Legal steroids can be either prescribed anabolic steroids or legal alternatives such as prohormones. Controlled substances such as testosterone analogs or HRT (hormone replacement therapy) are legal when prescribed by a physician. Progressive doctors might agree to prescribe these hormones for aging males, who are suffering from andropause or the side effects of age-related testosterone decline. Side effects of andropause can include muscle loss, depression, gynecomastia (male breast enlargement), low libido and lack of youthful energy. A legal over-the-counter alternative to steroids is DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone, which is taken by aging men to retain youthful levels of testosterone. However, both prescribed legal steroids and prohoromones such as DHEA can have many side effects, including hair loss, prostate enlargement, acne and gynecomastia.
Testosterone boosters are a popular alternative to steroid hormones. Products such as:
- tribulus terrestris
- avena sativa
- other natural compounds purported to increase testosterone production
According to "Natural Anabolics" by fitness expert Jerry Brainum, the most effective testosterone booster to date is Longjack or eurycoma longifolia, a Malaysian herb known as a tonic for male potency 1. He recommends 400 mg of longjack taken upon waking.
Estrogen blockers are products that inhibit the action of the aromatase enzyme, which converts testosterone to estrogen. In men, excess estrogen can cause unwanted side effects like water retention, gynecomastia (breast enlargement), feminization and/or muscle loss. Blocking the aromatase enzyme is, therefore, a means of boosting testosterone without taking legal or illegal anabolic hormones. According to "Natural Anabolics," Gaspari Nutritions's Novadex XT boosted testosterone 283 percent in young training men, as well as increased free testosterone 625 percent. However, fat-free mass was not increased in the 8-week trial, though body fat percentage did decrease by 3.5 percent, and DHT (dihydrotesosterone) was increased by 566 percent. DHT can cause such side effects as acne, hair loss and prostate enlargement. Novadex XT is, therefore, an effective alternative to steroids, but may carry some of the same side effects. The book recommends cycling off estrogen blockers every 6 weeks.
There are some natural anabolic substances that can be used alone or stacked together to mimic some of the anabolic effects of steroid hormones, without the side effects. Nutrex's Anabol 5 and USP Labs' Prime are two such products that claim to boost performance without directly affecting the body's delicate hormonal balance. "Natural Anabolics" recommends creatine monohydrate, branch chain amino acids, NO or nitric oxide precursors, CLA and beta alanine as natural alternatives to steroids. Recommended doses of each are 5 to 10 g creatine per day, 3 g beta alanine in two divided doses, 6 g of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), as well as 2 to 3 g of L-arginine (NO precursor) and 5 g of branch chain amino acids prior to training.
- "Natural Anabolics; Jerry Brainum"; Ironman Publishing, 2008
- "Homemade Supplement Secrets"; Jeff Anderson; CQC LLC, 2008
- Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images