How to Avoid Gaining Weight on Steroids?
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You may have seen a friend or colleague who is on steroids and noticed that they have gained weight. You might be wondering, “Why does this happen?” The truth is that the hormones in anabolic-androgenic steroids can change your fat distribution to give you more of a gut rather than making you leaner. In other words, as soon as the steroid stops working for them, they will lose all their weight again. If you want to know more about how these drugs work and what it’s like taking them, continue reading this article!
What are steroids and how do they work?
Steroids are often associated with muscle growth and weight gain. While the muscles do get bigger, it is not always due to pure muscle development, it can be a result of extra water or fat stored in the body. Some people do not realize this when they begin taking the drugs, which leads them having to deal with unexpected side effects later down the road. In other words, as soon as the steroid stops working for them, they will lose all their weight again.
Steroids are not considered a “weight-gaining” supplement in the same sense that carbohydrates and proteins are. While some steroids do promote water retention and thus increase body weight slightly, others go quite the opposite direction and can even be used to cut fat while maintaining muscle mass. However, we cannot wean ourselves off of the notion that steroids alone cause users to gain an abnormal amount of weight. When it comes down to it, this is just human nature: The more you put into your body (or take out), the more dramatic results you will receive. This applies whether you’re taking steroids or not; but when you’re on them, you can expect to see results at a much faster rate.
How do steroids affect fat distribution?
There are different types of steroid hormones that work in different ways. The male sex hormone testosterone is an androgen, just like many anabolic-androgenic steroids. Testosterone causes changes to the user’s body composition by promoting muscle growth and inhibiting cortisol production (the stress hormone). After a few weeks or months of use, your body stops producing as much testosterone naturally, so you need to continue taking the drugs to maintain these gains. If you already have low body fat levels before beginning your mass gaining phase, then this will be even more extreme since there isn’t any natural testosterone production occurring at all anymore.
The result is that the stomach area becomes bloated because the water retention increases due to the extra cortisol production. Cortisol levels are increased because the testosterone is being converted to estrogen. Once you stop taking the drugs, the water will leave your body immediately and if you already have low body fat, then there may be a visible gut with no muscle tone underneath at all.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland. It is released in response to stress, whether it is physical or emotional. Cortisol signals the body to release stored glucose (sugar) to provide energy for the stressed body part. Therefore, cortisol is often called the “stress hormone”.
When you’re taking steroids, your body is constantly in a stressed state. The more androgenic steroids you take; the more cortisol your body will produce. This can lead to increased water retention and a bloated appearance, not to mention all the other negative side effects of cortisol like blood sugar imbalances and an increased risk for developing type II diabetes.
How to Avoid Gaining Weight
If you’re worried about gaining weight while on steroids, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the chances.
- Make sure you’re eating a high protein and carbohydrate diet. If your body is lacking the energy (glycogen) that it needs then it will turn to your muscle tissue into fuel, thus causing atrophy. This means you’ll lose weight but not in the way you want to – the scale will be tipping in the wrong direction.
- Get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Human growth hormone (HGH) is released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep cycles which promotes fat reduction. If you’re on steroids we can assume that your HGH levels are elevated already due to the extra testosterone production. While getting adequate rest is important for any bodybuilder regardless of steroid intake, it’s even more important when on steroids, as they tend to suppress the immune system for longer than usual. Synthetic HGH can also be used alongside steroid use in order to counteract weight gain during cycles. Some popular HGH products include HUMATROPE by Eli Lilly, Soma-Max-10 by Maxtreme Pharma and Singanitropin by Singani Pharma.
- Lower your cortisol levels. Remember that cortisol is the “stress hormone” as it is released during times of stress. Lowering cortisol levels will help you avoid water retention and will make you less prone to storing excess glucose (sugar) as body fat. There are certain foods (like green tea extract, bitter gourd juice extract, etc.), supplements (like magnesium oxide, bacopa Monnieri extract, etc.) and even drugs (like TUDCA) which can all help lower cortisol levels naturally.
- Make sure your liver health is optimal. Your liver plays a crucial role in metabolizing hormones, including testosterone. When your liver is functioning optimally, it can help reduce the likelihood of some of the negative side effects associated with steroid use, like water retention and bloating. There are certain supplements, like milk thistle or Liv.52 by Himalaya, which can help support liver health.
- Take a break from steroids every few months. This will allow your body to reset and will minimize the chances of developing any long-term negative side effects. It’s also a good idea to rotate different types of steroids so that you’re not taking the same ones all of the time.
Other Side Effects of Taking Steroids
In addition to gaining weight, there are several other negative side effects associated with steroid use.
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Development of breast tissue in men (gynecomastia)
- Increased risk for developing heart disease or stroke
- Impaired liver function
- Suppressed immune system
All of these side effects can be dangerous and sometimes even life-threatening. It’s important to be aware of them before you start taking steroids and to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Many of the side effects associated with steroids can be avoided by taking certain substances during the steroid cycle. These substances include: Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs) such as Letrozole, Anastrozole and Exemestane (for example, Letromina by Alpha Pharma, Anastrol by Magnum Pharma and AROMASIN by Dragon Pharma); and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) (for example, FertiGyn HP by Sun Pharma, HUCOG by Bharat Serums and Vitagon by Alpha Pharma).
Some substances can also be taken after a steroid cycle to reduce the appearance of side effects from steroid use. This period is called Post-Cycle Therapy (PCT) and includes some of the drugs mentioned above, as well as the anti-estrogens Clomiphene Citrate (such as CLOMID by Dragon Pharma or Promifen by Alpha Pharma) and Tamoxifen Citrate (such as Maxi-Fen-20 by Maxtreme Pharma or NOLVADEX by Dragon Pharma).
Muscle is power. Protect your power!
While taking steroids may help you build muscle more quickly, it’s important to be aware of the potential for negative side effects, including weight gain, and how to combat these side effects if they manifest.
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By following the tips listed above, you can help minimize the chances of gaining weight and protect your health.