Performance Lab Sport T+: A Testosterone Upgrade?

Performance Lab Sport T+ Summary: A Testosterone Upgrade?

I’m old enough to remember when it was legal to boost testosterone by simply purchasing testosterone precursors such as androstenediol on the shelves of the local supplement store.  I remember how easy it was to design a supplement program to optimize testosterone.  

Post-regulation of T precursors, supplement companies have had to reach far and wide to identify other natural ingredients that impart some effect on the testosterone pathway.  Has there been a supplement combo that can match the effectiveness of the “andro” days? 

Performance Lab is certainly trying. 

Performance Lab’s T+ supplement is, per the company’s website,  “a multi-pathway T support for peak athletic performance + masculine health” and “Ultramodern T upgrade for male muscle, vigor, and virility”.

So I decided to put this formula to the test, subjectively and objectively, by taking the prescribed dose (2 caps per day) for 30 days.  Subjective observations were made throughout the month-long trial period, as well as before and after blood analysis of male hormone markers. 

Is this formula a “testosterone upgrade”, as the company claims it is? 

Let’s find out. 

 

Pros:

  • Supports & Maintains Testosterone through multiple pathways.
  • The chosen ingredients are supported by science.
  • Does not need to be cycled.

Cons:

  • Relatively pricey.

 

Conclusion: T+ has positive benefits for virility and potentially other measures of testosterone enhancement. 

 

Performance Lab Sport T+ Summary: Is it a Testosterone Upgrade?

 

Performance Lab® SPORT - Made to perform

 

My Experience Taking T+:

As described above, I took the recommended 2 caps per day for 30 days.  During the trial period, I followed a consistent diet and exercise routine and avoided any significant changes in lifestyle factors in the interest of minimizing external influence hormone signaling and production. 

For baseline reference, I'm Joe, I'm a 42 YO male who’s diet & exercise program is geared towards health optimization and longevity. 

I run 3-4 days per week, with most sessions being 4-mile jogs @ 7:30/mile pace.  One session per week is high intensity sprinting: 8 “telephone pole” sprints at 95% maximal effort with plenty of rest between sprints. 1 day a week is dedicated to resistance training, where I focus 30 minutes on deadlift, squat, or bench plus a couple of complimentary lifts. 

Diet is low carb, no sugar with occasional 24-36hr fasts. My program is not quite keto, as total carbohydrate intake is usually 50 grams per day. No fasting was performed during the T+ trial period. 

I’ve divided my experience with T+ into two sections, the objective lab data, and subjective observations. Let’s start with the subjective section.

 

My Subjective Experience Taking This Testosterone Booster

Prior to starting the supplement, I decided I was going to track 4 subjective criteria that are tied to testosterone levels in males.  These include libido, mental focus, emotional lability, and strength/endurance. 

I would make a mental note of each factor on a daily basis and complete a subjective self-assessment on a weekly basis.  I used a 3-point rating scale where “2” represents neutral/no change, “1” represents a decrease and “3” represents an increase.

Here's the results:



Criteria

Baseline

Wk1

Wk2

Wk3

Wk4

Libido

2

3

3

2

2

Mental Focus

2

2

2

2

2

Emotional Lability

2

2

2

2

2

Strength Endurance

2

2

2

2

2

 

From a baseline perspective, I feel fortunate to have a normal functioning libido, pretty good mental focus, stable emotional lability, and decent strength/endurance for a guy my age.  

As you can see from the table above, not a whole lot changed in my four subjective criteria.  The most notable effect I experienced during the trial period was a relatively notable increase in libido during week 1 & 2.  By week three this libido artifact had waned back to my baseline.  I did not experience any noticeable change in my ability to focus, speed to anger or change in stress tolerance, or marked improvements in strength and endurance. 

Intrigued by the change in libido that spiked in week 1 & 2, I allowed my system to wash out for 7 days after the trial by discontinuing the supplement.  I then restarted the normal dose of the supplement to determine if that observation could be replicated.  Sure enough, after restarting the supplement I experienced a similar spike in libido.  

In summary, the only subjective change I experienced while taking T+ was an initial two-week spike in my libido that had diminished by weeks 3-4.  

 

Let’s switch gears to the lab data:

 

My Lab Testing Results With This T-Booster

I utilized the “Let's Get Checked” at home lab service to collect before and after samples. 

