Thinking about taking a steroid cycle but unsure whether it will cause permanent damage to your body? I don’t blame you.
There is so much misinformation about anabolics that anyone would be confused. What you need is a straight forward, hype free overview of the safest steroids to pack on mass and get you ripped.
The reality is that no anabolic steroid is 100% safe, especially when taken without medical supervision.
Several of these steroids are approved by the FDA, thus are considered to be safe when prescribed to patients. However, even then side effects and negative long-term outcomes have been reported.
So why are these steroids considered safe?
According to users, the safest steroid is one that first and foremost is not excessively straining to the heart. This is the most important side effect to be wary of when taking anabolic steroids, as sharp rises in blood pressure can be fatal; The risk for heart attacks and stroke is also significantly elevated.
The second most important side effect to be wary of is liver toxicity, with liver failure being a common occurrence when taking (oral) anabolic steroids; and can result in death. Kidney damage is even more important as it can result in permanent damage. Your liver can heal, your kidneys cannot.
Then there are other side effects that aren’t dangerous but are often important to users. Such adverse effects are gynecomastia, water retention, acne, and hair loss. Such side effects may affect a person’s quality of life and thus should also be considered.
Closest Supplement to Steroids
The rise of SARMs in the last few years are probably the closest things we can have to steroids that are kind of legal. SARMs are Selective Androgen Receptor Modules and can significantly boost muscle growth.
They are not illegal and stand in a grey area by the FDA that allows its use for research, learn all about SARMs here.
Best Steroid for Muscle Growth and Safest for Heart: Testosterone
Testosterone is the first steroid to ever be synthesized, back in 1935 with the objective of treating depression. However, people soon understood the dramatic effects Testosterone had on muscular size and strength.
Beginners are likely to gain 15 – 20lbs from their first testosterone cycle (taking 200-350mg per week). Future cycles with higher doses (up to 500mg per week) are likely to add another 10-15lbs.
Despite being the oldest steroid, Testosterone arguably remains the most popular compound today. Testosterone is used in almost every steroid stack as a base.
Testosterone is predominantly a bulking steroid, powerful by itself or in a stack and can produce significant gains in mass. That being said, when combined with a caloric deficit it can increase Nitrogen retention, thus increasing muscle retention.
It is regarded as the least impactful Steroid on the heart, having minimal impact on cholesterol levels and blood pressure, when compared to stereotypical PED (Performance Enhancing Drugs).
Blood pressure increases will happen mainly because of an increase in red blood cells, increase in body weight, as well as Cholesterol. Testosterone does lower HDL (Good Cholesterol) and increase LDL (Bad Cholesterol). This causes plaque build up in the arteries, increasing blood pressure.
Research has shown that 300mg of Testosterone per week, caused a 13% decrease in HDL cholesterol levels, during a 20-week cycle. Doses as high as 600mg per week also might cause excessive cardiovascular strain, with HDL cholesterol levels decreasing by 21%.
Testosterone’s impact on the heart is still lower compared to other steroids and that’s why it’s considered the safest steroid on the market. This is also why a test-only cycle is the most recommended protocol for beginners, minimizing the risk of side effects.
However, studies even when using a small dose show that Testosterone increases the risk of premature death from cardiovascular problems.
Estrogenic Side Effects
Estrogenic side effects are possible, due to Testosterone elevating Estrogen levels. Estrogen is the female sex hormone, that can cause breast tissue to accumulate in males; creating the look of a female chest. It can also cause water retention, fat gain, and an increase in blood pressure.
Gynecomastia can be prevented by running an AI (Aromatase inhibitor) or a SERM (Selective estrogen receptor modulator). AI’s will inhibit the conversion of Testosterone into Estrogen, whereas SERM’s block estrogen activity directly in the breast tissue. Limiting Estrogen too much is not good for muscle hypertrophy nor Cholesterol levels.
