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Old 10-20-18, 02:55 PM
Modern Fat Loss Anabolic Steroid Stack Versus the ‘90s
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It is hard to say when a new generation begins; for simplicity’s sake, let’s go with 25 years. Coincidentally enough, 25 years ago seems consistent with the emergence of the “modern” from the classic bodybuilder generation. One might argue that in the last five years or so, new changes have arisen, but it is not yet clear in the physiques if the trend is an extension of what has been happening or a yet newer, “post-modern” generation.



If you are fortunate enough to visit Gold’s Gym in Venice, California— the mecca of bodybuilding— you will see a historical archive of photos featuring pioneers and champions of bodybuilding’s past. As you pick out familiar faces, it may come to you that these guys looked really healthy. Not just healthy as in athletic, but well-fed and filled out. It really was not until the 1990s that competitors began to have such low body fat and subcutaneous water that a good pathologist could probably dissect one without a scalpel. Moving forward to today, the level of body fat has not changed considerably. Technically, to get any lower, it would involve negative numbers and violate the laws of thermodynamics— and probably a number of California environmental regulations during drought seasons. The difference is the additional mass being acquired as bodybuilders are developing such “peeled” appearances, and the methods being used.



Getting Super Lean

Prior to the 1990s, getting super lean was not a critical feature as so few achieved super low, single-digit body fat percentages. That changed in the 1990s, with the appearance of competitors with cellophane-thin skin. Perhaps the most well known was Andreas Münzer, who qualified several times for the Mr. Olympia, though he never placed higher than the middle of the pack. Sadly, Munzer’s fame is based upon his sudden death in 1996 and the dramatic details of his drug cycle, training and autopsy findings.1



Several factors accounted for the sudden change in the 1990s. Prior to this time, body fat was reduced primarily by cardio during the pre-contest season, calorie restriction and a fairly routine drug regimen. Bodybuilders who gained size and strength using aromatizable anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) would alter their steroid profile to be predominantly non-aromatizable AAS, and incorporate Nolvadex (tamoxifen) as the only available “estrogen blocker,” though tamoxifen is not particularly effective in that role. Not to say tamoxifen doesn’t have potential benefits, but it is relatively wanting as a means of reducing estrogenic action secondary to elevated androgen (AAS) levels. A number of very effective metabolic enhancers were available and remain in favor today, including clenbuterol, triiodothyronine (T3 or Cytomel) and other thyroid drugs with lesser potency, amphetamines and ephedrine/caffeine. Reportedly, a small number of men were dependent upon laxatives.2



There are a few other drugs that continued being used from the 1970s and 1980s, but tapered out over time. Among these are some interesting but esoteric choices, such as ACTH and aminoglutethimide (Cytadren). Of course, there were— and continues to be— a strong dependence upon diuretics for day-of-show presentation. There has not been much in the way of advances in diuretics, with the old mainstays persisting as the go-to drugs— Lasix, Aldactone and hydrochlorothiazide. More than one show has been stopped due to a cramping, even frozen giant.3 Tragically, more than one death is likely directly related to diuretics causing a fatal heart arrhythmia.



Human Growth Hormone

The 1990s saw the emergence of widespread access to human growth hormone (hGH) and elevated dosing, which led to a dramatic shift in body fat storage.4 Huge men were appearing onstage with skin so thin that it was translucent. Of course, the “GH belly” phenomenon (partially due also to insulin abuse) detracted severely from the aesthetics of the change. hGH has long been referred to as a repartitioning agent, as it shuttles energy and nutrients away from storage depots (e.g., adipose or “fat”) to metabolically active tissues and organs. Hormonally, it is like having your body revert back to the days of being a 10-year-old who raids the refrigerator for ice cream sandwiches and then runs outside to play all day, while having a six-pack of abs. Ironically, insulin can be responsible for either fat mass gain, or if timed and dosed carefully, may aid in fat loss. Insulin induces a state of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) that forces the body to respond by pumping out stored sugar and fat, to avoid depleting vital organs such as the brain and heart of needed calories. This potential effect requires the use of very short-acting forms of insulin, including intranasal (inhaled) insulin.5 The downside is that it also activates the appetite.



Sadly, in typical fashion, many bodybuilders turned to drugs to counter the effects of drugs. Those who were in the culture back in the 1990s will remember the Nubain (nalbuphine) epidemic that threatened the health and lives of many bodybuilders. Why were so many taking this painkiller? The reasons are numerous, but along with reducing anxiety, aiding in sleep and reducing training-associated pain, Nubain also blunts the appetite.6 So, similar to the anabolics, drugs used for fat loss prior to the 1990s were primarily those used clinically. The arrival of certain new drugs (e.g., hGH) or drugs new to bodybuilding (e.g., insulin and Nubain) were added, but often at unsafe or inappropriate doses— leading to marked shifts in physiques (and structural as well as metabolic damages).



