Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on YouTube
I’ve churned through over 150,000 emails, social media comments and messages, and blog comments in the last 6 years.
And that means I’ve fielded a ton of questions.
As you can imagine, some questions pop up more often than others, and I thought it might be helpful to take a little time every month to choose a few and record and share my answers.
So, in this round, I answer the following question:
- Are peptides a safe and effective alternative to steroids?
If you have a question you’d like me to answer, leave a comment below or if you want a faster response, send an email to [email protected]
0:00 – Pre-order my new fitness book now for a chance to win over $12,000 in splendid swag: www.muscleforlifebook.com/
5:26 – What are peptides?
7:16 – Why are peptides popular among bodybuilders?
9:07 – How effective are peptides at increasing HGH production?
11:56 – The biggest problem with peptides
12:25 – Are peptides safe? What are the side effects and long-term consequences?
13:21 – Are peptides effective and safe?
18:39 – How long do you have to use peptides?
Mentioned on the Show:
Pre-order my new fitness book now for a chance to win over $12,000 in splendid swag: www.muscleforlifebook.com/
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
First, have you pre-ordered your copy of my new book, muscle for Life yet and entered my giveaway of over $12,500 of Splendid Fitness Swag. What? Why the devil not do you hate fun? Well, look, if it pleases your grace, go to Muscle for Life book.com. Muscle f o r life book.com now, and pre-order a copy of the book and enter the giveaway.
Let’s remedy this scandalous state of affairs, and I would counsel haste as well because my big book Launch Bonanza ends in a couple of weeks and then the winners will be chosen. So anyways, let’s shift gears quickly and talk about tracking body weight, which is. More fiddly than people realize because one of the easiest ways to drive yourself to distraction in your fitness journey is to obsess over daily shifts in your weight, which often have nothing to do with gaining or losing fat or muscle.
So, for example, even slight swings in fluid retention, glycogen levels, that’s a form of carbohydrate stored in your muscles, primarily in your liver as well. And bowel movements can produce pretty noticeable ups and downs in your body weight. And so a much better way to measure and to track body weight is to look at longer range.
Averages. Those are less erratic, and those better register the stuff that we actually care about, which is fat and muscle. Now, if over the course of weeks and months the averages are moving down, then you are clearly losing weight. If they’re moving up, you are clearly gaining weight. And so here’s a simple procedure.
Weigh yourself every one to three days, first thing in the morning, naked after the bathroom, and before eating or drinking anything. And then record those numbers. Some are accessible like an Excel file or a Google Sheet or a Notepad app in your phone. And if you wanna take it even further, some people like to graph the numbers in a spreadsheet, and then every couple of weeks, every 10 to 14 days, add your weigh-ins together and then divide the sum by the number of weigh-ins to get your average daily.
For that period, and then record that as well. And so here’s how this might look for somebody who’s cutting. Let’s say on Monday they weigh 163 pounds on Thursday, 164 on Sunday, 1 62 on Wednesday, 1 61 on Saturday, 1 61 on Tuesday, one 60. So the average daily. Is 162 pounds. We add up all of those weigh-ins, 808 pounds.
We divide by six, the number of weigh-ins for 1 62, and then repeat that process. And let’s say the average is 1 61, great. If they’re cutting, that is a good sign. If it is 1 63, , that is not necessarily a bad sign. It depends what is happening in the mirror, what is happening with their body composition. But if after several rounds of six weigh-ins, the weight is going up and the waist is getting bigger, for example, body composition is not getting leaner in the mirror, then that just means they have to make some adjustments.
So that’s a simple. It’s a clean process, and if you want more of my wisdom on how to measure and how to improve your body composition, pick up a copy of my new book, muscle for Life Today. Go over to Muscle for Life book.com and pre-order your copy. It comes out on January 11th, and then enter the giveaway instructions are on the page, and you can win all kinds of glorious fitness goodies.
