Are Testosterone Boosters Legal in the Military?
by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.
What is a testosterone booster? You may have seen them advertised or lined up on the shelves of your local supplement store or supermarket. T-Booster's come in all different shaped bottles and sizes. So, it can be hard to choose between one or the other.'
And this is the issue. Read on to find out whether you are allowed to use a test booster whilst serving in the armed forces.
This article will cover the following points:
- Can testosterone be boosted naturally?
- What do test boosters do?
- How do they work?
- Are they the same?
- What are the risks?
- Are testosterone boosters like steroids?
- Are they banned in the military?
- What's in a test booster?
- Pros and cons
- Is there a testosterone booster that actually works?
Can testosterone be boosted naturally?
Your natural production of testosterone tends to decline as you start progessing into your thirties.
Additionally, an optimal level of natural testosterone benefits your health and athletic performance.
Therefore, you will probably want to do everything within your power to stop your testosterone levels declining.
However, many people do not realize that their lifestyle can contribute to reducing those testosterone levels. This reduction can happen faster and sooner than they thought possible.
It is well documented that obesity can reduce testosterone levels. A study also notes that illicit drugs can reduce testosterone levels, as can smoking.
Furthermore, chronic endurance exercise, lack of sleep and the foods that we eat can also make a difference to hormone levels.
Luckily, there is evidence that shows that this can be reversed.
A 1989 study from the Journal of Mechanisms of Ageing and Development showed that resistance exercise (weightlifting) boosted testosterone.
This 1996 study showed that zinc was able to raise the testosterone levels of men who were deficient of the mineral.
And researchers discovered that those who got 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours also noted a higher level of testosterone than those who slept for just 5 hours.
What do testosterone boosters do?
Of those mentioned examples, the majority were regarding behavioural choices.
However, we briefly spoke about zinc. Zinc is a natural trace mineral found in the body which is required for a lot of enzymes to function correctly. It has a huge influence on the building blocks of life, your immune system, growth, and healing.
Nutrition could be considered a behavioral choice. However, whereas smoking, drinking and exercise may be considered a conscious choice (we know the risks and/or benefits of the actions to smoke, or to do more exercise), nutrition is more complex.
We are taught from an early age that fruits, vegetables and meats such as chicken or fish are considered healthy, while fried foods, candies and soda are bad for your health.
But what most people will not know is exactly why those former foods are good, and why the latter are bad.
We eat to feel full, to provide the energy for our activities. But knowing what micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are required for optimal performance is a science; a science that people study at university to then help athletes win trophies.
It is this science, that utlilizes nutrition to help promote testosterone production by your Leydig cells in the testes, or ovaries in women.
How do testosterone boosters work?
Military Muscle is a testosterone booster which has been developed by qualified sports nutritionists (at post graduate level). They have identified the common micronutrient deficiencies that are responsible for testosterone decline.
Many of these deficiencies are due to the low nutritional value associated with highly processed foods typical of a Western diet.
To put it simply, Military Muscle plugs those nutrient deficiencies. It provides proven doses to prevent the decline of testosterone production and even boost it.
Furthermore, testosterone boosters may also include plant extracts that have demonstrated positive results in clinical studies. These extracts can improve hormonal and other aspects of your health.
For instance, ashwagandha has clinical evidence demonstrating many performance enhancing benefits such as increasing strength, boosting testosterone, and improving sleep.
Are all testosterone boosters the same?
There aren't any set standard for testosterone boosters, unfortunately this does mean that any supplement can be marketed as one, even if it doesn’t do anything at all.
Another issue is that many manufacturers of supplements sell an ‘off the shelf formula’ known as private label supplements whereby anyone can buy a batch and just have their label and branding stuck on it for quick re-sale.
This leads to many identical products available for sale on places such as Amazon. Unfortunately, these formulas and products are not tested, nor are they developed by professional sports nutritionists.
Military Muscle on the other hand is and has been developed alongside athletes and soldiers.
Therefore, it is very important to do your research, investigate the company and who is behind the product.
Any genuine company will have links to reputable external sources providing evidence why each ingredient has been selected and those doses.
It is also key to understand just how open and transparent they are being as well. Many companies hide their doses behind a veil known as ‘proprietary blend’
What are the risks of some test boosters?
Because of the differences between products, buying a supplement that is labelled as a testosterone booster does open you up to a certain element of risk.
What may be found in one product can be wildly different to what’s contained in another, even though they are both marketed as the same thing.
This means that what is in the supplement you choose could contain banned substances. These are substances that can be dangerous. If you are lucky, it may just contain just a lot of cheap filler.
Do your research
Again, when choosing a product, it is imperative that you look at what is on the ingredients list (sometimes known as the supplement facts label). Also look up the doses and any links to studies that prove their effectiveness.
Also look at customer reviews, the most genuine reviews are available on Trustpilot because they use customer data – when a customer pays for the goods an email is sent to them requesting a review.
Are testosterone boosters like steroids?
This is often how testosterone boosters become misunderstood.
Steroids are very different.
The National Health Service of the United Kingdom describes steroids as manufactured drugs that mimic the male hormone which is testosterone.
The difference between anabolic steroids and a natural testosterone booster is that a steroid is a synthetic, manufactured product which mimics testosterone.
Whereas a test booster helps your body produce more of its own testosterone by fulfilling the endocrinological systems nutritional needs.
Are steroids banned in the military?
The World Anti-Doping Agency lists them as being ‘prohibited for use at all times’ by athletes.
Furthermore, the US military also ban steroids for use without a prescription and cites the reasons for the ban because of the side effects which can include:
- Impaired judgment
This stance is also echoed by the British Army who classify anabolic steroids alongside recreational drugs and using them can affect the users health and lead to social problems.
