The café was next to a gym just off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Two middle-aged guys were having a cappuccino and discussing their training. But they weren’t talking about sets, reps and different workouts. They were having a conversation about new testosterone boosters.
I turned out they were far from alone having that conversation. During my stay in LA in January I encountered it several times. And on the Internet were reviews of new boosters and people discussing the possible positive and negative effects with this kind of supplements. There were also gossip about aging movie stars and business people taking testosterone boosters to stay fit, healthy and sexually active.
The interest in testosterone boosters is spurred by aging populations and heightened interest in preventative health. More and more people are looking for remedies to cure what ails them, and elixirs to help them stay healthy well into their twilight years. As I wrote in my earlier post: ”Health is not just a goal. It is both a lifestyle choice and a thriving consumer market.”
So I decided to test a booster myself. I choose to test Hexofire Labs Delta Prime. The supplement comes at a price of 99 dollars (around 900 SEK), plus shipment. It does not ship to Sweden.
You get 60 capsules that you are supposed to take two, once a day, preferably after having a meal to get a better effect.
Of course a test like this tend to be very subjective and also depending on how much you train and what you train. To make it more objective I started off with taking blood samples and weighed myself twice on a Tanita scale, a machine that monitors not only your weight but also your body fat, muscle mass, water percentage, BMR, metabolic age, bone mass, visceral fat, and it then ranks your fitness level.
When I’ve finished off the capsules after a month, I will do the same testing again, to compare possible changes.
Mikael Mattsson, PhD Sport & Exercise Physiology, CEO Stockholm Exercise Analytics, is coaching me through this test.
“Jonas is a perfect test subject for the supplement test because he has already “maxed out” the suggested ways to naturally boost testosterone,” he says.
“It will be very interesting to compare both the body composition and the testosterone levels from the beginning and the end of this test, but if his zinc and vitamin D were normal at the beginning, I would be very surprised if the testosterone levels increased by the booster.”
While I test Delta Prime I will live and train as normal, in other words: four-five times a week, for around six hours a week, with no special diet, apart from trying to stay off sweets and soda and too much carbohydrates.
So how is Delta Prime supposed to work?
As we age and hit 30, our testosterone starts to drop. Testosterone boosters do not give the user actual testosterone (like with steroids), rather, they kickstart the production of this very powerful hormone.
As the on-line source Consumer Health Digest points out, there are many products, especially supplements, in the market which claim to rejuvenate or give energy and stamina to men experiencing this problem. Even in Sweden there is a wide variety of testosterone boosters on sale.
The common feature of these boosters is that they claim to improve energy levels in an individual and that you will find that you have added stamina to carry out your training. Some users claim that they sleep better. Others that it improves their general feeling of well-being and their sex life.
The manufacturer of Delta Prime is a US-based company called Hexofire Labs supplements. This company has a variety of health supplements which are widely sold all over the globe. They claim to carefully test their products to ensure that they are potent and that they do not have any adverse effects on the user. They also claim to have formulated this product using natural herbs to avoid the effects of chemical additives.
When this blog post is published, I’ve been using Delta Prime for ten days. I’m not detecting any measurable improvement in my training, but I do feel more alert and maybe even a little bit stronger when I swim. That might be the testosterone booster – but it might also be a guy looking for his lost testosterone experiencing a placebo effect;-)
Here are the ingredients used in the formulation of Delta Prime. The analysis of the substances is made by my friend Ann-Cathrine Engwall, PhD in molecular cell biology and expert in pharmaceuticals:
Zinc- is a mineral and the main sources for daily intake is in animal food as well as cereal and whole meal products. The mineral is a central part of many essential enzymes contributing to important processes in our bodies including hormone production, metabolism, immune response, bone and blood formations, hair growth and wound healing.
The highest concentration of Zinc in humans are found in prostate secretion where it is protecting the genetic material in the male sperm. Optimal zinc intake is important for testosterone levels, brain function and physical health in males.
Vitamin D– Is a fat-soluble steroid and a vitamin. The most efficient way to increase the vitamin D level is to spend time out in the sun. Cholesterol in our skin is transformed into vitamin D when exposed to UV-light. Some food are also sources of the vitamin including fatty fish, egg yolks and cheese.
