Written by William Llewellyn
11 September 2006

Anabolic Research Update

By William Llewellyn


Take With Food?

Q: Is it better to take steroid pills with meals or on an empty stomach? Prescription drugs often say to take them one way or another. I can't find any mention of this with steroids, and I think I've read every steroid book from every author I could find. If you can't answer this I don't know who can. So, any idea? Does it matter which way you take them?

A: Yes, there's a difference. Steroid hormones, even when they don't have esters, are still considered lipid- (fat) soluble compounds. They basically like to dissolve in fat more than they do water. If you take a fat-soluble hormone with a meal, particularly one with a high fat content, some of the steroid is going to get dissolved with the fat in your stomach. This is, again, a natural property of the steroid. Some of the fat you ate may go undigested, which will ultimately reduce the overall bioavailability of the steroid hormone by preventing some of it from being absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract (and transported to body tissues).

I looked for a long time for some reference to this and finally found mention of a study that took place several decades ago with stanozolol. The experiment administered an equal amount of hormone to two groups of animals. One group received the drug mixed with their food, and in the other, it was administered directly into the animals' stomachs via a feeding tube (on an empty stomach). The drug indeed had a considerably stronger effect on promoting nitrogen retention (a measure of protein synthesis) when it was given on an empty stomach. Seems like very strong support for this position.

So taking your pills on an empty stomach does seem best- at least when it comes to the standard c17-alpha-alkylated (most) oral steroids. If you want to be really meticulous, you can also take your pills with a glass of water, which will help their absorption a little by facilitating the breakdown of tablets and binders and aiding in the transport of the hormone. Chewing the pills before swallowing will also help, again through rapid breakdown and transport to the GI tract. Also, exercising soon after taking your pills draws blood away from your stomach, which could slow or lower drug absorption. Try not to train right after taking them if you can.

Of course, the advice of taking your pills on an empty stomach wouldn't apply to those oral steroids that rely on lymphatic transport, or absorption of the drug by the lymphatic system (with dietary fat) to bypass the liver. Lymphatic delivery is occasionally used with unprotected (non-c17-alpha-alkylated) steroid hormones, although this isn't a common method of steroid delivery. It won't be of relevance with most pills and the only drug really like that now is Andriol (testosterone undecanoate). At one time, however, other lymphatically transported agents such as Maxibolin (ethylestrenol) and Anabolicum Vister (quinbolone) also circulated on the black market. Bodily utilization of drugs like these may actually be aided by consuming them with a high-fat meal.


The SAFEST Steroid

Q: What would you say is the safest steroid? I want to try a cycle and want to use something that will help me grow without hurting me. What would you say is the safest steroid out there, and is it strong enough?

A: The term "safest" is a relative one, as there are many ways to measure safety. For example, in the early days of steroid research, many anabolic steroids were developed in an effort to improve the safety profile of testosterone. It was deemed an effective hormone, but too prone to cause estrogenic and androgenic side effects. For example, it can cause acne, severe water retention, elevated blood pressure and can even affect prostate volume, potentially causing problems with benign prostate hypertrophy and prostate cancer risk (although the latter is still up for debate). On this note, Dianabol was seen as a big improvement over testosterone back in 1958. It was considered a milder, less androgenic, "safer" alternative to testosterone injections. Today, however, Western medicine has abandoned this drug, fearing its strong negative influence on serum lipids and cardiovascular disease risk profile.

If I had to guess, I would assume you're referring to the cardiovascular risks associated with steroid use, which I believe are the most tangible and worrisome for the average user. In this regard, testosterone- that old hormone with estrogenic and androgenic properties that scientists worked so hard to modify for so many years- may turn out to be the safest one. Testosterone has a couple of things going for it. For one, it's a natural hormone that's readily metabolized by the liver. Even in high oral doses (approximately 3 grams per week), it offers no hepatic stress, which indicates low hepatic activity. Low hepatic activity means a weaker effect on the management of cholesterol, which takes place in the liver and a less profound suppression of HDL (good) cholesterol.

In general, serum androgen and HDL levels are inversely correlated in humans. Although this tendency will carry over with all anabolic/androgenic hormones, the nature of the androgen can greatly affect the relative impact here. Again, a natural androgen like testosterone is naturally going to be a lot safer than a synthetic one like Dianabol. The fact that testosterone aromatizes so readily to estrogen (which is a hormone with a positive impact on cholesterol) is another mechanism helping to offset some of the negative effects of an androgen, setting it apart from many other agents. As for actual numbers, we find a study (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 281: E1172-81, 2001) administering up to 600 milligrams of testosterone enanthate per week to healthy males, showing only a 21 percent reduction in HDL values at this high dosage. At 300 milligrams per week, still sufficient for muscle-building purposes, this reduction was only 13 percent, far from the dramatic reductions common with synthetic oral anabolic steroids.

For comparison's sake we can also look at Deca Durabolin, which is commonly referred to as one of the safest (if not the safest) androgens. In one study (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 283:E1214 2002) Deca Durabolin was shown to cause a 27 percent reduction in HDL values at a 600-milligram per week dosage. Although it's imperfect comparing populations from two separate studies, taken at face value, it shows a measurably stronger (negative) effect inherent in nandrolone. Another study (Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol, Jul 13(7) 1986 513-8) directly compared the effects of testosterone cypionate to nandrolone decanoate in weight-training subjects, noting that nandrolone was measurably worse on LDL and HDL values. The researchers concluded that, "[Nandrolone] produced a worsening of potential lipid-related risk factors for ischemic heart disease and that exogenous testosterone has a much less pronounced effect on such risk factors."

So, nandrolone may be a little less safe than testosterone in regard to lipids, perhaps owing to its lower affinity for aromatization to estrogen. Primobolan Depot (methenolone enanthate) has seen much less study in Western medicine, although it's expected to have an even worse effect on lipids, owing to the fact that it's a non-aromatizable anabolic steroid. It too is commonly identified as the safest steroid, but indeed I would place it slightly behind Deca Durabolin in relative cardiovascular risk. Honestly, all three of these hormones are relatively safe when used in reasonable doses for limited periods of time. But you asked for the absolute safest, and in that regard, I'd say any slow-acting ester of testosterone would fit the bill, including cypionate, enanthate, or Sustanon 100/250. These drugs also have the benefit of not being weak muscle builders and in fact work extremely well for that purpose.


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