Let’s face it: I’ve been talking about fringe supplements (and needles) a lot lately.
For example, in my articles on BPC-157 and TB-500 peptides, I taught you how to inject under-the-radar, non-FDA approved but highly efficacious healing peptides under the skin or into the muscle to massively speed up injury healing.
Then, in my article on “Safe Alternatives to Steroids” and my “Guide To Gaining Muscle, Losing Fat & Much More With SARMs” I filled you in on some potent oral liquid compounds called SARMs – which are also a bit controversial, not very well-known in the popular supplement industry, and require safe and informed use, but can also be extremely efficacious.
As you may have guessed by this intro, today I’m back with another controversial stack: a blend of ingredients that can act just as effectively as steroids, with very little of the risk. I do indeed realize this kind of stuff isn’t for everyone, but I’ve gotten so many follow-up questions and interest after the peptides and SARMs post, I figured I should fill you in on my latest find.
Let’s do this.
Steroids: Proceed With Caution
Why else would professional athletes risk their careers and reputations by using them? But with an increase in muscle growth, strength, power, speed, and muscle recovery comes organ damage, liver cancer, hormone changes, man boobs and female facial hair, unpleasant psychological effects, high blood pressure, and a whole host of other pretty terrible things.
People choose to use steroids because there is just nothing else on the legal market that will have such profound effects on athletic performance. The thing is, there are supplements that can rival steroids without the deleterious effects, they just aren’t sold in very bioavailable forms. If your body can’t absorb a substance, it’s no use to you.
However, thanks to advances in nutrient delivery systems, you can now reap the benefits of extensively studied compounds rather than wasting your money on supplements that are largely excreted by your body without any noticeable effects.
The art of supplementation involves not only what you put in your body, but also how you get it into your body. Health supplements with a liposomal delivery system have the potential to deliver steroid-like gains without whispers in the locker room or shady black-market dealings. Yes, really. It’s time to consider the use of the proper over-the-counter health supplements in your quest to building the ultimate body.
Okay, it’s time for the disclaimer. Much like TB-500 and BPC-157, some of the supplements I’m going to discuss are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. However, if you’re not a professional, in-competition athlete and you want to play with what might just be the most powerful supplement stack on the planet, then sit back, enjoy the ride, and be safe, kids!
The Science of Liposomal Delivery
Let's start with the best way to get this stuff into the body: something called liposomal delivery.
In the human body, vesicles are small structures found within a cell, which consist of a lipid bilayer surrounding fluid. These vesicles transport materials within the cytoplasm. When created artificially, vesicles are called liposomes. The word “liposome” comes from the two Greek words for fat (lipo) and body (soma), since liposomes are composed of phospholipid – a class of lipids that make up cell membranes.
Liposomes have been studied for their ability to deliver drugs and supplements in a targeted way with many benefits to the user. All of that being said, the big deal about liposomal delivery systems is their ability to improve the quality of the supplements or medication by stabilizing the therapeutic compound and overcoming natural obstacles the body presents in the form of cellular and tissue uptake.
The human body is amazing – it will reject, or at least attempt to reject, anything foreign we consume or inject into our bodies. This includes over the counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and prescribed medications. That means when we take these things in an effort to improve our health, provide vitamins or minerals we aren’t getting from our diet, or boost our strength and muscle mass – our body is rejecting most of it! This is why people don’t see the results they’re looking for with the majority of supplements designed for muscle growth, fat loss, and even vitamin deficiencies.
But, when you take any supplements that have a liposomal delivery system, the distribution of the supplement is improved and the body absorbs more of the vitamins or supplements. Liposomes are the most bioavailable way to deliver nutrients because they can modify drug absorption, reduce drug metabolism, prolong biological half-life or reduce toxicity. It’s a little like a chemistry magic show. So, the liposomes encapsulate the compounds to protect them from early inactivation and dilution during circulation, meaning the quality of the supplement or medication remains intact until it is fully delivered to the area of the body that will use it. It’s like putting a suit of armor around the supplement, so your stomach acids and whatever other warriors live in your body can’t attack and put it out of commission before it has the chance to give you the benefits it’s designed to deliver! Liposomes protect the supplements so your body has a chance to receive the benefits.