AI’s are not recommended to combat Gyno when taking testosterone, as blood pressure will rise as a result. Thus, by taking effective SERM’s, such as Nolvadex or Clomid, Estrogen levels will remain high; yet the possibility of developing Gyno will be significantly reduced. And more importantly, blood pressure will not spike from using Clomid or Nolvadex (4).
Hair loss will happen due to the conversion of Testosterone into DihydrogenTestosterone which can negatively affect hair on the scalp.
Male users take medications such as finasteride to help them combat hair loss, however the blocking of DHT may significantly reduce their gains on a cycle. It’s also common for any hair thinning, or recession to be reversed post-cycle when hormones regulate back to normal, however, if the hair follicle is dead, then hair loss is permanent (5).
As you use exogenous Testosterone, your endogenous Testosterone will shutdown production. This happens at any dose. The only way to avoid this, is by not taking Steroids or by using HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin) whilst on Cycle. Alternatively, you can make use of a Post Cycle Therapy protocol to restart testicular function.
Testosterone also doesn’t seem to pose any risks in terms of liver strain. In one study, participants took a huge dose of 400mg per day for 20 days (2,800mg per week), yet none of them showed any signs of stress to the liver This is roughly 10x the dose a beginner would take.
Testosterone is an FDA approved Hormone for the treatment of Hypogonadism (low testosterone in men) and delayed puberty in boys; demonstrating its safety (6), in appropriate doses.
Best Testosterone Supplement
SARM Alternative to Testosterone: Rad-140 Testolone
SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators) act similarly to Steroids in the way that they bind to Androgen receptors which then bind to the DNA to cause a physiological change, but do not bind to all Androgen receptors in the body, thus not causing the Androgenic side effects of Steroids.
Rad-140 Testolone is a great SARM that will upregulate muscle protein synthesis and cause muscle growth, and via an increase in metabolism it can cause fat loss as well.
Safest Steroid: Anavar
Anavar (Oxandrolone) is one of the most sought-after steroids on the market. This is mainly due to three reasons:
- It’s an oral steroid
- It’s suitable for men and women
- It has very weak side effects
Anavar is generally seen as a cutting steroid, as it does not Aromatize; thereby creating a dry and lean look. Anavar produces noticeable increases in muscle size and strength; whilst simultaneously stripping fat.
Anavar’s fat-burning effects are significantly greater than Testosterone, although its muscle-building effects are milder.
If someone is looking to lose fat and get a bit bigger, Anavar will do the job. However, if someone is looking for huge gains in mass, Testosterone is the better steroid.
Women are often very limited when it comes to which steroids they can use (without turning into a man). Anavar is one of the few compounds females can safely take, without experiencing any masculine effects.
Users will rarely notice any side effects when taking Anavar, as it doesn’t cause any water retention; plus there is no chance of developing Gyno, as it doesn’t Aromatize. Consequently, Anavar is in high demand by gym-goers who want to take their body to the next level without having to worry about jeopardizing their health.
Despite being an oral steroid, Anavar does not pose much stress to the liver. This may be due to the kidneys also helping to process the compound, in effect taking the work-load off the liver. The only problem with Anavar is the cost. It is not a cheap drug to produce, and not easy either. We will thus often see this drug faked on the market.
Anvarol By Crazy Bulk
Side Effects of Anavar
Anavar will cause some Testosterone suppression. Such reductions are likely to be mild to moderate, taking several weeks to return to normal levels. As Testosterone levels will not be shut down fully, a post cycle therapy is deemed unnecessary by some users. This is person, dosing, and timing of dosing dependant.
Anavar, strangely enough, has a positive effect on total Cholesterol levels, yet it does lower HDL (Good Cholesterol). Some studies suggest it has less effect on LDL (Bad Cholesterol), and it is considerably safer than some other injectables and oral steroids.
To combat changes in cholesterol, thus affecting blood pressure, Anavar-users are recommended to regularly perform cardio, increasing polyunsaturated fats, and increasing dietary fiber. This will help to accelerate fat loss as well as keep their heart healthy.
