Are you feeling a little sluggish? Not being able to perform in the gym or the bedroom like you did when you were younger? Or perhaps you are still young but want to get extra ripped? If you are thinking about buying a product that promises to boost your testosterone, you’d better read this essential testosterone buying guide before plunking any money down.

What is Testosterone and Why Do I Need It?

Testosterone is a hormone responsible for healthy bones, muscles, and yes, sex drive. While the sad fact is that after age 30 our testosterone levels decrease by 1% per year, this is perfectly natural

And, as we get older, we do tend to be a bit more tired and our muscles sag; however, there is no conclusive proof that this is due to lower testosterone levels. People with lower testosterone levels can have a greater sex drive than those with higher levels. And there is also no consensus as to what is too low – a normal range is considered to be 300-1200 (ng/dl), which itself is barely enough to fill the bottom of a shot glass

Can I Boost My Testosterone? The Good News

Testosterone is responsible for giving us manly muscles, so there is a school of thought that believes that if you increase the testosterone levels you will have a more intense workout and get ripped faster.

However, just by working out you’re increasing your testosterone levels. Studies show just 6 seconds of intense energy (like a sprint) raises levels for hours; however, this effect is temporary and unlikely to influence your overall health. 

Supplements and Testosterone: The Bad News

One way people try to bulk up bigger and faster is by taking an herbal supplement that promises it will give you an “explosion” of testosterone. There are a wide variety of products that have a large marketing budget behind them, but little in the way of actual science to back up their claims.

Do any of them actually live up to the hype? The bad news is: no. “There really aren’t any substances that we know of that will ‘boost’ testosterone,” said urologist Daniel Shoskes MD for the Cleveland Clinic. 

Men’s Health generally agrees with that assessment. Their inquiry into natural testosterone boosters found only one substance significantly increased testosterone levels: D-Aspartic Acid. But before you go rushing out to buy it, they noted that while 3 grams of D-Aspartic Acid increased testosterone by 40% in men after 2 weeks, at one month their levels were back to normal even if they continued taking it. 

Testosterone Supplements: The UGLY Truth

So now that you’ve gotten the bad news about all those supposed testosterone-boosting supplements, the even uglier truth is that they can possibly be dangerous to your health.

For example, some of these products may contain BMPEA, a substance banned by the military for its potential to cause heart attacks. Because of lax FDA regulations, experts have warned that BMPA is a danger to consumers and may or may not be listed on the product’s label.

And that’s not the only bad side. Many ingredients have harmful side effects like liver damage, but also strange ones like making your urine smell like maple syrup. And because of recent investigations finding general fraud in the supplement industry, your bottle may not even contain what it says it does. 

And perhaps worst of all, a lot of these companies are shady organizations that lure you in with a “trial offer” which seems like it includes a free sample. For example, Apex-T Testosterone Booster gives you a 14-day trial, which begins on the date you ordered it, not when it comes in the mail. After that time, you will be charged $92.74 for the bottle and signed up for an auto-ship program. Many of these companies make cancellation difficult and refunds next to impossible.

What to do if you have Low-T

“Low-T” is the buzzword for lower testosterone levels that some of these companies use to draw in customers. First of all, there is no real consensus as to what is a low level of testosterone. Secondly, tests need to be administered and evaluated by a doctor. Third, if your doctor decides to put you on testosterone replacement therapy, there are a whole host of other scary side effects (mood swings, breast enlargement, increased risk of prostate cancer) for you and your family (women and children cannot be exposed to the drugs) that many feel are not worth it. In fact, some watchdogs feel that Low-T is an example of pharmaceutical companies inventing a disease and issuing a dangerous “cure”. 

We strongly advise against any testosterone therapy replacement program unless you speak with a doctor and weigh ALL the pros and cons.

What to do if you want to get bulk in your workouts

If you want to get bigger muscles, there are a variety of ingredients fitness experts recommend. These include: protein powders, glutamine, Creatine, and L-Carnatine. (A full list from Muscle and Fitness is here.)

But the general consensus about increasing testosterone and muscle is to change your diet. Eat foods rich in Zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids

What to do if you want to increase your sex drive

If you’re having problems in the bedroom, a poor diet and lack of exercise are likely culprits. But other symptoms less discussed are depression and lack of communication with your partner. If you are having trouble “getting it up” and you are in a relationship, you should learn how to talk to your partner about sex. It’s perfectly normal for desire to decrease, but it doesn’t need to be the end of your love life.

We hope this helps you make an informed decision about your testosterone levels, and what (if anything) to do about them. Let us know what you think below!

You may also want to read: 5 Questions to Ask Before Buying ANY Supplement Online