Consumption of supplements through a liposomal delivery system provides many scientific advantages, including biocompatibility, ability to carry large drug payloads, capacity for self-assembly, and a wide range of biophysical and physicochemical properties that have the ability to modify for control of biological characteristics.
A very few number of nutritional supplement companies are relying on the benefits of liposomal delivery systems at this time. It’s well documented that the bioavailability of oral supplements is limited – meaning we don’t really absorb all of the nutrition we consume. This makes most supplements a total waste of time and money. When you are checking out possible supplements for muscle growth and/or weight loss – make sure they contain the liposomal delivery system to ensure you are going to actually absorb the substance in your body. It’s pretty simple: liposome delivery increases the amount of nutrition your body actually absorbs from the supplement.
So, now that you know the science of why this stuff works, it’s time for you to get what you came here for. A muscle-building stack. Here’s an example of a supplement stack you can actually buy over-the-counter for building muscle and burning fat very similarly to steroids, without the side effects:
- 1-DHEA (also known as 1-Androsterone, 1-Dehydroepiandrosterone, or 1-androsten-3b-ol-17-one)
- 4-DHEA Blend (also known as 4-androstene-3b-ol, 17-one, 4-androstene-3b-ol,17-one Undecanoate, or 4 androstene-3b-ol, 17-one Caprylate)
- An aromatase inhibitor
- On cycle support
- Post cycle therapy
Taking this combination of compounds (along with a healthy diet and physical exercise) can reduce your body’s fat content pretty dramatically, increase lean body mass at the same time, improve some workout injury recovery rates, and do it all while shielding your liver and other organs from the harmful effects of the alternative option to this stack: steroids.
So let’s break down each of these compounds so you can see what they do, what they’re made of, and why you might consider taking this stack.
What is 1-DHEA?
1-DHEA is a modified compound of the parent steroid hormone Dehydroepiandrosterone, also known as androstenolone or DHEA. DHEA is produced by our bodies naturally, and in the human body, DHEA is the most abundant steroid hormone in circulation. It is produced by the adrenal glands, the brain, and the gonads. In the brain, Dehydroepiandrosterone functions as a metabolic intermediate, responsible for biosynthesizing androgen and estrogen sex steroids.
Although the research isn’t conclusive for all of these, DHEA has been used to improve physical performance, slow or reverse aging, improve cognitive skills of older people and slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, to treat sexual dysfunction, to improve sexuality in men and women, to prevent muscle damage from exercise, to treat metabolic syndrome, clogged arteries, depression, and if you can believe it, to treat a heck of a lot more conditions. I’ll go into the relevant science in a minute.
But first, back to 1-DHEA. In the human body, 1-DHEA is converted into 1-testosterone (the prohormone steroid that was banned in 2005 by the FDA and DEA) through a two-step conversion via two enzyme pathways. 1-DHEA is preferred over the standard DHEA that can be purchased from Amazon and other store shelves as DHEA/5-DHEA. This is because it doesn’t have the same estrogenic side effects as DHEA/5-DHEA that you don't want to deal with. 1-DHEA can’t be converted into estrogen or activate the estrogen receptor the way DHEA is known to do. Because of this, it stacks well with other supplements to obtain gains in muscle tissue. 1-testosterone, the potent anabolic steroid end-product we’re truly after when taking 1-DHEA, has been shown to significantly improve muscle size, strength, and power.
Okay, back to the science. A 2013 study showed that 1-DHEA supplementation lead to significant increases in lean muscle mass, significant fat loss, and increased strength in the back-squat, bench press, and deadlift. The participants were given 330mg of 1-DHEA, spread across three doses each day, over the course of four weeks.
