Do you have a “dad bod”? I’ve heard it’s all the rage these days.
Or maybe you’re getting an extra curve or two where you don’t want one?
You could be working out and eating the same way you did when you were younger, but you’re not getting results anymore, you’re still putting on weight or you’ve reached a plateau. This happens to so many of us, it’s happened to me.
Well, today we’re here with Dr. Anthony Balduzzi. After watching his own Dad lose his health and pass away at the young age of 42, Dr. Balduzzi founded The Fit Father Project to help other busy fathers get and stay permanently healthy for their families.
Dr. Anthony holds dual degrees in Nutrition and Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and is also a National Champion Bodybuilder.
Today he’s joining us on the show to talk about:
- What to do about low testosterone
- How to make meal prep convenient and fun
- Favorite workouts for turning back the clock
- How to stay in shape as you age
- Strategies for overcoming mental blocks and staying in control
- And tons more…
Let’s go hang out with the Doc.
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Dr. Anthony Balduzzi: How to Boost Low Testosterone & Turn Back the Clock
Abel: Alright folks. Dr. Anthony Balduzzi holds dual degrees in Nutrition and Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and is also a National Champion Bodybuilder.
So far, he’s helped over 26,000 fathers and mothers lose over 150,000 pounds through the Fit Mother and Fit Father Project programs.
Doc, thank you so much for being here man.
I’m excited. I’m a big fan of this show and excited to have a good conversation.
Abel: Right on. Well, let’s just start with talking about parenting in general.
Because this was something that came up in a recent livestream that I did where there’s this dichotomy between the parents who use the fact that they’re a parent as an excuse not to be in shape, and then those who see parenting as a reason to be an example of health to their children.
So how can you kind of get pulled over to the latter?
Yeah, come over from the dark side to the light side.
Abel: That’s right.
Well, I think it really starts with how we relate to and conceptualize health and fitness in general.
I think a lot of people think of health and wellbeing as a body specific thing, as an individual siloed kind of thing.
It’s like, “I do this with my food, do this with my exercise, I look and feel a certain way.”
What we try to do is help people expand their perspectives to understand that health and fitness is almost more of like a foundation than it is a silo. That everything else you do in life rests on this foundation.
So, how well you show up as a parent is largely dependent on how well you feel, how present you are, how energetic your body is.
How well you do at work is also dependent on these kinds of things.
So when you start to understand that your health and fitness is the thing that elevates every other area of your life, it becomes more of like, “I have to do this stuff because this is a necessary requirement for me to live the thriving life that I’m committed to.”
So it kind of takes it from being a silo to being like this evergreen foundation that underpins your life.
And the way you get there is by doing a lot of reflection and sometimes journaling on how am I showing up in my health in this area right now and how is it affecting all other areas of my life and getting deep.
And I think that helps a lot of people, especially those who’ve been trapped in cycles of not being happy with their body and yo-yo dieting.
You can really end that cycle when you make some identity level shifts and that comes from this deep reflection process.
Journaling, Meditation & the Link to Health
Abel: I’m so glad that you mentioned journaling because it’s something that’s so easy not to do, especially if you’ve never really done it before.
So how do you see the benefits of working that into your life?
Well, I think there’s two ways. The journaling I was just mentioning is more of a deep dive exercise where you might set aside 30-45 minutes to journal and ask yourself some deep questions.
Ask yourself, “Where I’m at right now with my health, and how is it affecting every area of my life?”
It’s journaling for the purpose of rewiring some of your psychology.
Because when it comes to health and fitness otherwise, this stuff is a lot about our behaviors and our neuro associations.
And we can repattern our brains to behave in a better way. We’re going to stay on track without the need of willpower.
So that’s kind of like an episodic journaling.
But then there’s the daily rhythm journaling, right? The ways you can start your day with a simple gratitude practice.
I’ve been off and on with journaling for years. Currently, I’m actually off journaling, but I’m very on my meditation.
For the periods of time when journaling is a huge thing for me on a daily basis, the key is to make it incredibly simple.
I use tools like the five-minute journal where it literally takes less than five minutes.
You write down three things that were successful at the end of the day, three things you’re grateful for.
And I think the big benefit of journaling is it can serve as a little bit of a book end for you on either side of your day—the morning and the evening—to give you the ability to be more proactive around your schedule, then react.
The thing about journaling is the exact opposite of what the cell phone is. @fitfatherproj Click To Tweet
The second you wake up, your cell phone’s not on airplane mode, you automatically have push notifications out as your email is tempting to open it up.
Journaling is like the opposite of that.
It’s a time to take some stillness to go internally and to pre-frame your day for success, for happiness, and to focus your brain to really pay attention to things that you’re grateful for, and that are going to be successful.
And what does that ultimately do?
Well, you go throughout the day and your brain is looking for things like the wins, things to be happy and excited about. And then everything else starts to work better.
So it’s like a little bit of grease in the wheel of your life and everything starts to spin a little bit better.
And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it does need a physical cue. You do need a physical journal.
In my experience, the journal is sitting on your night stand, or it’s by your kitchen table.
First thing when you get up and before bed, before other stuff happens is the perfect time to build a habit like that.
