The GQ Guide to test boosters: which ones work, which ones don’t?

 Are they hormonal alchemy, or simply quackery?

If the bulk of bro science and gym talk is to be believed, Testosterone is, basically, the key to all human male happiness. It makes you more aggressive, it makes you more imposing and confident, and helps you work out better, grow faster, recover quicker and, in the immortal words of Anthony Bourdain, get your dick harder.

And before we get anywhere, yes, there is research to support heightened testosterone levels can be responsible for all these things, hence why pure testosterone (or one of its derivatives) is one of the most commonly used performance-enhancing drugs in the worlds of both amateur and professional sport, from sprinting to bodybuilding.

Of course, in the world of health and fitness, where there’s a real pharmaceutical solution to something, there are also a ton of legal, often herbal, natural solutions out there – some based in actual clinical research, and often far more based in “traditional medicine”, pseudoscience and straight-up bullshit.

The world of Testosterone supplements, commonly referred to as test boosters is one of the places where these two worlds intersect more than any other, with a whole host of products awash in the market aimed at helping enhance test levels so you can lift and make love at more intense levels than ever. Then get up the next day and do it all over again.

But which ones work, and which ones don’t? Here’s some research on the most commonly found test boosters out there, and what they can (or can’t) do for you.

Testosterone Injections

Straight out of the bat, it’s worth mentioning that the easiest and most effective way to raise your testosterone levels is to fill yourself with more of the hormone than you can naturally make.

Of course, we can’t advocate that you do this, but if you feel like testosterone supplementation could help you in a number of areas, consult your doctor. A little blood work may find that your test levels are down anyway, which should get you a green light to start taking the hormone anyway. However, not all of us are that lucky or need it, which is why supplement shop-grade test boosters exist, including…

Tribulus Terrestris

Most commonly referred to as Tribulus (or Trib), Tribulus Terrestris is the scientific name of a plant also known puncture vine, also called Gokshura, caltrop and goat’s head. It’s been used for thousands of years in traditional remedies for libido and sexual potency, leading supplement companies to purport it as one of the strongest natural test boosters out there.

But does it work? Probably not, according to this clinical review from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, which looked at a 45-year span of studies on the effects of the plant on hormone levels.

“Analysis of phytochemical and pharmacological studies in humans and animals revealed an important role for TT in treating erectile dysfunction and sexual desire problems,” it reads, “however, empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that these desirable effects are due to androgen enhancing properties of TT is, at best, inconclusive, and analysis of empirical evidence from a comprehensive review of available literature proved this hypothesis wrong.”

ZMA

ZMA is basically a mixture of zinc monomethionine/asparate and magnesium aspartate, aimed at increasing Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6 levels in the body. It’s become a pretty popular supplement recently, with some claiming it has benefits as a sleep aid (and you do get some pretty crazy dreams when you take it, we’ve found), while some marketing has also advocated that it can help support testosterone levels and speed up recovery. However, the effects of ZMA on test levels seem to be inconclusive at best.

According to a study performed by the German Sport University of Cologne, ZMA supplementation had no effect on levels of serum testosterone in the body on people who already ate enough Zinc anyway.

Another study, conducted at Baylor University on 42 experienced lifters, threw up results that “do not support contentions that ZMA supplementation increases zinc or magnesium status and/or affects training adaptations in experienced resistance trained males with normal zinc status.” The effects on people with lower Zinc levels may be different, but eat enough Zinc, and for the most part it seems that you can do without ZMA.

Fenugreek

Aside from largely being delicious in a herb mix sprinkled on chips, the jury is still very much out on whether Fenugreek, which has long been sold as a natural test booster, is any more useful for boosting testosterone than a bottle of Masterfoods Italian Seasoning.

A number of studies [1] [2] [3] [4] have found that proprietary extracts of fenugreek seeds improved free testosterone levels in middle-aged men, largely between the ages of 35 and 70, while another study from Baylor University found that over an 8 week training period, a “proprietary Fenugreek extraction had a significant impact on both upper- and lower-body strength and body composition in comparison to placebo in a double-blind controlled trial.”

D-Aspartic Acid

D-AA is an amino acid that’s commonly found in test booster concoctions and estrogen blockers, with pretty abundant research finding that the acid can have a pretty marked effect on hormone levels in lab rats, largely due to the fact that its role as an amino acid works in the endocrine (hormone production) system as opposed to that of building muscle. In humans, however, scientists are not so sure.

A team of Italian scientists found that “in humans and rats, sodium D-aspartate induces an enhancement of LH and testosterone release”, while researchers from UWS found that daily dose of six grams of d-aspartic acid actually decreased levels of total testosterone and free testosterone (D6), without any concurrent change in other hormones measured, while three grams of d-aspartic acid had no significant effect on either testosterone markers.

However, D-AA may be good for Sperm potency, with another team of Italians finding that supplementation increased the sperm count of tested individuals by over 50%.

[Via GQ]

The post The GQ Guide to test boosters: which ones work, which ones don’t? appeared first on GQ South Africa.