1-DHEA reduces both the user’s body weight and their appetite. Studies on glucose metabolism with rats shows that DHEA reduces body fat. The rats in the study were fed a high-fat diet with 1-DHEA supplements daily for a period of eight weeks. After eight weeks, the rats experienced weight loss even though they consumed large amounts of fat.
Other studies have shown anti-obesity effects on mice when given daily DHEA supplements, even when the mice studied were genetically predisposed for obesity. It was confirmed by these studies that DHEA prevents the Ay gene from promoting excess fat deposition via some mechanism(s) other than reduced dietary intake.
In addition to the supplement’s ability to help you lose weight by reducing body fat, it’s also been shown to reduce arterial aging and reduce cardiovascular disease risks. Unfortunately for all of us, when you are between the ages of 25 and 75 years old, the aging process results in arterial stiffness – a condition that predicts cardiovascular disease. Also, it is during this period of aging that the concentration of serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) decreases by about 80%. 1-DHEA helps you combat the effects of this aging by supplementing your body’s production of DHEA.
DHEA has been shown to increase sexual interest, as well. This is great news considering that typical testosterone steroid use over prolonged periods can decrease drive and sex drive.
In two short term studies, negative effects involving DHEA were minimal. One study looked at the administration of DHEA at a dose of 200 mg per day for 24 weeks and produced only slight androgenic effects. Another study looked at a higher dose of 400 mg per day for 8 weeks, with very few adverse events being reported.
As for you guys out there who care about the death of your testicles, here’s a fun fact: this supplement may also help you prevent apoptosis caused by testicular torsion, which is the death of cells that happens normally as an organism grows and develops. Testicular torsion can occur at any age, but is most common in individuals between the ages of 12 and 16. If it does occur, it almost always requires an emergency surgery to save the testicle. If surgery isn’t completed in time, blood flow may be cut off for too long and it can lead to the need for removing the testicle.
And finally, to get that whole testicle-dying thought off your mind, taking 1-DHEA also seems to help people feel better in general, particularly those who may have hypopituitarism or adrenal failure. Replacing DHEA helps females experience modest improvements in their well-being and minor improvements in mood, as well as for male hypopituitary patients receiving growth hormone replacement.
OK, let’s move on to the next component of this steroid-alternative stack: 4-DHEA.
What Is A 4-DHEA Blend?
A 4-DHEA blend is a precursor to Androstenedione which is converted to pure testosterone in the body, making it a mass anabolic agent and fat loss. Because it requires a two-step conversion process, it is not considered a prohormone. It is known and identified by many names, including:
- Androst-4-ene-3,17-dione (Androstenedione)
Androsterone is a steroid hormone created in the liver from the metabolism of testosterone. In 4-DHEA supplements, androsterone converts into testosterone via a two-step process that involves little effect or stress on your liver and other organs. Once converted, it fuels the growth of muscles, provides a general feeling of well-being, and increases sex drive.
Androstenedione is naturally found in the human body, plants, and meat. Taking Androstenedione in supplement form results in testosterone increases, helping athletes train harder and recover from injuries quicker.
Supplements containing DHEA can increase bone density, especially helpful as people age and bone loss naturally occurs.
Interestingly, supplementing with DHEA has shown a 10% increase in IGF-1 in men and women 50-65 years of age, the hormone I discuss extensively in the article “Should You Use This Controversial Hormone Marketed As A Natural “Fountain Of Youth?”
As with many easily-metabolized prohormones, the trouble with taking 4 DHEA supplements is that the body generally metabolizes it so quickly that you don’t see the results. That’s why you need to look for 4 DHEA supplements that include a liposomal delivery system, to ensure your body can make use of the ingredients and you’re not just flushing it down the toilet (literally!)
Now that you know the muscle-building potential of the first two supplements, along with their myriad of other benefits, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – that is, the possible estrogenic effects and how to avoid getting man boobs or estrogen dominance while taking this stuff.
