Testosterone, the male hormone, can be a tricky substance. It’s essential for many bodily functions, not just sex-related stuff.
A lack of secretion in your body can wreak havoc on your system. You can experience general fatigue, erectile dysfunction, lowered libido, among other symptoms, and increased risks for developing certain diseases.
Sometimes, you may just want a boost in your testosterone to get more of its known benefits: increased energy, enhanced endurance, and more muscle gains.
So, from all the variables you can look at, you turned to your pre-workout to see if it could help you with that. Well, does it?
Let’s find out.
What exactly is a pre-workout?
A pre-workout is a supplement used by trainees, athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters, and anyone interested in developing their physique to boost their gym performance and stamina on the field.
Available in different forms (capsules, powder, tablets, bars, etc.), pre-workout supplements should be used before a workout to improve stamina, energy, and focus. Depending on the product, they can contain a wide range of components, the most common of which are caffeine and creatine.
Although some ingredients are only found in supplements meant to help with bodybuilding or athletic training, there is a significant overlap in the ingredients in pre-workout formulas and other supplements meant for anti-aging, mood enhancement, and weight loss.
Nearly all pre-workout blends contain some substances like caffeine, β-alanine, and creatine, but research has found that, on average, each pre-workout has a blend composed of 18 different ingredients, the precise composition of which can fluctuate significantly between various products.
So can it help with testosterone?
Many common chemicals are featured in pre-workout supplements. In some aspects, said chemicals might improve performance and speed up your recovery process. However, your testosterone levels aren't directly affected by pre-workout supplements.
So, the general answer is no. However, in some cases, some pre-workouts can indeed boost testosterone.
The main two ways that pre-workouts affect testosterone levels are by influencing its production or conversion. A supplement that delivers both of these effects may be the greatest, so checking the declaration is essential when trying to find a suitable brand.
Let’s address production. Natural herbs, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids all have a role in the production of testosterone.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) can be used to communicate with the pituitary gland in the body, which then signals an increase in testosterone. To finish the formula, you'll also require minerals like zinc and amino acids.
Now, let’s look at conversion, decreased conversion of testosterone to estrogen in particular. Supplements in pre-workouts can act upon the normal testosterone-aromatase-estrogen reaction by inhibiting aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen.
Why would you want to boost testosterone?
There are plenty of reasons for an individual to want to boost their testosterone levels. To figure out those reasons, one must take a look at Testosterone’s functions in the body.
Testosterone is an anabolic steroid. In the bodybuilding community and sports in general, steroid use has negative connotations, but it’s also tied to big, bulky, and shredded muscles. So, this hormone is responsible for increasing muscle mass.
Additionally, testosterone gives you energy and fights off fatigue, a common symptom in people with low levels of this hormone.
Healthy libido, sex drive, and regular function of the male sexual organs are also part of testosterone’s responsibilities.
Moreover, the male sex hormone plays a role in maintaining bone density, sperm count and morphology, and the production of red cells.
Therefore, anyone who’s experiencing symptoms where there’s an irregularity in the aforementioned functions might want to boost testosterone. Of course, checking your T levels first is always advisable.
How to figure out which ones help with T levels?
Pre-workouts that’ll help with your testosterone levels are few and far between. And don’t expect a drastic change when using them. Their effect may differ from one individual to another and that’s mostly due to our genetic and environmental diversity.
The pre-workouts that’ll boost your testosterone levels are those that contain the following ingredients:
Ingredients that can help
Asian Ginseng is a herb native to the far East (China, Korea, etc.) that has been used in traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac and to increase male fertility.
The research is inconclusive on its efficacy in increasing testosterone levels in men. However, animal studies show correlative evidence between the herb, libido, and sexual functions. Some human case-control studies even confirm these findings.
Furthermore, ginseng has been shown to increase sperm quality and quantity in both healthy people and those with treatment-related infertility. This is thanks to ginsenosides, the active ingredient found in ginseng.
D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) is classified as a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be produced by the body — unlike essential amino acids that have to be included in our diets.
Just like Asian Ginseng, the research on DAA and testosterone is inconclusive.
One study found that 20 out of 23 male individuals who took D-Aspartic Acid for 12 days showcased an increase in testosterone. This was due to an increase in Luteinizing Hormone (LH).
However, for trained individuals, DAA may not increase testosterone as one would hope.
Caffeine is notorious for being the most-used psychostimulant on the planet. Its benefits are well-documented and range from enhancing alertness to boosting metabolism. What’s less known about caffeine is that it increases testosterone production.
One randomized trial investigating the effects of decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee on Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) and Endogenous Sex Hormone Levels found that after four weeks of consuming caffeinated coffee, men experienced an increase in testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha, like Asian Ginseng, is a herb that has been used in traditional medicine for a variety of reasons.
The pre-workout industry may have taken a shine to this herb mainly for its suggested stamina-boosting properties.
This effect was highlighted in a study done on 40 elite-level cyclists. Compared to the placebo group, the cyclists who ingested 500 mg of Ashwagandha showcased an overall increase in different cardiovascular parameters (e.g, VO max, the total time to exhaustion, etc.)
However, Ashwagandha has also been suggested to enhance serum testosterone and increase libido in men.
An 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that men with low libido who took a 300-mg Ashwagandha extract twice a day experienced an increase in serum testosterone and in their sexual appetite compared to a placebo group.
As one of the crucial minerals, zinc is, directly and indirectly, responsible for the smooth functioning of certain metabolic functions in the body, including the immune system, protein production, and even testosterone production.
A study investigated the effects of zinc and its deficiency on serum testosterone levels in healthy men aged between 20 and 80. They found that zinc deficiency was correlated with low serum testosterone, while zinc supplementation increased serum testosterone when compared to a placebo group.
Another study suggested that two daily doses of 50mg of elemental zinc (or 220 mg of zinc sulfate) can treat hypogonadism in men over a period of 1 to 4 months.
Vitamin D supplementation has been suggested not to induce any significant changes in men who get sufficient amounts of this vitamin in a day (1000-4000 International Units — IU).
One study looked at the effects of vitamin D supplementation on total, free, and bioavailable testosterone levels — among other hormonal factors — in 176 healthy young men (aged 18-35). They found no difference in the targeted parameters after vitamin D supplementation.
However, men who are vitamin D deficient may see improvements in their testosterone levels.
What to avoid with pre-workouts
Pre-workouts can assist you with increasing your stamina, performance, and alertness. Some of them even boost testosterone levels.
However, you should keep in mind that, like medication, you can’t mix a few things with them.
Here’s a list of things to avoid with pre-workouts:
If you're over the age of 30, it's recommended to find ways to naturally increase your testosterone levels, despite not having issues with low testosterone. Past that age, your cells start producing less and less of the male hormone.
Regardless of the fact whether pre-workouts help with testosterone levels or not, we do not recommend them for that purpose, no matter what their ingredients list looks like. Instead, we recommend you invest in natural testosterone booster supplements. That way, you may ensure that you receive the proper ingredients in their optimal dosage.
Fortunately for you, we’ve already created comprehensive lists of said products. Check out our list of the best natural testosterone boosters here.
You may feel jittery and agitated after your workouts. That’s due to the effect of caffeine. If that ever happens to you, it either means you’re sensitive to stimulants or that the pre-workout you used contains a high dose of caffeine.
Additionally, creatine, a popular ingredient in pre-workouts, may cause water retention.
Other side effects include headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems.
Yes, some pre-workout supplements can boost the production of growth hormone.
However, enhanced exercise performance primarily has an indirect effect, increasing the release of growth hormone as a result.