Learn what to look for and avoid when shopping for a safe, effective testosterone-boosting supplement.
Many men begin noticing a dip in their testosterone production sometime in their 30’s. Muscle becomes harder to develop—but not impossible. There are plenty of guys in their 50s and 60s getting jacked (naturally) and they’re doing it with the help of testosterone supplements.
You’ve probably seen the t-booster ads that promise to make you look like Arnold, but what they don’t share are the nasty side effects that come years later from their proprietary blends. That’s why it’s important to find a supplement that not only uses proper ingredients but also lists their doses on the label.
Here, we analyzed dozens of clinical studies on muscle building and testosterone before creating this guide. You’ll learn what ingredients work and which ones to avoid along with our top picks.
The Relationship Between Testosterone and Muscle
To build muscle, enough stress needs to be placed on the body to produce muscle-protein synthesis—a foundational building block of muscle mass.
In addition to muscle-based stress through exercise, maintaining healthy t-levels also aids in building muscle mass. Testosterone supports healthy levels of hormones like IGF-1, which play a significant role in promoting muscle-protein synthesis and in turn, increased muscle.
With these factors maintained, you’re effectively stimulating the elements required to increase overall muscle size and strength.
A Quality Testosterone Supplement Can:
- Increase Physical Performance
- Decrease Body Fat
- Increase Muscle Mass
- Maintain a Healthy Sex Drive
- Aid Memory Recall
- Support Mood
It’s normal for t-levels to drop as you age, but there are steps you can take to maintain adequate hormone levels.
- Get Enough Sleep Each Night
- Stay Active
- Maintain a Healthy Diet
- Find a Quality Testosterone Supplement
- Avoid Drugs & Alcohol Abuse
Results: What to Expect From a Quality Muscle-Building Supplement
- Muscle Mass & Strength: Certain ingredients promote healthy male hormones or block detrimental ones, which can have a huge effect on your size and strength with training over time.
- Drive & Stamina: As blood flow increases to your brain and muscles with the right nutrients, you may become more motivated with your goals as well as in the bedroom.
- Mood & Stress: While you may not think of a muscle-building supplement as a stress reducer, many of the same ingredients that target muscle growth also help you relax and think clearly.
There’s no shortage of ingredients that claim to boost testosterone, but we narrowed the list down to those that have shown positive results in human clinical studies.
Best Ingredient to Boost Free Testosterone
Cis-9,Trans-11: The most effective free testosterone booster, according to the medical literature, is a double-bonded fatty acid isomer called cis-9,trans-11. The isomer is found naturally in dairy products and safflower oil but you’d have to consume on the order of 10 gallons of milk or 5 gallons of safflower oil to ingest an efficacious, testosterone-boosting dose. Thus, supplementation is warranted.
Recent scientific research shows Cis-9,Trans-11 can help you naturally boost free testosterone levels by increasing your testosterone to cortisol ratio. In a 2022 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers concluded that “after Cis-9,Trans-11 supplementation, there was a large increase in total testosterone. These findings suggest that Cis-9,Trans-11 supplementation may promote testosterone synthesis through a molecular pathway that should be investigated in the future.”
Other ingredients such as Tongkat Ali, Tribulus Terrestris, Testofen (a fancy name the Nugenix supplement uses for basic Fenugreek seeds, which are most commonly used by menopausal women to treat hot flashes) and zinc have shown promise, but we lean toward ingredients like Cis-9,Trans-11, which have been shown to increase free testosterone levels in healthy men in at least 10 peer-reviewed published studies.
What Ingredients To Avoid:
Androstenedione: Androstenedione gained popularity as the supplement used by the baseball homerun hitter Mark McGwire and other professional sports players. In January 2005 legislation went into effect in the United States called the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004. This reclassified androstenedione from a dietary supplement to an anabolic steroid, which is a schedule III controlled substance. What’s more, recent research shows it may enhance estrogen levels in men more so than it does testosterone. Some supplements made in China still include Androstenedione, which should be avoided.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek is native to the Mediterranean, Europe, and Asia. Fenugreek seems to slow sugar absorption in the stomach and stimulate insulin. Both of these effects lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Fenugreek might also improve levels of testosterone and estrogen, helping to improve libido. However, the side effects may outweigh the small benefits in most individuals, which include diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating and gas. It may also cause allergic reactions in some people.
