When it comes to bodybuilding, fitness, growing muscle, and reducing body fat, testosterone is the most important hormone. However, not every one of us is lucky enough to have high testosterone levels. I can count myself into the unlucky group, and ever since I started my bodybuilding routines, I was always trying to look for a healthy option to increase my testosterone. After so many years, I have tried many different natural supplements to boost my testosterone –as well as testosterone injections and many other androgens- but stayed with one I consider to be the best testosterone booster.
In this article, I will share with you all of my experience with testosterone and make my best to give you all you need to know about testosterone as a hormone and testosterone-raising supplements. After reading, you will be able to make out yourself which is the best testosterone booster.
First off, I will briefly talk about testosterone and how vital it is for us as bodybuilders.
Next, I will introduce testosterone injections and tell you a bit about my personal experience with them.
Finally, I will give you all the scientific data you need to understand testosterone-raising supplements and choose wisely which one is the best testosterone booster.
Testosterone, the golden molecule in bodybuilding
The gym, muscle building, and testosterone are deeply interconnected subjects to talk about. After hitting the gym for some time and reading a bit about muscle growth, you would no doubt find testosterone in most articles and posts.
But be extra careful when reading from the internet:
I have found all types of myths on the web, and testosterone is not a subject to take lightly. It is an essential hormone in your body, and you may even have really nasty side effects if you’re not appropriately guided.
Testosterone is the most important sex hormone in males. It is responsible for the changes males experience during their puberty, such as growing body hair, increasing their height, muscle size, changing their voice tone, among others.
In bodybuilding, testosterone stimulates the synthesis of proteins, which is essential to increase muscle mass. This wonderful molecule also promotes the transformation of muscle fibers into a stronger and more resistant subtype called IIB.
Testosterone goes around all of the body and has a function in most cells. It changes the metabolism of energy, increases our strength and speeds up the process of burning fat. Thus, I consider testosterone as the golden molecule for any bodybuilder. It gives you all you want to achieve in your strength training.
These are additional effects testosterone has in our bodies:
- Testosterone keeps your body active and your memory focused
- It is essential to maintain a healthy libido or sexual drive
- Testosterone increases the mineral density of the bone tissue and prevents osteoporosis
- It contributes to having a positive attitude and a competitive spirit in sports
- It gives you a few extra male traits that will always be positive around women
Finally, a few testosterone myths to bust:
The first myth I want to clear out is that women do not have testosterone. It is true that testosterone is the most important sex hormone in males. They have 10-20 times higher testosterone levels, but females also produce testosterone in their adrenal glands and ovaries. Some androgens (testosterone supplements) are safer for women to use and help them burn fat and improve their muscle mass without bulking and making them look manly.
People with high testosterone levels have many problems, including aggressive behavior and suicidal thoughts. This is not true for natural testosterone, the one produced by your own body. After finding the best testosterone booster, you will not need any external source of testosterone because your own body will produce it.
Controlling your testosterone levels naturally
Testosterone is a natural hormone synthesized in our bodies, and there are normal variations of such hormone in response to certain events and environmental triggers. What I’m trying to say is that there are things you can do to increase your natural levels of testosterone by making a few lifestyle changes, and learning how to work out properly.
Thus, one of the best testosterone boosters is deep within yourself.
This is what you can do:
First off, keep in mind the importance of cortisol, a hormone synthesized in your adrenal glands. This hormone is addressed as the “stress hormone.” It is increased in any stressful event, including several health problems, accidents, and very long training sessions. Cortisol gives your body the signal to break down proteins and other molecules (a metabolic process called catabolism). Thus, high cortisol levels would undo everything testosterone does for your muscle growth.
There’s also a really effective way to increase your testosterone with proper exercise and rest:
- Your training sessions should be intense and short. This way, your cortisol levels will not reach unhealthy peaks.
- Instead of long resting periods, use short pauses between your exercises. These shorter pauses will increase the amount of lactate in your muscle, which stimulates the secretion of testosterone.