Abel: Yes, but once again, it’s not one of those things that you do it once and all of a sudden, your life is 1000% better.
The benefits sneak up on you, kind of like meditation, right? Could you talk to that a little bit?
Yeah. For me, a lot of the benefits that I initially derive, journaling was my gateway drug into deep meditation, which I practice daily now and I absolutely love.
Journaling was my gateway drug into deep meditation. @fitfatherproj Click To Tweet
But when I started journaling, I hated meditation. Well, I shouldn’t say hated.
I always wanted to meditate a lot, but I had trouble really carving out the 20 minutes when I felt like I had this big to-do list.
So the prospect of sitting down on a yoga mat for 20 minutes when I wanted to get to work was really tough for me for a long time.
But I think with journaling, in particular, it’s something that’s tangible. It’s simple.
You grab a pen, you write down for a few minutes and it starts to, like we said, rewire your psychology.
As it comes to meditation, I believe that as people living in this common age, one of the meta superpowers that any human can cultivate is presence.
Your ability to take your consciousness and direct it in this moment, and to be here fully in touch with life and whatever you’re doing.
So obviously, that is direct applications to your own sense of connectedness to life, which means you’re a happier person, which means you’re more likely to eat good foods, which means you’re more likely to be great to your kids, and that rubs off on them.
We don’t even know the ripple effect of how that affects the world.
And so, you can journal, and it absolutely can help you retrain your brain to be more grateful and maybe pre-plan your success, and we know that written goals really help.
But I would say this:
Nothing is going to help you become more skilled at the art of being present to every moment of your life than meditation, which is essentially the art of sitting down.
And there’s so many different forms, really just getting connected to this present moment using your breath often as an anchor.
And for me, it’s been one of the most profoundly impactful things over the past few years, is really understanding consciousness through simple breath work.
Abel: Do you have an idea of the before and after, personally speaking for you, what your life or mental state was like before?
Totally. You mentioned in the intro some of the businesses, the Fit Father Project and Fit Mother Project. And to get to the point of all those people we’ve impacted, I was working like a maniac.
I started these businesses in medical school, working 80+ hour weeks and that was like my MO.
And I was very fulfilled in my heart, because I knew I was doing good work in the world, and I love health and fitness and well-being, but I was also caught in my own hamster wheel.
A lot of people who are in this kind of entrepreneurial start something big.
We have a culture like that online, which is great. I do agree, people, you should live a life on your terms but you can still create your own hamster wheel.
It might not be working for corporation A, but you can create your own. I’m sure you’ve been in phases with your own business where the business can run you if you’re not careful.
So what I think that the biggest before and after that has come is how I relate to my entire life, in general, as understanding that this is just content that’s incredibly swappable.
You could check in on me in five years and the Fit Father Project could not exist, but the Anthony that does exist here continues on.
So really understanding your relationship to yourself, which is really great because it makes you take everything a lot less seriously.
It makes you invoke a lot more play into your daily life.
And I think that’s great, because when you’re coming from a place of being like, “Wow, it’s just absolutely amazing that we’re conscious beings, that we’re alive. We’re on this planet, we have choices and we get to understand ourselves.”
We’re conscious beings, we’re alive, we’re on this planet, we have choices and we get to understand ourselves. @fitfatherproj Click To Tweet
Everything else has a little less meaning.
I think that’s the famous Steve Jobs graduation speech that was great.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward, but you can always connect them looking backwards.
When you’re at a place of deep presence and you allow yourself to just go through the flow of life and still absolutely have goals, everything becomes easier.
It becomes more fun, and you don’t have to use this tool, which is amazing, right, to pre-plan every single step and then suffer when things don’t go exactly as you had planned it.
So I’d say ease, ease is really what I would say the before and after is.
Abel: Yeah, and for someone like you who, Ivy League School education, smart go-getter, probably Type A, I had a similar background.
You kind of need to temper that at some point, you realize, or else you’re going to crash.
All those things are kind of you’re conditioned to think that they’re preparing you for success, but you really need to do some self-care on the other side of things.
I mean, to schedule everything and force myself to do it all. You’ve got to nurture that meditative side, as well.
And like you said, that starts to bleed over, brings more play into your life, allows you to kind of feel more connected and confident and reassured.
And trust me when I say, especially for the Type A’s out there who might be freaking out about this guy is woo woo! He fell off the rocker here.
Play does not mean we’re running outside naked. It could be.
But play means that even if you’re writing that email, you’re going to be approaching that from a place of connectedness and joy, because it doesn’t have to feel like it’s a grind.
You could have the exact same day, doing the exact same things from a completely different state.
And one could be a massively joyful and one could be massively painful.
And I want to say this, too, for people who are Type A and especially people who are a healthy Type A, is it’s almost a little more of a dangerous trap because when you do have a very healthy body, your capacity to go harder, longer and farther is tremendous, right?
It increases your fuel tank.
And if you are sleeping, you do have great nutrition, you can go slamming it for years and may not see the effects until later.
So I think it’s especially important for everyone, whether you’re healing or you feel like you’re already in a good place physically, to work on some of the inner game.
And it’s not necessarily mental. We do a lot of mental stuff.
