Boosting Testosterone on a Budget

natural ways to boost testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone that you could consider to be the essence of men. While the hormone is found in females as well, men’s elevated testosterone levels are a large portion of what makes them different from women.

From increased muscle and bone size to libido and energy levels, testosterone is one of the most important hormones for men to optimize, especially active or aging men.

There are a few ways to regulate and boost testosterone. Activity levels, diet, and sleep are all essential to proper testosterone levels, but supplementation can play a large role as well. Knowing this fact, many supplement companies have created testosterone-boosting supplements that sometimes cost a fortune.

Luckily, these expensive supplements aren’t the only option and there are some individual supplements that can help you boost your testosterone without breaking the bank.

Benefits and Importance of Optimal Testosterone Levels

Before we discuss the individual supplements that can boost testosterone, let’s lay some more detailed groundwork for why proper levels are so important. As mentioned above, testosterone is found in both men and women, but for men the impact is far greater. When men with low testosterone achieve optimal levels of testosterone, they describe it as if they were truly awake for the first time ever and are ready to conquer the world. Are you ready?

Testosterone is responsible for:

  • General Mood and Energy Levels. Low testosterone levels have been linked to sadness and feelings of sluggishness.
  • Libido. As a sex hormone, testosterone is in charge of driving libido. Low sex drive and sexual difficulty are often symptoms of low testosterone.
  • Muscle Growth. Testosterone increases protein synthesis, resulting in faster recovery and muscular gains.
  • Bone Strength. Testosterone increases bone density. Elderly men with low bone density have also been shown to have low testosterone levels.
  • Hearth Health. Doctors are finding evidence that cardiovascular disease can be prevented when testosterone levels are healthy.
  • Body Fat Regulation. Testosterone regulates many other hormones that impact body composition and there’s a correlation between bodyfat and testosterone.

Best Testosterone Boosters

Now that we’ve established that every man should optimize his testosterone levels, let’s look at some inexpensive supplements that can boost testosterone and libido.

DHEA

DHEA is a hormone naturally produced in a few places in the human body and is the most prominent steroid hormone in humans. It serves a number of functions, but the most important is its impact as a precursor to sex hormones including testosterone.

Natural production peaks around 25 years old and can decrease with age. There have been a few studies that show the impact and benefits of DHEA for men.

One study showed that DHEA raised free-testosterone levels following high-intensity exercise. Another study showed that daily treatment with 100mg resulted in positive body composition and strength gains in males only. With the former study in mind, recommended dosages can range from 25-100mg/day.

Arginine

While arginine isn’t linked specifically to testosterone, it has been shown to help boost libido and is a popular pre-workout supplement. Arginine creates NO (nitric oxide) within the body, which dilates blood vessels.

During a workout, this dilation helps to drive more nutrients to the muscle. It also helps to improve overall circulation, which is essential for proper sexual function. In one placebo-controlled study, men were given arginine for six weeks.

At the conclusion, the arginine group reported improved sexual performance. The measured results showed nitric oxide levels that began low and doubled within the six week period. For libido and exercise performance, recommended dosages start around 5-6g daily.

Tribulis Terrestris

While it has many regional nicknames, the herb known as tribulis terrestris is regarded by some as the holy grail of natural testosterone boosters.

Tribulis is used for erectile dysfunction, libido boosts, strength improvement, exercise performance, and overall testosterone boosts. For men, the potential upside of this supplement makes tribulis a must-try.

Like other super-herbs, it has other potential benefits as well, like improved mood and chronic fatigue relief. Dosage and cycling can vary since it may be considered adaptogenic, but starting dosages are around 85-250mg/day. Since it’s an herb that goes through a process, it’s also important to get a high quality source for maximum effectiveness.

The best thing about these supplements is that they shouldn’t counteract each other and would make a great stack. The mechanisms of action for each are so different that combining the three as a daily testosterone-boosting stack would make a fantastic way to improve your health, libido. and testosterone levels without spending a fortune.

L-Citrulline vs L-Arginine For Pre-Workout Supplementation

L-Citrulline and L-Arginine are good pre-workout and provide for muscular gains.

Introduction to Pre-Workout Supplementation:

Athletes everywhere have used supplements to enhance and improve their workouts ever since the nutritional industry was in its infancy. There are a number of things that should be considered when choosing such a product. The first of these considerations is energy. Obviously, in order to power through an intense workout you need a lot of energy. Of course, you also want this energy to come from a natural source since having to deal with side effects like an energy crash an hour or so later is just not worth it.

Another benefit sought from pre-workout supplementation is an ability to support muscular gains. This way, you will also put yourself in the best position to recover faster from your workouts and to translate the hard effort into real benefits. Some of the best supplements to be used before a workout are L-Arginine and L-Citrulline.