The “Before” sample was my baseline, taken the morning immediately prior to my first dose of the T+ supplement.  The “After” sample was taken the morning of the 31st day following completion of a 1-month supply of the product. The test performed was the “Male Hormone Advanced” package, including the biomarkers listed in the table below. 

What follows is my interpretation of the observed changes in the biomarkers.  I caution readers to keep in mind that n=1, which, as I trust you know, does not imply any degree of statistical significance.  

On the whole, each result for the biomarkers tested landed inside the laboratory’s reported reference ranges.  As such, baseline markers coming into the supplement trial were already in good shape.  

 

Biomarker

Before

After

Range

% change

Estradiol

38

20

0-42

-47%

Prolactin

8.5

9.2

2.6-13.1

8%

SHBG

46

46.3

11-80

0%

Free Androgen Index

49

43

14-130

-12%

Testosterone

608

530

259-850

-13%

 

There are myriad sources on the web where one can find thorough explanations of the physiological roles of each of the biomarkers assessed, so I’ll refrain from offering those here, aside from a brief comment on directionally which way a male interested in boosting T would want to see that go.

Estradiol is pretty straightforward, most men would prefer to see this at the lower end of the reference range.

My estradiol level dropped 47% from 38 pg/ml to 20 pg/ml.  On paper, that’s a big drop and certainly something that any male looking to boost testosterone would appreciate. It is possible that the luteolin contained in this formula contributed to this effect; more on this in the review of ingredients below.

Prolactin is a hormone that is primarily responsible for signaling milk production in females.  Its role in male health is presently uncertain and most men usually have only trace levels of the hormone. There was an 8% increase in prolactin levels. Unsure if this is just variability noise or some other factor driving that change.

Either way, there does not appear to be anything in the formula that has a direct impact on prolactin, nor was the 8% increase anything to be alarmed about, considering both measurements are within the normal range.

Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein that transports sex hormones around the body.  When the hormone is bound to SHBG, it cannot perform its programmed function. As such, lower levels are generally more desirable when boosting T, as this results in more “free” T, the form that does the heavy lifting for men. My results showed a 0% change in SHBG, despite there being at least one nutrient in the formula, boron, that has been shown to decrease SHBG levels. 

The free androgen index is a ratio of free testosterone to SHBG. The 12% drop experienced between baseline and treatment was driven exclusively by the change in testosterone, considering that my SHBG level did not fluctuate.

Speaking of testosterone… 

Obviously this is the marker of greatest interest. My results showed a 13% drop from baseline. Not exactly what one expects when using a testosterone-enhancing supplement. I am not discouraged by this outcome, however, as from a data analysis standpoint, one needs to recognize that n=1 is not a large enough sample size to draw significant conclusions.

I’ll elaborate on this thought in the section following the ingredient review.  Let’s switch gears to explore the science behind the formula.  

  

Scientific Review Of Ingredients

Below I've reviewed all ingredients in the Performance Lab T+ Testosterone Booster:

 

1. Vitamin D, 25 micrograms (mcg), 125% of Daily Value.

The impact of Vitamin D on testosterone has been pretty thoroughly studied with results generally supporting positive impacts on male testosterone levels, especially in those where both vitamin D levels as well as testosterone levels were considered low at baseline (1). 

Of interest, there is research showing that Vit D treatment has no effect on total testosterone levels in middle-aged healthy men with normal baseline T levels (2). This is where devilish details come back to bite.  For many T-boosting supplements, the target audience is healthy young-middle aged men who likely already have normal baseline T levels.   

Verdict: While many studies may show that Vitamin D has a positive impact on Testosterone, it likely requires that one already has low Vit D and low T if vitamin D supplementation works.

 

2. Vitamin K1 and K2, 25 mcg, 21% of Daily Value.

Vitamin K is often found in vitamin D supplements. This is because one of the primary roles of vitamin D is to facilitate calcium metabolism. In this process, vitamin K helps vitamin D do its job more effectively. 

What does this have to do with enhancing testosterone?  Well, I think the jury is still out on that.  A review of the scientific literature yielded little information on the role of vitamin K in testosterone production.  A single study performed in rats showed that vitamin K deficiency decreased T production and that administration of vitamin K reversed inflammation-induced T suppression in rats (3).

Not exactly a slam dunk here. 