I’d say it’s even, it’s more relational and spiritual, in a way. And it’s not religious, but spiritual.
How to Manage Aging
Abel: Yeah. What about managing aging? And managing your goals, your ideals?
We hear it so often about people getting in shape or getting the best shape of their lives.
But over the course of your life, it changes in so many different ways, man or woman, and you need to be very vigilant in terms of keeping your eyes on the right goal, it seems like.
So how do you manage that?
Especially for people who have recently made a major change and become parents, maybe, for the first time, how do you manage swapping their goals around?
Yeah, ask me that question in a different way. I think it’s a great question, I just want to hear it one more time.
Abel: Yeah, as people age, especially like you said, if they’re in great shape, if they’re beautiful, or if they’re full of energy.
And then something goes wrong, they have an accident, they get injured, they have a health issue or they just become a parent and all of a sudden, it’s not so easy to lose 15 pounds or whatever.
How do you manage aiming for the right goal as life goes on?
Okay, love it. I totally understand.
I think the perfect place to start is to understand the priorities, that there are a million different levers you could potentially pull when it comes to your well-being; food, sleep, mindset, exercise, daily movement, supplementation.
And understanding which levers to pull that will give you the biggest bang for the buck when you’re short on time and resources.
And for me, what I would say for people to keep the eye on the prize and understand that the vast majority of health and well-being can be created through proper sleep.
I know you’ve had some amazing guests on the show, where you deep dive into the importance of sleep because we are bio-circadian beings.
The human species has co-evolved to be in contact with the sun in the revolutions and the light cycles.
So, any time we can keep our sleep in-check, even if you do not have time to exercise—priority number one, in my opinion.
Priority number two would be a tie between hydration, nutrition and daily movement.
It’s tough, but these are really like the four things that we basically say, “If you’re feeling stress in the long term, ditch formal exercise.”
You do not need to get into the gym.
Yes, it is phenomenally helpful for achieving this kind of body with exercise, and vigorous high-intensity exercise does have a lot of metabolic benefits.
But the truth of the matter is, if you had basically no time to do anything else, but you could do some simple things around your meal, make sure you get 7 hours of sleep, hydrate well, and move your body for 30 minutes of accumulated activity per day.
Which could be as simple as getting up from your chair, walking around the office or parking the car a little bit farther, that is your baseline.
And I think that’s freeing when people realize that the baseline rhythm stuff doesn’t have to take hours of time.
The other stuff like those formal intensity interval training workouts, can be icing on the cake, but really understanding what things are the baseline priorities.
And it doesn’t have to be super complicated.
Abel: What about managing media and misinformation, and also just understanding that throughout your education you’re going to get things that work and things maybe that don’t work so much.
How do you know what to keep in your knowledge base and what to avoid? Because people are always looking for answers, and it’s complicated these days.
See, I don’t know if anyone is qualified to answer this question, but I’m going to take a stab at it.
That was my next thing, I’m the kind of guy that absolutely takes a stab at it.
Well, to tie in what we were talking about previously with the nature of presence, and having presence, cultivating presence consciousness is a start.
I’m giving you some kind of meta frameworks for thinking that I think are important.
And one that I would like people to consider adopting is that your attention is probably the most scarce and precious resource that you have. And so, start to view that as something that is finite.
Because if we have, let’s say we have 80 healthy years on this planet, if you’re taking care of yourself, maybe an extra 20 on top of that.
We could actually measure the amount of bits of conscious attention you get and understand that every time we’re going out there, we’re spending these things.
So for me, probably around five years ago when I started to realize this, I mostly got off social media.
And not because there’s not massive value in connecting with friends and family, and not because I read some things on my media feeds that are life changing that have really helped me.
But I do know that for me, when I am putting up guards and barriers, I get to be proactive in terms of where I get to choose my attention, versus reactive.
And I think in the information age when we’re being bombarded by so much, so many different things—and this applies also to nutrition—it’s like anything we can do on our schedules to make us more proactive is better.
And so, keep putting up those intentional filters around things like social media, which frees up bandwidth that you don’t even know that you have.
You have so much more energy that’s just in your day that is being sucked.
When everyone’s in the same water, it’s hard to see around and be like, “Oh my god, we’re all getting affected by this kind of stuff.”
But I think for someone who hasn’t done a digital unplug, try it over a weekend.
It doesn’t have to affect your work life, but even a two or three day break, where you focus on being a little more present, you’ll be shocked at how much attention span you’ll liberate, that’s getting zapped.
The Human Need for Community
Abel: Totally true. What about though, the need for community, especially as you make these changes in your life.
Is it something that you have to do locally, like with a local gym or local community to stay in shape?
Because it’s not about dropping the pounds once or getting in shape once, it’s more emotional and community-based thing. It has to be worth it.
So how do you do that today?
Well, I’ll answer this both on a personal level, and also what’s working with us in our Fit Father Project and Fit Mother Project businesses.
One of the most valuable things of our Fit Father Program is we put all these guys in Facebook groups together.
So trust me when I say, I’m like “Get off social media,” but we have Facebook groups that are changing people’s lives.
Abel: Yeah, we do the same thing.
