Do Testosterone Boosters Work?
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
Do test boosters work? What do testosterone boosters do? Are they worth buying? These are questions I get all the time… So let’s dive in and uncover the truth behind the testosterone supplement claims on the market today.
Testosterone enhancing supplements are all the rage right now, and have been for the past few years. Changes are that your local GNC shelves are filled with these flashy bottles that promise to double or triple your testosterone levels, giving you more strength, sexual powers, and confidence. Though the real question is, do test boosters work or have you been lied to?
These testosterone supplements often range from amino acids to herbs to micronutrients and all the way to mushrooms and even to barely legal pro-hormone blends.
While some compounds have been scientifically proven to work, the industry is still filled with wacky claims and more ineffective than effective supplements.
Do Testosterone Boosters Work: Supplement Industry Shenanigans
Few years ago when D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) hit the market it was hailed as a revolutionary new test booster with scientifically proven 148% increase in testosterone levels on human subjects.
Of course I bought a bottle. And I’m pretty sure that hundreds of thousands of other people did too.
After some time, a new study on DAA was released, showing absolutely no effect with DAA supplementation on testosterone levels over 28-days.
Later on another study showed how DAA actually LOWERED testosterone levels.
How could this happen?! The first study showed 148% increase in testosterone levels, then suddenly it doesn’t work and even worse, works in a backwards fashion?
Simple, the first study was either industry sponsored and somehow cleverly fabricated or the increase was simply caused by some other factor than the supplementation (ie. some supplements have antioxidant effects and they work only for infertile guys). Whatever the case might be it gave the supplement companies a very good claim to market the living shit out of DAA supplements with some really convincing “scientifically proven” percentages. Without a doubt – they were able to sell for millions – before the later peer-reviewed studies were published.
In fact, DAA still flies off the shelves, because the hype surrounding its release was so powerful that it still circles the internet, whereas the two latter studies get no press.
…Sometimes the industry doesn’t even need to fabricate or “misread” studies, they can just have some famous steroid using bodybuilder recommending some over-the-counter nutraceutical as a key to his (or her) gains, which in reality were attained with something not legally obtainable.
Is there Anything that Really Works?
The truth is that even though there are A LOT of unproven substances on the market with very questionable “evidence”, there are also supplements which have passed peer-reviewed and non-sponsored studies with flying colors.
So yes, to answer the headline of this article, SOME compounds do increase testosterone levels, but definitely not all the ones that are claimed to do so.
Few examples of working supplements would be;
- Certain Micronutrients – like vitamin A and D, zinc, magnesium, vitamin K2, calcium, and boron. All of these show good amount of evidence in their effect of increasing testosterone levels, but this is only until your body has “enough” of them in circulation or stored. In other words, many vitamins and minerals increase testosterone levels if you’re deficient in them, but once your levels are saturated, then megadosing any further will not yield any hormonal benefits.
- Some Herbs – like Ashwagandha, Forskolin, Mucuna Pruriens, and Tongkat Ali have shown to be effective at increasing testosterone levels and sperm parameters in human, animal, and cell-culture studies. However the effects are not steroid-like as many supplement companies like to claim and make you believe. In reality the increases are often around the magnitude of 10-50%.
- Other Compounds – like the amino acids taurine, carnitine, and creatine as well as phosphatidylserine, probiotics, and bromelain have been found to either preserve or increase testosterone levels during exercise, and/or upregulate the androgen receptors in muscle tissue, leading to increased testosterone and DHT utilization in the receptor sites. However do keep in mind that these effects ARE NOT steroid-like, they’re supplements with minor benefits, not magic pills.
So… Do Testosterone Boosters Really Work?
Yes. Some of them, but only a handful.
Many supplements on the market – whether they are for losing weight, building muscle, or boosting testosterone – are either useless or not nearly as effective as claimed.
This doesn’t automatically mean that everything is BS though, since there are supplements with real peer-reviewed and non-fabricated studies backing their effects. Just remember that no OTC supplement will give you steroid-like results, there are no legally obtainable magic pills!
NOTE: For further reading, you can read the article “8 Testosterone Boosting Supplements that Work“, check out the AM supplement category, or visit Examine.com’s unbiased research review of testosterone boosters.