Do spicy foods raise testosterone levels? That was the conclusion of many websites after reviewing a recent study, but upon taking a look at the investigation, I noticed some items that I think people missed. So, what I want to do is review the study on spicy foods and testosterone, and give you some insights that others didn't notice when they discussed this issue. After you're done with this also read if strength first or cardio first raise testosterone levels.
What Is The Study?
The study of spicy foods and testosterone is called Some like it hot: Testosterone predicts laboratory eating behavior of spicy food. It’s a study published in the peer reviewed journal called, Physiology and Behavior. It’s a peer reviewed study, so that is good. This means the study was reviewed by other scientists – the peers – before it was published in the journal. Peer reviewed investigations are the best kind of research.
How Did The Study Work?
This investigation involved 144 men between 18-44 years of age, living in France. The men were asked to rate their preferences for spicy foods (do they like foods spicy or not). Then the scientists gave the men mashed potatoes and measured how much hot pepper sauce men added to the potatoes (or salt, used as a control substance) and had them rate how spicy the food tasted.
The scientists compared the guys taste for spicy foods to their testosterone levels.
These researchers saw a correlation between a preference for enjoying spicy foods and testosterone levels. In other words, men who had higher testosterone levels, preferred spicy foods more than the guys with lower testosterone levels.
No association was seen for having a taste for salty foods and testosterone levels.
Do Spicy Foods Raise Testosterone?
When I investigated this study I noticed that several websites seemed to give people the impression that eating spicy foods –or foods that contain capsicum – might raise testosterone levels.
But, this is not what the study found.
Rather, the researchers only noticed a correlation between enjoying spicy foods and having higher testosterone levels.
In other words, men who had higher testosterone levels, preferred spicy foods.
This does not mean that eating spicy foods will raise testosterone levels.
Do you see the difference?
Things that are connected by correlations do not necessarily mean they are directly related to each other.
It is quite possible that enjoying hot/spicy foods and having higher testosterone levels may just be a fluke and not related at all.
Unfortunately, this study did not measure testosterone levels before and after eating spicy foods. This would have been a much better study in my opinion.
I did notice one potential flaw with the investigation. The study notes that when men entered the lab, they were greeted by a 25 year old host. The researchers do not say if this person was male or female or make any mention on the person’s attractiveness.
If this greeter was an attractive woman, this may have influenced the results. Some research has noted that testosterone levels increase significantly after only a 5 minute conversation with an attractive women. This may or may not be a problem study. I can’t know either way.
Capsicum and Testosterone
Capsicum is the ingredient in chili peppers that makes it hot and spicy and burn the tongue. These days it’s often found in weight loss supplements because of hopes that it might raise metabolism.
As someone who investigates supplements , I predict that testosterone boosters and male enhancement supplements will soon contain capsicum, based on this study. It will probably also be added to weight loss supplements “for men” for the same reason. But, will this work? Right now, I don’t think anyone knows.
I say this because:
1. This present study did not measure testosterone levels before and after eating spicy foods.
2. When I searched the national library of medicine for “capsicum testosterone” I didn’t see any studies showing that capsicum raised this hormone – other than a mouse study. Nobody seems to have taken the time to look at this in people yet. I’m sure eventually this will change.
Raising Testosterone Naturally
Before deciding if a raise in testosterone is needed, men need to know what their levels are right now. A simple blood test will do tell this. The normal range for adult men is 300-1000 mcg/ml. Until this is known, I say don’t buy anything because unless you know what the testosterone level is now, you really will have no way of knowing if a supplement really works or not.
There are many supplements out there that tout that they can help men with Low T – or men who think they have it. Most of these supplements contain herbs such as:
Others contain amino acids such as: arginine, ornithine, lysine and alpha ketogluterate
I don’t hold out much hope for any of these. The research is iffy at best for most of them.
So What Raises Testosterone?
I do think there are other natural things that can raise testosterone. They include:
- Weight loss
When it comes to weight loss, even a 5-10 pound decrease in body weight can raise testosterone. As for exercise, most people only think about strength training as important but this is not true. Both aerobic and strength training can elevate this hormone. While somewhat controversial, some studies noticed that performing cardio BEFORE strength training caused testosterone levels to stay higher for a longer period of time.
Here is my review of those exercise studies studies
Do Spicy Foods Work?
I’m not convinced that spicy foods raise testosterone. Without better proof, I'm inclined to think this observation may just be a coincidence. Those who say hot, spicy foods or capsicum raise this hormone likely didn’t read the study, don’t understand what the study, or are just trying to make a fast buck by playing on men’s desires and fears of having Low T.
All that said, the best advice I can give men is don’t put your hopes in eating spicy foods and hope it helps. Instead go to your doctor and get your testosterone levels tested. Let's see if it really is low. I'd bet most guys have not done this but it can be one of the best first steps we men can do.
Robert James says
This is fascinating. I noticed my workout supplement contains pepper extract. Do you think its there to raise testosterone?
Hi Robert, my guess is your pre workout contains black pepper (piperine). Black pepper is popular in supplements because it can increase the absorption of many things its associated with. I doubt if the black pepper is there to boost testosterone but anything is possible. for what its worth, my money is on improved absorption 🙂