Again, I’m giving away over $12,500 of. Stuff. So go check it out, muscle life book.com. Hello, and welcome to Muscle Four Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. And if you haven’t already, please do take a moment to subscribe to the show in whatever app you’re listening to me in so you don’t miss any new episodes.
And it helps me by boosting the ranking of the show in the various charts. So today’s episode is going to be me answering a question that I have gotten fairly. Over the last, uh, year or so, and I’m finally getting around to publicly answering it, and that is, are peptides effective and safe? And really what people are asking is, are peptides and effective and safe alternative to anabolic steroids?
Can you take these compounds, these peptides and gain muscle and lose fat and stay leaner? Any negative side effects similar to Terone? The question I get about Terone, which I recently answered on the podcast, again, people are looking for, in that case, what is promoted as a natural supplement that is as effective as anabolic steroids without the unwanted side effects.
And so peptides, uh, are, are in a similar vein in terms of the, the question that is, Asked. And so in this podcast I’m going to share a succinct ish answer, uh, to that question. Of course, we will start with what peptides are and how they work in the body, and then we’ll go over some of the research on these substances and my bottom line conclusion and recomme.
Okey dokey. So what are peptides? Let’s start there. Well, the term peptide refers to any molecule that consists of between two and 50 amino acids that are linked in a chain by what are called peptide bonds, a certain type of chemical bond. And these substances are found naturally in the body. They are in animal and plant-based protein sources like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, milk, soy, oats, pulses, and lentils.
But they can also be synthesized artificially in a lab. Now, when people refer to peptides in the context of body building, they’re talking about a, uh, an injectable or a powder. Type of peptide that’s used to stimulate human growth hormones. So H G H, and these substances that can stimulate the secretion of other substances are known as secretagogues.
And in the case of growth, hormone growth hormones, secretagogues. So again, when body builders or. When people who are concerned about body composition, improving body composition are talking about peptides, they’re talking about these specific types of peptides that are growth hormone secretagogues, and uh, I just wanna.
Mentioned that the peptides used in body building are not the same as peptides that are used in peptide therapy, which is a type of treatment that claims to be able to improve various aspects of your health, like your bone and your joint health, your brain function, uh, your body composition and other things, hair growth, immune function, and so forth.
Those peptides are different molecules, so. are peptides popular among bodybuilders? Well, uh, to, to answer that question, you have to look at why growth hormone is useful to bodybuilders because you can get growth hormone and just inject that directly, or you can get peptides, which then stimulate. Your body’s production of growth hormone, and why would that be good?
While research shows that growth hormone causes fat mobilization, which means it helps your body release the fatty acids that are stored in fat cells, that you can then burn for energy, and that makes it particularly good for losing fat and also preserving muscle. While you’re cutting, many bodybuilders will report faster fat loss when cutting, when they are using growth hormone, then without it.
And studies also show that by spiking your growth hormone levels, you can also promote the release of insulin-like growth factor one, IGF one as it is generally referred to and. Can stimulate muscle growth and it can also indirectly promote fat mobilization. So growth hormone delivers a, a pretty good one, two punch, particularly on the fat mobilization front, uh, less so on the muscle building front.
And, uh, many experienced bodybuilders who have used many different types of drugs will report that that growth hormone does not have the muscle. Building punch that anabolic steroids have. But if you combine growth hormone with anabolic steroids, you get even more muscle building. And again, when you are cutting in particular, growth hormone, uh, makes a a market difference.
Now that’s growth hormone as a. As a substance unto itself. Let’s now talk about peptides. How effective are peptides at increasing HGH h human growth hormone HGH production in humans? Well, studies show that they’re actually pretty effective. Uh, several trials have found that peptides do increase growth hormone secretion in humans in a range of different circumstances.
For example, research conducted by scientists at Schneider Children’s Medical Center. Israel showed that growth hormone Secretagogue Hex sorein was effective at increasing HGH H and IGF one levels in short children. In another study conducted by scientists at the University of Luin, researchers used peptides to increase HGH H and IGF one to healthy levels in men who had prolonged critical illness that had then suppressed their HGH levels.