What Is An Aromatase Inhibitor?
The next part of the stack as an aromatase inhibitor, and it’s a crucial addition.
Aromatase inhibitors prevent the production of estrogen and are used to treat postmenopausal women and dudes with estrogen dominance and man boobs, but offer benefits to the serious fitness buff as well. Aromatase inhibitors block the aromatase enzyme, which results in turning the androgen hormone into small amounts of estrogen in the body. It’s important that your body doesn’t over compensate and create too much estrogen when you’re cycling with prohormones and other supplements that may increase your testosterone levels and create a hormonal imbalance.
Aromatase inhibitors will ensure you don’t have too much estrogen so you can get better results. When bodybuilders and athletes use supplements, steroids, peptides, or SARMs to help them reach their fitness goals, you'll probably never hear anyone bragging about their increase in estrogen and decrease in sexual function! But unfortunately, many of these solutions do increase estrogen production and that can cause negative impacts on your body and training performance.
An aromatase inhibitor can increase the results you’ll get with resistance and aerobic exercises for improved lean body mass, decreased body fat, and decreased total body mass index.
To get the most out of your efforts to build lean muscle, you need to manage estrogen and maximize testosterone. The anti-estrogen supplement that reduces the amount of circulating levels of estrogen in the body is a compound that goes by the names Androst 3,5-dien-7,17-dione, 3-deoxy-7-oxo-DHEA, 7 Keto DHEA – a metabolite of 7-Keto DHEA.
Aromatase inhibitors are primarily used as part of this stack to counteract the estrogen-increasing effects of the other supplements, but they also provide some additional benefits that can help you with your overall goals, including raising your natural myotropic state to assist with the growth of muscle mass, decreasing fat storage, improving your recovery time, increasing testosterone, and improving your drive.
Some aromatase inhibitors will also include drive support to ensure that your hormones are balanced and your sex-drive is intact. Safed Musli is a medicinal plant used in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac, drive enhancer, an energy booster, and offers general immune support. One study showed a marked aphrodisiac effect and increased drive, along with a significant increase in sperm count.
Now that you know how your muscle-building efforts will be supported, it’s time to discuss the ways in which you should support the rest of your body’s systems during a prohormone cycle.
What Is On-Cycle Support?
On-cycle support supplements, which make up most of the rest of this stack, will help optimize your cycle on a steroid alternative stack and get you better results, while protecting and preserving your body’s organs from the negative side effects of strenuous training and nutritional supplementation.
Here’s the deal: many of these supplements can put additional stress on your liver and other organs. Even legal prohormones such as 1-DHEA and the 4-DHEA in this stack, which result in limited liver toxicity and fewer side effects than a steroid cycle, will benefit from an on-cycle support product to counteract issues from increased cholesterol levels, inflammation, increased blood pressure, and prostate health. Anabolics are processed through your liver, and they can increase blood pressure. Using an on-cycle support supplement provides the support your liver needs to repair and detoxify during your cycle, while helping you maintain lower blood pressure.
On-cycle support supplements that contain saw palmetto, a palm tree from Florida, can boost drive by increasing the body’s levels of testosterone. It works by preventing the breakdown of testosterone into the byproduct dihydrotestosterone. The body is then able to maintain more of its testosterone, which can slow or even stop the growth of the prostate gland. It's used most often to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate, but can sometimes be used to treat low sperm count, low sex drive, inflammation, migraine, bronchitis, and diabetes.
Hawthorn berry and leaf extract, an herb used since the 1st century to treat heart disease, is also a common ingredient of quality on-cycle support supplements. Starting in the early 1800s, doctors in America were using hawthorn to treat respiratory illnesses and circulatory disorders, along with heart problems ranging from high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and even heart failure. It can keep your heart strong during your hardest workouts.