- Choose heavy loads with a short number of repetition. This will promote not only the release of testosterone but also growth hormone.
- Exercise usually increases testosterone levels, especially when you work out large muscle groups or several muscles at the same time. The best exercises to increase your testosterone are multiarticular exercises (those working out more than one muscle at a time)
But there is something additional you can do to improve your testosterone levels without eating or drinking anything in particular:
Have enough rest every night. Sleepless nights and excessive work increases your cortisol levels and may be detrimental for your muscle growth. Rest days are essential in your workout routine. Do not think as I did when I first started hitting the gym, that rest days are lost days. It’s something only a beginner thinks. Experienced weightlifters understand that rest days are also part of your routine.
What about testosterone injections?
More To Read: The complete guide to use Dianabol
After enumerating so many positive things about testosterone, one would likely see those testosterone injections as a suitable choice. I was a testosterone user myself for many years and had very significant gains. Thus, I will write on my own experience along with current medical data about testosterone injection and androgen supplements for bodybuilding.
There are many types and subtypes of synthetic testosterone and anabolic steroids:
- Testosterone enanthate
- Testosterone propionate
- … and many others
These supplements are not testosterone boosters. Instead, they are molecules similar to testosterone that will be administered into your body and display a similar function to that of your natural testosterone.
These are the most significant differences between natural testosterone boosters and anabolic steroids:
- There are different types of synthetic steroids, and some of them would have an increased anabolic rate with a lower androgenic potential.
- Anabolic steroids have medical applications, and they are not prescribed for bodybuilders. Thus, they are illegal to use.
- Using anabolic steroids for bodybuilding usually requires very high doses compared to regular This exposes testosterone users to many adverse effects.
… And adverse effects are real. They are not only made up to scare you off. I was myself exposed to the adverse effects of testosterone and anabolic steroids.
One of the most feared side effects is testicular atrophy, which results from continued and discriminated use of testosterone supplements. In simple words, your body has a tight control on your circulating levels of testosterone. Whenever you introduce an external source of testosterone, your body thinks there’s enough testosterone in your body and sends the signal to your testicles to stop producing more. If you are not careful about this, your testicles will shrink and stop producing testosterone.
Even if you’re careful and avoid a testicular atrophy, there are other side effects you can do nothing about. For example, I always used oral anabolic steroids instead of injected testosterone because I was scared of needles, and did not know how oral steroids needed to pass the liver before going to the rest of the body. In this process, steroids may impair the normal function of your liver. Liver dysfunction might progress to different conditions, and some of them might be lethal or cause irreversible damage to your liver.
Still, other side effects depend widely on your genetics. Some people would have more predisposition than others to suffer from baldness, acne, and other aesthetic changes testosterone typically causes. Thus, even if your neighbor did not experience these side effects, your case might be entirely different.
Finally, many steroids would cause problems on your lipid profile (the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood). Many studies have shown that using anabolic steroids repeatedly may have an atherogenic effect, which is a progressive hardening of your arteries that may result in severe cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack.
After experiencing myself mild side effects such as baldness and acne, I still went on using anabolic steroids for a while. But shortly after I started to get acne and really nasty pimples on my back. My back was literally full of red and white spots and compromised my possibilities to compete in bodybuilding events. Additionally, my skin and the white in my eyes started to get a yellowish tone, and soon I realized I was messing up with my own liver. I decided to stop using anabolic steroids.
But what should I do if I don’t want to consume anabolic steroids anymore?
There are natural testosterone boosters, and some of them have robust scientific data to back them up. They are no myth, they do increase your circulating testosterone and work as efficiently as most illegal anabolic steroids, but without the nasty side effects.
Legal and natural supplements to increase your testosterone
Read More: Is Anavar the real game changer?
If you’re trying to find the best testosterone booster, you will get tons of options on the Internet. However, if you’re wise enough, you will only hear their claims if they are backed up by science. Otherwise, they would be just myths.
