Today we answer the age-old question - does creatine increase testosterone?
Since nearly 100% of gym-goers that take creatine monohydrate experience an increase in testosterone levels, many have attributed this spike to creatine.
However, the truth lies elsewhere.
Let's find it.
Does Taking Creatine Raise Your Testosterone Levels?
No, creatine does not raise your testosterone levels directly.
Creatine increases testosterone only when coupled with healthy lifestyle practices, proper sleep, and rigorous resistance training. And even then - the increased testosterone is short-lived.
The Science Behind The Creatine & Testosterone Myth
Don’t just take our word for it. Let’s look at the data.
Over the years, there have been numerous studies on testosterone production, as noted below. From how it affects us to how we affect it.
Thankfully, about a dozen of these have directly studied the effect of creatine supplementation on testosterone, and the results, while unfortunate for some, are pretty one-sided.
Out of all of them, only two of them showcased a “statistically significant increase” in testosterone production.
So, 20 grams of creatine per day did manage to raise testosterone levels in young adults with normal levels of testosterone.
One study saw an increase of 57 ng/dL and the other 150 ng/dL.
This is promising because the study wasn't conducted on couch potatoes with low testosterone levels that would've benefited from exercise alone. More research is necessary to understand how creatine works in that scenario.
There was another RTC conducted utilizing week long loading period (25g/day) followed by the maintenance dose of creatine that showed a 12 ng/dL increase in dihydrotestosterone (an active form of testosterone, or better yet, active androgen derived from testosterone, often associated with male pattern baldness).
So, the fact that creatine could be responsible for converting testosterone into DHT could be one of the reasons why some believe that creatine may cause hair loss.
Be that as it may, all the other studies overwhelmingly concluded that creatine cannot raise testosterone levels - total, DHT, or free testosterone.
Okay, but here's the thing...
Even if all studies noticed the same minor increase, 60-150 ng/dL is nowhere near enough to profoundly affect your physique, endurance, mood, libido, brain function, etc.
The average test range for men is 300-1000 ng/dL, and its concentration varies greatly depending on the time of day.
You could very well be at 650 in the morning and drop below 300 in the evening and feel pretty much the same.
Also, if you need more reassurance, know that your average bodybuilder maintains his testosterone levels at around 3,500-4000 ng/dL to preserve all that lean muscle mass.
So, yeah, 5 grams of creatine will not skyrocket your testosterone.
Can Creatine Lower Testosterone In The Body?
Data suggests that creatine cannot lower testosterone in the body.
In fact, most studies have shown that oral supplementation of creatine could not reduce or increase free testosterone or DHT concentrations when compared to a control group or placebo group.
Also, testosterone production is regulated by the pituitary gland (which controls testicular activity), and there’s no evidence suggesting that creatine can profoundly affect pituitary gland activity.
So, if you're worried about low testosterone due to taking creatine supplements - you shouldn’t be.
Even if you (for whatever reason) don't trust the data, the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, or just years of research and medical history - how about you trust me?
I've used creatine for a decade at this point, and my test is UNAFFECTED.
Related Article - Does Creatine Affect You Sexually? (Benefits & Side Effects)
Are Creatine and Testosterone Connected?
Creatine and testosterone are connected, but probably not in the way some would like you to believe.
As we've already established, there seems to be a connection between creatine supplements and hormones. In fact, all other nutritional supplements (amino acids, proteins, vitamins, nootropics, stimulants, etc.) are examined for their effects on our hormones.
Now, to fully understand this connection, we have to examine how creatine works.
Most people “know” that creatine stores water in the muscle, boosts energy, helps with recovery, and has an overall positive effect on your physical activity.
What many don’t know is that creatine helps increase energy production. Here’s how that works:
In layman’s terms, just like a pre-workout, creatine helps fuel your workouts, so you can lift heavy. And when you lift heavier weights, your body’s ability to produce testosterone increases, which greatly benefits those muscle gains.
So, creatine supplementation is indirectly connected to testosterone.
But there’s another hormone often associated with muscle growth - IGF-1.
IGF-1, or Insulin-like growth factor 1, also called somatomedin, is a hormone that manages the effects of the growth hormone in our body. Together, growth hormone and IGF-1 help support bone and tissue development.
But what IGF-1 also does is promote muscle hypertrophy, which is accidentally kind of the same thing creatine does.
Both creatine and IGF-1 blunt the concentration and the effects of myostatin - a growth inhibitor that prevents you from gaining additional muscle mass. In doing so, they’re effectively helping you achieve muscle hypertrophy.
The funny thing is, while both of them do the “same” thing for your muscles, IGF-1 is, again, in layman’s terms, more effective than creatine and inhibiting the catabolic effects of myostatin.
What a creatine supplement does is increase the concentration of IGF-1 in the muscles.
Common Questions About Creatine and Testosterone
No, creatine does not boost testosterone levels in females or males. In fact, there aren’t any natural supplements that boost testosterone to levels where you would experience significant gain in muscle mass or even body weight.
A great way to increase testosterone in males is to get sufficient sleep, work out, eat clean and healthily, reduce stress, and figure out whether a medical condition is lowering your test levels.
Testosterone replacement therapy or hormone replacement therapy is the most effective way to increase your testosterone levels. Keep in mind that this must be done properly, under medical supervision at all times, as hormones can be very detrimental despite all their benefits.
There isn’t a surefire way to know if your testosterone is low. However, if you’re experiencing sexual health issues (ED, loss of sex drive), sudden weight gain, loss of pubic hair, or shrinking testicles, that may be a sign that your test is low.
Creatine is very safe to take. Scientific data suggest that it has little to no side effects associated with it. Despite anecdotal evidence of it affecting kidney or liver functions, this natural substance is one of the safest supplements in sports nutrition. It improves your ability to grow muscles, enhances recovery and endurance, gives you more energy, improves brain function, has anti-inflammatory effects, etc.
So, can creatine increase testosterone? No. While creatine is one of the most popular supplements on the market, it does not directly or profoundly affect testosterone.
Will it help with building muscle? Yes!
Will it help your body produce more energy? Yes!
Will it improve muscle strength and athletic performance? Yes, and yes!
Creatine benefits you in numerous ways - that’s a fact.
However, if your goal is high testosterone, improved sex drive, or to gain an ungodly amount of lean muscle mass gains, you’ll have to seek an answer in a performance-enhancing drug other than creatine.