Erewhon, the high-end natural foods market near the MEL office, recently unveiled a new addition to its cold-pressed collection: The Alpha Male Smoothie.
Knocking back a 16 oz. Alpha Male Smoothie for $13.50 a pop certainly makes you feel like a bit of a baller. It’s chalky and banana-nutty; the cinnamon powder gives each sip a bite, while the raw honey and vanilla powder combine to make the whole experience feel like dessert.
I was mostly intrigued by the name, though. Would consuming this product magically transform me into a hyper-confident playboy who makes bullish trades on Wall Street? Or would it simply take the better part of my $20 bill while serving as today’s liquid lunch?
I ask Brandon, the manager of Erewhon’s cold-pressed department, to fill me in on what, exactly, makes this smoothie so alpha. “It’s primarily a testosterone booster,” he explains, thanks to the pine pollen and maca powder therein. (Curiously, Erewhon doesn’t include nutritional information on its house-made products, though I’m told 1.5 tablespoons of almond butter, 2 cups of almond milk and a single banana are responsible for the majority of the caloric content in the Alpha Male Smoothie.)
At least anecdotally, Brandon is correct. I quickly find that plant pollen is one of the only sources of plant-derived testosterone, and Incan warriors are said to have consumed maca before battle to increase their prowess. “It makes you feel a little bit more like a man, and gives you some euphoric energy,” Brandon promises, adding it will make me want to do something proactive.
“Like exercise?” I ask.
“Like make love to a woman,” he corrects.
That’s true, says Gabby in the vitamin department, though she says it’s mostly because of the eucommia. “Eucommia is a testosterone booster and good for increasing libido in both men and women, so this smoothie benefits both genders.” It also helps build muscle, she says, adding that maca and he shou wu, a Chinese herb, enhances the eucommia.
“My instinctual reaction is that this is a marketing ploy aimed at insecure men,” says David Wiss, MEL’s go-to dietitian, at Nutrition in Recovery in L.A.
Of all the ingredients in the Alpha Male Smoothie, Wiss says, maca appears to be the most promising for increasing masculinity. “Maca has been touted for sexual vitality, and I’ve had clients report these benefits.”
And yes, he says, eucommia may increase physical energy, and he shou wu is purported to have aphrodisiac qualities. Similarly, pine pollen, a natural androgen, may be able to boost testosterone, but Wiss hasn’t seen data — or heard anything from his clients — to support this claim.
“The problem with products that increase ‘masculinity,’” Wiss says, “is that men can become reliant on them to feel hyper-masculine and might even doubt themselves when they don’t have them. They’re more of a psychological thing than anything else.”
“Yeah,” Brandon in the cold-pressed department confirms, “there’s a substantial difference when you consume this versus other things. So you might want to consider consuming this more often.”
Otherwise, it might be impossible to drink your smoothies like a man.