Well, and this is like, we have a lot of our guys who actually create Facebook groups specifically for this reason.
And regardless of what your relationship to social media is, view these things as tools.
You are a creative amazing expressive being, and you have a set of tools that you can use to create things that you want to create in life.
So, for example, social media can be a tool.
I think Facebook groups are probably one of the best aspects of social media because what we want, one of these things is community connection, discussion over like-minded topics. That’s a facebook group.
A news feed is 60 different things that you did not choose to see and happened to be bombarded with in an assorted order to keep you kind of hooked and distracted.
So those are two different things in the same pond.
I’m not going to say you have to jump out of the pond.
But Facebook groups are incredibly important for me in my life, especially as a guy who’s been doing online business for the last eight years.
But the biggest realization I had over the last year is the importance of local friends, and I have a lot of great friends that I know from online business and who live in different parts of the world, and I think that stuff’s fantastic.
This is just my personal opinion.
I think humans have the irreplaceable need for face-to-face intimate connections with people in our local areas. @fitfatherproj Click To Tweet
We still have antiquated biology and brains that are hardwired to be in tribe, and I think you can create a sense of tribe through social media.
And if that’s the access that you do have to your most meaningful connections, that is amazing. Dive deep into that.
At the same time, if you can cultivate local roots, I think there’s something that’s irreplaceable about that.
Managing the Aging Process: Fit Over 40
Abel: Yeah, it’s so important.
Let’s shift gears a little bit because I get this question so often, and I think I don’t have many experts who can cover this probably as well as you can.
For people who are over 40-50 years old, it seems like there are a lot of metabolic changes that happen and you need to make adjustments.
So what sort of tips or strategies do you have for people in that age range?
If you were to Google weight loss for men or women over 40, 50, there is a large discussion going on.
A lot of people do come on this hormone metabolism angle, which we will discuss, but I do need you to know that just because our bodies have natural declines in certain hormones for both men and women, it does not mean it’s like a death sentence to our fitness.
There’s still so much you can do to optimize.
We can start with men because we’ll start with the Fit Father Project. And I’d like to talk about women, too, because there are some subtle differences between them in those age groups.
With men, issues we face are declining testosterone levels by about 1% each year after age 30.
But a lot of guys with stress and poor diets and lack of sleep, that’s happening a lot earlier. And environmental estrogens and stuff like that.
So the first thing we need to do again is fix the sleep.
If I wanted to absolutely crash my testosterone levels, I would miss sleep. I would eat a lot of high-carb foods and I would live a very stressful busy life, and look at a computer screen for about 8 – 10 hours a day.
That would be my actual game plan to crash my testosterone.
So, if we kind of unwind and unpack that we’re going to make sure we’re sleeping enough, we’re going to strength-train, maybe two or three times per week which, for guys, the research is phenomenal.
When you’re in your 40s and 50s, you do full body strength training twice a week for 45 minute sessions, you can offset the age-related muscle loss and you can actually gain muscle mass.
It’s phenomenally effective.
So it’s not a death sentence, but your recovery is a little bit different than it was.
The workouts you might have seen maybe in Flex Magazine, or like 25 set chest workout, not the best idea.
You need more bang for your buck exercises.
And I think typically we do things that are a combination of strength training, cardio and flexibility and mobility all in one.
So we like strength-based circuit training, I think is the holy grail of fitness for guys who want to stay fit in their 40s, 50s, 60s.
Which is: You take a squat, a shoulder press, a row, maybe a push up, and you put that in a circuit with very little rest in between. It’s phenomenally effective.
The research also supports that.
And then it’s doing the foundational stuff with nutrition. How do we make nutrition more proactive?
Which for a lot of guys means one, pick a meal timing schedule and set that up to work for you.
For a lot of guys that ends up being something like intermittent fasting because it’s very simple.
Skip breakfast, have lunch at noon, snack at three, dinner at seven.
But it could be a breakfast set-up, too. Eat at eight, lunch at noon, snack at three, dinner at seven.
Point is, get a framework.
If you’re out there and you’re listening to this and you don’t know when you eat meals throughout the day, and you don’t have some kind of plan around your meal timing, I would start there.
It’s not that meal timing is metabolic magic. Yes, there are benefits to certain meal timing set-ups like intermittent fasting.
The point is that it makes this whole process proactive, and it helps you avoid a lot of the junk.
When it comes to women, women are always more beautifully complicated than men.
Especially when we come to this perimenopause period where there are a lot of hormonal changes, whereas guys have this gradual decline in testosterone.
Women have this perimenopausal period where estrogen levels get a little wonky, and totally drop off and plummet.
For this reason, I believe that strength training for women over 40 is even more important than strength training for men over 40.
A lot of the health benefits that women get from estrogen protecting their bones, protecting their heart, women lose all of those pretty much after menopause.
So keeping your bones strong through strength training, absolutely essential.
And there are great diets and certain kinds of supplements can help balance estrogen levels ,as well. A full spectrum multivitamin, and a lot of women do well with Maca.
But I think these fundamental principles apply.
Make sure you’re sleeping good, have a meal timing set-up that’s proactive.
