Body-building supplements are pretty much the talk of the town these days, especially among fitness enthusiasts. You might have come across well-known athletes gushing certain supplements that lend them a strong helping hand in their daily gym regimen. Protein supplements, arguably one of the household names in terms of gym supplements, are the favorite among young gym enthusiasts who love raving about them to all their buddies.
All gym supplements are basically a combination of vitamins, amino acids, and other substances intended to improve one’s workout and training regimen. Undoubtedly, these offer numerous benefits to the human body as it supplies crucial nutrients for the body in a bid to develop muscles upon being subjected to a substantiate amount of strain in the form of training. On the flip side, these supplements also have side effects of their own. Are the side effects too substantial? Not necessarily. Have there been rumors sparked on the internet and social media questioning if gym supplements affect an individual sexually? Well, yes. But are these true and have solid backing? Let’s find out, shall we:
The science behind Gym Supplements
Before surging deep into finding answers to whether gym supplements affect the sexual balance of men, it is important to be schooled about the science behind the functionality of these supplements. One of the striking names that always pop out when we talk about gym supplements is whey protein. Whey protein is ideal for post-workout recovery because it contains high levels of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and promotes a spike in blood insulin levels. Post-workout insulin increases glycogen and nutrient transport into fatigued muscle, promoting faster and greater recovery. Whey protein is quickly absorbed by the body, making it a great choice for recovery after exercise. Its high leucine content stimulates the synthesis of muscle proteins, which aids in tissue growth and repair.
There are additional bodybuilding supplements besides whey protein that are designed to improve performance. Creatine, one of the most sought-after pre-workout supplements, boosts our phosphocreatine stores, allowing you to generate more ATP energy to power your muscles during high-intensity exercise. Creatine also increases the amount of water in your muscle cells, causing a cell volumization effect that aids in muscle growth. A lot of gym supplements supply vital components like beta-alanine and (BCAAs). Beta-alanine lessens fatigue and increases endurance by assisting in the buffering of lactic acid buildup in muscles. BCAAs are essential for the synthesis of muscle protein and lessen exercise-induced muscle damage, which will speed up recovery.
Do gym supplements have the potential to affect sexual balance?
There are certain substances present in some of the common gym supplements that can affect the otherwise normal sexual cycle of a man. The consequences can be a hindered sex drive or even an increased sex drive.
Constituents in whey protein
Certain constituents of whey protein have the potential to significantly increase a person's sexual capacity and desire. Arginine, which functions similarly to Viagra by enhancing blood flow, including to the penis, and L-Tyrosine, which tends to boost sexual drive, are two key components of whey protein that many might be aware of.
The amino acid L-Tyrosine raises the brain's concentrations of dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel good and has aphrodisiac properties. It also increases blood pressure and metabolism. While it is only present in traces in a typical whey protein powder, repetitive and excessive usage can affect the sex drive.
Constituents in Pre-workout supplements
Pre-workout supplements have the potential to drastically arouse or degrade an individual’s sexual performance. Vasodilators like L-arginine or citrulline malate, which are present in some pre-workout supplements, encourage increased blood flow to the muscles during exercise. They might also have an impact on blood flow to the genital area and other parts of the body. High doses of stimulants can sometimes cause excessive vasoconstriction, i.e. narrowing of blood vessels. This in turn can have an adverse effect on sexual function by decreasing blood flow to the penis and possibly lowering arousal or performance.
On the flip side, pre-workout supplements commonly include stimulants, like caffeine, which can boost energy and reduce fatigue. This increase in energy contributes to an increased sex drive. Pre-workout supplement use, especially when prolonged and excessive, can end up upsetting the hormonal balance and endocrine system, despite this being rare. The disruption might indirectly affect libido, and sexual function, and can lead to a sudden rise in sex drive.
Does high protein affect testosterone levels in men?
Excess protein consumption, according to research, can lower testosterone levels slightly. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology on the effects of high protein intake provides solid evidence to support the statement. To go with this, a small study conducted by the University of Worcester also discovered that high-protein consumption in the diet potentially lowers testosterone levels in men.
Men are likely to have difficulty achieving an erection before sex or having spontaneous erections, such as during sleep, if they have low testosterone. A significant drop in testosterone can result in decreased libido. A decrease in sexual desire is characterized by low libido which also leads to distress sometimes.
Things to be mindful about to fend off any consequences
The following are two important suggestions associated with the intake of gym supplements to wave off any real threat of potential effect on sexual health:
Amount of consumption
While protein is necessary for the body, consuming an excessive amount for an extended period can pose side effects to the body both functionally and sexually because it can disturb the hormonal balance.
An adult is recommended to stick to consuming 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight, or 0.36 g per pound, according to the Dietary Reference Intake report for macronutrients. That means the average healthy man should consume 56 g of protein per day. Sticking to the recommended daily protein intake through food and supplements ensures that the side effects posed otherwise do not really come into effect too much.
Never compromise on quality
Prioritizing quality in gym supplements is critical for safety and efficacy. Protein powder quality and purity can vary between brands and manufacturers. Some lower-quality products may be contaminated with harmful substances that can pose a risk to sexual health or have inaccurate protein content labeling. To ensure quality and safety, choose reputable brands and look for third-party testing certifications.
The reality is that there is no definite answer to the question “Do gym supplements affect a man sexually?”. That said, there is enough to suggest that there are substances in gym supplements that can potentially affect the sexual balance of a man in the long run or when consumed in ill-advised amounts.
Excessive use or high doses of pre-workout supplements, particularly those containing stimulants, can result in side effects such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and hormonal imbalances. These factors can have an indirect impact on sexual function. It is critical to use pre-workout supplements responsibly and under recommended dosages.
Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to ensure that the supplements you choose are appropriate for your specific goals and needs. Controlled intake of gym supplements combined with strength training, on the other hand, can ensure that there is no substantial drop in testosterone levels in active people.
Article by: Samuel Joshua
Edited by: Puneet Kapani