Testosterone Boosters — BS or Worth It?
Imagine being able to walk to your kitchen, pop a pill in your mouth, chase it with a cool glass of water — and instantly your testosterone levels shoot up.
And now, because you have higher T, you can build muscle faster, torch stubborn body fat easier, have boundless energy throughout the day, and have more fun in the bedroom.
Sound too good to be true?
It might be. Or it might NOT be.
In today’s article I’m going to lay out all the facts about testosterone boosters, including which T-boosting ingredients are the best and which ones are a sham, so you can make an educated decision for yourself.
So, are testosterone boosters B.S. or worth it? Let’s find out.
What Are Testosterone Boosters?
Testosterone boosters are nothing new. They’re really popular actually. And that’s because men know the importance of maintaining high testosterone levels. Especially as you get older and your T-levels begin to naturally decline.
So what exactly is a testosterone booster?
Well, let me start by telling you what a T-booster is NOT. When I talk about testosterone boosters, I’m not talking about testosterone prescriptions, like Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).
TRT is an exogenous form of testosterone. Meaning it is literally testosterone that you take in a pill, or apply with a cream or injection. Some guys swear by TRT. But I recommend holding off as long as possible.
That’s because when men use TRT, their natural testosterone production slows down and may even come to a complete stop. And that’s because when you inject exogenous testosterone into your body or ingest it in pill form or rub it on using a cream, your body senses that you have “enough” testosterone. So it stops making testosterone on its own.
It’s like the old saying: If you don’t use it, you lose it.
If your body doesn’t need to make testosterone, it won’t.
The problem with that is it means you’ll have to stay on TRT for life, which can get pretty expensive. But that choice is up to you.
All that said, in this article, we’re talking about testosterone boosters. Not testosterone replacement therapy.
Testosterone boosters are different from TRT because the ingredients inside T-boosters help to support your body’s natural production of testosterone.
Kind of like the difference between giving a man to fish and teaching him to fish.
TRT gives a man a fish. But testosterone boosters teach a man how to fish.
In other words, they help your body to naturally produce its own T. That’s the idea, anyway. Like you’ll see in today’s article, not all T-boosters are created equally and most of them don’t do nearly as much as they promise, if anything at all.
Problem With T-Boosters
I’m not against all T-boosters. They can be super helpful. If they work.
The problem is, not all “testosterone boosters” boost testosterone.
Here’s what I mean:
Some T-boosters contain ingredients that were once reported to boost testosterone. But since then, they’ve been debunked. However, though they’ve been debunked, the companies don’t change their claims.
They just slap a fancy title on their product (like Alpha-T, or Ultra Boost, or something like that), touch it up with some marketing, and sell it to you knowing full well you won’t see as big a difference as you want.
There are other “testosterone boosters” that use ingredients shown to work in mice… not men.
Obviously if you give a mouse 500 mg of a certain ingredient, it’s going to have a much more noticeable effect than if you were to give a man 500 mg of that same ingredient. That’s because men are bigger than mice. Simple, right?
That still doesn’t seem to stop some companies from using mice data to suggest their T-booster will have the same effect on us.
Then, there are other “testosterone boosters” that hide their formula behind a proprietary blend.
A proprietary blend is when a company discloses the ingredients they have in a supplement, but not the amount of each ingredient. For example, they may claim their blend is the “super boost T blend” that contains zinc, ashwagandha, and pine pollen… but the label doesn’t tell you how much you’re getting of each ingredient.
And chances are, you’re getting small microdoses of each ingredient. Maybe even smaller doses than in rat studies.
So, there’s a lot of “bad” when it comes to testosterone boosters. A lot of deception. A lot of false claims.
But it’s not fair to paint all T-boosters with a broad brush.
There are actually some really powerful testosterone boosting ingredients that can give you real help. So let’s go over some of the most talked about testosterone boosting ingredients and see if they live up to the hype.
I’m going to split them up into three categories. The bad, the okay, and the best.
The Bad #1: DAA
D-Aspartic acid – or DAA – is an amino acid that took the world by storm a few years back.
But ultimately, the only reason DAA became popular as a “T-booster” is because of a few sponsored studies that didn’t tell the whole truth, and good marketing.