Laboratory studies with animals show hawthorn contains antioxidants which can destroy free radicals. Free radicals are found naturally in our bodies and as we age they increase, and can damage cell membranes, kill our body's cells, and tamper with our DNA. Antioxidants are responsible for destroying free radicals and are thought to reduce the health problems associated with aging. By adding on-cycle support to your stack, you can reduce the damages caused by free radicals in your body while supporting your liver and blood pressure.
On-cycle support systems should also contain CoEnzyme Q10 or its reduced version CoQ10, aka ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is a potent antioxidant that mops up the free-radical by-products of your cell’s energy production in your mitochondria. CoQ10 will also reduce bodily inflammation (this naturally occurs during heavy exercise and CoQ10 offers necessary support) and reduces the risk of heart failure.
So obviously, don’t skip the on-cycle support.
And finally, there’s PCT. Prepare to add this final term to your supplement vernacular.
What Is Post-Cycle Therapy (PCT?)
With all of the results and changes your body will go through while using a supplement stack like the one I'm about to show you, it is a good idea to add as much post-cycle therapy protection as possible. Post-cycle therapy formulas return your internal organs to their pre-cycle, optimal operational levels. A PCT in this stack can be used in combination with each of the other supplements you’ve already read about, and then again afterward when you are working to rebalance your hormones. It's designed to return your blood panel to homeostasis faster and decrease the recovery time you need in between cycles so you can obtain more gains over the long term.
The main ingredient of quality post-cycle therapy supplements, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, is used in a wide variety of medications. It features the ability to prevent liver damage from alcoholism, protects the body against environmental pollutants, reduces toxicity of drugs given to cancer patients, works to reduce hangover symptoms, prevents kidney damage caused by X-rays, and is used to treat HIV patients. It's also used by healthcare providers to prevent multi-organ failure leading to death. If it can be used for all of these purposes with good results, it stands to reason that it can assist heavy body builders with the protection of their organs as well. N-acetyl-cysteine is also a by-product of glutathione and helps regulate glutathione maintenance and metabolism, an important aspect when combating premature aging, infections, injuries, and supporting liver detoxification.
Tribulus Terrestris Saponins is an all-natural compound that is ideal for providing support after your cycle. It is known for improving sexual health, building muscle strength, aiding in blood circulation, increasing stamina and boosting testosterone naturally.
Including 5a-hydroxylaxogenin will ensure that you maintain your gains after your cycle. It is part of a group called Brassinosteroids that have been shown to have an anabolic effect by increasing protein synthesis while inhibiting protein breakdown.
And boom, that’s it! You’ve learned about the muscle-building and fat-loss potential when using 1-DHEA and 4-DHEA, why these forms of DHEA are more effective than the usual DHEA/5-DHEA that are on the market, how to use testosterone-boosting supplements without the estrogenic effects when combined with an aromatase inhibitor, the crucial aspects of including on-cycle and post-cycle support within your stack, and the importance of these supplements using the liposomal delivery system.
And now, let’s move on to a stack I’ve recently discovered.
How to Build A Supplement Stack That Is A Potent Alternative To Steroids
The following is a 100% legal supplement stack that will give you quick and quite noticeable results in the muscle gain and fat loss department and offer you a potent alternative to steroids. It’s time to make shady dealings and steroid horror stories a thing of the past. Instead, you can safely build muscle and burn fat at the same time using a specific and balanced combination of supplements. And of course, this stack features the liposomal delivery system.