After experiencing side effects with anabolic steroids, I decided to make an in-depth and conscious research before trying anything else, testosterone boosters included. I was amazed to know there are plenty of ingredients claiming to be effective to increase testosterone, yet they do not have one single research study to support them.
Do not be fooled…
A pretty ordinary mistake people make about testosterone boosters is mistaking them with aphrodisiac fruits, extracts, and substances. But testosterone boosters and aphrodisiacs are not the same thing. While it is true that most testosterone boosters improve your sexual drive, not all aphrodisiac work their magic by increasing your testosterone levels.
So, how to choose the best testosterone booster?
By looking at the science behind every single ingredient listed in the label. Real testosterone boosters are not only said to increase sexual hormones; they are not only based on a thousand-year-old tradition. The best testosterone booster should be built on actual scientific facts.
So, I will start by listing the most important ingredients your testosterone booster should contain:
- Vitamin D: I would not guess vitamin D has an effect on testosterone, but it does. This is the only one vitamin that’s synthesized in the body. Sunlight exposure for 10 minutes or so is usually enough to get our daily dose of vitamin D, but in some cases, people do not synthesize enough.The effects of vitamin D on testosterone has been tested in animals, and recently in humans as well. Studies have demonstrated that people who suffer from lower vitamin D levels, and those who live in temperate countries with no sufficient exposure to sunlight usually suffer from lower levels of testosterone that would improve after supplementing with vitamin D.The molecular pathways to explain how vitamin D and testosterone are related to each other has not yet been disclosed, but the effects are evident in human trials, and it only takes a dose of 83 μg of vitamin D a day.
- Vitamin K: Everybody knows vitamin K is vital for coagulation, but nobody would guess it is also one of the best testosterone boosters. There are many types of vitamin K, and the one found in egg yolk, liver, red meat, and other animal sources is called menaquinone or vitamin K2. The amount of required vitamin K is meager, but most of us do not reach the minimum, and studies report that people with low vitamin K2 levels would likely have low testosterone as well.Vitamin K2 has two different subtypes, called MK-7 and MK-4, and the latter is the one with a potential to increase testosterone levels. Interestingly enough, MK-4 is not the most common candidate in supplements, and most of them have the MK-7 subtype. So, a helpful advice is to increase your testosterone with vitamin K: Look for Vitamin K2 subtype MK-4.It appears that this vitamin is capable of acting on the testicles to help them produce more testosterone. But another recent study reported that K2 deficient rodents have a problem in the genes associated with the metabolism of cholesterol, which is an important molecule to produce more testosterone.
- Vitamin B6: You may also find vitamin B6 in testosterone booster labels as pyridoxine. It is a water-soluble nutrient that’s known to promote the formation of hemoglobin and neurotransmitters. However, vitamin B6 also increases the circulating levels of testosterone, both directly and indirectly.First off, vitamin B6 stimulates your testicles to create more testosterone, but it also reduces the release of other hormones that would impair the normal function of testosterone in your body. For example, estrogen is the female hormone, and prolactin is another hormone that depletes testosterone levels in your body.If you ever had man boobs, prolactin is the reason why, and vitamin B6 fights off estrogens and lowers prolactin levels, helping your already boosted testosterone levels to remain high and functioning.
- Magnesium: When I was researching about testosterone boosters, I found out that many people with low levels of magnesium also display low levels of testosterone. Magnesium is commonly available in many fruits and vegetables, but we are eating less and less of those healthy foods, and that’s one of the reasons why people is getting low testosterone levels. Thus, if you’re looking for the best testosterone booster, it should have magnesium listed as an ingredient on the label.The reason why magnesium works to improve testosterone levels is a bit different from the vitamins we just mentioned. Conversely, magnesium does not directly increase your testosterone levels. Magnesium will enhance and promote the function of your naturally-produced testosterone.There is one carrier molecule in the blood called SHBG (which stands for sex hormone binding globulin) that usually binds and travels along with testosterone through the blood. The problem is that SHBG-bound testosterone will remain inactive. But testosterone prefers binding with magnesium, and this mineral does not render testosterone inactive. The more magnesium we have in the blood; the more active testosterone we will have.