As with all orals, you can expect some Gastric distress. This is due to the fact that orals need to go through the first pass in the gut, and this can cause some problems with appetite. Great in a fat loss phase, poor in a muscle gaining situation.
As all oral steroids do, Anavar needs to be metabolized by internal organs. Usually, we see that orals are digested by the liver. However, Anavar seems to be primarily damaged by the kidney, more so than the liver. Thus, it’s important to check your kidney health if you plan running this drug for extended periods of time, or at a higher dosage.
SARM Alternative to Testosterone: Cardarine GW501516
Cardarine is another SARM that can yield very similar results to the Steroid counterpart. Cardarine is known as a Peroxisome Proliferator Activator Receptor (PPAR-delta) and can increase metabolism, helping with fat loss. It can also accelerate muscle gains to an extent as well.
One hell of a name, and one hell of a tool! Cardarine is an exceptional tool for weight loss. It’ll preserve muscle loss while you’re in your diet, but also massively accelerate weight loss. As mentioned earlier, Cardarine is technically not a SARM but actually a PPAR Delta Agonist. It’ll bind to PPAR Delta receptors, and cause the body to just burn more energy.
Usually dosed as a liquid by Chemyo, you do sometimes find pills or capsules. Cardarine is also known to increase vascularity – combined with the weight loss this could also massively help with cardiovascular capabilities.
Best Cutting Steroid: Primobolan
Primobolan (Metenolone Enanthate) Chemical Structure
Primobolan (or Primo or Methenolone enanthate) is very similar to Anavar, being a mild, cutting, oral (Methenolone acetate) or injectable steroid.
Primobolan is a DHT derivative, thus it does not aromatize, thus keeping water retention at bay. Primo adds small amounts of lean muscle, and can be a great addition in a bulking or cutting period.
Primo is a safer steroid that has even been given to infants who were underweight (8), with limited negative interactions. Its role in medicine is to help patients gain lean mass, bringing them up to a healthy weight. Primo’s been prescribed to people who have suffered from muscle-wasting diseases, infections and those recovering from surgery.
It is believed that Arnold and other bodybuilders from the golden era frequently used Primobolan when cutting, to help them appear extra ripped on stage.
Primobolan is also very popular amongst women, as it can be an effective little compound for female athletes.
Primobolan also decreases SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) which increases free Testosterone, ie increasing the effectiveness of other Steroids in the stack.
Side Effects of Primobolan
Testosterone suppression is almost certain on Primo. How much Testosterone levels decline will depend on your dose and the duration of your cycle; however natural test levels are likely to return within several weeks post-cycle (like Anavar).
Primobolan will shift cholesterol levels to a similar degree as Anavar. Thus, cholesterol and blood pressure will fluctuate more than on testosterone or deca Durabolin; but less than other anabolic steroids.
Oral Primobolan will cause organ damage as all other orals do, particularly to the liver. Less so than other orals, but still prevalent. We also see Kidney damage, but this is a secondary effect due to increased weight and water retention, probably due to diet.
Female Side Effects
Primobolan will have particular side effects if used by a female such as:
- Hair Loss
- Increased Clitoris size
- Facial Hair
- Deepening of the voice
- Possible facial structural changes if used over a long period of time
SARM Alternative to Primobolan: Ligandrol (LGD4033)
Ligandrol is a great SARM for gaining lean mass whilst limiting fat and water mass. You can expect solid gains, as well as a decent increase in strength. You can also expect limited side effects, the only big one being Testosterone Suppression.
Safest Steroid for Bulking Deca Durabolin
Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone) Chemical Structure
Like Testosterone, Deca-Durabolin (Deca or Nandrolone or 19-nortestosterone) is also an injectable steroid; although a slow-acting compound that takes several weeks to build up in the body.
Deca Durabolin can add significant amounts of muscle and strength in the off-season, however its effects are limited when taken alone. Unlike Testosterone which can produce massive gains by itself, Deca is often stacked with other bulking steroids to produce dramatic muscle gains.
It’s often cycled with Testosterone, Dianabol or Anadrol for further gains.