The Rise of Science

What has arisen in this field during the current generation? Science. The drugs now being applied to fat loss are no longer restricted to those that may be found in a pharmacy’s inventory (even if the pharmacy would have to be located in Mexico or Budapest). Instead, pre-trial drugs, biologics and orthomolecular chemokines are being used with reckless abandon. Due to the relative access and lack of enforcement, as these are not pharmaceuticals, they are treated as chemicals rather than the more tightly regulated market of drugs. Do not be fooled to think that the lesser legal liability in any way makes these “research chemicals” safer, or less risky to one’s health. In fact, the opposite is true— as they are manufactured with highly variable purity, depending upon the source, and there is a vacuum of any knowledge or experience as to how they will react in a healthy person, let alone someone with 10 other drugs floating in their system. The potential for harmful or deadly reactions or interactions is very, very high.



Research Chemicals

Among the “research chemicals” are a number of interesting compounds, so the appeal is apparent to the risk-taking bodybuilder who is willing to sacrifice (or claims so) to win a title or gain professional standing. For the men whose well-paid livelihood in bodybuilding is dependent upon staying on top of the game, often as age and wear-and-tear take their toll, the pressure is significant as well. A brief description of some of openly mentioned drugs used is merited.



The AMPK pathway is the “energetics” pathway in the cell, much like mTOR is the “anabolic” pathway. Metformin is a drug used by type 2 diabetics for decades with a remarkable safety record. Despite, among its other actions, being a potent activator of AMPK, which is one pathway by which it improves insulin sensitivity, it does little in the way of aiding fat loss in the bodybuilder. Most take it to combat the insulin resistance that accompanies hGH use. However, one drug that is remarkable in activating this pathway and aiding in endurance tolerance and potentially fat loss is AICAR.7,8 Banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), this drug is one of the most prominent “research chemicals” sold to bodybuilders. Often, it is used in conjunction with another “research chemical” called GW-501516.9 These two drugs used together are considered by some to be “exercise in a bottle” and increase fat burning/fat loss noticeably, according to a report. Similar results have been reported with AICAR along with GW0742.8



Stimulants continue to be used, and in the “drugs to fight drugs” category, some are using beta-1 blockers to allow for a continued higher dose of clenbuterol to be used. Though the thermogenic effect is quickly blunted by the beta-2 receptors being downregulated, the protection from specific beta-1 blockers (potentially nebivolol) may allow for a progressive increase in clenbuterol dosing to continue— to promote not only an increase in energy expenditure, but also potentially reach the anabolic threshold for clenbuterol that appears to be based upon a novel PGC-1alpha subtype.10 This could also allow for “browning” of subcutaneous fat over time, though that remains conjecture at this time.



The gut has become noticed as an endocrine organ, and hormones that affect glucose metabolism and insulin secretion are of interest. GLP-1 is a gut hormone that promotes a number of positive changes relative to metabolic rate and body composition. Bile acids have been known to increase metabolism as well, via a receptor called TGR5. These pathways would not have a direct lipolytic effect on fat cells, but would certainly increase the efficiency of a disciplined diet.



Cosmetic Surgery and Cryotherapy

Drugs aside, bodybuilders are also turning to interesting technological advances. Cosmetic surgery is allowing for small depots of fat that would otherwise detract from the physique to be “sucked away” without the revealing scars of traditional surgery or liposuction. Lasers and cryotherapy (cold application to fatty areas) are also available. Many high-end spas have installed cold immersion tanks where a person stands in a cloud of nitrogen vapor, cooling the body. This would not only activate thermogenesis, but also may aid in training recovery.



As always, the reports on the “cutting edge” are likely a few years out of date, as bodybuilders have always willingly served as guinea pigs and pioneers. There are a few other “research chemicals” known to be in use by a few individuals, but out of concern for drawing attention to such unproven methods, it is best to learn of any harm before alerting overly anxious and impressionable people about their presence.



Remember the lesson of Icarus, who flew on wax wings, soaring to reach Mount Olympus, only to plummet and die as the heat of the sun melted his wings. The professionals and those seeking to gain such status are willing to risk life in some cases. It is little different from the survey that claimed many Olympic athletes would take a pill that killed them in a few years, if it guaranteed a gold medal.
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