Does L-Arginine Increase Testosterone? What Experts Say

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: November 26, 2023
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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.

Let’s begin.

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.
  • Besides muscle building, L-Arginine benefits cardiovascular health and enhances anaerobic and aerobic athletic performance.
  • 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.

Another form of l-arginine is administered intravenously by your healthcare provider.

Amino acids, like l-arginine, have essential roles in the body in producing proteins, and we know proteins are critical for many body functions, including muscle gain and recovery.

Studies on animal models related to l-arginine’s impact on increasing testosterone production levels show promise, but no human research has garnered the same results [1]

L-arginine also stimulates the release of growth hormone (human growth hormone) and IGF-1 (another key growth factor) in the body, and additional studies support its vital role in muscle tissue [2].

As these studies suggest, stimulating growth hormone release enhances muscle recovery, aids muscle growth, boosts metabolism, and decreases fat.


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.

As with any medication or supplement, there is a chance for side effects and interactions, so it is always important to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any supplement.

Potential l-arginine side effects include nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, gout, headache, and airway inflammation [7].

Because l-arginine is a vasodilator, interactions with medications are used to lower blood pressure because of an increased risk of blood pressure dropping too low. This same risk is present for nitrates and drugs that treat erectile dysfunction [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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