And for both men and women over 40, I think strength training one to two times per week as a minimum baseline is just really great.
And look, you might not even like strength training, you might be more of a runner or into aerobic exercises, but get into the gym.
A mutual friend who’s been on this podcast, Akshay who is an ultra-marathon runner, the guy does not want to carry a lot of muscle.
But you best believe when I’m designing some of his training programs, he’s strength training 1 – 2 times per week, because you’ve got to maintain that muscle mass.
Abel: Yeah. I’ve run both ways, not strength training and strength training. There’s a huge difference.
Mostly just in the way that you feel, but strength training especially when women are considering it, it doesn’t have to be powerlifting 450 pounds, right?
So let’s get a little more granular there. What might it look like for someone who’s in that age range?
It is moving your body through ranges of motion that are functional things you would do in your everyday life.
You would bend down, you would pick things up, you’d press overhead, you reach and you pull, doing those things with resistance.
So it does not matter to me if you’re on a pilates machine and you’re doing these exact motions with resistance.
It does not matter to me if you’re getting a bar and doing a class at a gym, where you’re putting a barbell on your back and doing a lot of squats and shoulder presses.
What does matter is if you’re someone who does not have experience in this, is to get plugged into some kind of structure that you think you can stick to and will enjoy.
That’s far more important.
We can definitely stress on the minor details of “this is slightly more optimal than this,” but way more important than all that is—what’s the habit that you’re actually going to be able to stick to?
So if it’s signing up for that strength training circuit class at your local gym doing that once per week, that’s phenomenal.
If you do have some weight lifting experience, you want to get into full body workouts with a barbell, that’s phenomenal.
If you have a pair of dumbbells at home or a pair of kettlebells, you can get great workouts.
And there’s so many great resources online.
YouTube is really democratized this whole fitness game, in a way, because you can find better workouts on YouTube than maybe a local trainer at your gym could give you instantaneously.
So there are far fewer barriers to getting started, and there are a lot of great beginner workouts out there.
But the big thing is setting yourself up for success in your environment.
What’s going to get you to stick to it?
Abel: Yeah. Doing it for a while, working it into your schedule.
It starts to become its own reward, but you have to get there.
It’s like that with music, as well. It’s so much better to do 5 or 10 minutes most days than try to be some weekend warrior.
Usually that’s based out of ego, too, where it’s like the small things that you do every day, it’s harder for your schedule to have ego in it.
Totally. And hey, as you get older, in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, there is some new research showing that the Weekend Warrior setup is absolutely bad.
We want to give our bodies just this constant stimulation through training.
And in fact, if you do nothing throughout the week and sit at a desk job and don’t sleep great and you’re a little stressed and then you go on the weekends and absolute kill it, that’s very stressful in a bad way – inflammatory damaging thing for your body.
So, it really is giving your body those piecemeal chunks which might be committing yourself to getting 5000 steps a day.
So doing 30 – 60 minutes of walking and then strength training even once a week is infinitely better than zero-days a week of strength training.
Once a week of strength training is infinitely better than zero-days a week of strength training. @fitfatherproj Click To Tweet
How To Boost Testosterone Naturally
Abel: Yeah. Can we talk a little bit more about testosterone, because that’s certainly taking a nose dive in the past few years?
Testosterone, in general like levels or like the popularity of discussing it?
Abel: Yeah, why don’t we talk about, the predicament that we’re in as far as testosterone goes. And then what we can do to help it out?
You’ve already mentioned some things like sleep is massive, but there are some other things we can do, as well.
For sure. We’ll start there, we’ll get back to the sleep thing without going deep down that rabbit hole again.
Before we look at boosting levels, what are the things that are already dragging us down?
And for men, testosterone and cortisol have a little bit of a seesaw relationship.
If cortisol is high, testosterone levels go down, and vice versa.
When cortisol levels are lower, like a lot of these herbs and stuff that are touted to raise testosterone levels are often helping your body process and eliminate cortisol.
So, on that note, making sure sleep and stress management, which journaling, meditation and spending some time outside are absolutely phenomenal habits to get into on the testosterone front.
Strength training 1-2 times a week, increasing the amount of healthy fats in your diet.
And this is a little bit of a controversial thing, but I stand on this side of the fence that one egg yolk a day can do a lot for a guy’s testosterone levels through providing a little bit of healthy cholesterol, and actually raising HDL levels.
So, I’m definitely proponent of including some high quality fats on the cholesterol-rich front like eggs.
And then eating a diet that’s low in processed sugar and processed carbs.
So, that often means eating a Wild type diet, eating foods that are not processed, that our ancient ancestors might have had access to.
And with the strength training, the sleep and the mindset, that’s the baseline stuff.
On top of that, the guys can take certain supplements that are research proven to help with testosterone.
Believe it or not, they are not the supplements that typically come in the testosterone boosters.
There are a whole range of different herbs, Tribulus being one, Tongkat Ali is very touted and a lot of people believe increase testosterone. The research doesn’t actually support those.
A lot of them are libido boosters, hey, which is a benefit for a lot of people, and people can get benefit from that, but it doesn’t necessarily raise testosterone levels.