Verdict: Vitamin K is often coadministered with Vitamin D to help with calcium metabolism and its effects on testosterone are unclear.

 

3. Magnesium, 25 mg, 6% of Daily Value. 

Research suggests that magnesium influences testosterone by no less than two indirect methods. 

Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein whose job is to attach to circulating hormones like testosterone.  When these two molecules are linked up, the hormone is not able to perform its normal signaling function. As such, higher levels of SHBG are undesirable to someone trying to raise testosterone. SHBG can also be attached to mineral cations like calcium, zinc, and magnesium.

Research shows that administering magnesium can “tie up” SHBG, leaving more free testosterone to go about its business (4).  

The second method by which magnesium exerts a positive effect on testosterone is an even more indirect method than what is described above. 

This pathway involves the immune system. High levels of inflammation secrete chemical messengers, called cytokines, that suppress testosterone production.  Research has shown that magnesium can modulate oxidative pathways that result in immune activation, thereby dampening the system inflammatory load (5).    

Verdict: Magnesium appears to have positive, indirect effects on testosterone maintenance, however, many positive outcomes are linked to older males who have experienced age-related T decline.

 

4. Zinc, 15 mg, 136% Daily Value

Zinc and testosterone have a long and well-studied history, with the discovery of the relationship between zinc deficiency and hypogonadism dating back to the 1960s (6).

Additional work has linked zinc as an important cofactor to enzymes responsible for the entire testosterone synthesis pathway. However, much like the other minerals discussed here, discovering an essential role for a mineral in a hormone synthesis pathway does not always translate to increase hormonal production when that mineral is supplemented. In many circumstances, the nutritional status of the individual plays a significant role in the effect of supplementation.  

A well designed 2007 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition explored the effect of zinc supplementation on various biomarkers, notably zinc and testosterone, in young, exercising men. The study concluded that the use of the zinc supplement had no significant impact on serum free and total testosterone levels. The authors went on to conclude that it is unlikely that individuals with balanced dietary zinc status will not benefit from zinc supplementation (7).

Verdict: Zinc’s role in testosterone synthesis & maintenance is well established, however, supplementing with this mineral in the absence of zinc deficiency is unlikely to lead to increased testosterone production. 

 

5. Boron, 3 mg.

Boron’s role in testosterone enhancement is intriguing and seemingly multifactorial. 

A thorough published review on its various effects have identified that boron increases free testosterone, decreases estradiol, and decreases inflammatory biomarkers, after only 1 week of supplementation (8).

Another study has shown that boron supplementation in healthy males led to a significant decrease in sex hormone-binding globulin, consequently resulting in higher levels of free testosterone (9). 

Verdict: Of the minerals purported to boost testosterone, boron appears to be the best-studied and most impactful in healthy, active males. 

 

6. KSM-66 Ashwagandha Extract (Withania somnifera, 5% withanolides) 300 mg.

Extracts of this Ayurvedic medicine herb have been promoted to have positive impacts on youthful vigor, muscle strength, and endurance.

A 2019 double-blind, placebo-controlled study in overweight men aged 40-70 years found a 14.7% increase in testosterone compared to placebo (10).  While the design of this study appears to be rock solid and the outcome favorable, there remain questions as to the impact this ingredient has on healthy, athletic males.  

A 2015 study did investigate the impact of this herb on athletic males and found that an 8-week trial resulted in significantly greater muscle size, reduction in exercise-induced muscle damage, significantly greater decrease in body fat, and significantly higher testosterone levels (11). 

Verdict: The body of literature on this herb is surprisingly robust and encouraging, suggesting that this ingredient should be a staple of any testosterone-enhancing supplement.

 

7. D-Aspartic Acid Calcium Chelate, 300 mg.

D-Aspartic Acid Calcium Chelate (DAACC) is an amino acid purported to enhance testosterone.

In my search for published literature exploring the effects of this supplement, I stumbled across systematic review that is arguably the most comprehensive synthesis of scientific information on DAACC to date. The authors state that results from 23 animal studies showed a positive effect on testosterone levels whereas results from 4 human studies were inconclusive (12). 

A 2015 study exploring the effects of relatively high doses of DAACC (3 grams/day & 6 grams/day) on resistance-trained men found no difference in serum T levels after 14 days of supplementation (13). 