3 Tips For Results:
- Real Results Take Time: Even with the best muscle-building supplement in the world, dramatic changes won’t happen overnight. But if you add it to your regimen not expecting miracles, you may be pleasantly surprised to see “night and day” differences in the mirror. Stick with it for at least 3 months for best results.
- Clinically Studied Doses: Some brands use quality ingredients, but skimp out on doses to cut costs. Even if you’re getting the right ingredients, you won’t reap the full benefits with weak doses.
- Money-Back Guarantee: A money-back guarantee shows the company’s faith in its product. Look for brands with at least a 60-day refund period — so you get 2 months to try it risk-free.
Top 5 Testosterone Supplements of 2023
We’ve compiled a list of what we’ve found to be the top five testosterone supplements on the market today.
First, here’s a side-by-side comparison of how industry-leading testosterone supplements stack up against each other.
The Bottom Line
C9-T11 is the only free testosterone-boosting supplement currently on the market containing efficacious doses of the potent Cis-9,Trans-11 isomer, shown in over a dozen clinical research trials to stimulate the release of testosterone in healthy males.
A recent clinical study published in the respected Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research may explain the mechanism behind C9-T11’s ability to increase testosterone and thereby build muscle and burn fat. Researchers tested the effect of 3 weeks of C9-T11 supplementation on the acute hormone response to a bout of strength training.
Results showed that after training, there was a larger increase in testosterone in the C9-T11 group, as well as a more favorable testosterone-to-cortisol ratio. C9-T11 provides a potent 5,400 mg of medical-grade cis-9,trans-11 isomers (the active ingredient) per daily serving — fueling a greater anabolic training response
The Bottom Line
Nugenix Total-T has L-citrulline malate, boron, vitamin B6 & B12, and zinc which we liked. Unfortunately, the remaining ingredients are questionable at best.
Fenugreek may cause bloating, and eurycoma longifolia, while known for its aphrodisiac and pro-fertility effects, is now considered a protected plant species. Nugenix also lacks key ingredients that are staples in other formulas, such as Tongkat Ali, Rhodiola Rosea, Deer Antler Powder, ZMA and 5-Methyl-7-Methoxy-Isoflavone.
Beyond that, Nugenix offers a comprehensive 30-day return policy. While everyone can try their products risk-free, 30 days may not be enough time to evaluate and return before the refund period is up.
3. Test X180
By Force Factor
The Bottom Line
Test X180 by Force Factor has vitamin D and vitamins B6 and B12 in their formulation, making for a solid muscle-building base.
Unfortunately, it’s missing the ingredients we recommend, as it doesn’t contain any Tongkat Ali, Rhodiola Rosea, Deer Antler Powder, ZMA and 5-Methyl-7-Methoxy-Isoflavone. On top of that, this formula is a proprietary blend, which means we can’t tell you the exact dose of every ingredient in each blend.
Force Factor’s 30-day money-back guarantee shows us that they stand by their products, but the problem is it’s not really enough time to evaluate whether it’s working.
The Bottom Line
Muram hides their ingredients behind a proprietary blend so you can’t be sure of the exact doses you’re getting.
We’re not quite as sold on them as much as other products on the list due to their weak formulation and short 30-day return policy.
The Bottom Line
UMZU Testo-X includes a smattering of just “okay” ingredients like ashwagandha, magnesium, and boron, but these compounds don’t have nearly the scientific support as compounds like Tongkat Ali, Rhodiola Rosea, Deer Antler Powder, ZMA and 5-Methyl-7-Methoxy-Isoflavone.
UMZU also has a fair number of disappointing reviews on Amazon stating their dissatisfaction with the results.
Potential customers should also take into consideration that UMZU offers a 60-day return policy, which is more than many others on the list.
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