What it does is optimizes your vitamin D3 status.
If you don’t know your vitamin D3 levels, you’ve never gotten that checked, on your next blood work, ask your doctor to run that. Check it out. You definitely want to get those levels up.
They show that you take deficient men, you get their vitamin D3 status up, their testosterone rises automatically—really good.
So, a simple habit there is that I mentioned the sunshine—this is something that is not discussed enough in the health and wellness circles.
Again, we are bio-circadian beings, we are meant to be in direct contact with the sun to control this cascade of different hormones throughout the day.
And the best vitamin D that you can get is through the sun.
15-20 minutes depending on your skin pigment—it could be a little bit longer—of direct sunlight on your skin and in your eyes, is one of the best health habits.
It can help increase our testosterone levels, there’s actual literature on that. This is crazy.
They actually showed they had people get sun directly on their testes, no joke, and it increases testosterone levels marginally which is really funny.
Abel: Really? I’ve got to try that one.
So, naked sunbathing—that’s what you guys got from this podcast. Naked in the sunshine.
But we also know that the sunlight directly in your eyes, stimulates serotonin production, makes you feel better in the morning.
So the vitamin D3 absolutely huge.
I would also say, zinc and magnesium, which are two common minerals.
If you look at a lot of even the main multi-vitamins that people take, a lot of them don’t have magnesium.
And if you’re eating a processed diet, chances are you’re not getting a lot of magnesium.
Guys who eat a lot of meats throughout their day are probably getting plenty of zinc.
So, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D3, and believe it or not, creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is a phenomenally effective substance. @fitfatherproj Click To Tweet
It does lower sex hormone binding globulin a little bit, which increases free testosterone, and it’s so much more than just like a bodybuilder supplement.
Research shows that people over 70 who do not strength train, they didn’t listen to this podcast, they don’t know this stuff yet, but they do take creatine monohydrate, and they actually hold onto their muscle.
They’re showing now, in more of a geriatric care, they’re looking at doing some continuous dose 3-5 gram creatine monohydrate.
I’ve been talking to my grandma about it for a long time. She’s in her late 90s, pushing 100 and still mobile.
So, getting grandma on some creatine monohydrate.
Abel: That’s awesome.
Making some gains grandma.
So, creatine monohydrate is another great supplement.
And then the other stuff around the herbs like stinging nettle, all that stuff, that’s not necessary for boosting the testosterone levels.
Abel: Whereas you get just a little bit of strength training in there.
Little strength training, sleep, vitamin D3, zinc and magnesium, and you pretty much have yourself covered.
Abel: It’s not like that’s a mystery. These things have kind of been around for a while. It’s a matter of doing it.
It’s a matter of just doing a little bit of it maybe at first, then working it into your daily habits, hopefully. And realizing that it’s worth it.
Which is easier said than done, but definitely worth it.
Meal Timing, Fasting & Micro/Macro Nutrients
I think there’s one or two valuable things that I’d like to help people think about. Meal timing setup, and more importantly, what types of meals are important.
So the way I think about my first meal, I typically intermittent fast and I’ll have my first meal around 11AM.
The goal of that first meal is to cover my micronutrients for the day.
Abel: I like that.
Macronutrients, what I mean by this is macronutrients are protein, carbs, and fats. You could get them in so many different varieties of foods.
Micronutrients are all the vitamins, minerals, and vital chemicals that we need to thrive. They’re just as important, very hard to get.
Even if you’re eating a very unprocessed diet, you have to eat a wide range of foods to cover that.
So, my first meal typically is a shake with one whole raw egg mixed in there and it has all my micronutrients covered.
I have a phenomenal greens powder that I put in there, and I have some chia seeds, thyme seeds, I have my own secret recipe.
But the point is, I put something in there that I know for the rest of the day if I eat nothing else, I’m just sliding in calories. I have all my micronutrients covered.
So that’s shake for first meal. Doesn’t have to be that way, it just so happens to be very convenient and a lot of people do like that.
Second meal of the day, which I recommend to people, whether it’s this meal or dinner, have a big green salad.
Literally, if you do shake and then salad for lunch, such a simple and beautiful habit.
And we’ll talk about the importance of salad and just getting all that beautiful fiber that moves through your digestive tract, that feeds your gut probiotics. We know how important those guys are for all of your functioning.
But the beautiful thing, I think, from a habits behavioral perspective, is a salad is a location independent habit.
Because, listen. Well there’s a lot of people when they fall off track with their health routines when they travel because they don’t have the rice cooker, or the chicken breast, or the avocado.
All that stuff is at home and when you’re not at home, your whole habit routine went out the window.
But if you make something like a salad, you can get a salad at McDonalds that may even pass our test in a way.
Point being is that you could get it almost anywhere.
You know you want to get micronutrients covered in one meal, a salad in one meal, then you can have a little more flexibility with dinner and you don’t have to feel like it’s rigid.
Another thing I like the slot in there is having people have a go-to nonperishable snack, something that’s like your go-to.
So it might be a certain kind of nut or seed that you like. It might be a certain kind of fruit that you like.
It doesn’t matter, but I like it to be something that you can pack and travel with you. It could be an unprocessed bar.
