What makes the best prohormone for the average user?
This question is one that many people want answered before they put something into their body. So, what really makes the best pro-hormone for people to use? First we need to understand the difference between prohormones and steroids and decipher the many products on the market that use both steroids and pro-hormones in their formulations.
Steroids are active hormones in the body that are naturally produced or unnaturally taken to perform a specific task. Steroids are NOT anabolic steroids, there is a difference. Steroids can be birth control, cortisone or even cholesterol. Something that is a steroid isn’t anabolic (builds muscle) and it doesn’t make the item illegal. Legal steroids that are not anabolic that you will find in a health food store
are: progesterone creams, pregnenolone and DHEA. These are all considered steroids but they are NOT anabolic steroids! So, the word steroid is like “vehicle” composed of trucks, bikes, motocycles and cars. It is a generic term that has no real meaning.
Under this is a class called Androgens, which are anabolic steroids that are derived from testosterone. These testosterone derivatives are the typical suspects that one would see on the black market or in cancer patients. Products like “deca” (nandrolone), equipoise (boldenone) or D-Bol (methandrostenolone) compose this class of drugs. Some anabolic steroids are sold as dietary supplements because they are not classified as drugs by the DEA. These are NOT legal however, since the FDA doesn’t recognize them as dietary supplements. The problem is that the FDA is behind in enforcing these laws such as DSHEA. There is a class of legal products designed to increase levels of androgens legally and these are called prohormones.
Illegal anabolic steroids are classified into two groups: oral anabolic steroids and injectable anabolic steroids. Oral steroids have a 17aMethyl group which blocks liver enzymes and therefore can cause liver enzymes to increase. Often grey market anabolic steroids (ones not classified by the DEA, yet not legal by FDA standards) use this 17a Methyl delivery system to increase potency. This delivery method should be clearly visible on the product information as in the grey market prohormone 4-chloro-17a-methyl-androst-1, 4-diene-3-17b-diol. This product is actually a prohormone but one that contains the 17a-methyl delivery system, making it liver stressful. Compounds that are in this category on the open market usual have a “Halo”, “Phera” or “Drol” in their name. They are clone products of the products ruled upon by the FDA in 2005 as not being DHSEA compliant. Also, black market steroids such as “D-bol”, “Anadrol 50” and “Winstrol” have this liver stressing delivery system. Injectable steroids do not share this liver stressing situation and they are not sold as supplements, since the FDA prohibits anything sold as a supplement from being injected however they are available on the black market as “Equipoise”, “Deca” and “Test Prop” or “Sustenon 250”. Injectables do not carry the liver stress of the oral pills, but they have their own set of issues like the need for often painful injections. Are these the best prohormone for the average guy? I think not, since they are either illegal or grey and are not always safe. I think the best prohormone is actually one that IS a prohormone vs. an anabolic steroid.
There is another option which I feel is the best product for the average person, which is a TRUE prohormone. PRO means precursor to, or converts into. Provitamin A (beta carotene) is a vitamin that converts into vitamin A via an enzyme system. These “pro” drugs or “pro” supplements are much safer since your body converts them to active constituents as they are needed. True “pro” hormones are things that convert to testosterone and testosterone analogs in the body. They do not carry the liver stress of the grey market steroids either. Some of them are 100% legal by both the DEA and the FDA (complying with DHSEA). The FDA laws require that the hormone be naturally occurring and ALSO be sold as a dietary supplement intended for that use prior to 1994. I will run down a short list of pro-hormones that are on the market and my opinion on their legal status and listing them in potency:
Relative Potency of Prohormones:
1-Androsterone (DEA Legal, Pending DSHEA Compliant) - Rating 100
** Search 1-Androstene-3b-ol, 17-one
(best used for size and strength gains in cycles of 4-6 weeks @ 300-600mg/Day)
4,9 Estra-Diene (DEA Legal, NOT DSHEA Compliant) – Rating 95
(best used for size gains in cycles of 4-6 weeks @ 300mg/Day)
19Nor-Androsterone (DEA Legal, DSHEA Compliant) – Rating 80
** Search Norandrostene-3b-Ol, 17-One
(best for safe size gains in cycles of 4-6 weeks @ 300mg/Day)
5a-epiAndrosterone (DEA Legal, DSHEA Compliant) – Rating 80
** Search epihydroxyetioallocholan-17-One
(best for cutting cycles and strength gains in cycles of 4-6 weeks @ 300mg/Day)
11-keto Androstenedione (DEA Legal, Pending DSHEA Compliant) – Rating 75
** Search Adrenosterone
(best for mild gains and mild fat loss in cycles of 4-6 weeks @ 300mg/Day)
4-Androsterone (DEA Legal, Pending DSHEA Compliant) – Rating 75
1,4 Andro-dione (DEA Legal, NOT DSHEA Compliant) – Rating 65
DHEA (DEA Legal, DSHEA Compliant) – Rating 50
These products are much closer to what the government intended as a dietary supplement, meaning that they are not active anabolic steroids yet still provide benefits for the bodybuilder. They are usually quite potent yet do not carry the liver stress that the grey market steroids may have with the 17aMethyl delivery system. 1-Androsterone is the most potent prohormone on the market and although it is not an anabolic steroid, it does give your body the raw materials to make it’s own active steroids, which should give a nice increase to muscles without suffering negative side effects seen with the steroids on the market (often referred to wrongly as “prosteroids” which is a misnomer since they are not “pro” anything, they don’t need to convert to be active and are not dependent on the body’s enzymes). This product is pending a study that will prove it to be DSHEA compliant and once that is complete we should expect to see more 1-Androsterone products on the market, since it is the best choice for the average bodybuilder. The other products are all good too and have some distinct advantages too. 1-Androsterone or “1-Andro” is the best for raw size and strength but others have some very good benefits too, making them good choices for the “best prohormone for the average guy” 19N or Androsterone has very little negative side effects like hairloss and prostate enlargement for long term use, which makes it a very mild prohormone that may even increase hair growth and 5aAndrosterone or 5aEpiAndrosterone is a great product for cutting body fat and increasing intensity, since it stimulates both the mind and the muscle. 11-Keto-Androstenedione has the benefit of cutting cortisol, which is healthy and good for cutting fat. So, depending on the desired goals each hormone has some very positive benefits.
