Throughout my medical career, I've consulted with numerous athletes and bodybuilders, many of whom initially viewed steroids solely as synthetic enhancers for muscle growth and performance.
Steroids are primarily produced by the body, and they were synthesized in the lab less than a century ago to actually mimic the structure and function of their natural counterparts produced by our glands.
In my professional experience, I've observed that steroids have many different functions besides muscle building.
To provide a deeper insight, I collaborated with an endocrinologist colleague, enriching our understanding of this complex topic.
Here’s what we've found.
- The human body can produce natural steroids through steroidogenesis, which is crucial for maintaining physiological processes and regulating immune responses, inflammation, and metabolism.
- Besides steroids, the body also produces amino acid derivatives like creatine and D-aspartic acid, which have steroid-like effects on muscle strength and testosterone production.
- A 1989 study found that testosterone administration accelerated muscle protein synthesis by 27%, significantly enhancing muscle mass.
- From my medical perspective, the natural production of steroids, when supported by a balanced diet and regular exercise, offers a safer and more effective alternative to synthetic steroids for enhancing physical and mental health.
Is It Possible to Produce Natural Steroids?
It is possible for the body to produce natural steroids through the process of steroidogenesis, where cholesterol is converted into biologically active steroids, per a 2011 study published in the Endocrine Reviews journal .
According to The Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology, the natural production of steroids is incredibly important to maintaining the body's normal physiological processes and the regulation of immune response, inflammation, and nutrient metabolism .
In my clinical observations, I've noted that the body also produces amino acid derivatives, functioning in ways akin to steroids and impacting various physiological processes.
Here are some of those steroid and steroid-like compounds that our bodies naturally produce.
Cholesterol is the most common steroid in the body, and it serves as a precursor to all steroid hormones.
It is synthesized in the liver, brain, and bloodstream, and including moderate amounts in your diet can help you keep a hormonal balance .
Natural Steroid Hormones
Testosterone (T) is the male sex hormone responsible for regulating sexual desire, fat distribution, and healthy bones and muscles in men.
According to the National Institutes of Health, it can also contribute to the healthy production of sperm and blood cells .
The region in the brain called the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which it controls, both affect testosterone production, which is produced in the gonads (testes and ovaries), where the Leydig cells synthesize and secrete testosterone.
Both genders can produce a small amount of testosterone in the adrenal glands as well.
The effects of testosterone on muscle development are very well-researched, and that’s what’s in focus for bodybuilders.
For example, in a 1989 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, testosterone administration accelerated muscle protein synthesis in all subjects by 27 percent, resulting in significant gains in muscle mass .
Furthermore, men may increase their natural T levels by eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of quality sleep, and supplementing with natural testosterone boosters.
Estrogen and Progesterone
These two main female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are also produced in the gonads (testes and ovaries) and are responsible for normal sexual and reproductive development and for keeping bones and muscles strong in women .
A 2019 study from a Frontiers journal suggests that estrogen can directly influence the structure of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which may help in improving muscle and bone mass and strength .
According to Cleveland Clinics, women can boost their estrogen and progesterone levels by consuming various healthy foods, reducing stress, and maintaining a healthy body weight .
Cortisol is another steroid hormone that can be produced naturally in the adrenal glands, and it regulates your body's response to stress and controls carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism .
According to research, cortisol may help accelerate higher muscle gains. In a study conducted on children, it was found that a decrease in cortisol in the blood led to more fat and less muscle tissue .
Furthermore, long-term exposure to either high or low cortisol levels may result in certain health conditions, such as Cushing syndrome and Addison's disease, according to WebMD .
You can keep your cortisol balanced by practicing mindfulness, working out regularly, and reducing alcohol intake .
Calcitriol (D Hormone)
Calcitriol, or D hormone, is a metabolite of vitamin D responsible for promoting healthy bone formation by increasing calcium absorption and maintaining serum calcium levels .
Research published in the Frontiers journal has found that supplementation with D vitamins is associated with significant improvements in muscle size and strength by preventing oxidative stress and promoting muscle regeneration .
Moreover, it has been shown that the parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the body stimulates the production of calcitriol, and taking high doses of vitamin D and magnesium can help increase PTH levels, based on research from Mayo Clinics .
