Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 22, 2021

Many athletes that I regularly work with look at optimizing their sex hormone levels for the best muscle mass effects.

When I usually bring up this topic in conversation, there’s pretty much always a significant misconception around T boosters vs. prohormones.

While they both have a direct impact on testosterone levels, it’s important to understand the differences before choosing to go down a certain path that might not be the most suitable one.

To help you better understand these two products, we’ve gathered details about what they are, how they work, and how they are different when it comes to the effects on body composition.

What Are Prohormones?

stack of supplement pills

Prohormones are a type of drug sometimes used in testosterone replacement therapy.

They are not the same as anabolic steroids but are synthetic chemicals that structurally resemble testosterone [1].

You could look at them as building blocks of hormones that encourage the body to increase T-levels, and a common medical term for them is andros.

Some examples of pro-hormones include androstenedione and androstenediol.

While some early clinical trials of these types of drugs were promising, later studies threw some doubts on how effective they are, especially for long-term use.

And that is important when you compare a testosterone booster vs. prohormones.

What Are Testosterone Boosters?

black bowl filled with vitamin pills

Testosterone boosters are health and dietary supplements that contain natural ingredients like herbs, minerals, and vitamins.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that T boosters don’t contain any controlled substances that require a medical prescription.

They also don’t contain banned substances for competitive sports, making them suitable for professional athletes.

What they aim to do is provide the body with the nutritional compounds that act as the building blocks of testosterone production.

Some of these products also work by stopping your body from converting testosterone into estrogen, which can have significant impacts on an athlete.

For women, check out our recommended female testosterone boosters.

3 Major Differences

man raising up two different pill bottles

The differences between the two are mainly in these areas.

1. Types Of Ingredients

Prohormones contain synthetic chemicals that are a precursor to testosterone. That means they have a very direct impact on your body, where they are converted into testosterone.

A natural testosterone booster, on the other hand, will introduce nutrients that help create testosterone more effectively and tell your brain to signal for increased natural production.

2. Short Term Effectiveness

man with a thinking expression while holding a kettlebell

The first thing to point out is that neither prohormones nor T boosters have a fast impact on muscle mass in the way anabolic steroids do.

When using natural T boosters, it’s also important to keep in mind that they don’t provide men with fast results.

They tend to require consistent supplementation over six or more weeks to start seeing measurable testosterone results.

And prohormones are somewhere in between, where some of them claim to provide results within a few weeks.

3. Long Term Effects

This is where the science is unclear on prohormones, and studies from the United Kingdom and the United States tend to suggest that prohormones may not be suitable for long-term use.

Natural boosters, however, tend to include ingredients that the FDA classifies as generally safe and suitable for long-term use.

4 Side Effects of Prohormones

man holding his head in frustration, man holding his stomach in pain

This is also where there are some significant differences. T boosters tend to have hardly any side effects, often just limited to rare allergies.

But here is what you need to keep in mind.

1. Mood Swings

With prohormones, the effect on test levels is a lot faster, and those sudden fluctuations can set off mood swings.

In extreme cases, this can swing between very low self-esteem and high levels of aggression, which is why prohormones should be part of treatment by medical professionals.

2. Acne

close up image of a man's cheeks with acne

Yes, those sudden fluctuations in testosterone levels that cause all sorts of skin problems for teenagers can flare up in adult men as well.

It’s more common with medical treatments than with booster supplements because the T count can go up quite drastically [2].

3. Fatigue Or Lack Of Focus

This is where prohormones are quite different from anabolic steroids as well because the treatment may cause some highs and lows as the body adapts to the chemicals.

That can directly impact your metabolism and energy levels leaving you feeling tired even if you haven’t done some exhausting workouts.

4. Allergic Reaction

This is something you’re more likely to encounter with T boosters. While they include natural ingredients that the FDA classifies as safe, few people may have mild reactions to certain herbs, vitamins, and minerals.

The result is usually mild bloating or gas but it doesn’t tend to last.

Which One Works Better?

hand view of a man holding two different stack of pills in each hand

Here are the two ways you should look at boosters and prohormone supplementation. Both will deliver results, but it’s more down to how big a problem your T levels are.

Test Boosters Use

If you want to get a helping hand with building some more muscle mass and gain some bedroom performance as well, then boosters are the way to go.

In most cases, men have only a slightly lower T count that is posing minor issues, and natural boosters can usually plug that gap within a few weeks or months.

Prohormone Use

The only time I would recommend going down this route is if you’ve been diagnosed with severely low testosterone by a medical doctor and other options haven’t worked.

These types of treatment are also not suitable for pro athletes as they will cause failed drug tests. That doesn’t mean they are illegal, but athletes have to weigh up those options.

FAQs

Do Prohormones Raise Testosterone?

Yes, prohormones raise testosterone indirectly because they are chemically similar. However, the clinical study results have been quite mixed about how effective they are, especially for long-term use.

Are Testosterone Boosters Like Steroids?

No, testosterone boosters aren’t like steroids. In fact, they generally don’t contain any substances that fall under the anabolic steroid control act but instead are based on natural herbs, vitamins, and minerals.

Test Boosters vs Prohormones - Final Verdict

With plenty of research behind natural ingredients used in supplements, bodybuilders and athletes can gain enough of an advantage to overcome the normal signs of aging without resorting to steroids.

The bottom line is that a lot of men will struggle with their T count to a certain extent, and it can cause a barrier to build lean body mass.

A natural testosterone supplement should help with that and even give you that extra sex drive to make life a bit more fun.

Try one out today and report back to us how it worked out.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16888459/
  2. https://share.upmc.com/2016/10/testosterone-and-acne/

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