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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
June 15, 2023
Testosterone is a hormone that plays a crucial role in men's overall health, including everything from maintaining bone and muscle mass to regulating sex drive and mood.
But by the time you reach 30, your testosterone levels decline by roughly 1% yearly, devastating your fitness goals and well-being. Fortunately, you don't need to resign yourself to having low testosterone for the majority of your adult life. There are multiple all-natural substances that can boost your testosterone.
One substance that has been touted to increase testosterone levels is maca root.
Maca is a herbaceous plant derived from the root of Peruvian ginseng and is related to the broccoli family. It's been used in food and medicine for thousands of years, but how effective is it for testosterone?
In this article, we will explore if maca increases testosterone and the best ways to use it for optimal results.
Table of Contents:
Maca is commonly found as an ingredient in testosterone boosters, which raises the question: Does maca increase testosterone production? The relationship between maca and testosterone is complex and unclear, but several benefits suggest a positive correlation.
One study tested the relationship between maca and libido by measuring sexual desire after four, eight, and twelve weeks. After eight weeks, they found that the subjects who took maca showed significant improvement in sexual desire, but their serum testosterone levels remained the same. They concluded that maca has an independent effect on sexual desire unrelated to testosterone levels1.
Another positive effect that maca has related to testosterone is improving sexual function and male fertility. One study used men with mild oligozoospermia (low sperm count) or mild asthenozoospermia (reduced sperm motility). One group was given two grams of maca daily for twelve weeks, while the other received a placebo.
The maca group showed significant improvements in seminal concentration. However, there was no change in sperm volume or sperm motility2. This shows that maca can potentially improve fertility, but there is a need for more research. While this study did not show improvements in motility, there have been others that were successful.
One study tested a range of semen parameters on nine men taking 1,500-3,000 mg over four months. They found increases in seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculation, motile sperm count, and sperm motility3.
The first positive results to find maca directly produce testosterone came in a 2015 mice study. After six weeks of giving mice maca extract, the researchers found a significant increase in the serum testosterone produced by Leydig cells. They concluded that maca helped increase testosterone levels in mice by stimulating Leydig cells4.
There is a need for more conclusive human trials because maca clearly shows positive effects on testosterone-related issues such as sexual health, libido, and sperm count.
As maca commonly comes in colors like yellow, red, and black, figuring out which color to use can be slightly confusing. Let's talk about the differences to help you choose the best option.
Black maca is the rarest type of maca, but it contains the most antioxidants, making it great for overall health and protecting the body from free radical damage. Black maca is sometimes called "men maca root" because it has been shown to improve semen quality, increase sperm count, sperm motility, and libido. This fact has led many to the consensus that black maca is better suited for men, while red maca is better for women.
Black maca has also been shown to help control blood sugar levels, vital for maintaining overall health. Other benefits of black maca include improved energy, bone strength, bone density, and memory.
Red maca is actually more effective when it comes to preventing bone loss for both sexes, but it's primarily used by women. That's likely because its been shown to help balance hormones, especially for menopausal and postmenopausal women. It also helps with the psychological symptoms of hormone imbalance, including depression and anxiety.
Research shows red maca is more effective than black maca at increasing energy, although both work. Men should primarily consider red maca for prostate health as the polyphenols in red maca can reduce prostate size.
Overall, black maca is the best option for men and boosting testosterone, red maca is best for women, and yellow maca (the most common form) is best for casual daily use for anyone.
Maca can be found in four forms:
Raw maca powder is made by sun-drying the root and grinding it into powder. Its versatility is what makes it the most popular and common form. Maca root powder can easily be mixed into any drink, shake, or food, and some people use it as a flour replacement for cooking.
Although a powder absorbs faster than capsule form and is less expensive, some people complain about the earthy taste and prefer capsules. In addition to masking the taste, maca pill capsules are easier to measure serving size and take on the road.
Gelatinized maca powder undergoes a gelatinization process to make it healthier and better to consume. Gelatinization is when maca root is heated and pressurized to remove the starch. By removing the starch, the maca becomes nearly five times as concentrated, making it easier to digest and removing some of the bitter taste.
Unfortunately, this process does remove some nutrients, like vitamin C, but the benefits far outweigh this. The most significant difference between raw maca powder and gelatinized maca is the removal of starch.
Finally, there's maca extract, which has a higher concentration of nutrients than maca powder.
To get maca extract, they take regular maca root powder and put it through a chemical extraction process to take out the purest, most potent form. This process typically makes it 20-40 times more potent Since it produces the strongest result., doctors prefer it, but it should be used cautiously and ideally only for the most severe issues.
Maca powder has a broader range of benefits since it contains all its natural starch and enzymes. Sure, you might have to consume more of it than a concentrated version, but it can be worth it.
The most common dosage of maca is between 1,500 and 3,000 mg daily. All of the studies that tested maca used doses of 1,500 or 3,000 mg. Start at a lower dose of 1,500 and, if you aren't satisfied with the results, work up to 3,000 mg.
