Testosterone is the primary sex hormone that most men want through the roof. It’s typically associated with things like bigger muscle mass, better strength, stronger endurance, and overall better athletic performance.
But while your athletic abilities may be the first line of sight for this hormone, that’s not all it does. It’s also needed for memory, bone health, energy, mood, sex drive, and more.
For most men, testosterone levels aren’t a problem, but what about those who want more?
There’s no shortage of supplement companies dying to sell you a product that promises to boost testosterone production naturally.
We’re not talking about hormone replacement therapy. We’re talking about all-natural dietary supplements designed to take men from low to high on the testosterone charts and get them back to the animalistic manhood they once had.
And while muscle growth and sex drive are the two things most men look towards testosterone boosters for, what about weight loss?
We’re exploring the link between testosterone boosters and weight loss, and if having one in your supplement stack can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
What Are Testosterone Boosters?
There’s quite a hefty list of things that can improve with age—whiskey, wine, even cheese—but unfortunately for men, testosterone is not one of them.
Testosterone levels naturally decline with age at a rate of about 1.6% per year for total testosterone and about 2%–3% per year for free and bioavailable levels 1.
But it’s not just age that can interfere with sufficient levels of testosterone. Sleep, stress, diet, and exercise all play a role in maintaining sufficient levels.
For men of all ages struggling with maintaining adequate levels of testosterone, supplement manufactures have created gold—they’re called testosterone boosters, and they’re a class of herbal supplements aimed at naturally boosting testosterone levels.
Most formulas on the market are a combination of various micronutrients that men are commonly deficient in, such as zinc, magnesium, and selenium, which have been shown to support healthy testosterone levels.
In any case, whatever the formula is, the goal is to promote all the benefits that a healthy testosterone level can provide—faster recovery from exercise, bigger and stronger muscles, a higher sex drive, less body fat, and stronger bones, to name a few—in one simple supplement.
Why T-Boosters Work
In short, testosterone boosters can be really effective for improving testosterone levels and everything that goes along with high testosterone, but if you’re eating a crappy diet and following a subpar training program (or not training at all), it will undoubtedly decrease the efficacy of your testosterone booster.
But in general, having a solid diet and training program combined with your booster can help you in a few key areas:
1. Greater Muscle Growth
Testosterone is one of the main anabolic hormones involved in promoting muscle growth, and studies show that testosterone increases muscle mass by increasing muscle protein synthesis 2.
Studies also show that many of the nutrients found in testosterone boosters such as zinc and magnesium help to replenish depleted stores; these nutrients are required for testosterone production, and low levels can lead to a poor anabolic hormone profile, impaired immune function, and increased cortisol, which ultimately leads to diminished strength and performance 3.
A 2000 study on the effects of zinc and magnesium supplementation on hormones and strength in football players found that after the 7-week trial period, the players supplementing with the ZMA formula saw a 30% increase in testosterone levels, while the placebo group had just a 10% increase.
But that’s not it. The ZMA group also saw an 11.6% increase in strength, compared to only 4.6% in the placebo group 4.
2. Increased Libido
A high sex drive is something that’s generally linked to men and their levels of testosterone, but unfortunately, it’s one of the first things to go when testosterone levels take a dip.
However, research shows that some nutrients in testosterone boosters, namely zinc, positively correlate with sexual function.
A 2009 rodent study found that rats treated with 5mg of zinc daily exhibited better sexual function, especially on arousal and maintaining an erection 5.
Studies also show that dietary zinc restriction in young men was linked with a significant decrease in serum testosterone concentrations after 20 weeks of zinc restriction, suggesting that zinc plays an important role in modulating levels of testosterone 6.
And because serum concentrations of testosterone have such a profound impact on sex drive, increasing levels can directly help increase libido 7.
3. Better Athletic Performance
We all strive to be the best we can be in the gym and constantly hit new personal bests, and for men, testosterone levels play a major role in athletic abilities because of its role in muscle mass and strength.
Studies suggest that higher circulating testosterone levels in men provide a major, ongoing, cumulative, and durable advantage in sporting contests by creating greater muscle mass and strength 8.
Muscle growth, along with the increase in strength and power it brings, exhibits an obvious performance-enhancing effect for men, especially in sports that depend on strength and explosive power.