L-Arginine Benefits:

L-Arginine is an amino acid that has a number of positive benefits associated with its supplementation. These benefits include the ability to help the body produce and synthesize proteins. Proteins are essential in the process of muscular repair and growth. It is also thought to stimulate the production of growth hormone like natural sterols. These are also quite effective in helping the muscles rebuild and grow larger after an intense workout.

This supplement is also thought to help remove cortisol and other waste products in the body. Cortisol is chiefly responsible for stress levels throughout the body. Therefore, its removal can lead to a more focused and intense workout, potentially even helping one to remain more energetic throughout.

L-Citrulline Benefits:

One of the most popular benefits associated with L-Citrulline is its ability to help reduce body fat levels. It is also incredibly helpful in maintaining your natural energy production, which can often drop off considerably during a hard workout. Another excellent benefit is that it acts as a vasodilator. This has the effect of helping to open and expand blood vessels. This may be also why it can lead to a reduction in blood pressure levels.

For weight and strength training athletes, this supplement also helps in the release of nitric acid. This chemical helps to build proteins and re-form muscles that have been torn down from intense training. Citrulline acts in the urea cycle to remove lactic acid from the body which is produced as working muscles become fatigued. Couple this together with the ability of the supplement to enhance ATP (energy) production and it easy to see how this can lead to a much improved workout.

Citrulline vs Arginine Pre Workout

Overall in the question of L-Citrulline vs L-Arginine, both of these supplements can certainly be helpful as a before workout addition. Instead of being forced to choose one or the other, why not stack them together and take both?

Pre-Workout Supplements for Weight Loss vs. Muscle Building

supplements for muscle building and weight loss

Pre-workout supplements are a popular choice among weight lifters and among those who are trying to lose weight. The purpose of these supplements is to improve workouts and help attain the best results. There are two main kinds of pre-workout supplements: weight-loss supplements and muscle-building supplements.

The following are some of the benefits from using such supplements:

  • Increased strength and endurance;
  • Faster metabolic rate;
  • Enhanced energy and focus;
  • Overall better performance.

Before one decides to use any pre-workout supplements, pre-workout nutrition ought to be considered. Carbohydrates are essential as they are your body’s fuel source. It is recommended that you eat your carbs before your workout so that they can be utilized as fuel in your body. Protein is another must-have food.

Supplements for Weight Loss

Creatine for Weight Loss

Supplementing with creatine increases the body’s creatine stores which results in an increased level of phosphocreatine that in turn helps regenerate muscles’ energy source, ATP. According to a study conducted on 17 subjects, a dosage of 5g of creatine produced an increase in the total creatine content of the muscles. Recommended dosage is 3g per day.

Caffeine for Weight Loss

Caffeine is one of the most popular pre-workout supplements for weight loss. Caffeine can be obtained from coffee, tea, chocolate, or through energy drinks. This very popular supplement works by inhibiting the enzyme that blocks degradation of cAMP therefore allowing energy levels to remain high for extended periods of time. A study on the efficacy of caffeine in increased exercise performance showed increased performance after an intake of caffeine before workout. Typical dosage rages from 100-200 mg.

Glutamine:

As you work-out, the levels of glutamine in the body falls and using this as a pre-workout supplement can help delay fatigue during workout by producing more energy and reducing muscle fatigue.

Supplements for Muscle Building

Arginine:

This is a very popular pre-workout supplement for weight lifters because it allows more blood to flow to the muscles by dilating vessels and thereby allowing more nutrients to be absorbed. Results of a study on the effect arginine as a supplement 10 minutes before work-outs showed enhanced performance during workouts. Recommended dosage before a workout is 2-3g.

Citrulline Malate:

Supplementation with Citrulline Malate can increase the levels of arginine which is necessary after an intense workout. Breakdown of amino acids and increased levels of ammonia cause a reduction in arginine levels. Studies show that aerobic energy production is also promoted because of the muscle metabolism promoted by citrulline malate.

Tyrosine:

This supplement helps improve perceived level of fatigue and cognitive and physical performance during stressful conditions. It increases mental alertness and the ability to concentrate which can help one perform more strenuous workouts. Doses of 500 to 1000mg per day before workouts are recommended.

Whether or not to take pre-workout supplements will be totally up to you and will greatly depend on how you feel during your workout when you are taking these supplements.

Best Caffeine Free Pre Workout Supplements

pre-workout supplements without caffeine

Caffeine powder is widely used as a pre-workout stimulant. It’s taken through energy drinks, coffee, or supplement stacks. There are benefits to using caffeine before a workout. In the very least, it gives your muscles the extra energy to keep going and also helps get your blood pumping faster.

