Steroids Vs Natural: 6 Ways to Spot a Fake Natty

With the Liver King drama still fresh in our minds, the fitness world has become obsessed with spotting Fake Natties. And for good reason: did you know that a whopping 80% of bodybuilders use steroids? That’s right, only 20% of them are truly natural.

But with so many people using performance-enhancing drugs, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell who’s natural and who’s not. That’s why today, we’re going to share with you six foolproof ways to spot a Fake Natty. Some of these methods may surprise you, but they’re all backed by science and experience.

So, let’s get started!

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Key Takeaways

  • Fake Natties usually have telltale signs that they are using
  • You can look for side effects or try and catch them
  • In the end, it doesn’t matter who is Natty or Not

6 Ways to a Fake Natty

Let us not beat around the bush and bust in guns blazing to find those who want us to believe their 20 inch arms and 30 inch quads were thanks to chicken breasts and egg whites. This list was created by a few of us here at the office, so, you’re not just getting the opinion of one person!

1. They look Enhanced

Have you ever noticed how bodybuilders look big and muscular even during their off season? They still have visible abs and veins, even with a layer of fat covering them. Here’s why:

  • They have a massive amount of muscle mass, making it always visible.
  • Steroids increase metabolic activity, making it easier to stay lean.
  • Growth Hormone helps to keep them lean.

The “enhanced look” takes a while to pick up, but once you know the characteristics, it’s easy to spot. Look for a certain texture of the muscle and firmness of the skin. Here’s an example:

Figures 1 and 2: The person on the left is natural. There are no swollen and capped shoulders, no muscle density that is out of the norm. The person on the left is on gear (I know him personally)

2. Look for Side Effects

Most of the harmful effects of steroid abuse are internal. For example, the person on the left in the above picture is undergoing kidney replacement due to steroid abuse.

However, steroids can also have visible side effects, such as gynecomastia, which is the development of breast tissue in males. This happens because some steroids can convert to estrogen, causing bloating, mood swings, and gyno.

It’s worth noting that most users manage estrogen levels with other products, so this side effect is less common.

Figures 1 and 2: The person on the left is natural. There are no swollen and capped shoulders, no muscle density that is out of the norm. The person on the left is on gear (I know him personally)

2. Look for Side Effects

Site swelling is a side effect of steroids that people often overlook. When using steroids, you either drink an oral compound or inject it. If you choose to inject, you need to select certain sites, such as the shoulders, glutes, or lats. This can cause swelling and, in severe cases, unsightly marks. However, there are ways to mitigate these side effects, such as using smaller needles or rotating injection sites.

Hair loss is a common side effect of almost all steroids. While genetics play a significant role in hair loss, sudden hair loss in an individual may be a sign of steroid use. It is important to note that not all steroids cause hair loss to the same extent. Some are more androgenic than others and can cause hair loss even in individuals who are not genetically predisposed to it. Nonetheless, there are ways to minimize hair loss, such as using shampoos or supplements that promote hair growth. Before using steroids, it is crucial to research potential side effects and discuss them with a healthcare professional.

Figure 3: An extreme example of Gyno on a bodybuilder

Site swelling is something I find most people miss. When you use Steroids, you either drink an oral or inject a compound. If you do the latter you need to pin sites such as the shoulders, glutes, or lats. This will leave some swelling and in bad situations some nasty marks.

Hair loss is a common side effect of almost all Steroids. Sure, a lot of hair loss is determined by genetics, but if you find someone is suddenly losing quite a bit of hair then they might be on something.

Figure 4: James Hollingshead, an exceptional bodybuilder, has battled with hair loss for some time and found effective treatment methods such as Finasteride and Minoxidill

Other side effects to look out for are puffy ankles (Estrogen), acne, increased blood pressure, and increased body hair.

3. They are exceptionally great at Recovering: The Impact of Steroids on Recovery

One of the most noticeable impacts of using steroids is the increased rate of recovery. As someone who has used steroids before, I can attest to this benefit firsthand. When I started using steroids, I was amazed at how quickly my body was able to recover between sessions.

Part of this recovery benefit is due to the steroids themselves, as they help to reduce inflammation and promote muscle growth. However, another significant factor is the increased caloric intake that is necessary when using steroids. Steroid users need to consume more food to support their increased muscle mass, and this extra nourishment provides the body with the resources it needs to recover more quickly.