Deca Durabolin is currently FDA approved in medicine for the treatment of anemia, helping to increase lean mass and red blood cell count in the bone marrow. It has also been used in the past to treat HIV-patients, dwarfism and osteoporosis.
Deca Durabolin is not androgenic, thus users are not at risk of developing hair loss or acne.
Deca is tolerated among women, when taken in short to moderate cycles. Research suggests that a dose of 100mg, injected every other week for 12 weeks is safe for women. (9). However, long cycles even on smaller doses are likely to cause virilization effects.
Side Effects of Deca Durabolin
Estrogenic Side effects
Deca’s ability to increase estrogen is deemed to be 20% of testosterone, thus there is very little aromatization activity. However, users may still experience high estrogen-like side effects, due to Deca raising Progesterone; which can stimulate breast tissue in the mammary glands.
Cholesterol & Blood Pressure
Deca will shift LDL/HDL cholesterol, causing an increase in blood pressure (however this effect is not significant). Research has found that 600mg of deca Durabolin per week, caused a 26% reduction in good HDL cholesterol (10). Deca will also increase body mass significantly due to water retention, which can increase blood pressure massively. Cardio and a healthy diet is advised.
Deca Dick is a side effect we often hear being thrown around, and it is extremely complex to explain. Deca Dick refers to the situation where you lose your erection whilst having sex. Most common explanation is the fact that Deca raises Prolactin levels in the body. Closely related to Estrogenic side effects, we see similar ones with Prolactin. Increased water retention, increased blood pressure, also we see lactating nipples and of course Deca Dick.
The worst part about Deca is the Testosterone suppression experienced by users. Research shows that 300mg of Deca can decrease Testosterone levels by 70% in just 6 weeks (11). Suppression is likely to be worse than this, with Deca cycles lasting as long as 14 weeks. Thus, a PCT will be needed when ending your Deca cycle to reactivate endogenous production.
Decaduro By Crazy Bulk
SARM Alternative to Deca-Durabolin: Andarine S4
Andarine S4 is a popular cutting agent amongst bodybuilders, so not really great to compare with Deca right? I disagree. Andarine has great muscle building qualities as well, and unlike Deca will not cause the water retention and increase of blood pressure.
Andarine was originally developed as a method to manage muscle loss due to disease. It’s action is much like that of Testosterone, just without the negative side effects. Andarine can increase muscle mass, and bone density; and as a nice bonus induces fat loss by decreasing lipoprotein lipase (LPL) levels in the body.
Andarine is thus a good SARM by not only limiting use to muscle building phases, but can also be used to aid a fat loss phase by helping the retention of muscle and increasing fat loss capabilities.
Dianabol (Metandienone) more commonly known as DBol, is the only steroid on this list which we wouldn’t class as safe, as it’s not FDA approved in medicine. However, it is more tolerable than several other steroids, such as Anadrol, Trenbolone, Winstrol, Superdrol, etc.
This is why Dbol-only cycles are still a common protocol among novices as a first steroid cycle.
Furthermore, Dianabol was widely used 50 years ago, when bodybuilders not only looked better but were also much healthier, granted they were much, much smaller. They could have their blood work done and everything could be in the normal range, whereas today bodybuilders are literally destroying their bodies with more powerful compounds; causing many to have heart attacks and have other health issues.
Many bodybuilders from the golden era who used Dianabol have gone on to live long lives, such as Franco Columbu who recently died at the age of 78. Other classic bodybuilders such as Arnold and Frank Zane and more are currently in their 70’s and also in good health as elderly men.
Dianabol is a similar compound to Testosterone, however it is more anabolic, less androgenic, and an oral steroid. Thus, on Dianabol, you’re likely to gain more muscle than on Testosterone, whilst experiencing less androgenic side effects, such as oily skin, hair loss and acne. This is why many of the classic bodybuilders also kept their hair; because they were cycling less androgenic steroids (compared to harsher compounds used today).