Believe it or not, there are a couple of those good ones out there. For me, I’m Italian. I like some tin sardines.
Abel: I do the same thing. I was just going to say that.
DHA and EPA you can travel with.
Abel: Smoked oysters, too.
Exactly, right? Some good tin seafood, you can take them anywhere.
TSA thinks they look like a bunch of bombs if you put them in your bag too much.
Abel: They almost stole mine once. Held me up for like a half hour.
Me too. Must be the only two guys carrying those sardines on the plane.
But point being, having nonperishable snacks, really great things to think about.
And what’s the big message here is we’re just being proactive of not telling you need to eat this amount of food at this time, but I am conceptually trying to say: Micronutrients cover big green blast, have a nonperishable snack, be flexible over dinner.
Abel: I love that.
That’s the framework.
I say shakes, salads, snacks, supper. Or if you intermittent fast, it might be shake, salad, supper.
Fasting 101: Intermittent and Extended Fasts
Abel: So, let’s switch to fasting a little bit because that’s another thing that I’m really interested in and have been doing for years.
Are you doing more of the 16/8 where you eat midday? Or what does yours look like?
I love daily fasting mostly from behavioral perspective, and I get a lot of my focus work and my meditation done in the morning on an empty stomach.
Get up, get the sunshine, get on my rebounder, and just start my day.
I’m not getting food immediately. I feel great doing that.
So I do 16/8, but that is not truly even tapping into the deep benefits of fasting, in my opinion.
If you’re always in a semi-fed state, you’re getting a little bit depleted towards the end. But you ate 16 hours ago, it’s not that big of a deal.
A couple of times per year, ideally once a quarter, but at least twice a year, I go into a deep fast. And this will be a multi-day fast.
I think a deep fast starts at around 3+ days, anywhere from 3 – 7 is where you get some of these phenomenal health benefits.
Your immune system completely resets itself, your new stem cells start to flourish, you really get this neurogenesis that really kicks in.
Your cells start digesting old proteins through this autophagy process.
We could really nerd out on this stuff, but our bodies were truly built to fast.
I love bridging the east and west traditions. But you look at the yin and the yang concept, you have a yang that’s very active and dynamic and more of a masculine, and the yin that’s more nourishing and feminine.
Fasting is kind of like the yin and the yang of anabolism—building up, consuming food, and catabolism breaking down.
Because we have constant food access in Western societies, we just do not have enough of this yin component.
We don’t have enough time where our bodies are auto-digesting, breaking down, relaxing.
We’re always throwing food into the system, we need to clean it out.
So I think the 16/8 fasting is phenomenally effective for managing your calories, managing your energy levels, and it’s just really simple for a lot of people and they can lose a lot of weight and feel phenomenal.
But I do urge other people, even if you’re not a 16/8 person, you work out in the morning, I want my shake in the morning, to consider doing a 24-hour fast once a week.
And eventually, as you get to know fasting through direct experience, work up to longer fast to really reap these health benefits.
You ask from a longevity perspective, I think, in managing your nutrient intake and definitely fasting is something that I think is pivotal to increase life span.
Abel: What about for those longer fasts, what are you doing as far as liquids go? Are you avoiding all calories? What does it look like?
I personally avoid all calories. Herbal non-caffeinated teas, lots of water, lots of great hydration, some minerals to keep the electrolytes in balance.
But I’m a big fan of non-caloric fasting.
From a cellular perspective, the fasting is triggered by a deficiency in energy. You get AMP kinase and stuff to start increasing.
So water fasting is what I’m a big fan of.
Abel: And then exercise?
Yes. I’d say consider daily movement is important while you’re fasting, just walking and spending as much time outside deep breathing.
You don’t want to do a water fast during the busiest day of your work here, you know what I mean?
It’s a time really where you want your body to be able to relax and unwind, and so this will be a perfect time to do a lot of stretching, kind of like the yoga meditation.
Everything you’d imagine would happen at some kind of like intense fasting yoga retreat. You want to try to create that in your own home.
And hey, look, it could just be a weekend fast. It could be like I have dinner on Friday, we’re going to set up the house and have a really great peaceful environment.
I’m going to get a great book, get my teas all prepared, send the kids off to the grandparents and I’m going to fast until dinner on Sunday.
That’s still something that’s very viable and accessible for people. It’s not easy, but it gets easier as you get better at it.
But this is something that you might be interested in and some of our other listeners here, who are into strength-training.
What I started playing around in is doing one set of strength-training exercises per body part on every day during the fast.
So you’re not doing a big workout that’s breaking you down, but you’re giving your body a little bit of stimulation.
So let’s just say you’re doing it, you’re on day three of your fast. You might do one set of squats, one set of rows, one set of push-ups, one set of shoulder press, just enough to get the blood flowing and to tell your body, “Hey, we’re holding onto this muscle for a reason. This is a good stimulus to do so.”
And I’ve done five day fast without strength training. It’s not like you’ll come out of there looking like withered and you lost your last five years of strength training progress, by any means.
But I think it is a good gentle stimulation to keep the body used to having vigorous exercise.
Abel: I’m curious about what happened when you didn’t exercise. Did you sacrifice much performance gains or not really?