What’s worse, is DAA may not only be ineffective for testosterone levels. It may be harmful.
Here’s how it went down:
First off, there was a legitimate reason to expect DAA would work well as a testosterone booster.
Research had shown in-vitro and in animals that DAA was able to stimulate the release of GnRH (which is the first step in testosterone production that begins in the brain) and the production of testosterone-forming molecules in the balls. (study, study)
Plus, animal studies flat-out showed DAA led to increases in testosterone levels.
So the next step was to test DAA on humans.
The first study was sponsored by a DAA manufacturer. It showed that 12 grams of DAA per day increased T levels by 15% after 3 days, 42% after 12 days, and then dropped back down to 22% after the men stopped supplementing with it.
And a 90-day study after that (sponsored by the same manufacturer) showed a 60% increase in testosterone after 90 days.
However, because DAA caught so much attention, there were more studies done on it. This time NOT by manufacturers who would profit off the studies. And that’s when the truth came out.
The next study showed that 28-days of DAA supplementation combined with resistance training did not change total or free-testosterone levels in men.
And a 2015 study found that not only did 3-grams of DAA NOT have any influence on T-levels, but doubling the dose to 6-grams per day resulted in significantly lower levels of total and free-testosterone.
The Bad #2: Nettle Root
Stinging nettle root is pretty common. A lot of the time it’s talked about regarding prostate health.
However, it’s also added into many testosterone booster supplements and you can probably find it in the supplement aisle at the drugstore.
Supposedly, stinging nettle root works by lowering SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). And as a result, it makes testosterone more bioavailable in the body.
You can think of SHBG and testosterone like kids on the playground playing freeze tag. When SHBG binds to testosterone, it, in essence, “freezes” it. It makes that testosterone molecule useless.
And it’s estimated that 98% of your testosterone molecules get “frozen” by SHBG. So if nettle root really does lower SHBG, then it frees up some of the testosterone you already have in your body to do what you need testosterone to do.
Like build muscle. Burn fat. Stay driven and energized. Perform in bed. All that good stuff.
The problem is, in a human study where 558 subjects received 120mg of nettle root extract 3-times per day, the researchers saw no change in testosterone. So regardless of the potential, at the end of the day, nettle root doesn’t pan out.
Other supplements that fall into “the bad” category: velvet antler (does NOT increase testosterone or growth hormone as claimed)
The Okay #1: Cistanche
Cistanche is commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine to support male health.
It has promising benefits behind it, though we don’t have the human studies we need to bump it up to the “best” category.
Legend has it, cistanche was eaten by Ghengis Khan, the Mongolian emperor who’s said to have had the most potent sex life of any man in history. Which wouldn’t be a surprise as cistanche may boost T, blood flow, and libido.
In a 2016 rat study, cistanche was shown to have antioxidant effects. Antioxidants are important because they help keep inflammation and cortisol levels low. And by keeping cortisol levels low, it may help support testosterone.
In another rat study, researchers injected mice with a compound that led to a significant reduction in testosterone levels. But after they gave the mice different doses of cistanche extract, their testosterone levels returned back to normal. The higher the dose, the better the results.
The researchers from the study claimed this improvement in testosterone levels is due to cistanche’s “ectogenic androgen-like effect”.
They suggest that cistanche increases certain enzymes used to produce testosterone.
So that’s all promising research though it’s only been conducted on rats. Other rat studies show cistanche improves nitric oxide production and sexual performance. So if we do get some human research behind it, cistanche may be the biggest bang for your buck. (study, study)
The Okay #2: Tribulus
Tribulus Terrestris is an herb found in dry and cold climates. And one of the most well known “T-boosters” around.
Most tribulus supplements are trash. I mean 99% of them are a complete waste of money. But there is a silver lining on tribulus that I’ll tell you about in a sec.
The study that made tribulus popular as a “T-booster” was when researchers injected it into monkeys. The injections worked pretty well, more than doubling the monkeys’ testosterone.
However, there’s a BIG difference between taking a supplement in pill form and having it injected into the bloodstream. So this study didn’t tell us much about how tribulus would work for men… especially men who are afraid of needles.