Side Effects of Dianabol
Dianabol is an C-17 alpha alkylated steroid, so it is going to pass through the liver and cause a notable amount of strain. However, unless someone abuses Dbol, this strain is only going to be short-lived, as the liver self-restores itself post-cycle; causing AST and ALT enzymes to return back to normal. However, it is recommended to take a TUDCA supplement for extra liver protection during a Dbol cycle.
The worst side effect on Dianabol is the rise in blood pressure. This is due to Dbol having a negative effect on HDL cholesterol levels. Also Dianabol is quite Estrogenic, causing noticeable amounts of water retention and bloating when combined with a high-calorie diet; adding to further spikes in blood pressure.
To reduce substantial increases in blood pressure, it is recommended to eat a clean diet; full of unsaturated fats whilst limiting sodium. Engaging in cardio will help lowering your blood pressure as well as increasing dietary fiber.
Estrogenic Side Effects
Gyno is a possible side effect from taking Dianabol, due to a high level of aromatization. Thus, a SERM can be taken to avoid any breast tissue forming in the chest region, such as Nolvadex. Taking an AI will also be effective in preventing gyno, although blocking estrogen from a hormone level, will worsen blood lipids.
Testosterone levels will become suppressed when taking Dianabol, thus an effective PCT protocol involving hCG, Clomid or Nolvadex will be needed to elevate natural test levels back to normal quickly. Generally, testosterone levels will return to normal levels within 1-4 months; however, a PCT will shorten this process significantly.
D-bal By Crazy Bulk
SARM Alternative to Dianobol: Myostine YK-11
Myostine YK-11 is a SARM that inhibits the protein Myostatin, which limits the amount of muscle the human body can grow. You can expect muscle growth just like you can with Dianabol, and it can also increase bone density.
Myostatin is a protein in the body that limits the amount of muscle growth, apparently because having too large muscles is bad? Beats me. Countless claims have been made about specific means to decrease Myostatin, however YK-11 could really be that compound.
By lowering the amount of Myostatin in the body, you could potentially massively increase your muscle building capabilities. Not only does YK-11 lower Myostatin, but it also increase Follistatin.
What Are the Most Dangerous Anabolic Steroids?
No steroid is inherently dangerous. The application and management of hormones is where we see danger coming into play. That being said, here are some steroids we often see people struggle to manage:
Trenbolone (or Tren)
An extremely powerful drug that can dramatically change your body, some for the good and some for the bad. Its ability to retain Nitrogen is unrivaled, and this drug will actually change the way your body looks. Giving the user an extremely dry and aesthetic look, while still holding fullness. The side effects are immense however, neurotoxic, liver toxic, anxiety, depression, night sweats, increased body temperature, and many more. If you have to ask “Do you think I need Tren?” you are not ready. In fact, you probably are not ready.
Methyl Trenbolone or Methyl Testosterone
As the name suggests, these are the oral (methylated) versions of Trenbolone and Testosterone. Extremely strenuous on the liver and kidneys, and also wreaking havoc on your cardiovascular system. Avoid unless you are thoroughly experienced. Uses? Athletes who need a huge bump in performance pre contest.
Not technically a steroid, but falls into the conversation of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs). To put it short, nothing on earth will make you lose fat faster. Also, misdosing by 50mcg will kill you. Yes, take slightly more than you can handle, and you die. Here’s the kicker, there is no recommended dose.
Best Steroid Stack for Beginners
As a beginner, you do not need a stack. A stack is not advised. Why not? If you chose to use more than one (new) drugs, and one has a negative effect on the body… how do you know which one is causing the particular side effect? Exactly. You don’t.
That being said, it would be safe(er) to start off with these following drugs compared to others:
- Testosterone (Any Ester)
Steroid with Least Side Effects: Primobolan
Primobolan as previously mentioned is an exceptional drug for building lean mass, or for retaining lean mass whilst in a caloric deficit. It is a DHT derivative so we see less estrogen, less water retention, less cholesterol side effects, and less blood pressure issues. Primobolan is often faked, and extremely expensive, Masteron can be a substitute as it is about 80% as good.
