Dr. T’s Transformation Get in the Best Shape of Your Life at Any Age! Plus E201 of Ask Dr T
Dr. T’s Transformation
Get in the Best Shape of Your Life at Any Age!
By Ron Harris
“It takes discipline and determination along with some degree of sacrifice to train hard and eat right every day for years, but the rewards are priceless.” -Dr. George N. Touliatos
Many of you know Dr. George N. Touliatos from his weekly show on the MD YouTube channel, “Ask Dr. Testosterone.” He’s been a rare example of a medical professional who practices what he preaches, living a dedicated lifestyle of hard weight training and clean eating and inspiring others to be strong and healthy. Recently he got into peak condition for photo shoots in Los Angeles just before the 2022 Olympia Weekend. I spoke with Dr. T about how he manages to look so damn good at nearly a half-century old.
Doc, you will turn 50 years old in July of 2023. When you look the way you do years after retiring from competition and being a medical doctor, people want to know your “secrets.” Maybe the first aspect of that we can get into is the fact that you have been consistent with your bodybuilding lifestyle, whereas many men take training and nutrition seriously in their younger years but drift away from it as they enter middle age.
Yes, I have weight trained consistently aside from a brief period where I did only cardio with the goal of downsizing. The longest I have ever gone without any kind of exercise was one week following a spinal surgery. I do take planned breaks from the weights for one week four times a year, but I still train 48 weeks out of 52. I always eat very clean.
You have been dieting and maintaining very lean condition for quite some time. How and why did that start?
Legendary photographer Per Bernal called me on July 10, 2021 and told me if I leaned out, he would shoot with me. The original goal was to do it in October at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, but he couldn’t make it. My next trip to the USA would be in December 2022 to be a guest speaker at the Olympia University educational seminars, so we arranged for me to go to Los Angeles a few days before Las Vegas for that photo shoot. I also shot with my good friend Alex Ardenti, who is also a very respected physique photographer. Between the two of them they have shot every top bodybuilder of the last 25 years. It was a very long period of dieting, but I could not pass up this opportunity.
What is your normal weight and body fat level, and what did you get down to?
Normally I am about 12-15 percent body fat at 220 pounds. For the photo shoots I dropped 10 kilos or just over 20 pounds on a TRT regimen. But I have to tell you that no matter what you take, you won’t see a good six-pack and muscular definition unless you diet to get rid of the blanket of fat that covers it up. I can see my six-pack at 210 pounds, but I need to get down to 200 to be ripped. If I wanted to be totally shredded, I would need to be 195 pounds.
Hormones need to be optimized to retain muscle while losing fat, so what was your PED regimen?
My TRT regimen is 175mg testosterone enanthate, which I micro-dose at 25mg per day. I do that year-round. I also use 50mg Proviron at 25mg twice a day along with 25mg of DHEA and 25mg of pregnenolone, both twice daily. I take 1mg of anastrozolea week, 2iu of GH every morning, and 200iu of HCG every day. For a brief period of 30 days, after eight years where I didn’t touch any other steroids, I used 5mg daily of stanazolol (Winstrol) and 10mg of oxandrolone (Anavar). Before that, I made sure my lipids and liver enzymes were fine. I had also performed blood donation in order for my hemoglobin to be at its lowest range because I’m highly prone to erythrocytosis, which is having too many red blood cells. I also take Crestor, a statin. Even though my coronary calcium score is zero, I have a tiny amount of calcification in my carotid artery. My pathologist assured me that if I use D3 plus K2 I could get rid of it, but my brother-in-law is a cardiologist and he told me only a statin would allow that tiny bit of calcification to solidify so it can’t detach later and form an occlusion, or thrombus/blood clot. The statin lowers LDL, the bad cholesterol, but I also take a medication called Zetia in the United States that elevates HDL and lowers triglycerides. We also need to be careful with statins, as they can have side effects with the muscles, the liver and your A1C (blood sugar levels). Use a low dose of statin if you need to, but also exercise and eat well. Don’t just depend on medications. I also take 1mg of metformin daily to improve insulin sensitivity. I take even more supplements, but we can list those at the end.
A lot of people, especially as they hit middle age, say they just don’t have time to train and eat the way we do because they have jobs and kids. I think most people would agree that being a medical doctor is a demanding career, so what does a typical day look like for you in terms of how you get all your meals and workouts in?
