amounts it reduces natural testosterone production – lower is better
SHBG and Albumin are used to determine your free testosterone, your free testosterone is distinct from your total testosterone in so much as your total testosterone is the sum of what exists in your body at any one point, but your free testosterone is what’s available to your body for your use (and thus well-being!)
Bound testosterone is inactive and unable to give you any benefit. You can have the highest testosterone in the world, but if it’s all bound up you will get no benefit from it and still suffer from the lethargy typical of low testosterone. I knew of one gentleman who had a natural total testosterone level of 900ng/dL, (31 nmol/L) – which is high T, but his SHBG was at around 70 nmol/L – so he never had any energy because despite being high T, he had low free T. Yes, if you’re high T but have low free T, you are for all intent and purpose low T.
The range for free testosterone deemed “normal” is 1.5% to 3% of your total testosterone. Naturally, higher is better. If your free testosterone is 1.5% of your total testosterone (or lower) – this is undoubtedly *THE* if not *A* cause of your fatigue. You don’t necessarily need to have low testosterone to suffer from low free testosterone. Both low T or low free T will make you unendingly tired.
Total testosterone should, in my opinion, be no lower than 700ng/dL, which is around 24nmol/L. Lower than that is only bad. You won’t be superman at this level, but you won’t feel like crap either. Your physician will disagree with my opinion and say you are fine if you are in the 300-600 range, but this is bullshit.
Elderly men in the 1980’s had 600+ as an average, but if a 20 year old in 2017 is at 600+, or even around 400, they’ll tell him he’s fine. What? How does that work? They keep revising the range for testosterone and sperm count down to lower and lower acceptable levels. This is extremely shady.
Why should we accept being less fertile and biologically masculine than our forefathers? We shouldn’t!
Aim for free testosterone that is at least 1.8%+ of your total testosterone. Ancedotally, this is as low as my free T has been where I haven’t been fatigued, but as we’re all physiologically distinct, you may require more or less than I do.
Once you have your blood test results back, you can use this free testosterone calculator to deduce your free testosterone % if the lab you used didn’t calculate it for you.
In Europe? Then you’re shit out of luck for an internet based service. Western and Northern Europe are really crappy places to live if you want to get your hands on pharma grade testosterone. Try googling your area name followed by “testosterone replacement” or “men’s health clinic”. They’re expensive as hell. Alternatively, take a trip to Eastern Europe, buy a ton of testosterone over the counter, and bring it back (this is legal to do in the UK, but you should check the laws where you live!)
Live in a poor country? Poor countries don’t baby you. You can probably walk straight into your nearest pharmacy and buy pharma grade testosterone right over the counter, hassle free and without prescription. This is what a reader of mine from Pakistan did, going from 200ng/dL to 1000ng/dL in no time.
“Okay IM, what blood tests should I order if I suspect hypothyroidism or diabetes?”
For the assessment of potential thyroid issues, you want the following checked:
– TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) – a range of 1-2 is best – higher is worse, too low is bad
– FT4 (Free T4)
– FT3 (Free T3)
– RT3 (Reverse T3)
– TPOAb (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies) – lower is better
– TgAb (Thyroglobulin Antibodies)
The higher your TSH, the harder you will find it to cut body fat because your thyroid’s working slower. Some people supplement with thyroid hormone for this reason. I haven’t done it, so I can’t comment on it as much as I just did testosterone, but it’s worth mentioning.
For the assessment of diabetes, you want the following checked:
– HbA1c – It should be beneath 42mmol/mol – lower is better
42-47 is prediabetes and 48+ means you’re diabetic. If you want something “good” to compare it to, mine was sitting at 32 the last time it was checked.
If I’ve used measurements your country doesn’t use, you’ll have to find a converter online somewhere. The internet may be global, but the metrics used to measure things have not been globally standardised.
Vitamin D3 and the B vitamins don’t really require a blood test because you can just buy some cheap supplements from Amazon and take them for 2 weeks. If you don’t start feeling more energetic, you know those weren’t the source of your tiredness.
If you want to be rigorous and have the cash, you can get these things checked as well, but they’re not as high priority as having your hormones checked.
If you get blood tests done by a doctor rather than getting them done independently, ask for a copy of your blood work so you can see the numbers and interpret the results yourself.
Many doctors will “interpret the results on your behalf” and then say they’re “fine” without even letting you see the numbers. You don’t want this, because this puts you at the mercy of their judgement, level of ignorance on the current literature, and whatever clinical vested interests they may have.
You use unspecialised doctors mainly for their ability to prescribe, not their opinion, as most have no clue about effective testosterone therapy. You have to be your own doctor. You can’t trust them to get everything right, or even have your best interest at heart. Any doctor reading this will hate me for saying it, but it’s true, there are far too many crappy doctors out there to be taking chances on your health.
It’s your health, and you’re a man, so you have to take control.