Other studies on tribulus and testosterone were conducted on rabbits and rats. And those showed slight increases in T. But again, those aren’t human studies.
With that said, tribulus isn’t a lost cause. The active ingredient inside tribulus that gives it power is called “steroidal saponins”. It’s also been called “pure tribulus”. Most tribulus supplements contain very little of the steroidal saponins that make them effective.
Now the reason why that’s good news is because having sex increases testosterone levels. So in a literal backwards way, a tribulus supplement that has 95% saponins, may have a positive effect on your T-levels if it’s helping to “up” your frequency in the bedroom.
Other supplements that fall into “the okay” category: pine pollen (a form of “phytoandrogens” that may have potent T-boosting power if we get studies to back it up) and maca (great for boosting libido, but does NOT boost testosterone — may work in a backwards way like tribulus).
The Best #1: Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a potent herb used in Indian medicine. It’s an “adaptogen” which means it helps the body regain hormonal balance during times of stress.
Unlike the other mentions, ashwagandha is a proven T-booster with real science-backed research in human studies. The most powerful form of ashwagandha is an extract called “KSM-66” which contains the active compounds that make it so powerful.
In a double-blind placebo study (which is the gold standard of scientific research), scientists gave men 300 mg of KSM-66 ashwagandha for 60 days. They reduced cortisol levels by 27% by the end of the study.
If you didn’t know already, cortisol is your body’s primary stress hormone. And it works like a seesaw with your testosterone levels. When cortisol increases, testosterone decreases, and vice versa. So by lowering cortisol levels, ashwagandha helps to support testosterone levels.
Studies back this up, too.
Two human studies (study, study) both using 5 grams per day of ashwagandha root powder for 90 days, showed significant increases in testosterone (up to 40% in men who were previously infertile, and 15% in healthy subjects).
And in a 2015 study, 57 healthy men were given KSM-66 ashwagandha and were shown to increase testosterone levels 15%. There was an average increase from 630 ng/dL to 726 ng/dL, which is big for guys who are already in a healthy range.
The Best #2: Tongkat Ali
A top scientist from Stanford recently disclosed his love for tongkat ali because of how powerful it is for natural testosterone production.
Tongkat Ali is a flowering plant native to Indonesia. And similar to ashwagandha, it works as a powerful adaptogen for male health.
In a 2013 study researchers gave a group of stressed-out men tongkat ali extract for 4 weeks and another group of stressed-out men a placebo.
By the end of the study, the men who received tongkat ali had significant improvements in tension and anger… and had 16% lower cortisol levels and 37% higher testosterone levels.
In another study, 76 men with low testosterone were given 200 mg of tongkat ali extract for 1 month. By the end of the study, they saw a huge 46% increase in total testosterone levels. And 90% of the men were able to get their T-levels back into the normal range.
On top of that, other studies show tongkat ali improves sexual performance in men compared to men who were given a placebo. And similar to like we saw with tribulus with 95% saponins or maca, having more sex can help boost testosterone in a backwards way.
It’s also been shown to help men initiate sex more often, improve blood flow, and increase feelings of overall health and happiness.
The Best #3: 3 Key Micronutrients
Herbs from the other side of the world aren’t the only way to boost testosterone levels.
Studies show men don’t get enough zinc, magnesium, or vitamin D into their diets to support healthy testosterone.
However, by getting more of these micronutrients into your diet, it can make an instant impact.
It’s almost like hitting the “auto-correct” button on your hormones. Because studies show that once you get these key micronutrients into your diet, your T levels can return to the normal range if they’re low. (study, study, study)
So, Testosterone Boosters… BS or Worth It?
At the end of the day, you have to draw your own conclusions.
Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought to at least do some more research on your own.
Personally, I’m a believer in KSM-66 ashwagandha and tongkat ali, which is why I added them to Man Greens, which is our testosterone boosting greens powder.
You can read more about what’s inside Man Greens here, because KSM-66 ashwagandha and tongkat ali are just scratching the surface when it comes to what this formula is all about.
So until next time, go after what you want in life, be legendary, and I’ll talk to you soon.