A recent study published in the Molecules journal has highlighted the significant role of androstenedione, a naturally occurring steroid hormone, in the production of estrogen and testosterone .
This hormone, also available as a supplement, is being explored for its potential in enhancing athletic performance, building muscle, and increasing energy.
However, its effects are not yet fully scientifically proven, and it's listed among the performance-enhancing drugs banned by major sports organizations.
Natural Amino Acid Derivatives That Act like Steroids
Creatine is derived from three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine, and it is synthesized in the liver. It has been shown to improve muscle strength, cognition, and physical performance, per a 2011 study published in the Amino Acids journal .
"Creatine supplementation does not build muscle directly. But it does have an indirect effect. You can work out more intensely, and this translates into muscle gains."
- Susan Kleiner, Sports Nutritionist, Seattle
Several studies on the combined effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training found an average increase of 8 percent in muscle strength and 14 percent in weightlifting performance .
Moreover, consuming certain foods, such as red meat and fish, and taking nutritional supplements could help you increase your levels of creatine in the body.
D-aspartic acid (DAA) is an amino acid that is primarily found in the pituitary gland and testes, and it is not used to build proteins but instead regulates the production and release of testosterone in the body .
A 2017 study published in the PLOS journal found that D-aspartic acid (DAA) increases testosterone levels in inactive men, but it does not have the same effect on men who engage in regular training .
It has been found that eating meat such as beef and chicken breast, oysters, and eggs and taking herbal supplements may help increase DAA levels in the body.
How Can You Boost Your Body's Production Naturally?
You can boost your body's steroid production naturally by exercising regularly, eating food that contains natural steroids, and taking supplements including vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are proven to stimulate natural production.
Engaging in Regular Exercise
According to a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, increasing physical activity in inactive individuals can slightly improve levels of steroids in the body.
Furthermore, it has been shown that the higher the intensity of the exercise, the greater the increase in hormone levels .
Eating Certain Foods
As a pathologist, I've observed that diet, especially the consumption of foods like milk, meat, fish, and poultry, can influence hormone production by altering blood metabolite levels, a finding also supported by a study in the Clinical Biochemistry Journal .
Taking Natural, Legal Supplements
Based on research published in the World Journal of Men's Health, multi-ingredient bodybuilding supplements, often containing Vitamin D, Zinc, and nootropics like Ashwagandha and DAA, are designed to stimulate the body's synthesis of certain hormones, including testosterone .
These natural steroids, sourced from plants and foods, present a safer alternative with fewer side effects compared to synthetic steroids, which are renowned for their potent and rapid muscle-building and performance-enhancing results.
What Are the Benefits of Natural Production?
In my medical observations, the benefits of natural steroid production are evident, including increased strength, lean muscle size, and endurance, all achieved without the adverse effects often seen with anabolic steroids.
Moreover, boosting testosterone levels naturally can help men in the following ways, according to Harvard Medical School .
The most common ones are:
- Reduce excess body fat
- Increase sexual drive
- Enhance blood circulation
- Improve erectile dysfunction
- Increase muscle growth
What Differs Natural Steroids From Synthetic Steroids?
Natural steroids differ from synthetic steroids in their methods of production and safety of use.
Unlike man-made versions of steroids, which may cause an increased risk of high blood pressure over long-term use, natural steroids are produced using natural sources and are safe for human consumption.
Can Natural Steroids Enhance Athletic Performance?
Yes, natural steroids can enhance athletic performance by improving skeletal muscle strength, attention, and tolerance to high-intensity resistance training.
When all these processes take place, bigger muscles are gained more quickly, which leads to better performance.
Are There Risks to Boosting Natural Steroid Production?
There are no reported health risks associated with boosting steroid production through supplement use, even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't approve most supplements except creatine for short-term use.
How Long Does Your Body Take To Produce Natural Steroids?
Your body continuously produces natural steroids, but it may take several months to boost them if you want to build muscles quickly or restore their levels during times of deficiency.
From a medical standpoint, I recommend exploring natural and legal steroid-like supplements, in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, to potentially enhance performance and muscle building, based on scientific evidence.
Our team has tried and tested several legal alternatives to anabolic steroids, which were able to provide comparable results for our clients in terms of building muscle mass noticeably faster but without negative health effects. Here are some of them:
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