The vitamin is regulating calcium levels in the skeleton and lack of vitamin D can result in more fragile bones. It binds to receptors present in most of our cells and can thereby affect the expression of a number of genes and increasing evidence suggests that it may protect against infections, cancer, diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease.
Some claim that Vitamin D might increase the testosterone levels in men but there is no solid proof seen supporting this.
Stinging Nettle– is an herb rich in minerals and vitamins including ion and vitamin C. The herb contains low levels of hormones that stimulate cell division and prevent cell aging processes in the plant. Stinging nettle has traditionally been used medically for anti-inflammatory purposes. It also contains histamine which cause the eczema when in contact with the skin and serotonin that affect our mood.
The herb has a diuretic effect and claimed to block the testosterone metabolite causing baldness in males.
Saw Palmetto– is a palm tree with berries containing plant steroids. The berries have been used in traditional medicine to reduce prostate problems. Plant steroids are thought to limit the growth of the prostate gland in humans without causing impotence. They are chemically very similar to cholesterol and could be beneficial to the cardiovascular system by lowering the blood fat levels. The saw palmetto berries might also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Epimedium – This ingredient is also known as Horny Goat Weed, Epidemium is an herb used in Chinese traditional medicine for treating erectile dysfunction, to promote wellness in general and to boost mental acuity. It contains the flavonoid Icariin that can work as an antioxidant and extract from the herb has anti-inflammatory effect. The herb is also suggested to have positive effect on depression as well as to prevent memory loss. The sexual function in males might be improved by relaxing smooth muscle and increase the blood flow however there is no substantial scientific proof for this effect so far.
Ann-Cathrine Engwall’s general conclusion about Delta Prime:
”My conclusion based on the content of the product is that there is no substantial proof that Hexofire Labs Delta Prime can induce testosterone production in males in general.
However, the additives contain minerals and vitamins that can be beneficial for aging men especially if they have a poor or nonsufficient diet or prostate related problems. Zinc is for example an important part of many active enzymes that have essential roles in fundamental functional processes in our bodies and Vitamin D is a steroid that regulate gene expression in many types of cells. The latter has importance for calcium balance in our skeletons and affect the bone strength but there is increasing evidence that the vitamin play a role in insulin sensitivity of cells as well as for strengthen the immune system.
The Stinging Nettle is rich in vitamins and minerals and has traditionally been used for anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. Berries of saw palmetto have been used in traditional medicine for treating men with prostate problems to limit the growth of the gland and facilitating urination without affecting the libido.
Epidemium is suggested to have positive effect on depression as well as to prevent memory loss. The sexual function in males might be improved by the substance, however there is no substantial scientific proof for this effect so far.
My general view on expensive additives sold to males by luring them with arguments that they will increase their libido and male attractiveness is good business indeed. There might be beneficial effects of course, but in my view it is better and cheaper to control what and when you eat and keep your body in shape by exercising regular than to give hope to quick-fixes.”
Mikael Mattson’s additional comments:
“It’s absolutely clear that testosterone levels correlates to the ability to build muscles. However, within normal levels, low or high doesn’t matter for traits like aggresivity or sex drive. The normal range for men is remarkably large, from ~250 to ~1000 ng/dl, meaning that one man can have 400 % the levels of another man, but both are still within normal.
It is very unusual to (naturally) have either low or high values, but if you do you should seek medical advice. Hypogonadism, a medical condition characterized by low testosterone levels, can lead to sexual dysfunction and low fertility, decreased muscle mass and bone strength, and less energy. It’s true that your testosterone levels decrease with age, but the decrease is so slow that most men stay within normal range throughout their lifespan.
The question in this case is if there would be any benefit for a healthy middle aged man to take a testosterone booster supplement. To begin with, there are several proven ways to increase your testosterone levels, or rather get them back to normal, including getting enough sleep, no stress, exercise, eat healthy (incl. zinc and DHEA from e.g. fat fish), don’t be overweight, avoid drugs and alcohol, and get enough sunlight (for Vitamin D).”
Facts about me:
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 81-82 kg
Fat %: 17-18 %
Muscle Mass: 63-64 kg
Bone mass: 3,3–3,4 kg
BMI: just above 25
Metabolic age: 41
Training: Swimming three times a week, running once or twice. Sit-ups and push-ups at home daily.
Thanks to Anders and Hart54 for providing me with data from the Tanita scale.