- Boron: Another star testosterone booster you should read in those labels is boron. This is a rare trace mineral that you won’t find in most foods. However, it is essential to reduce inflammation, improve your mental focus, remove excess estrogen, and to increase your levels of testosterone. The usual dose to increase testosterone is 3-10 mg a day, which is impossible to reach with food only (unless you want to eat 5 medium-sized avocados a day, of course). Thus, you need supplements for this one.Recent studies show that this trace mineral is one of the best testosterone boosters ever. After only 7 days, healthy male patients between 18 and 29 years old experienced a 28.3% increase in testosterone levels.Similar to magnesium, boron blocks the function of SHBG, which means it also enhances the role of testosterone by increasing the levels of active testosterone in the blood. Additionally, it has been reported in the scientific literature that boron blocks excess estrogen and increases the levels of vitamin D, which are also crucial for testosterone production, as I mentioned previously.
- Zinc: It is another important mineral to promote the normal function of various enzymes, including those needed in cell division, immune function, and others. Similar to other nutrients, zinc deficiency has been found to be linked with low testosterone, and clinical trials show that administering zinc may increase your circulating levels of this hormone.The exact mechanism by which zinc increases testosterone is not yet understood, but some authors I have read propose a direct action on the testes to stimulate the synthesis of testosterone. However, there is enough research to validate zinc as an effective testosterone booster. Most studies show positive results with doses around 30 milligrams, especially in people who are deficient in this mineral and those who do not get enough from their diet.
- Calcium D-glutarate: This is a phytochemical found in oranges, apples, broccoli, potatoes, and other foods. This chemical helps your liver and speeds up the metabolism of many unhealthy molecules and carcinogens. In this process, calcium-D-glutarate helps your liver get rid of excess estrogens, reducing the effects of this hormone, which counters those of testosterone.Calcium-D-glutarate is not a testosterone booster by itself, but it helps to achieve a correct hormonal balance by increasing the elimination ratio of estrogens and decreasing the risk of several types of cancer.This molecule has become popular as a post-cycle therapy for those who are supplementing with testosterone and other anabolic steroids. Not all testosterone boosters contain calcium-D-glutarate, but when they do it becomes a useful addition to fight off the influence of estrogen.
- Aspartic Acid: This is one of the amino acids, the building blocks to create proteins, hormones, and many other molecules in the body. Aspartic acid is produced in our own bodies, but it is also helpful when used as a supplement to increase your levels of testosterone.A study on aspartic acid and testosterone showed that healthy men increased their circulating levels of this hormone after only 12 days of aspartic acid supplement use. Their average increase in testosterone levels was a whopping 42%, and even when they stopped using the supplements, their testosterone levels remained higher than baseline for a long while.Most studies on aspartic acid use no more than 3 grams a day, and these doses appear to be enough in most individuals, especially in middle-aged men with no physical activity. However, some studies have also found good results with 6 grams a day and no reported adverse effects.
- Ginger extract: After digging a bit into it, I realized how ginger was widely overlooked nowadays, and how many health benefits this herb has. Ginger, as well as similar extracts such as turmeric, are excellent herbs to increase your testosterone levels, and they are quite cheap to buy. You can use it as powders, in juices or tea, and there are plenty of ginger supplements as well.There are many studies you can research and compare about ginger and testosterone levels. Ginger extract has been tested both in animals and humans, showing how it improves the reproductive function, sperm formation, and many sperm parameters by increasing testosterone levels. One study found a 100% increase in testosterone levels after receiving ginger extract.When comparing options to find the best testosterone booster, I realized not all of them contain ginger extract because this is a very cheap herb you can find almost anywhere and add to your shakes, as a seasoning for your salad, and many other ways.