Studies also show that peptides increase HGH H and IGF one in elderly people who were recovering from bone fractures and that that may have improved the healing process. So the current weight of the evidence is peptides are effective at increasing HGH H and IGF one levels. But what is not clear is.
Effects that will have on body composition and performance in healthy trained individuals. There just isn’t much research to look at. There are a couple of studies that have showed positive effects on body composition in obese people and in people who suffer from Prodder Willy Syndrome, which is.
Genetic disorder that causes children to be constantly hungry, and that often leads to obesity and type two diabetes in adulthood, as you can imagine. And while the results of those studies have been promising, it’s not uncommon to see participants lose fat mass and build muscle while supplementing with these peptides.
We shouldn’t automatically assume that we will see similar results in healthy people and healthy active people and healthy, active people who have been training their muscles for a long time, because of course those are very different. Physiologies. For example, research shows that obese people tend to have impaired.
Growth hormone secretion, so they have abnormally low growth hormone levels. And then of course, you’d expect such people to respond to a growth hormone related treatment better than people who don’t have such an abnormality. And studies have shown that studies have shown that the response seen in obese people to such treatments isn’t always typical of what you see in people who are not obese, people who have a a healthy body composition.
And that is the biggest problem with peptides. They appear to be effective at increasing HGH and IGF one, but we don’t know if that’s going to help you build muscle and lose. If you are of a healthy weight and if you are regularly active, because of course the effects in the body are not as dramatic as just injecting straight H g H, and we also don’t know what the long-term effects of taking peptides are.
Most of the evidence that we currently have suggests that they are safe to use in the short term, but we have very little data about how safe they are over the long term. And most evidence doesn’t mean all by the way. One study, for example, that was conducted in elderly patients had to be cut short because of concerns that the, uh, growth hormone secretagogue that they used in the study increased the rate of congestive heart failure because four patient.
In the G H S group developed congestive heart failure during the study. Now, of course, they don’t know if that was a correlation or a causation. Were those people going to develop that condition regardless, or was it caused or precipitated by the G H s? They didn’t know, but of course they had to end the study at that point because there was now evidence that they might be harming these people.
So to circle back to the question that I am often asked, and that is, are peptides effective and safe? And by effective, what people mean is, are they going to help me build muscle? Are they going to help me lose fat? Are they going to help me retain muscle and stay lean and so on? Body comp. Uh, benefits specifically, and then safe of course is, are they without side effects?
And the short and simple is, there’s no question that peptides are very effective at increasing HGH and IGF one levels in people with abnormally low levels of H G H, and they probably have similar effects in healthy people as well. The effects probably aren’t as dramatic and will almost certainly not be as dramatic as injecting straight HGH h bypassing your body’s natural production, which peptides do not.
Again, they stimulate natural production. So then of course, The peptides are still subject to some of your body’s, uh, inbuilt mechanisms to regulate H G H production to prevent it from, from spiking too high, whereas injecting straight hgh H again, you bypass all that and you spike your HGH H levels as high as as you want.
And so that is some commentary on mechanistic efficacy of peptides. Now, if we. Shift to bottom line results. Body comp, we just don’t know. And by we, I mean evidence-based folk. If we look to these scientific literature, uh, there aren’t clear studies we can point to that show in healthy, active resistance trained individuals, the use of one g h s or another.
Clearly boosts muscle building, clearly boosts fat loss, clearly boosts weight, maintenance, and so on. But if we look to the literature on H G H itself, and if we look to the anecdotal evidence of H G H, of which there are decades of reports now from bodybuilders who have used H G H and many other drugs, and in many cases these bodybuilders.
Very informed about the drugs they were using and very meticulous in developing their protocols and tracking everything. Then I, I think it’s fair to say that H g H can have positive effects on body comp, particularly with fat burning, uh, but less so with muscle building. And as far as muscle building in particular goes, h g H’s effects, uh, do not compare to anabolic steroids.