Of interest, an online supplement seller (not the manufacturer of T+) promoting the use of D-Aspartic Acid for testosterone enhancement references a handful of weak studies but then goes on to state “for active men, the increase in testosterone levels is not significant”.

Verdict: DAACC appears to be an effective T enhancer in animals, but the evidence for boosting T in active males is insufficient.   

 

8. Mucuna Pruriens Extract (15% levodopa), 150 mg.

Mucuna Pruriens is an herb that contains the dopamine precursor, levodopa.

The 150mg dose at 15% standardization provides a meaningful amount of levodopa.  It appears that the administration of a dopamine precursor leads to increased dopamine production, which then positively influences the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis by upregulating the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and consequently testosterone. 

Treatment with the supplement resulted in increases in T, LH, and dopamine in infertile males (14). A fairly robust body of knowledge has explored the impacts of mucuna on androgenic processes in rat models and it appears to have significantly positive effects, however, the number of studies replicating these findings in athletic males is small, with the bulk of evidence focusing on male fertility (15).

Verdict: promising ingredient that has some studies suggesting benefits. Dose is good.

 

9. Luteolin (from orange extract), 30 mg.

Luteolin is a flavonoid molecule with documented ability to inhibit the estrogen synthesis enzyme aromatase.  Much of the work on this nutrient has focused on its potential use in slowing down estrogen-dependent cancer cell proliferation (16; 17). 

This is encouraging work, carving out a potentially useful niche for this supplement.  Frustratingly, it appears the supplement industry has taken the luteolin research applied to cancer cell aromatase inhibition and applied it to testosterone enhancement in men.  I was unable to find any published literature demonstrating altered serum hormone levels in athletic men, therefore its utility in a T-enhancing formula remains speculation based on a hypothetical model.  

Final comment on this: having observed a 47% reduction in estradiol levels between my baseline and treatment sample, is it possible that luteolin inhibited estradiol conversion, leading to the results observed? 

Verdict: Luteolin has demonstrated anti-aromatase properties, but no studies in athletic males have shown enhanced T and/or decreased estrogen.  

My Assessment Of Performance Lab Sport T+

 If you’ve made it this far, there appears to be a spectrum of positive, neutral, and negative pieces of evidence tied to the outcome of this review.  The lab results showed a positive direction in estradiol, neutral SHBG, and negative movement of prolactin and testosterone. 

All of which need to be taken with a grain of salt given the n=1 sample size. The subjective measures showed repeated positive movement in libido, with no perceptible change in emotional lability, mental focus, and strength/endurance. 

The scientific review of the ingredients showed that many have science backing their inclusion in a testosterone-enhancing formula, but there are often caveats to when these ingredients may show benefit. 

Notably, many ingredients only show a response when it is known that there is a baseline deficiency and/or the user is a non-athletic male who’s testosterone may already be low. 

I am particularly intrigued by the KSM-66 Ashwagandha included in this formula, as there seems to be a robust amount of data supporting its role in boosting T, notably in active men.  

I can’t help but wonder if this formula would provide greater tangible benefits for more intensive athletes. 

While much of the science on the ingredients suggests that greater response is found in those who are deficient, the higher turnover rate of nutrients in high performing athletes may put them in states of deficiency that the supplement could provide. 

The company’s website seems to be geared towards catering to this demographic, with a messaging emphasis on “optimizing T for muscle growth and athletic performance” and “protects T from diminishing effects of female hormones, stress, and free radicals”.  

 

Finishing Thoughts: 

In the post-andro era, we are left with few established natural ingredients that can raise testosterone.  With that in mind, I feel that the T+ formula does a good job of combining what appears to be the best-researched combo of ingredients on the market. 

The formula would likely offer the most benefit to those who are deficient in zinc, boron, magnesium & vitamin D, and possibly those who are sedentary or high-level performers who are not adequately replacing lost nutrients.

I remain open to the idea that this formula is beneficial to weekend warrior types, supported by my repeated experience with increased libido while using the product.

In summary, it's a solid formula that would benefit from larger-scale trials to determine its impact on testosterone. 

Performance Lab® SPORT - Made to perform

This is a post by Joe Ailts. Joe has completed degrees in biotechnology (BS) and nutrition (MS) and is a science writer for Alexfergus. He has 14 years of experience in the clinical laboratory arena as well as in the dietary supplement industry.

 

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