I am a 57-year-old male who was a professional football player and athlete all my life. I happened to get Prostate cancer, which is being controlled by Elligard, which is hormonal therapy. Look it up to view the side effects. It reduces my testosterone down to nothing, to not feed the cancer cells.  I do one hour of cardio every night {Low intensity and hi intensity mixed} I also due upper body workouts twice a week with four different exercises per body part and two sets of twenty per. I end up with 160 reps per body part for entire upper body all within an hour. Same with legs. I lost 25% of muscle mass because of medicine.

I am a certified NASM and AFAA personal trainer for years but suck at nutrition. 1/2 quart of egg whites and avocado for breakfast, tuna or chicken salad with horseradish sauce for lunch and lean turkey, fish or chicken for dinner. Usually not any carbs unless I have multi grain bread with tuna or chicken. Two scoops of protein a day with water. Need to find a way to maintain and increase a little muscle mass with nutrition. Hope you have ideas.

– Rocky C.


Okay Rocky, I looked it up! The drug you refer to has base name leuprolide and I’ve noted its mechanism of action and side effects. Check. That doesn’t change the fact that testosterone is helpful, but not required for gaining lean mass. Women with only 1/10 the testosterone of men can get quite muscular!  Research supports the notion that with progressive resistance training, men with prostate cancer taking anti-androgens can still increase muscle mass and strength.

I hope you are open to changing up your diet (which currently reflects what someone might eat to slim down). To feed your muscles and prompt them to grow in response to your admirable workouts, you’ll need more calories, notably from fats and carbohydrates. As you know, carbohydrates help stimulate the release of insulin, which is a growth-triggering hormone. Insulin’s anabolic effects in the muscle are three-fold: it helps prevent the breakdown of protein, enhances glucose uptake into cells for energy and building, and promotes protein synthesis.

To make your body’s natural insulin work for you, proper nutrient timing and intensive weight training are critical. Priming your system before a workout (to increase circulating insulin in anticipation of a macronutrient load later) is key to taking advantage of insulin’s normal post-digestive metabolic process. To do so, you should eat 15-30 grams low-glycemic (complex) carbohydrate about a half-hour before the start of your lifting/resistance work, then have 30 grams of easily-digestible (simple) carbohydrate at the end of your workout or within 30 minutes while muscle is most receptive to nutrient storage. Each of these should be paired with an equivalent amount of protein. Low-glycemic carbs include sweet potato, oatmeal, quinoa and beans. Easily-digestible carbs include flake cereals, white crackers and pretzels, and pasta.

In addition, for overall calories and micronutrients, I’d suggest adding a variety of nuts and vegetables to your day. Good luck!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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