The stack is made up of five different supplements made by a company called “Vaxxen Labs”:
- Androxx (1-DHEA)
- Axxis (4-DHEA)
- Exxstane (an aromatase inhibitor)
- Pillar (for on cycle support)
- Descend (for post cycle therapy)
Let’s take a look at what each of these contain…
Androxx contains a a 75mg 1-DHEA mix of:
- 1 androstene-3b-ol, 17-one
- 1 androstene-3b-ol, 17-one Undecanoate
- 1 androstene-3b-ol, 17-one Caprylate
Axxis is a 75mg 4-DHEA blend, containing:
- 4 androstene-3b-ol, 17-one
- 4 androstene-3b-ol, 17-one Undecanoate
- 4 androstene-3b-ol, 17-one Caprylate
Exxstane is an aromatase inhibitor, containing:
- Androst 3,5-dien-7,17-dione, 3-deoxy-7-oxo-DHEA, 7 Keto DHEA (75mg)
- Safed Musli (500mg)
Pillar contains the active ingredients:
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine (600mg)
- Red Yeast Rice Powder (400mg)
- Saw Palmetto (300mg)
- Hawthorne berry and leaf extract (250mg)
- Celery seed extract (250mg)
- Grape seed extract (200mg)
- CoEnzyme Q10 (100mg)
Descend contains a lengthy list of ingredients to get the rest of the job done for you using the approach you read about earlier in this article, including:
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine (600mg)
- Tribulus Terrestris 45% Saponins (400mg)
- Stinging Nettle Root Powder (300mg)
- Red Yeast Rice Powder (200mg)
- Saw Palmetto (200mg)
- Milk Thistle (200mg)
- Androsta-3,5-diene-7, 17-dione (75mg)
- Mucuna Pruriens (50mg)
- Ubiquinol (50mg)
- Chrysin (50mg)
- 5a-hydroxylaxogenin (25mg)
So let’s take a closer look at what each of these Vaxxen Labs compounds were designed to do:
Androxx converts Androstenediol to Androstenedione within the body, which is then converted into 1-testosterone. The liposomal delivery systems ensures that this prohormone supplement is absorbed and because it is non-methylated, it will not damage the liver.
Recommended Dosage: One 75mg 1-DHEA blend tablet, twice per day
Axxis is an anabolic agent that will produce gains in strength and size in only a matter of weeks. The lack of absorption and effectiveness of previous 4-DHEA supplements is finally not a concern with the liposomal delivery of this product.
Recommended Dosage: One 75mg 4-DHEA blend tablet, twice per day
Prevent the bloating and loss of drive that can come with an increase in estrogen while supporting muscle growth and fat loss.
Recommended Dosage: Two capsules, one time per day with food (75mg Androst 3,5-dien-7,17-dione, 500mg Safed Musli)
Protect your liver and your prostate while maintaining a healthy blood pressure, cardiovascular system, and kidneys throughout your prohormone cycle. The antioxidants help your body recover from excessive oxidative stress induced through heavy exercise.
Recommended Dosage: Three capsules, one time per day with food
This blend will return your body to its optimal state by offering antioxidants, nervous system support, liver support, and ingredients that naturally support your body’s testosterone levels.
Recommended Dosage: Three capsules, one time per day with food
You can get any and all of the supplements above at Vaxxen Labs with discount code “BENG10” for 10% off. Better yet, order by Mar 31 and get a free t-shirt (while supplies last) so that you can show off those new lean arms.
Just make sure to stack them properly. You can’t grab one random bottle, consume in the absence of the other necessary components, and not risk issues with things like estrogen dominance or liver damage. So be careful.
Should You Consider Using This Stack? Who Shouldn't Use It?
So there you have it.
If you’re serious about your strength training and muscle building, you’ve hit a plateau, or you’re at a point in your life where gaining and maintaining muscle or losing fat is becoming a bit more difficult, then this stack could indeed work for you, especially if you fall into the category of:
- Competitive natural athletes
- Off-cycle steroid users who want to maintain strength and not lose their gains
- Injured athletes looking for faster recovery
That being said, pretty much anyone can supplement with this stack in order to experience measurable muscle growth, increased strength, significant fat loss, and a variety of potential other health benefits with this over-the-counter supplement stack.
But as I mentioned earlier, many of these compounds are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. However, if you’re not a professional, in-competition athlete and you want to play with what might just be a very powerful supplement stack that gives a potent alternative to steroids, then go for it.
In the meantime, do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for about the supplement stacks and alternatives to steroids in this article? Leave your comments below and I’ll reply!