Studies also find that suppression of elevated circulating testosterone can result in adverse effects on performance, which are reversed when suppression ceases.
But those aren’t the only perks of boosting your testosterone with a natural testosterone booster. It may also:
- Improve bone health
- Increase red blood cell production
- Boost energy
- Improve mood
- Enhance glucose metabolism
- Improve memory
- Improve body composition (increase lean mass + decrease fat mass)
Testosterone is one of the hormones that men need in sufficient amounts at any age, and low levels can spell trouble.
Can Testosterone Boosters Cause Weight Loss?
Testosterone boosters are great for supplying the nutrients needed to boost testosterone levels in the body, but they’re not going to work like a fat burner or other weight loss supplement to facilitate weight loss directly.
To answer this, we need to look at the relationship between testosterone and weight loss. There’s a wealth of research supporting the link between obesity and low testosterone in men, likely due to insulin resistance-associated reductions in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that transports testosterone in the blood.
It may also be partly attributed to the role of adipose tissue in hormone metabolism; adipose tissue expresses aromatase, which is the enzyme that converts testosterone into estradiol (E2) 9.
This process perpetuates a vicious cycle whereby obesity reduces testosterone through increased conversion of testosterone to estrogen, and estrogen’s signaling on the brain affects motivation and energy levels, which further fuels obesity.
But what’s interesting is that studies consistently show that men with greater lean body mass have higher levels of testosterone 10. This may be due to reduced adiposity and thus reduced aromatase, as well as greater levels of muscle mass and thus increased biosynthesis of testosterone and other anabolic hormones.
With all of that said, the idea here is that a testosterone booster isn’t going to support weight loss directly. What they can do is boost hormones in the body that support muscle growth, which then helps accelerate fat loss because as the old saying goes, “muscle burns more than fat.”
But high levels of testosterone may also reduce fatigue, enhance motivation, and promote greater physical activity, all of which affect weight loss 11, 12.
However, you want to keep in mind that muscle tissue is denser than fat mass, which means that if increasing testosterone levels helps to increase muscle growth, you may end up gaining weight rather than losing it, but in the form of increased lean mass over fat mass.
With all of that said, testosterone boosters aren’t your gold at the end of the rainbow for weight loss, but they can increase hormone levels that help to build lean muscle and decrease fat mass, improve mood, and boost motivation, all of which play a role in supporting your training program and keeping you on track to reach your weight loss goals.
- RD Stanworth, TH Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice.Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3(1):25-44.
- RC Griggs, W Kingston, RF Jozefowicz, BE Herr, G Forbes, D Halliday. Effect of testosterone on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1989;66(1):498-503.
- CD Wilborn, CM Kerksick, BI Campbell, et al. Effects of Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) Supplementation on Training Adaptations and Markers of Anabolism and Catabolism.J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2004;1(2):12-20.
- LR Brilla, V Effects of a novel zinc-magnesium formulation on hormones and strength. J Exerc Physiol Online.2000;3:26–36.
- D Dissanayake, PS Wijesinghe, WD Ratnasooriya, S Effects of zinc supplementation on sexual behavior of male rats.J Hum Reprod Sci. 2009;2(2):57-61.
- AS Prasad, CS Mantzoros, FW Beck, JW Hess, GJ Brewer. Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Nutrition. 1996;12(5):344-348.
- TG Travison, JE Morley, AB Araujo, AB O'Donnell, JB McKinlay. The relationship between libido and testosterone levels in aging men.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006;91(7):2509-2513.
- DJ Handelsman, AL Hirschberg, S Bermon. Circulating Testosterone as the Hormonal Basis of Sex Differences in Athletic Performance.Endocr Rev. 2018;39(5):803-829.
- MN Fui, P Dupuis, M Grossmann. Lowered testosterone in male obesity: mechanisms, morbidity and management.Asian J Androl. 2014;16(2):223-231.
- A Singh, AS Dobs. Is it Time to Test the Effect of Weight Loss on Testosterone?Clin Chem. 2019;65(1):48-50.
- DM Kelly, TH Testosterone and obesity.Obes Rev. 2015;16(7):581-606.
- S Santosa, S Khosla, LK McCready, MD Jensen. Effects of estrogen and testosterone on resting energy expenditure in older men.Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(12):2392-2394.