Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 24, 2021

Since testosterone boosters and steroids are closely related, hardly anyone can make a distinction between the two.

Many people assume that these substances are one and the same, but that’s simply not true.

To clear up any confusion around these products, we consulted various sources and medical articles and research to learn about their respective differences, uses, and risks.

Testosterone Boosters and Steroids: What’s The Difference?

spoon filled with white powder, man flexing his biceps and injecting it

As you’re getting older, your testosterone levels start to diminish, causing symptoms such as sexual dysfunction, fatigue, emotional changes, and reduced muscle mass [1].

“These symptoms are a natural progression of age. A man in his 50s cannot expect to have the same energy level and sex drive as a man in his 20s.”

 

- Raj Laungani M.D., Urologist at Piedmont Urology Specialists

This is where a testosterone booster can help.

These products don’t have actual testosterone or other hormones in them.

Instead, their supplement formula contains herbs and other substances designed to increase your body’s natural testosterone production.

These supplements work to boost decreasing testosterone levels in the blood, helping you do more and improve your results at the gym.

On the other hand, steroids are a man-made form of testosterone used to treat people suffering from conditions like hypogonadism or low testosterone.

They can be taken as a pill, implanted pellets, injection, or through a cream or gel.

In recent decades, steroids have gained a notorious reputation due to their illegal use by high-profile athletes and bodybuilders to pack on muscle, increase their endurance, and improve their athletic performance.

Even though the use of these performance-enhancing drugs is prohibited in most sports, they aren’t all bad.

In fact, a doctor can prescribe steroids to treat health issues like low testosterone and conditions that lead to muscle loss, including HIV and cancer.

Why Use A Testosterone Booster?

shirtless man with big muscles holding a water jug

Testosterone is a sex hormone produced by the human body in both men and women.

This hormone is responsible for maintaining men’s health, vitality, vigor, libido, and muscle-building ability. In addition, this hormone plays an essential role in keeping them sexually active.

Men with a low level of testosterone may experience depression, lack of energy, low sex drive, brain fog, and increased body fat.

With all these unwanted consequences, taking products that can boost testosterone becomes a necessity.

The T-Boosters below will have a more minimal effect than the prescription of testosterone treatment, but they’re still beneficial.

Tribulus Terrestris

Studies have shown that Tribulus Terrestris can have a positive effect on libido and sexual function. However, its actual effect on a person’s testosterone level needs further research.

Bodybuilders have used Tribulus Terrestris for years, and it seems to be safe. It certainly won’t hurt to take it, but don’t expect phenomenal results from using Tribulus.

ZMA

ZMA is a combination of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. It’s known as a powerful sleep enhancer and testosterone booster.

Taking a ZMA supplement is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough zinc, one of the key minerals involved in testosterone production.

Magnesium relaxes your body, and the B6 helps with absorption, which is why ZMA products are often used as a sleep aid.

This is vital to keeping your testosterone at optimum levels, as most of them are produced during sleep.

D-Aspartic Acid

vector image of amino acids

D-aspartic acid optimizes your natural testosterone levels by increasing the production and release of testosterone in the testes.

D-aspartic acid is an amino acid naturally found in the body. Supplementation will ensure that you have enough in your system to produce more testosterone.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is essential for producing testosterone.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a host of adverse side effects, so taking it can certainly benefit your overall health and wellness, even if you have no problems with testosterone.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

man filling his hands with white pills

While any other T-Booster on this list simply supports your natural hormone levels, DHEA supplementation is quite different.

DHEA is a hormone produced and secreted by the body, which means you’ll be directly ingesting a hormone when you take it in pill form.

There is little evidence showing that DHEA can actually raise testosterone, but many users say that they feel much better while using it.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

If your T-levels are declining, your doctor may suggest testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) as a skin patch, topical gel, or testosterone injections.

How Do Steroids Work?

shirtless man doing a dumbbell workout

Once steroids enter your system, they break down and bind themselves to your androgen receptors, activating them.

Once they’re activated, your body starts expediting the muscle-building process by producing much more protein than usual, which your body uses to build muscle mass.

Although many people think of steroids as drugs used by athletes to gain a competitive edge, they have many medical uses.

A study on the effects of steroids in athletes found that participants who were given steroids saw a 5 to 20 percent increase in strength [2]. In addition, their lean muscle mass also increased by 2 to 5 kg within just ten weeks.

Most sports ban anabolic steroid use, but researchers found that 2.9 to 4 million Americans have used steroids at some point in their lives (almost all of them are men) [3].

The side effects of steroid abuse include:

  • Infertility
  • Liver disease
  • Mood swings
  • Pain while urinating
  • High blood pressure
  • Facial hair growth in women
  • Baldness in men
  • Heart disease
  • Low sperm count
  • Depression

FAQs

Are testosterone boosters safe?

Testosterone boosters aren’t entirely safe. Some of them contain L-arginine, which can be toxic in levels greater than 30 grams and may interact with certain medications.

Other safety concerns associated with L-arginine include increased risk of bleeding, affected blood sugar levels, and abnormally high levels of blood potassium.

Testosterone use may also cause a higher red blood cell count. Too many red blood cells increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

What are the side effects of taking testosterone boosters?

The potential health risks of taking testosterone boosters include hair loss, acne, male breast enlargement, low libido, increased aggression, impotence, and testicular atrophy.

Is testosterone a steroid or protein?

Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group. It’s the primary sex hormone among men.

So, Are Testosterone Boosters And Steroids The Same?

Testosterone enhancers are supplements designed to increase your body’s testosterone production. Steroids, on the other hand, are a synthetic form of testosterone.

If you’re thinking of using T-Boosters and steroids, keep in mind that their risks outweigh their potential benefits.

More research, clinical trials, tests, and data are needed to establish the effectiveness and safety of these supplements.

If you feel that you might be suffering from low T-levels, consult your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and medical advice. Surely, they will give you safer and better options for your testosterone deficiency treatment.

What are your thoughts on the use of T- boosters and steroids? Let us know in the comments below.


References

  1. https://www.webmd.com/men/guide/testosterone-replacement-therapy-is-it-right-for-you
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15248788/
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338612362_The_Lifetime_Prevalence_of_Anabolic-Androgenic_Steroid_Use_and_Dependence_in_Americans_Current_Best_Estimates

About the author