For the most part, natural testosterone boosters are bullshit, and it isn’t because none of the ingredients in a lot of these products haven’t been to increase testosterone under SOME conditions, it’s because these conditions don’t really apply to the average bodybuilder. There’s a reason people that really want to raise their testosterone inject a testosterone ester, and not take horny goat weed or whatever. The reasons for this are several, and in explaining them we’re going to go over a few crucial components of vetting your supplement stack, OTC or PED, though we’ll have an article dedicated to that entirely coming in soon.
The first issue with products that “raise testosterone” is the simplest: the liars. The FDA is pretty liberal with what sort of advertising you can use when promoting a product, so long as you don’t claim it treats or cures a disease. This leaves a lot of room for unsubstantiated claims. To put it simply, I can bottle a bowl of flour and call it TESTO-BOOST 5000, and so long as I steer clear of any FDA-forbidden claims regarding treatment or curing of diseases, I can sell it as a “natural testosterone booster.” If you ever look into it seriously, you’ll be surprised at what percentage of our industry is exactly this scummy, and how many products claiming to do one thing consist of ingredients that have zero scientific evidence to support the claim, or are dosed so low that the claim is functionally irrelevant. This leads us to our next issue with natural test boosters: pixie dusting.
We’ve all heard some variation of “beware of proprietary blends” when buying a dietary supplement. This typically refers to the following situation: Leucine is known for up-regulating the mTOR pathway and increasing muscle protein synthesis. Sounds like something you want in your BCAA product, right? Well leucine is ten times as expensive as the other branched chain amino acids, so what Unethical Supplement Company A does is simply tell you that they have 10g of active ingredients per serving. Except of course the 10g per serving is if their proprietary blend, which does contain leucine, but unbeknownst to you only 2g of the 10g serving of the blend are actually leucine. For this reason I recommend that anyone buying bodybuilding supplements categorically avoid anything that contains a “proprietary blend”. You’ll find that the above scenario applies to a lot of “natural test boosters”. You may have an ingredient that should boost testosterone in a product, but due to expense only a tiny amount of the active ingredient is in a serving.
Finally, a common trick used by supplement companies is “special population evidence”. This is when the producers of a supplement product don’t blatantly lie or hide behind proprietary blends, and on a surface level their product contains ingredients that have evidence behind them that suggests they should raise testosterone… among certain populations. Case in point, having a Vitamin D deficiency can negatively impact your body’s endogenous testosterone production. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, increasing your Vitamin D levels will likely boost your overall testosterone levels. The big red flag here is “If you are deficient”. Vitamin D is certainly a natural test booster if you have a deficiency in it, just like water is a “life extension fluid” if you’re dying of thirst. However, if you don’t belong to the “special populations” that are Vitamin D deficient or dying of thirst, the effects if Vitamin D and water are likely to be less dramatic. To put it simply, a lot of “natural testosterone boosters” that have empirical data behind them are really only effective in “special populations” with already low T or a deficiency causing lower than normal T levels.
I’ll cover the specifics of how to vet any supplement product in another article, but for now remember: always do your research. If you can find 100 people that tried it and didn’t get results, you should probably check the label again or reread the studies, because a lot of natural testosterone boosters are bunk for the average person, period.
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