Personally I would recommend getting your tests done by an independent lab, as then you get to see all the numbers and don’t need to argue with your doctor to see your own blood work (many don’t like the idea you don’t just blindly trust them to interpret the results for you!)
In the UK http://medichecks.com/ is a popular internet-based lab to get blood work done. I’m sure the US has an equivalent service that a bit of Googling can turn up. If someone links it in the comments, I’ll edit it in later for everyone else’s benefit.
4.) Methods For Improving Your Energy Levels:
I will start with the most conventional things you’re most likely to know, and get less and less conventional as I go down the list.
Food – some people have far more energy on a low carb, high fat and high protein diet, whereas others feel terrible on a low carb diet. If you’ve been on low carb for awhile and never feel like you have any energy, your body is screaming out for carbs.
We do not all respond with equal success to the same macronutrient distributions, thus experimenting with your body and learning what does and doesn’t agree with you is essential. There is no generalised one size fits all diet – experiment with yourself!
Sleep – ideally you never wake up to an alarm clock and simply wake whenever your body decides it’s time to get up. Most people don’t have the freedom nor luxury to do this and have to be up at a set time everyday because they’re trapped in the rat race.
The average REM cycle lasts about 1.5 hours, so if you have to be up at 7am, go to bed at 11.30pm, 1am, 2.30am or 4am. Obviously going to bed at 4am and waking up at 7am is not a sustainable sleep habit, but by timing your sleep like this you will find it easy to get out of bed, as opposed to clambering out of bed full of grogginess.
Fasting – I really actually can’t recommend this enough. I will probably have to write an article on it at some point as whenever I mention it on Twitter, I get about a million questions, but I will address it here.
Fasting is great for getting rid of fatigue and boosting productivity. If you are a typically low energy person, it’s possible you have poor digestion stemming from a gut condition, or just have generally poor gut flora (which you fix by eating fermented foods like unpasteurised sauerkraut!) When fasted, your body is not digesting anything and thus you get more blood flow to your brain.
Not only that, but physiologically your body starts burning ketones for fuel, starts healing your body via autophagy, and jacks up cortisol, adrenaline and growth hormone secretion to give you energy in the absence of caloric consumption. If you want to learn more about the biological processes behind fasting, I highly recommend reading this book by Dr Jason Fung.
When fasted, I sleep less. On a training day I will sleep for around 7-9 hours. On a non-training day, I will sleep for 6-8 hours. On a fasted day, I will sleep for 4-6 hours. Fasting dramatically reduces sleep requirements. And yes, you wake up feeling completely refreshed and won’t feel the need to go to bed early during the day because you slept less.
How do I fast? I drink black coffee, green tea and water. I eat no food. I can regularly go for 22 hour periods without eating anything like this and be incredibly focused and energetic the entire time.
Now we’re going to move out of the realm of lifestyle change, and more into the realm of substance consumption to give yourself a quick boost.
Stimulants/Nootropics – None of these things will fix the underlying cause of your fatigue, but they can act as short-term fixes until you get to the bottom of the cause.
– Modafinil, this is a wakefulness drug developed to treat narcolepsy and sleep apnea, but is used off-label as a study drug. It’s main mechanism is unknown, but it’s a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, which means it can make you motivated and energetic by keeping your dopamine high. I wrote an article explaining it in more depth before, which you can read here. Where can you buy it? https://www.afinilexpress.com/
– Whiskey, I bet you’re surprised to see this here. Your mileage may vary depending on your physiology. I wrote whiskey and not alcohol because not all alcohol has the same effect. Wine and beer tend to send you to sleep, whereas whiskey acts as a stimulant. Now it is not my wish to encourage alcoholism, however, what works, works. If you feel lifeless, a glass of whiskey or two could turn your day around and have you kicking. If you drink alcohol with any degree of regularity, be smart and take a liver protector with it. You can take NAC, or the far more powerful, but more expensive TUDCA.
– Black coffee with grass fed butter and MCT oil in it. Grass fed butter is recommended for the omega 3 (most people don’t get enough). This concoction gives a massive energy boost, and is known informally as “bulletproof coffee.” Get the darkest coffee you can get your hands on for extra strength.
5.) In Closing / Relevant Reading:
I am not a doctor or nutritionist and do not claim to be, thus none of this constitutes medical advice and you should take everything I’ve said with a pinch of salt.
I have not identified absolutely everything that could cause fatigue, merely a handful of things. The information here is comprehensive, but not exhaustive. If anyone has additional suggestions, I’d be more than happy to hear them in the comments. I hope the advice given proves itself useful. Until next time!
PS: before I forget to mention it, check out the latest podcast I did with Donovan over at The Sharpe Reality. We had a blast!
B vitamin complex – can help with fatigue
Vitamin D3 – can help with fatigue
NAC – liver protectant/detoxifier
TUDCA – potent liver protectant/detoxifier
MCT oil – ingredient in “bulletproof” coffee
Modafinil – wakefulness drug
The Obesity Code – despite the name, it’s essentially a book on fasting.