Canadia & Australia
The Canadian Forces also re-iterate that anabolic steroids are a controlled substance and the Australian Army also follow suit by prohibiting the use of any drugs that are considered ‘performance enhancing’.
US Army survey
However, even though steroids are banned, a survey amongst US Army Rangers revealed that 25% used illegal steroids.
Conversely, a reputable natural testosterone booster will not include any trace of anabolic steroids or any other performance enhancing drug.
What’s in a T-Booster?
Natural testosterone boosters should only contain those identified micronutrients which have demonstrated their effectiveness at enhancing hormone production.
This can also include extracts and other amino acids that are legal and of benefit to the body for recovery.
T-booster pros and cons
As with everything, there’s bound to be some pros and cons for the user.
These can vary as different people have different requirements, priorities or may react differently to something.
However, we shall list a few of the more obvious attributes and negative points associated with an effective supplement:
- Fill nutrient deficiencies associated with a western diet
- Elevate testosterone production
- Improve recovery
- Increase libido
- Improve sleep
- Reduce fat
- Increase strength
- Reduce inflammation
- Work best for those who have arduous training regimes
- Not everyone will get the same results
- Constant and consistent use required
Is there a testosterone booster that actually works?
The main issue that we have addressed is that there isn’t a set standard for a T-booster supplement.
That means two products even though they are both called a testosterone booster may have hugely different ingredients and doses.
Two testosterone boosters
Let’s look at the comparison below.
On the right we have Military Muscle, a supplement developed by qualified sports and performance nutritionists alongside athletes and soldiers.
On the left we have a generic test booster supplement found on Amazon which is categorized as a private label (off the shelf) formula with a label affixed to it.
This is one of many identical products that can be bought very cheaply, quickly, and then re-sold.
The first thing we will note is that for the private label product there’s also proprietary blend of the ingredients.
This means they have given the overall dose of those ingredients but haven’t broken it down in to the individual dose for each ingredient.
A key point to note is that the doses are as important as the ingredient itself. Legally, a proprietary blend can include just trace amounts of the listed ingredients and the rest can be cheap, ineffective filler.
Again, the overall low dose is a cause for concern, there’s only 2 capsules daily with a combined serving size of 1484mg which is too low for those ingredients.
Next up, let’s take a closer look at those ingredients:
Horny Goat Weed: There’s no human trials available that demonstrate it can increase testosterone, however, it may help overcome erectile dysfunction as per the animal model studies.
Tongkat Ali: Human trials show that tongkat ali is effect at increasing testosterone and reducing stress. However, a dose of 200mg daily is required, and we don’t know how much is being provided in this supplement.
Saw Palmetto: This is often used or marketed to help treat the effects of benign prostate hyperplasia, however, none of studies available have provided evidence that it works.
Orchic Substance: This is made from cattle testicles and therefore is marketed as a testosterone booster, however, there aren’t any studies available that confirm this claim.
Wild Yam: Again, another supplement that is marketed as a hormone regulator, however, there isn’t any strong evidence that it does anything.
Nettle Extract: This extract also known as urtica dioica is a great anti-inflammatory as per the research. A daily dose of 360mg has proven effective, but again, in this supplement we have no idea of the dose.
Boron: Often overlooked, or just not known about, but boron does have some great health benefits which do include helping to increase testosterone.
Furthermore, we cannot see whether the product is vegan friendly which will not be suitable for those on a plant-based diet.
We also believe it is as important to find out who the company is behind the product, we did some digging and found very little, just a PO Box address in Georgia and that was it, no names, no team, or any contact details. These are all red flags.
So, overall, this is a product that is on the market and clearly has been formulated with very little research, consequently this will not be effective. Yet, the marketing states that it is an 'extreme testosterone booster' providing maximum strength, stamina and endurance.
If you do a bit more research, you will note other products on Amazon have the same formulation and dose.
Let’s look at Military Muscle testosterone booster
For a start we can see that each individual ingredient is listed with the exact dose, this means you can cross reference the studies and known that the doses are specific to positive outcomes under clinical trials.
You’ll also note the large overall daily dose which includes 6 vegan friendly capsules. This large dose is much higher than many other test boosters on the market.
Military Muscle also contains 11 ingredients, if you head over to the ingredients page you will see each one is listed, and the proven benefits are outlined with links to external studies.
These are the nutrients that are most noted as being low in athletes and other persons that have arduous training schedules, such as soldiers, yet are often overlooked.
We can also see the company behind Military Muscle and the people, who they are and where they are based. In addition, we also know that the product is either produced within the US or UK to a host of certified practices.
Another key feature is the Trustpilot reviews. These reviews are verified from buying customers which have their names placed alongside and you can also see other reviews of products and services they have used. That means they are traceable and genuine.
It’s also worth checking to see whether people have written a testimonial and allowed the company to place a photo of them on the website. If they have, you can be confident that it is a trustworthy company and an effective product.
Military Muscle offers all of this and even a 90-day money back guarantee, furthermore, proving that their product is effective.
No banned substances
You can also be confident that the ingredients are safe to use and aren’t banned by the military.
Take note of online review sites, many upload reviews to the highest commission, that means if a supplement company offers commission for every sale which comes from that site.
As a consequence, the site owner is more likely to give the product a good review to earn more money. If this is the case the website should display a disclaimer stating, they receive affiliate payments.
The use of a natural testosterone booster in the military is permitted if the ingredients are not banned. The real issue with testosterone boosters isn’t the name, but what is included in some of them.
As we have discussed, there isn’t a set standard for t-boosters, so it is down to the consumer to check that what they are buying is safe and without side-effects. Alternatively, you can buy the product developed by a soldier and used by soldiers all over the world.