I’ll start with the training. I do that usually around 7:00 p.m. and no later because I like to have dinner, my last meal at 9:00 p.m. and be in bed by 11. If I eat dinner later than that, I find it’s harder to digest the food properly and I don’t sleep well. If it’s Saturday or a workday when I don’t have appointments, I have breakfast at 9:00 a.m. and go to the gym at 11:00 a.m. I also have a home gym set up outside at my house that helps out when I have other obligations and there’s no time to get to the gym.
Do you do fasted cardio when you wake up?
Yes, always. I do 30 minutes of walking at a low intensity. I also keep track of my steps with my Fitbit. On a good day I do 10,000. My personal best is 18,000, which is about two hours of walking. I think anyone trying to use cardio to burn fat should aim for 10,000 steps a day. Right now my calories are just over 2,000 a day, and I’m only eating 100-150 grams of carbohydrates. I don’t eat much fat, but I do eat nuts to get the EFAs. I also get the healthy fats from olive oil and salmon or sardines. I get fiber from fruit, though for the final two weeks leading up to my photo shoots I skipped my usual berries and pomegranate. Fruits are very healthy, but they do contain fructose and spike your insulin, so to get very lean you need to limit them. Fruit juice is loaded with fructose, so I never drink that. Bread is also out of the question. I prefer corn cakes over rice cakes. I eat black, red or brown rice, never white, and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. I never add salt to my food. Water is essential, I drink three liters a day. I have five solid meals altogether, plus one shake post-workout. I used to eat seven solid meals a day starting at 7:00 a.m. and every two hours until I went to sleep at 9 or 10:00 p.m.
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What times do you have your meals now, normally?
Breakfast is at 9. Two hours later I have my second meal. Right after work I go to The Protein Store and get either salmon with spinach, or chicken with either rice or sweet potato. Sometimes I get the chicken, turkey or buffalo burger without the bun, just onion and tomato. I eat every three hours, so my stomach is never truly empty. Of course, I can’t eat pizza, but if I want a “cheat” I have something like frozen yogurt with blueberries. I don’t ever eat cheat meals in the off-season, just larger portions of healthy food, with more carbs. I don’t eat like this just for a six-pack. It’s about my blood vessels and visceral fat, avoiding cardiovascular disease.
Most people, especially in our age range, aren’t trying to get either huge or shredded. What would you say is a healthy and realistic body fat percentage to strive for?
Men shouldn’t get over 15 percent. It’s very realistic and attainable for a drug-free man to be 220 pounds at 6 feet tall and 15 percent. Ten percent is very lean, and most people would need to restrict calories for at least a couple of months to see that. I was staying around 12 percent with blurry abs when Per Bernal called me. It’s pretty simple to lose fat. You lower your carbs and calories, do more cardio, and keep up your resistance training.
Let’s talk about your weight training. How has it changed since you were trying to win the Mr. Greece?
I was still training hardcore up until my back injury a couple of years ago. I was trying to imitate Mike O’Hearn and all I got was a broken disk. At 47, I did a PR with 110s for eight reps on the flat press, and 100s overhead for six reps during the pandemic at my home gym by the pool. Not bad for an old man! I did T-bar rows with 220 pounds on the bar for eight reps. I tried to squat 400 pounds like I had done at age 35, and that’s when I broke my disk. Since my back surgery, I stopped all deadlifts and only squat with one plate. I focus a lot more on time under tension and slow eccentric movements on my reps and executing perfect form. I go to failure but safely. Of course now that I’m glycogen depleted I can’t go super heavy, so I shorten my rest periods between sets to make the weight feel heavier. I don’t want to risk something like a pec tear. Right now I have small tears in both of my supraspinatus muscles. I also have a herniated disk in my neck, so I do front squats instead of back squats.
What’s a good baseline for cardio?
I think 30 minutes, three times a week is a good starting point. The most I’ve ever done is two 30-minute sessions every day. Usually, it’s separate from my weight training. If it’s done right after weights, I do HIT style which is shorter, because I don’t want to go so long without eating. That can elevate cortisol levels. It’s better to go home and eat because you’re already drained and depleted from the weights. You should get the protein and carbs back into your system sooner and start the recovery process.
