Does L-Arginine Increase Testosterone? What Experts Say

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 11, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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As a fitness and health optimization coach, I often hear gym-goers discussing L-arginine as a potential testosterone booster.

I decided to dive deeply into this compound, so I talked to our resident medical professional and my colleagues and read many online materials.

After a few weeks of research, I compiled it here so you and my clients can decide on l-arginine supplementation.

Quick Summary

  • L-arginine is a vital semi-essential amino acid l arginine that indirectly helps boost testosterone stages, but human trials are yet to be conducted.
  • Meals rich in L-arginine include fish, red meat, nuts, dairy, and whole grains.
  • Following L-Arginine treatment, the multi-target ELISA analysis conducted revealed that phosphorylation of p-38 MAPK, MEK, and JNK were significantly increased in HepG2 cells, suggesting enhanced cellular responses.
  • I find L-Arginine intriguing for its diverse health benefits, but its direct role in increasing testosterone in humans remains an open question.

What Is L-Arginine and Does It Affect Testosterone?

Red meats and fish

L-arginine, a semi-essential amino acid, acts as a vasodilator and plays a role in protein synthesis, with its potential effects on testosterone boosting being a topic of interest.

L-arginine is considered semi-essential because the body produces some, and you also need to source through your diet in foods like red meat, fish, whole grains, dairy, and nuts.

L-arginine supplementation is most commonly taken orally or topically and is readily available over the counter.

L-arginine, an amino acid crucial for making proteins, is sometimes given intravenously by healthcare pros.

It's a big deal for muscle gain and recovery. While animal studies show l-arginine might boost testosterone, human studies haven't confirmed this yet [1].

L-arginine also triggers human growth hormone and IGF-1 release, key for muscle health [2]. This could mean better muscle recovery, growth, a revved-up metabolism, and less fat, as these studies hint.


Why Do Bodybuilders Take L-Arginine?

Bodybuilders use L-arginine for muscle gain, growth hormone release, and fat metabolism, which is essential for a muscular physique.

L-arginine's role as a vasodilator through conversion to nitric oxide enhances endurance and muscle recovery by promoting blood rate and increasing oxygen and nutrient flow in the muscle. The blood rate can also be increased by using these supplements for vascularity.

This allows a bodybuilder to achieve high intensity during workouts at peak performance with reduced muscle damage [3].

Effectiveness and Other Uses

Man with great physique

L-arginine converts to nitric oxide in the body, regulating blood rate and potentially treats cardiovascular conditions like chest pain or pressure (angina), high blood pressure (hypertension), and heart failure, as well as migraines and erectile dysfunction [4].

L-arginine supplementation studies show its effectiveness in enhanced athletic performance, both anaerobically and aerobically [5].

These studies seem to underscore the importance of l-arginine’s role in enhancing protein synthesis and muscle recovery and its importance as a precursor to nitric oxide production, which may improve muscle power.

L-arginine may effectively combat fatigue and boost the immune system, which are two significant benefits to athletic performance and everyday life [6].

From all the stress that bodybuilding causes, including mental and physical, the chances of infections and muscle damage are increased, so it is important to make sure your immune system is up to par.”

- Gareth Gray, M.S., Sports and Exercise Nutrition

Muscle Recovery and L-Arginine

L-arginine not only improves performance but is also key in muscle recovery. It speeds up muscle recovery by enhancing the elimination of ammonia and other exercise metabolites.

This is important because the buildup of these by-products can delay recovery and increase muscle fatigue.

The amino acid also boasts protein synthesis, a vital process for muscle repair and growth post-exercise. After intense training, it ensures that muscles have the necessary building blocks to recover and strengthen.

Side Effects

A common theme in my online research is that l-arginine supplementation is generally considered safe. But, like any supplement or med, there's always a chance of side effects or interactions. Always chat with your doc before starting any supplement.

Possible side effects of l-arginine? Think nausea, tummy pain, diarrhea, bloating, gout, headaches, and airway inflammation [7].

It's a vasodilator, so be wary of mixing it with blood pressure meds or drugs for erectile dysfunction, as it could drop your blood pressure too much [8]. Individuals should note particular caution for asthmatic individuals because of the potential risk of airway inflammation resulting in worsening asthma symptoms.


Does L-Arginine Work Like Viagra?

L-arginine might work like Viagra by relaxing blood vessels which improves blood rate to the genitals, potentially improving erectile dysfunction. A cautionary note, using l-arginine in conjunction with ED medications like Viagra may cause blood pressure to drop too low.

Does L-Arginine Increase Athletic Performance?

L-arginine can increase athletic performance because it converts to nitric oxide (NO), which in turn regulates blood flow. Increased blood flow translates to increased oxygen to your muscles, resulting in less fatigue and enhanced athletic performance.


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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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