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Natural Steroid Foods
Steroids do not work in isolation. Unless you are eating to support your muscle gain and cutting efforts, your results will be minimal. There are certain foods that you can eat that will encourage the release of your body’s hormones for hypertrophy – Testosterone, Insulin, and Human Growth Hormone. Here are the Top 10 foods to add to your menu:
- Oily Fish (Salmon)
- Whole Grains
- Polyunsaturated Fats
- Lean Meats
- Whey Protein
- Lean Poultry
Steroid Alternatives: SARMs
SARMs could be a replacement for Steroids, in fact that is what they were designed for. They bind to receptors in exactly the same way Steroids do, however we do not see the same Androgenic side effects we associate with Steroids, such as Prostate growth. We typically see less Testosterone shutdown as well. You can expect muscle gain and fat loss, perhaps even cardiovascular improvements.
How to Take Steroids Safely?
First of all, I do not advise anyone to take Anabolic Steroids – unless you’ve got a muscle wasting disease and your doctor is adamant you take them to improve your health.
For one, they’re illegal in almost every country in the world so you’d be breaking the law (assuming you didn’t get them on prescription and you’re using them for vanity purposes). And two, Anabolic Steroids are potentially fatal and can pose many different risks to the body.
However, I also understand that not everyone is going to listen to my advice when it comes to not taking steroids, so I’ve dedicated the following article to help people minimize the side effects of steroids as much as possible.
Use Less Drugs
A lot of the side effects we see with using Anabolic Steroids, are dose dependant. If you’re really looking to limit the amount of side effects you experience just use less stuff!
Choose less Toxic Steroids
Some steroids are simply more toxic than others. Certain Anabolics can be more taxing on the liver and others can result in hypertension (high blood pressure).
Here’s a list of less toxic steroids:
These won’t necessarily “not cause side effects”, but they’re known to cause less side effects, or at least easily managed.
Manage your Health Markers
There are a bunch of health markers you need to be looking at whilst running any cycle.
- Blood Pressure: Increase cardio, increase dietary fiber
- Cholesterol: Increase cardio, increase Polyunsaturated Fats
- Kidney Values: Increase water intake, decrease protein intake
- Liver Values: Increase Polyunsaturated Fats, decrease Oral Steroids
- Estrogen Values: Manage via SERM or AI, only if needed
Manage your Cycle Timing
Simply put, the longer you stay on, the worse the side effects will be. Staying on permanently is a recipe for disaster.
Perfect your PCT
Another problem with taking steroids is actually what happens post-cycle.
When you take steroids that boost Testosterone to crazy levels, your body then shuts down its own Testosterone production, thus sabotaging your natural hormone balance.
Extremely low Testosterone levels can last several weeks or even months after a cycle, weakening your immune system and increasing the chances of you getting ill.
Incorporating a solid PCT (post cycle therapy) can be the difference in your hormones restoring back to normal in a matter of weeks, or you suffering from low Testosterone symptoms for many months.
Get your Blood Markers Checked
Similar to a point previously mentioned, have your blood analyzed. You will not know what is going on within your body unless your blood is tested and analyzed. Failure to do so can result in you making wild guesses and taking actions that could have dire consequences.
Remember, there’s no need to take any Steroids at all. There are legal Steroid alternatives available that can give you pretty amazing results, such as SARMs. Keep in mind, too, that unless and until you are training with full out intensity, eating clean foods and getting in around 500 more calories per day than you use up, you shouldn’t even think about taking Steroids. You should also have at least a couple of years of training under your belt before you consider taking steroids.
Testosterone, Anavar, Primobolan, and Deca Durabolin are the safest steroids users can take but they also have serious side effects. We hope this guide will educate people on the risks of steroids, even the “safer” ones so that they can choose safe and legal alternatives instead.
Although some of the steroids are used in medicine; side effects are still possible. Also all anabolic Steroids are illegal to use for bodybuilding purposes.
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