How long have you been training?
1989 was when I started as a student at Athens College, so it’s been 33 years.
We all hit a limit in terms of how much muscle mass we build, but I strongly believe you can continue to season and refine that mass, adding detail, for many more years after that. Do you see that in your own physique?
Yes. I can compare photos from when I was 25, 30 and 40 to know that I am almost 50, and I can see that I look more solid and detailed even though I’m not abusing PEDs. It comes from years and years of hard and consistent training. It’s like chipping away at a sculpture.
I know from talking to people in our age group that they see guys like us who have been doing this our entire adult lives, and they want to get serious but feel it’s too late for them now.
They need to know it’s never too late to improve yourself, and nobody should ever compare themselves to someone else.
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
It’s very true. For example, I don’t compare myself to someone like Mike O’Hearn who is 53 but looks so much better than almost everyone. He has different genetics and he’s never cheated on his diet for his whole life. Everyone should focus on being a better version of him or herself. That should always be the goal.
That being said, after all these years, what are you still trying to improve on?
I think I have pretty good balance, but I do wish my triceps were bigger than my biceps. My chest isn’t bad, but I wish it was thicker. My midsection isn’t small. It’s 85cm now that I’m lean (33.5 inches) at just under 200 pounds. Jay Cutler had a 34-inch waist at 260 pounds. I’m not trying to get any bigger because I know my joints, tendons and ligaments are all worn even though I take many different things to help them. I just want to stay lean and muscular. Unless you’re blasting a lot of PEDs, you have to choose between being a little smaller but leaner, or bigger and carrying more body fat. I prefer to be leaner, and it’s also much healthier.
I think it’s a bad idea for anyone our age or older to even attempt to be huge. Little dogs live much longer than big dogs, and I’ve never seen a 70-year-old man who’s 300 pounds of muscle. Or fat, for that matter. Nobody that big lives very long.
There are people who are obsessed with being big and strong, and they don’t care if they’re fat. I want to be able to take off my shirt and not be ashamed because I have a fat belly and love handles hanging over my waistband. I don’t need to be so lean that I have a Christmas tree lower back, but I always want to see a six-pack and my obliques.
After the photo shoot, do you plan on staying lean?
I will put on just a few pounds, but I want to stay close to the same size because all my suits are tailored to those dimensions. Also, women prefer men’s bodies to be lean, not bulky and soft. Nothing comes easy. There’s a price to pay for a six-pack. If it was easy, everybody would be lean and muscular. Dieting to get very lean sucks. It fucks up your brain. Your energy and mood both suffer from restricting calories and carbohydrates for extended periods. It’s also tough because I’ve struggled with depression since I was young, and eating carbs makes me feel peaceful and happy.
That’s why we use the phrase “comfort foods” in the USA.
I prefer carbs over fat any day.
Let’s wrap it up, Doc. Most people want to get in great shape, but they have a long list of excuses. It’s all about priorities and how badly you want something, isn’t it?
Yes, Arnold said if you want something, if you really want it, you will find a way to get it. If you don’t want it that much, you find excuses. It takes discipline and determination along with some degree of sacrifice to train hard and eat right every day for years, but the rewards are priceless.
Order The Bible of Bodybuilding II by Dr. George N. Touliatos, MD Today!
Supplements and Meds
Testosterone and mesterolone (libido)
Leucine (muscle growth)
Glutamine (recovery and immune system)
Creatine (strength and endurance)
Glutathione and NAC (liver)
Vitamins C, E, A (immunity)
Vitamin B12 (homocysteine)
Folic Acid (homocysteine)
Krill oil, red yeast rice, niacin (cholesterol)
Alpha-lipoic acid (glucose)
Choline, inositol, silymarin (liver)
Collagen, hyaluronic acid (joints)
Melatonin, GABA (sleep)
Ron Harris got his start in the bodybuilding industry during the eight years he worked in Los Angeles as Associate Producer for ESPN’s “American Muscle Magazine” show in the 1990s. Since 1992 he has published nearly 5,000 articles in bodybuilding and fitness magazines, making him the most prolific bodybuilding writer ever. Ron has been training since the age of 14 and competing as a bodybuilder since 1989. He lives with his wife and two children in the Boston area. Facebook Instagram
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