It's best to speak with a doctor or healthcare professional to find an ideal dosage, however, before starting maca.
Based on user reviews and the results of various studies we looked at, it typically takes six to twelve weeks to experience positive results, with most experiencing these after eight weeks.
Maca is often combined with other ingredients and added to testosterone boosters. These products containing maca and other testosterone-boosting ingredients work even faster, usually around four weeks.
Interested in checking out some of the most popular maca products? Take a look at our article on the 7 Best Maca Root Supplements. My top maca recommendation is NaturalLife Labs Maca, which delivers pure organic Maca powder from red, yellow, and black maca root in each serving.
Still unsure if maca is best for you? Take a look at these great benefits.
Besides maca, several common herbs, vitamins, and minerals are commonly found in testosterone-boosting supplements. For more information on the most popular T-boosting ingredients, check out our article on the 8 Best Supplements to Increase Testosterone Naturally.
Ashwagandha is very similar to maca, as both are natural herbs that are adaptogenic and help with stress.
Ashwagandha and maca both improve energy levels, physical performance, and fertility. Ashwagandha has been shown to help improve fertility by reducing stress, while maca helps by balancing hormones. When examining ashwagandha and testosterone, ashwagandha is more effective at increasing strength and testosterone levels, while maca is better for libido and cognitive function.
Both are commonly found in testosterone boosters and should be used together for maximum benefits. You can also head to our article on the 7 Best Ashwagandha Supplements to learn more about this ingredient.
Maca is often called Peruvian ginseng, which is similar to American or Asian ginseng. Ginseng, like ashwagandha and maca, is an adaptogen, which means they help the body adapt to stress. Ginseng and maca are loaded with antioxidants, and both improve energy levels.
Several studies suggest ginseng can boost testosterone levels, albeit indirectly. Maca is directed more toward people looking for improvements in libido or energy levels, while ginseng is slightly better for improving physical performance and possibly increasing testosterone levels.
When examining fenugreek and testosterone, fenugreek is another herb that has been shown to help increase testosterone levels. Fenugreek contains an active ingredient called furostanolic saponin, which is proven to increase strength and testosterone levels.
The main similarity between fenugreek and maca is that both improve libido. While health food stores mainly add maca to testosterone boosters for libido and energy, fenugreek is better overall for increasing testosterone and maximizing strength gains.
When your goal is to increase testosterone, finding a great testosterone booster that contains more than 1 T-boosting ingredient is your best bet. For example, a great product that contains ginseng, fenugreek, and maca is TestoFuel, a testosterone booster that improves your body's ability to naturally create testosterone. You can learn even more about this T booster in our TestoFuel Review.
TestoPrime is another great testosterone booster that contains ashwagandha and fenugreek, along with many other research-backed ingredients that work together to prevent the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
While we gave you the breakdown on the different types of maca, these are some of the most common questions related to maca.
Taking maca does not necessarily increase testosterone in females but helps balance the hormones. This is especially useful for menopausal and postmenopausal women, as it helps reduce side effects of hormonal imbalance, such as anxiety and depression.
No, maca does not increase estrogen in males. Males have very little estrogen compared to testosterone, but maca can help balance all hormone levels.
Yes, taking maca root can help build muscle mass indirectly. Maca root is packed with antioxidants and amino acids that are the building blocks for muscle, so increasing these helps to build muscle.
While taking maca supplements does not directly help with weight loss, it's beneficial if you are trying to lose weight. Maca is often used to increase energy and endurance, which can help combat low energy levels often associated with weight loss. It can also help control blood sugar levels, which helps maintain a healthy weight.
Yes, maca can help increase muscle size. Studies have shown that maca can help promote skeletal muscle hypertrophy and differentiation5.
Yes. One of the most desired benefits of maca root is its ability to boost libido. Maca can help increase libido in both men and women, and improve sexual desire.
Maca root will only stay in your system for a few days or a week. The active compounds pass through our bodies rather quickly without building up.
Maca is perfectly safe to take every day long term. You will help your overall health, including blood pressure, and improve your libido, among other benefits.
Yes, maca root is safe for men. Black maca is the best type for men, as it has the most benefits related to male issues.
In conclusion, there has not been any research that shows a direct link between maca supplementation and increased testosterone levels, but there are several potential health benefits that can indirectly help.
Maca is often included in testosterone boosters for its ability to improve energy levels, increase libido, and its ability to help promote muscle growth. While studies have shown a link to increased testosterone in rats, there is a need for more research on maca and testosterone levels.
However, maca supplements can be great to use independently to boost libido, energy levels, and overall mood. To increase testosterone and gain muscle, try a testosterone booster containing maca and some of the other natural ingredients we discussed (like ashwagandha and fenugreek) to maximize benefits.
Interested in learning more about the most effective testosterone boosters? Check out our article on the 7 Best Testosterone Booster Supplements! Or, for those interested in looking at our favorite maca products, head to our article on the 7 Best Maca Root Supplements!
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