No. Most of the weight that you do lose during a fast is a lot of it it’s the water weight associated with emptying your body from the glycogen stores.
So, for a couple of days as you’re easing back out of fast, it’s not like you end the fast and you go get a huge meal.
You have to gently reintroduce your digestive tract to some of these foods.
So, net one month out of the fast you’re just as strong as you were beforehand, but you’re probably leaner.
Abel: And not getting sick as much. Feeling lighter.
Yeah. Well, think about it this way. A lot of people don’t know this, don’t really hear this analogy too much, but we should truly be teaching this to our kids—the human body is a tube.
We are a tube. Abel, here’s a weird, listen, buckle up right now.
I could take a piece of floss with a string on it, I could have you swallow that and I could floss you, Abel, from both ends as that comes out.
Abel: That’s a great analogy.
It’s a weird concept, right?
We are truly a tube, and that too is not even inside our body, that tube is not inside our body.
And I know it’s a subtle thing, but it’s almost like you’re driving a car through an under river tunnel. Like there’s a tunnel that goes through river when you’re driving your car.
Are you in the river, or are you not in the river? I would say you’re not in the river, you’re driving through the river.
This is kind of like what the digestive tract is for the human system, it’s this super complex dynamic environment where your immune system is concentrated through this tube.
The external world that you put in is interacting with all the enzymes and the probiotics in your gut, and then stuff’s assimilating through.
We need to keep that tube clean, it needs time to not have food bombarded all the time.
And a big part of that is fasting and giving the system time to just empty that tube out. That’s important.
Abel: Meditation for your esophagus.
There you go right.
Abel: Well it is, it’s the yin yang, it’s keeping everything in balance.
I think the more you can see similarities between these different things, the more likely you are to be able to make your own choices as they present themselves in an uncertain future, right?
Beautifully said. And I also think too, there are things in life that are Truths with a big “T” not just a small t.
They’re kind of like the laws of nature that you see repeated on macroscopic and microscopic levels.
Those are things that are, you could say, “Wow, this is very true. It’s on all levels.”
I think this yin yang concept we see the same thing with the seasonality of this entire planet.
Things are going through cycles, our bodies are connected to this entire, this life process that’s happening.
Although we kind of have boxed ourselves into houses and we have created society and structure—which has tons of benefits for us as a species—we’re still connected to the dance that’s outside the window.
And this yin yang concept does apply to our health in a phenomenal way that a lot of people are waking up to appreciate.
Abel: Yeah, and I’m happy that they are and we need it more than ever, that’s for sure.
Where to find Dr. Anthony Balduzzi
And I can’t believe it, but we are coming up on time.
We could talk all day for sure, and I’m sure we’ll talk again, but please, before you go, tell folks what you’re working on and what the best place is to find you, as well.
So, outside of all the funky meditation, yoga, flossing Abel stuff, my main passion is helping busy moms and dads lose weight.
Get on these sustainable plans as we kind of discussed today. So they can be better parents, healthier for themselves and raise better kids.
So we have two companies, the Fit Father Project and the Fit Mother Project, and as you mentioned in the intro of this podcast, we’ve run well over 20,000 people through our online program.
For women, you can check out the 3-Day Fit Mom Weight Loss Jumpstart to discover how thousands of busy mom are losing weight the simple & sustainable way – without using crash diets, starving themselves, or spending hours exercising.
For men, we’ve got the 1-Day Weight Loss Meal Plan For Busy Fathers where you’ll discover exactly what to eat to lose belly fat & feel energized 24/7 – without hard dieting. You’ll get a free 1-Day Meal Plan that will show you what to eat without the frustration of “normal diets.”
My mission is to create as many fit moms and fit dads as possible in this world, so we can raise fit kids, and just help this cycle of humanity go on the upswing, as I kind of feel like we’re at this critical inflection point.
If you’re someone out there who is interested in living healthier, or you resonate with some of the stuff that was shared here, check out those websites.
We have an insane amount of free content. We have some great YouTube channels, too. And you can find us on Facebook and Twitter
If you want to hear me rant about random stuff, YouTube is a good place to look me up.
Abel: Go hear him rant, his work is great.
Thank you so much for coming on the show. man. I really appreciate it.
This was a blast.
Before You Go…
Here’s the review of the week. It came in from Kristy, and she says,
“After finding Fat-Burning Man, I’ve more or less stopped listening to most of the other health and wellness podcasts.
I’ve found more and more that I agree so strongly with Abel’s views on the health industry. His expertise in nutrition, sound advice on exercise, and science-backed information on how to live a long and happy life is refreshing and honest.
His guests are GREAT and I particularly loved the recent James Lugo episode. You wanna talk about an honest and compelling conversation!!
This podcast has it all and more! Thank you Abel (and family) for bringing inspiring and authentic content to the masses.
Listener for life here. Best, Kristy
Kristy, thank you so much for writing in. This really warmed my heart.
I really enjoy making these podcasts and making all of this content with you and for you folks.
So do not be shy. If you want to get in touch with me, the easiest way to do that is to sign up for my free newsletter, and reply to the email that I’ll send to you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
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