While this recovery benefit can be harder to detect than other signs of steroid use, it is still an important one to be aware of. Pay close attention to the actions and words of those around you when training, and you may be able to pick up on their use of steroids based on their enhanced recovery abilities.

4. Linguistics

This is a point I’m quite proud of because I’m the one who thought of this ‘first’. Let’s face it, Steroid names can be tricky. There are so many different types of steroids out there, and each one has its own unique name that can be difficult to pronounce. Take, for example, Boldenone, Chlorodehydromethyltestosterone, Deca Durabolin, and Cypionate. These names can be a mouthful, and it’s no wonder that people who aren’t familiar with steroids might struggle to pronounce them correctly.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that people who don’t know steroids often mispronounce the names. They might end up saying “Sci-po-nate” instead of “Si-pio-nate” when referring to Cypionate. It’s a small detail, but it can be a red flag when it comes to identifying someone who is using steroids.

To test this theory, I once asked someone to say the following sentence: “He was using way too much Cypionate compared to the amount of Tamoxifen he was using. The fact that he was also using Parabolin makes matter even worse!” To my surprise, they initially thought it was Italian words. Someone who is using steroids will know exactly how to say everything correctly, and if they don’t, it could be a sign that they’re not as experienced as they claim to be.

So, while this may seem like a moot point to some, it’s still something that counts in my book. Steroid use is a serious matter, and it’s important to be able to spot the warning signs.

5. (Certain Steroids) Mental Changes

In case you did not know, there are way more than just one single Steroid. In fact, there is a whole family tree of Steroids that is split up based on defining characteristics.

Figure 5: The Steroid Family Tree

The one at the very end, the Nandrolone brothers are quite interesting. These are probably the Steroids that can cause the most amount of side effects, but also the ones that also bring upon mental changes in the users.

Studies [1] have shown that something like Deca Durabolin (a Nandrolone) can actually cause brain fog, memory loss, and jealousy. Another Nandrolone called Trenbolone can cause a massive mental change resulting in less patience, more anxiety, mood changes, and brain damage.

This is an effect that will take some time, or, if the person is using a lot of these compounds the effects will show themselves sooner.

7. Female Users

The amount of female users in the fitness world has been rising recently, and with that, the use of performance-enhancing drugs has also increased. However, it’s not just Clenbuterol that they’re using anymore. Females are now using stronger and stronger steroids to achieve their desired results.

As a result, you can expect to see certain signs of steroid use. These signs are much more apparent in women, and some of them include the development of a deeper voice, an increase in facial hair growth, and a decrease in breast size. These changes can be alarming, and it’s essential to recognize them to ensure the safety and well-being of female athletes.

It’s important to note that the use of steroids is not only detrimental to physical health but can also have severe psychological effects. It’s crucial to promote a culture of healthy and sustainable fitness practices for both men and women. Let’s encourage one another to achieve our goals safely and without the use of harmful substances.

  • Deeper voice
  • Facial hair
  • Body hair
  • Enlarged nipples and Clitoris
  • Smaller breasts (less fat)
  • Less overall fat
  • Broader jawline

Is taking Steroids worth it?

At this point, you might be wondering if using steroids is even worth it. The side effects can be pretty bad, so why bother, right? Well, that all depends on your life goals. There are two types of people who use steroids: athletes and those who just want to look better.

Personally, I don’t really understand the latter group, but I get it. Ultimately, it’s up to you as an adult to make the decision that’s best for you and your needs.

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Are Steroids Safe? (No)

No. I’m not going to try and bullshit you. Steroid use is not only illegal in most countries but it does carry massive health risks, such as:

Hair Loss

Hair loss will occur due to the conversion of Testosterone into DHT, which will negatively impact the hair follicles on your head. If you wish to avoid this, do not use too many of the compounds that do convert into DHT.

