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How Do Testosterone Boosters Work (Benefits & Side Effects)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 6, 2023
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Low testosterone levels can cause all sorts of problems for male athletes, but fortunately, there are ways to boost your testosterone levels without requiring medical advice or resorting to banned drugs.

With a testosterone booster and a great exercise routine, you can make sure that you maintain normal levels and avoid falling into the cycle of muscle wasting, weight gain, and loss of fitness.

But many people are worried about these testosterone boosters and how they work.

So we teamed up with a dietitian to show you what to expect from these types of supplements.

Quick Summary

  • A testosterone booster works by triggering the body’s natural ability to produce and retain serum testosterone. 
  • Regular workouts, and taking healthy nutrition are the two natural ways you can naturally boost your testosterone levels.
  • Some natural ingredients that boost testosterone levels include zinc, fenugreek, D-Aspartic acid, Vitamin D, Ashwagandha, ginger, and tribulus terrestris.

How Do Natural Testosterone Boosters Work?

spilled bottle of capsules

Testosterone boosters work by triggering a response in the adrenal gland and providing the building blocks of testosterone.

Good testosterone supplements will target both of these important aspects.

But it’s important to set your expectations here. Testosterone boosters don’t work like hormone treatment, where you get a very sudden and significant increase.

These supplements have to build up their effect over time.

But with a gradual increase over several months, the effect of testosterone boosters on body functions may become noticeable.

For one, you should find it easier to build up muscle mass, and it may also lead to improved mental focus and sperm production.

When using natural testosterone boosters, it's important to understand how they work. These testosterone supplements activate the adrenal gland and provide the necessary components for testosterone production.

However, having realistic expectations is crucial as testosterone boosters don't produce immediate and drastic results like hormone treatments do. Their impact is gradual, often taking several months to manifest noticeable effects on the body.

With consistent use, you may experience enhanced muscle development, improved mental focus, and increased sperm production.

To gauge the effectiveness of a supplement, it is recommended to undergo before and after blood tests, particularly if you have struggled with low testosterone levels, as actual data can help track progress and ensure you're on the right path.

The only way to really tell if a supplement is working is to go through before and after blood tests. And if you’ve struggled with low T-levels, then having such tangible data is always a good idea to make sure you’re on the right track.

How Does Your Body Produce More Testosterone?

woman using a gym machine, and a wrap of healthy food and measuring tape in a plate

Your body naturally produces testosterone, primarily in the testicles. Unfortunately, though, from about the age of 30, men produce about 1% less testosterone per year.

What’s more worrying is that there are also medical reports that men overall have lower free testosterone levels than ever before [1].

But there are two ways that you can boost your natural testosterone levels.

1. Exercise

When your body has to work hard, and you do highly intense workouts, it sends signals to produce more testosterone. Not surprisingly, this is also the best way to disrupt the cycle of obesity, leading to lower fitness levels and low testosterone.

And low testosterone is a leading cause of obesity.

But it gets even more interesting when it comes to your diet.

2. Nutrition

There are some important micronutrients that your body needs as building blocks of hormone cells. And when it comes to testosterone, the most important nutrients are zinc and vitamin D, and B.

But there are some other herbal ingredients that may help boost testosterone production by sending the right signals to the testicles.

Now, let’s take a look at what kind of ingredients to look out for in testosterone boosters.

What Natural Ingredients Boost Testosterone?

natural powder and seeds in spoons

Here are the main natural micronutrients and herbal supplements that you want to look out for and ideally get more of into your diet.

1. Zinc

First of all, zinc won’t trigger a higher testosterone response. But if your diet lacks zinc, then your body will hit a bottleneck. Even if it receives the signals to increase testosterone levels, it won’t have enough building blocks to create testosterone.

Personally, I would be very suspicious of testosterone boosters that don’t include zinc.

Zinc deficiency can hinder testosterone production. Like magnesium, zinc is lost through sweat, so athletes and other people who sweat a lot are more likely to be deficient. Although dietary zinc is mostly found in animal products, zinc-rich foods include some grains and nuts.”

- Michael Hull, Writer at

2. Fenugreek

spoonful of fenugreek

You’ll find this in quite a few herbal supplements these days, and it seems like it gained more popularity since a study identified a link to improved sexual health and sperm count in men [2].

The participants in the peer-reviewed study also showed an improvement in overall strength and muscle mass.

3. D-Aspartic Acid

D-aspartic acid is a natural amino acid, and it’s quite commonly included in sports supplements to support increased muscle mass. You’ll often find it in pre-workout supplements, which is a good sign that it may work well in testosterone boosters.

4. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha extract in a bowl and roots

This ancient Indian herb has long been used to help people deal with stress and anxiety, indirectly affecting testosterone.

Many people take this to improve sexual function and sperm quality, and it’s a positive ingredient to find in testosterone boosters.

5. Vitamin D

You won’t find this in all testosterone boosters and may need to consider taking it as a separate supplement, but the sunshine vitamin has been linked to sex hormone production with a potential effect on erectile dysfunction [3].

6. Tribulus Terrestris

Yes, it’s a difficult one to pronounce, but it’s a herb that has a long history in traditional medicine. The main use is for sexual health, but there is also evidence that it may help improve body composition.

7. Ginger

There are many known health benefits associated with ginger, including anti-inflammatory properties. But it may also indirectly influence your T-count and luteinizing hormone, which one study proved to bring about significantly higher T-levels [4].

Medical Prescription Testosterone Boosters

Doctor holding a bottle of capsules

The first thing I have to say here is that we don’t provide medical advice.

Testosterone replacement therapy should only be a consideration for you if you have gone through extensive testing and consultation with a doctor.

But for men with a lasting and significant testosterone deficiency, going through medical testosterone therapy might be the only option.

The long-term effect of having too little testosterone can bring about many health issues and especially contribute to obesity.

So, if you’ve tried natural or vegan testosterone boosters and you’re not having any success, then it may be time to speak with your doctor.

Just don’t make that decision based on what a friend, gym buddy, or barista tries to recommend. Only your doctor should provide medical advice like that.

Related Article: Effects of Boosting Testosterone on Your Body

Do Testosterone Boosters Have Side Effects?

Man holding up his hands in frustration

Yes, some testosterone boosters may have some side effects depending on the ingredients used. It's important to note here that I'm not talking about the side effects from medical hormone therapy,  but rather the natural supplements.

First of all, some herbal ingredients may cause stomach upset and bloating. This is rare, and in most cases, it doesn't last long unless you have some sort of allergic reaction, which is also rare.

Secondly, an increase in testosterone level may also bring about some mood swings. Although this is more common with very sudden and highly elevated testosterone levels, it’s something to look out for.

Fortunately, testosterone boosters tend to raise T-levels slowly, so you shouldn’t run into such problems.

Testosterone boosters we've reviewed:

Are You Going To Try Testosterone Boosters?

Whether you need some extra help with muscle growth, you’re struggling with weight loss, or you want some libido enhancers, an increase in testosterone level could be the answer.

Here are our recommended list of testosterone boosters you can check:

The great thing is that there are quite a few effective solutions that don’t contain any banned substances.

You simply take a combination of herbs and micronutrients, and you could be on a path to better health.


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