- Nettle Leaf Extract: You can also find nettle leaf extract as stinging nettle, which is the same thing. This amazing plant contains more than 50 different active molecules, including pant sterols which include 6 testosterone boosters called isolectins. Isolectins in Nettle leaf extract work out similar to what we said about boron and magnesium: they interact with SHBG and boost the normal function of circulating testosterone.However, what I really like about nettle leaf extract is how it inhibits the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, which is the one to blame for baldness and prostate problems in people with high testosterone levels. Thus, I would strongly recommend any testosterone booster that includes nettle leaf extract. Think about it for a minute… if you’re going to increase your testosterone levels, this herb will help you avoid adverse effects.
- Red Ginseng Extract: You might have heard about ginseng because it is a rather popular herb native to Korea and China. However, there’s something you need to keep in mind when looking for ginseng to increase your testosterone levels: The one that really works is red ginseng, not the Siberian or American ginseng, which is entirely different.Red ginseng stimulates your endocrine function, which is responsible for releasing various hormones to your bloodstream, including testosterone. When your endocrine system is not functioning at its best, your testosterone levels remain low. The ginsenosides in this extract would prevent any wear down in your glands and help you synthesize more testosterone.The usual dose you would find in testosterone boosters is 200-300 mg, and that’s enough if you’re taking it daily.
- Fenugreek Extract: Yet another herb to increase your testosterone levels, fenugreek extract has become very popular among bodybuilders and those who need to boost their testosterone levels. This extract contains something called furostanolic saponins, which have been found to increase testosterone production and release.When I was searching for a scientific backup, I found this fantastic study published in 2010. The study was performed in physically active people who are following a weightlifting training. The supplement was taken every day for eight weeks, and after that time the individuals did not only increase their testosterone levels but also reduced their body fat.Just a small piece of advice around fenugreek… If you’re a diabetic, keep a close watch on your glucose levels because this extract may lower your blood glucose, and if you’re already taking medication to control your glycemia, this extract may add up and cause hypoglycemia.
- Bioperine: The final ingredient I want to talk about is one of the most essential components in testosterone boosters. This ingredient is a must, and any wise and science-based formulation should have it. Bioperine is also called black pepper extract, and it is an essential ingredient because it increases the absorption and function of the rest of the ingredients.Some studies show that after joining Bioperine with other herb extracts, the assimilation of active compounds would increase a whopping 2000%. This ingredient would also relief stomach problems that are usually related to heavy supplement consumption. In other words, if your testosterone booster does not have Bioperine, the rest of the ingredients will not be absorbed, and you will likely experience stomach discomfort.An additional feature of Bioperine is that it helps to release thermogenic hormones such as catecholamines. It will increase your thermogenesis (heat production), and this will add up to your diet to reduce body fat and give you a ripped body.
If you’re trying to find the best testosterone booster, keep all of these ingredients in mind. The one that contains all or most of them will be the best candidate.
However, there’s a final thing I want to address before talking about my personal choice for a testosterone booster:
I have seen with much concern how many people with already high testosterone levels would come buying testosterone boosters they don’t really need. That’s why I’m giving you a list of signs and symptoms you can check to know whether or not you need to consume a testosterone booster.
Do you really need a testosterone booster?
Keep Reading: 10 Causes of Low Body Temperature
After researching the ingredients of testosterone boosters, I realized most of the studies were performed in individuals with various vitamin and mineral deficiencies and already low testosterone levels. In other words, if your testosterone levels are already on top, you won’t likely need a testosterone booster.
But the reality is that male testosterone levels are declining as the years go by. We are all exposed to processed foods, genetically modified crops, synthetic ingredients, preservatives, air pollution, and many other environmental factors. All of them would slowly affect the way your body works and how much testosterone your body produces.
Our modern world has made us testosterone-deficient. We live stressful lives, work in sedentary jobs behind a computer, eat fast food, and even if we are trying to live a healthy life, the nutrients and ingredients in foods cause hormonal alterations.
If you want to make sure you need a testosterone booster, I’m leaving you this checklist you may want to consider first. The more items you check, the more likely you would benefit from these supplements.