Blood Lipids (Cholesterol)

All Steroids will increase both LDL (bad) and total Cholesterol, whilst decreasing HDL (good) Cholesterol. There is nothing you can do to avoid this, this will happen with all Steroids. That being said, we can do certain things to help remedy this:

  • Consume >5000mg of Omega 3 Fatty Acids daily
  • Perform regular cardio, preferably a combination of HIIT and LISS
  • You can utilize slow Niacin as a means to increase good cholesterol
  • Increase dietary fiber to >30g daily, minimum

Blood Pressure

Most Steroids will increase blood pressure to some extent, especially those that are good at increasing red blood cell count, such as Boldenone. Seeing as many of these Steroids are used as an Anemia treatment, this makes complete sense.

As seen above, having more red blood cells will physically fill up more empty space in the blood vessel. This does increase the oxygen-carrying capacity, which could increase endurance. That being said, it will also lead to the risk of cardiac arrest. Remedies for his are:

  • Don’t use Boldenone or other Steroids that increase red blood cell levels too high
  • Stay extremely well hydrated and don’t get too fat
  • Keep Estrogen levels in check
  • Follow a diet rich in Omega Fatty Acids and Fiber
  • Make use of Statins

Liver Toxicity

All of the oral Steroids will express some liver toxicity, and even some of the injectables like Trenbolone will do so as well. This is a rather tricky one because it isn’t the worst side effect seeing as the liver can recover from most damage. That being said, you would still want to avoid it.

While there isn’t much you can do to avoid liver toxicity completely, especially when using Oral Steroids, we can still try do certain things that could take some pressure off the liver:

  • Manage Blood Pressure and Cholesterol levels
  • Avoid consuming Alcohol
  • Maintain healthy Estrogen levels
  • Make use of Liver health supplements, like Astragalus, N Acetyl Cysteine, Tudca, and IP6

Kidney Toxicity

Compared to liver damage, Kidney damage should open your eyes wide open. See, the kidneys are unable to recover once they are injured. Once they are, you will not even be able to consume more than 100g of protein per day.

The simplest way to avoid kidney damage is to live as healthily as possible. This means consuming plenty of water, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, decreasing junk food intake, and doing regular cardio.

Most Steroids are Renal toxic to some extent due to an increase in blood pressure. You should definitely monitor your blood results:

  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)/BUN/creatinine (serum)
  • Albumin (urine)
  • Urea


Certain Steroids have the ability to interact with the Aromatase enzyme and can then be converted into Estradiol. This happens naturally in male bodies all the time, and while some is rather good, more might actually be better.

A study published in 1976 showed that Trenbolone + Estrogen produced more Anabolism than pure Trenbolone [28]. Now, not only will Estrogen lead to greater gains (due to inflammation), but Estrogen is also Cardio -, Liver -, Renal -, and Neuroprotective.

That being said, you could potentially have so much Estrogen that you begin developing breast tissue – Gynecomastia. This can be remedied by using a SERM, like Nolvadex or Clomid. These will not only block Estrogen from the Estrogen receptors in breast tissue but will promote Estrogen in the Liver (which is healthy).

You can also opt to keep Estrogen in check prior to this happening by using an AI such as Arimidex, Aromasin, or Letrozole. These will be incredibly harsh on your blood lipids, however.


Identifying a user of performance-enhancing substances is becoming increasingly difficult, especially with the rise of Peptides and SARMs. However, there are certain signs to watch out for, as listed below.

But here’s the thing: does it really matter if someone uses? Unless they’re selling the substances like Liver King did, it’s not a big deal. Steroids don’t magically make you superhuman.

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1) Busardò FP, Frati P, Sanzo MD, Napoletano S, Pinchi E, Zaami S, Fineschi V. The impact of nandrolone decanoate on the central nervous system. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015 Jan;13(1):122-31. doi: 10.2174/1570159X13666141210225822. PMID: 26074747; PMCID: PMC4462037.


Ernst Peibst

Ernst Peibst | Writer

Ernst Peibst is an expert in anabolic steroids and PEDs with over 3,000 hours of research. He's been educating people for 7 years through his articles, written after studying science papers, expert books and consulting top doctors in the field. He is a former bodybuilder and creator of multiple fitness websites.

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Scott Sage
Scott Sage
2 years ago

In conclusion.
You my puffy nippled friend are on the sauce.

How do I know this???

Well let’s just say we both get our “natural supps” from the same person.


1 year ago

You must be really dumb to believe that people are dumb enough to believe your crap and ask you for coaching advice.

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