All androgenic steroids and their precursors carry some minor issues that should be addressed. It is possible to lose hair when the androgenic profile of the body is changed. Additionally, the body is subject to many side effects that can occur in people, so it is best to check with a doctor prior to use and to stop using prohormones if there are any side effects that are noticed. I believe that TRUE prohormones can be used for 4-8 week cycles and that they are extremely safe when used in this manner. I can’t say the same for the illegal grey market 17a Methyl steroids on the market. In my opinion, they will not harm you long term and their safety is not horrible like the media suggests, but they are illegal and the FDA made a ruling in 2005 that these products should not be on the market as dietary supplements, so they are not legal in my book.
I think the best prohormone for the average bodybuilder is one that balances the factors that I have identified. Legality is one factor and although you can get illegal grey market steroids like “Halo, Phera and Drol”, these products put all dietary supplements at risk and are really bad for your freedom to access quality dietary supplements. I don’t believe that the 17aMethyl products are terribly dangerous even thought they raise liver enzymes, but they are not something to be taken lightly. Also as I stated they limit your future access to legal DSHEA compliant dietary supplements like creatine and amino acids. Please understand to the media and congress, steroids are ANYTHING that builds muscle, so to them even protein is considered a steroid and certainly there have been many movements to ban creatine. So, making a choice from the list of DSHEA compliant pro-hormones is a vote for legal and defensible sports supplements. Once the FDA made a decision to specify certain products as not DSHEA compliant in 2005, it is best to avoid purchasing these items and to support legal, DSHEA compliant products.
The good news is that choosing a product off the list will give you some serious advantages as well! First, 17aMethyl steroids will make you gain 10-15lbs in two weeks, BUT they are gains that you are most likely to lose since your body has not adjusted to the extra size. Staying on a 17aMethyl product for more than two weeks isn’t advisable since raised liver enzymes are not something you want to have for long cycles. Choosing a pro-hormone that puts on size at a slower rate is actually a much better idea in my opinion. Gains with the DSHEA compliant pro-hormones can range from 7-17 lbs in a month. Certainly they are much slower but they are gains that you can actually maintain and keep. This is actually a huge advantage since your body wants to be in a state of homeostasis whenever possible. Homeostasis is basically maintaining what you’ve been and resisting change. Only slow and steady changes in your body are permanent so although the lure of 15lbs in two weeks is nice and I have done it myself, the only thing that really made any difference was continual slow changes. That is why doctors recommend slow weight loss to crash diets and long term hormone use vs. quick cycles that cause you to gain tons of muscle in a short amount of time. We all know those kids in high school that did steroids and were huge for one football season
yet now are tiny and scrawny. (I have a friend Jerry like this…I saw him a few years ago and you would never even know he did steroids) I have been able to change my body’s set point for muscle by doing long and steady cycles of LEGAL pro-hormones over many years. This is why it is so important to support legal supplements, since your goals for pro-hormone use should be thought in terms of years vs. weeks. You can’t plan for the year if your access to potent, safe and legal dietary pro-hormones is cut short because they get lumped in with the grey market steroids. So, in my opinion a pro-hormone that you can use safely for 8 weeks is much better than a short two or three week cycle. Also, it is one that you can use for 4 cycles a year vs. only one or two cycles a year. It may take longer to get the results, but they are results that you can keep for years to come and enjoy for a life time.
So, balance your pro-hormone pick on side effects, goals and desired effect and make a positive choice that supports freedom and safe use yet gives maximum effects. Also, price is a factor, since the more potent the product, usually the higher price point (price is amount plus dose required). My final thought is to vary the types of legal pro-hormone you use for each cycle since I truly believe that the body adapts to one type of pro-hormone used consistently. Also, stacking pro-hormones is a good choice since they often have different functions. I hope this article helps put these products in perspective and helps you make an informed choice on which products are the best for making gains while being safe and responsible. In my next article, I will discuss timing your pro-hormone doses for maximum effect.
Eric Marchewitz –copyright 2007