So if you’re thinking that you can use peptides instead of anabolic steroids to get bigger and stronger, you are going to be disappointed, especially if you have used anabolic steroids in the past. And if you are thinking you can use peptides to double the rate of fat loss or even lose fat without having to count calories or really even pay attention to calories, that is a, a claim that some people make with growth hormone.
Tides that, uh, the, the fat burning effects are so pronounced that you don’t even have to be in a calorie deficit or you even have to try to be in a calorie deficit. You are just going to get leaner. Then you are also going to be sorely disappointed. It does not work like that. You can think of peptides more along the lines of supplements than hardcore.
In that sense, in that if they are going to have a beneficial effect on your body comp, it is going to be complimentary to what you are doing in the kitchen and gym. It is not going to overshadow those things in the way that anabolic steroids can. With muscle building, you can get a lot wrong in the kitchen and gym, and if you take strong enough anabolic steroids and enough of them.
You are going to get bigger and stronger, and it’s going to happen quickly. Of course, I’m not endorsing that. I’m not saying you should do that, but that is a fact. And lastly, as far as safety goes, short-term peptides appear to be safe long-term. We don’t know. And the endocrine system is extremely complex, and when you start tinkering with it, there can be many downstream effects that are hard to predict and hard to detect until a real problem has, uh, occurred, has arisen.
And so my general position and my general recommendation is, Try not to mess with your endocrine system. Uh, support it with good nutrients, support it with safe supplements. In some cases, like D H E A, for example, if you are a middle-aged person in particular, if you wanna learn more about that, head over to legion athletics.com, search for D H E A, but don’t inject things that bypass your body’s natural systems that cause huge spikes.
Certain types of hormones and in the case of peptides, I suppose those are gray for me. Anabolic steroids, black, D H E A white peptides gray because they are not bypassing your body’s natural production of H G H, like H G H does. If you just inject that stuff. They are stimulating. They are. Super charging to use a marketing term, your body’s natural production of H G H, but if you are going to experience, let’s just say enough changes in your body composition to make you happy.
To make it even worth the money, you are going to have to use peptides for some time. It’s not going to be one month. If you are planning on just doing a quick quote unquote cycle of peptides for a month, don’t waste your time. You are not going to notice anything. You would have to use them for an extended period of time.
And again, that is. Where we just don’t know what the effects are. And for example, if you are using peptides for a long time, is that going to negatively impact your natural production of H G H going forward? And if it does, are those effects going to be temporary? Uh, are they going to be temporary, but of long duration?
Are they going to be permanent in some people? We just don’t know. And so for me, if I look at the, the potential upsides not that great from even H G H, if we want to dramatically change our body comp anabolic steroids, they can dramatically change body comp. Uh, but again, I would not recommend them h g H less so.
H G H , many bodybuilders, they consider it almost like a supplement to the anabolic steroids, right? So if we’re weighing everything in the balance here and with peptides, maybe we’re gonna see mild, maybe, maybe moderate improvements to body composition over the improvements we could make without the peptides.
But it’s gonna take some time. It’s gonna take months and months of use. . And as I mentioned earlier, because we are going to be messing with our endocrine system in an unnatural way, there are unknowns that can come back to haunt us. And once you mess your endocrine system up, it can be hard to. Put it back together, bring it back to normal function.
And so that’s why I don’t use peptides or H D H or anabolic steroids or anything else that causes major disruptions to the endocrine system. I’m okay with supplementing with D H E A, for example. I’m okay with supplementing with vitamin D and with, uh, other vitamins and minerals that support. My endocrine system, but that’s where I draw the line.
I would rather just stay patient. Now, I don’t have much muscle strength left to gain genetically anyway, but even if I did, I would know that instead of trying to use drugs and other substances to speed up my results. I can just stay patient and I will get to the same place ultimately, and I will do it in a way that is sustainable and that maximizes my health, not imperils it.
Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.
And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.