Bromelain and Testosterone: May Help Endurance Athletes
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Gerardo Sison, PharmD
Bromelain extract is a combination of proteolytic (protein breaking) enzymes, which are most commonly extracted from either the stem or fruit part of pineapples.
It’s mainly used as a meat tenderizer, and this is simply because the catalytic enzymes break down the peptide bonds that link amino acids together, making the animal protein (read: meat) more tender.
Old school bodybuilders were also known for using bromelain for protein digestion. In Randy Roach’s book called Muscle, Smoke, & Mirrors, the author describes how Irvin Johnson and the 1966 Mr. America, Bob Gajda, started a new trend of creating protein puddings where they would instruct their clients to stir raw pineapple into a glass of protein powder.
Could this proteolytic meat tenderizer enzyme blend also have an ergogenic testosterone protective effect in endurance athletes? One recent study suggests so:
Bromelain Benefits: Testosterone Maintenance?
A study from the University of Tasmania by Shing et al. had fifteen young elite cyclists as their test subjects…
…The subjects were racing in a competitive cycle race for 6 consecutive days, and the researchers divided the participants into two groups. First one consisted of 7 cyclists who received 1,000 mg of daily bromelain. The second group consisted of 8 cyclists who received a visually similar placebo pill.
During the six days of the cycle race, the researchers took blood samples from the cyclists at days 1, 3, and 6, and they examined these samples for various exercise markers, including testosterone.
What they found out was very interesting. As to be expected, the high amount of endurance exercise significantly reduced blood testosterone levels – however – only in the placebo group. The group receiving 1,000 mg’s of bromelain, noted relatively stable levels of testosterone throughout the 6 days of cycle racing! Yup, that’s not a typo. 6 consecutive days of elite-level cycling with no significant reductions in T levels.
The researchers conclude: “Consecutive days of competitive cycling were associated with increased markers of muscle damage and a reduction in circulating testosterone across the race period. Bromelain supplementation reduced subjective feelings of fatigue and was associated with a trend to maintain testosterone concentration.”
Mind you, this study is peer-reviewed, randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled.
Not bad results from a gram of meat tenderizer per day I might say…
NOTE: Another study from 2009, associated bromelain supplementation with increased power output and lower levels of inflammatory cytokines after resistance training.
Could you get same benefits by eating pineapples?
Probably, but since the majority of the bromelain is in the stem part, you’d probably be better of with bromelain supplementation (affiliate link).
Conclusion on Bromelain Testosterone Benefits
Maybe there are more bromelain benefits than being simply a meat tenderizer, maybe not, but even with this low amount of scientific evidence, it’s much more “scientifically proven” than the majority of bodybuilding supplements flying off the shelves at GNC.
Or blend the stem if you want to.