- Overweight and obesity: If you’re overweight, keep in mind excess body fat converts testosterone into estrogens, and you would likely have low testosterone levels. Not because your body does not produce testosterone but because it is converted into estrogens. If that is happening to you, the best testosterone booster for you would contain ingredients to get rid of excess estrogens.
- Insomnia and sleeping problems: People who do not get a proper sleep usually have testosterone problems. Remember how cortisol counters and neutralizes the effects of testosterone in your body. Sleepless nights would increase your cortisol and affect your testosterone levels.
- Alcohol consumption: Consuming alcohol is banned for bodybuilders, but let’s say you want a drink from time to time… Bad news, alcohol drinkers reduce their circulating levels of testosterone by just keeping their bad habits.
- Man boobs: They are a nightmare for bodybuilders and anyone interested in men aesthetics… and they are a sign that estrogen levels in your body are rising up. Be careful, man boobs may be caused by an increase in body fat, and you may need a testosterone booster and even clinical advise if the problem becomes severe.
- Hard gainers: Testosterone increases muscle mass, it’s one of the most important If you have a decreased muscle mass and find it difficult to grow muscle, you may have low levels of testosterone. Of course, you need to have a realistic approach. If you’re just hitting the gym, you can’t expect big muscles in one month, but if you’re working hard for a long time and see no results, you might need a testosterone booster.
- Low sexual drive: Remember testosterone is a sex hormone, and one of the most critical functions are related to libido (sexual drive) and powerful erections. Some types of sexual dysfunction have psychological causes, but you may need testosterone boosters if you have these problems along with others we have just listed.
- Chronic fatigue: If you feel tired all the time, even after waking up, that is one of the signs of testosterone problems. You might even experience difficulty maintaining your focus, low motivation levels, and other psychological symptoms. In this case, you may need more testosterone, especially if you have checked some of the previous items.
Which one is the best testosterone booster?
So, you have decided to use a testosterone booster. In this article, I have reviewed the most important ingredients one of these supplements should have. There are more ingredients you could find in labels, but not all of them count with enough scientific backup. Thus, not all of them are trustworthy.
All of the ingredients I listed above are important, but some of them are essential and should not be missed:
- You will definitely need Vitamin D if you live in a temperate country and if you don’t have enough sun exposure every day.
- Magnesium is critical, especially if you’re not eating leafy greens every day.
- Boron is not only important. It is essential, and every testosterone booster should have it because where else would you consume enough boron to increase your testosterone? It’s a rare element, and you need to supplement.
- Nettle leaf extract is a very wise addition because it reduces the risk of side effects of having high testosterone levels.
- Fenugreek extract is also useful if you’re using testosterone boosters in a sports scenario because it will help you meet your goals of a ripped body.
- Bioperine is another must-have because otherwise, you won’t absorb the rest of the ingredients as you should.
The best testosterone booster should have at least these 6 essential ingredients along with any others from the list I provided above.
I went on comparing many different options, and most of them had 3 or 4 essential ingredients and many others with no scientific evidence (maybe because they are cheaper and easier to include in their formula).
Only a few would contain all 6 essential ingredients, and most of them are really pricey, with one exception: Testogen.
Testogen has a scientifically-based formula including Vitamin D, Magnesium, Boron, Nettle leaf extract, Fenugreek extract, Bioperine, and most of the ingredients I reviewed in this article. It is not expensive as many other testosterone boosters, and it was quite effective in my case and many others.
I consider Testogen to be the best testosterone booster, suitable for adult men, specially formulated for those who are undergoing resistance training of any kind (bodybuilding, endurance athletes, and anyone requiring more stamina and strength).
In my case, I started noting the difference after supplementing with Testogen for one month and a half, but some other athletes report strength and endurance gains after only one month. It will always depend on how severe your testosterone problem is, and whether or not you’re following the advice I gave above about proper exercise, rest, and lifestyle changes.
And finally, even if Testogen is very safe to use, I will always advise my readers to ask a physician before starting new supplements, especially if you have diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular problem or any other type of chronic disease.