However, there are times when using caffeine may not be the best idea. For example, if you train later in the evening, a high dose of caffeine may interfere with your sleep. Or, for anyone particularly sensitive to caffeine, the effects can be over stimulating and become more of a hindrance in the gym. Regardless of your situation, you shouldn’t feel slighted during your workout. There are several alternatives to caffeine in pre-workout supplements that can help you keep your edge and help you reach your goals faster.

Citrulline Malate Powder

Citrulline Malate is a form of the amino acid citrulline and provides energy to the muscles and promotes endurance for both aerobic and anaerobic athletes. Citrulline malate powder works in two main ways. First, it increases intramuscular ATP energy. This is what you use each time you lift a rep or run a lap. The more ATP in your muscles, the longer they will function at optimal levels.

Citrulline malate takes that a step further by helping you function on an even higher level. In a study performed on athletes using the chest press as a test exercise, participants were given citrulline malate or placebo. Then their work output and recovery times were measured. Users given citrulline malate were able to do 52% more repetitions and had a 40% reduction in soreness, so they were stronger during their workout and recovered faster too. [1]

Beta-Alanine Supplement

Beta-alanine is another great caffeine-free pre-workout supplement that also promotes muscular endurance.  Beta-alanine works a bit differently than citrulline malate. Supplementing with beta-alanine helps increase intramuscular carsonine levels [2].

During exercise, carsonine helps remove lactic acid from muscles, which can cause a burning sensation and muscle fatigue. Without acid buildup and muscular fatigue, beta-alanine helps you get stronger and build muscle mass.

Beta-alanine can help improve your overall body composition too. Research performed on athletes has shown that beta-alanine can increase lean muscle mass and decreasing body fat percentage [2]. Since this is a popular reason for using caffeine pre-workout, you can now work toward your fat-burning goals without stimulant supplements.

L-Arginine Supplement

As the two supplements mentioned above, L-Arginine supplement, also simply known as Arginine, is also an alternative to caffeine for increasing endurance, increasing strength and reducing fatigue. Arginine works differently as well. It’s is responsible for boosting nitric oxide flow into the body after exercise. Higher nitric oxide levels relax blood vessels which allows for more blood flow. The increased blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles more efficiently to prevent muscle fatigue. Arginine also boosts growth hormone production and helps you recover quicker. [3] [4]

Caffeine Free Pre Workout Stacks

You can also try pre-workout stacks which are often available without caffeine. Stacks take the guesswork out of pre-workout supplementation. I found a great pre-workout stack called Muscle Maxx Pro. This pre-workout stack contains L-Arginine, Astragalus, Tongkat Ali (Longjack), Maca, and Tribulus. These ingredients work together synergistically to enhance the body’s muscle building capacity.

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to cut caffeine out of your pre-workout stack, there are alternatives. With muscular endurance and energy being the main benefits, the options for replacement are well represented. A stimulant-free pre-workout stack can help you reach your goals just as fast and without any of the negative side-effects of caffeine use.

Sources

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386132

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta-Alanine

[3] http://l-arginineguide.com/facts-about-l-arginine-and-working-out.html

[4] http://www.livestrong.com/article/6135-need-l-arginine-bodybuilding/

L-Arginine Supplement

winter-running

Similar to L-Citrulline, L-Arginine is an essential amino acid which people take mostly as a vasodilator (increasing the size of blood vessels for that “pump” that those desire in the gym). I’ve put Arginine in my pre-workout mixes before and I noticed increased vascularity and felt like I was not getting fatigued as easily. It wasn’t a magical compound that will make me the next Michael Phelps, but it did make a noticeable difference, especially near the end of my workout.

Citrulline Malate VS L-Arginine

It should be known, however, that L-Arginine supplement on its own has pretty poor bioavailability as most of it is metabolized in the liver. What does happen to make it to the muscles and tissue is very beneficial. Actually, it’s interesting because L-Citrulline is shown to convert to L-Arginine in the kidneys, so if you are looking for the benefits of L-Arginine, take Citrulline malate powder instead – you’ll get all the benefits of L-Arginine, but will also get ‘more’ Arginine benefit (since it won’t be broken down early on in digestion).

L-Arginine supplements are mostly for those wanting to do more cardio or lift longer in the gym. I also take Arginine (actually Citrulline) when I’m sick because apparently the body needs more of the amino acid when It’s sick/diseased. It’s also supposedly beneficial in diabetics. Because Arginine is such an effective vasodilator, it is often a good solution for those who have poor bodily circulation (cold hands and feet, for example). Of course, it would be even more beneficial to just exercise (as exercise on its own acts as a superior vasodilator) but for those days when you just don’t feel like getting up, Arginine is a healthy alternative. Apparently people even take Arginine during cold winter months just to bear the cold weather a little better.

The next time I need to scrape ice off my windshield or my fingers are just too cold to play the piano, I’ll take some L-Arginine supplement and let my blood flow like a big, warm river – but for now, I’ll save it for the gym.