The Ultimate Guide to Legal Steroid Alternatives: Top 5 Closest Thing to Steroids

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Explore the top 5 closest thing to steroids. Expert-backed and safe alternatives for muscle gain and strength. Searching for legal and effective muscle boosters? Dive into our expert’s selection of the closest alternatives to steroids on the market.

The popularity of anabolic steroids is on the rise today, yet their adverse side effects continue to be a point of contention in both sports and societal contexts.

Accordingly, there is a growing contingent of fitness enthusiasts in search of alternatives that can deliver the muscle-enhancing benefits of steroids without their negative impacts.

Scientists share this quest, aiming to identify a less harmful option to treat conditions such as cachexia, which causes muscle wasting.

From a chemical standpoint, anabolic steroids’ substantial muscle-building (anabolic) and fat-reducing (lipolytic) abilities are attributed to their function as synthetic versions of testosterone.

Top 5 closest thing to steroids

Theoretically, if a dietary supplement were able to elevate testosterone levels to a degree comparable to steroids, it would likely produce similar muscle-building outcomes.

This elevation, however, would also bring with it an array of side effects comparable to those of steroids.

Therefore, to achieve the muscle gains promised by steroids, individuals must be prepared to face these significant side effects.

Still, for those who prioritize milder side effects over maximal muscle gains, there are specific supplements or compounds available that can be of aid.

Note: This article will concentrate on stronger supplements and compounds with proven effectiveness, rather than those yielding negligible or uncertain results.

1. SARMs

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) represent modern medicine’s endeavor to surpass the anabolic potency of steroids.

SARMs increase testosterone levels by selectively targeting androgen receptors, potentially offering the anabolic benefits of steroids minus many of their side effects, such as prostate enlargement, high blood pressure, and liver harm.

However, real-world evidence indicates that SARMs can still precipitate severe side effects, sometimes exceeding the detrimental effects of steroids.

Dr. Grant Fourie, part of our medical team, postulates from a decade’s worth of anecdotal data and analysis of 2,000 patient samples that SARMs might be more hazardous than steroids.

Clinical incidents have been reported, including two cases of liver injury linked to the use of LGD-4033 for nine weeks and RAD-140 for four weeks (1).

Additionally, Dr. Fourie observed SARMs negatively affecting HDL cholesterol levels and causing moderate damage to the HPTA, leading to significant temporary testosterone suppression.

SARMs have shown somewhat modest effectiveness in clinical settings compared to anabolic steroids, with users reporting about 1–1.5 kg of lean mass gains over 4-6 weeks.

Contrast this with testosterone enanthate, which has documented gains of 5–7 kg, indicating that SARMs could produce merely 20% of the muscle gains that steroids can, albeit with the risk of severe side effects.

This matches our own anecdotal observations of the modest body composition improvements seen in SARM users’ before and after transformations.

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Bodybuilders usually acquire SARMs online or through acquaintances, with their legality being a murky subject. While they remain legal for laboratory research on animals, their use for bodybuilding in humans is prohibited.

SARMs Pros

  • Noteworthy muscle mass and fat loss enhancement
  • Considerable strength gains

SARMs Cons

  • Illegal for purchase (excluding research purposes)
  • Potential for severe side effects
  • Prevalence of impurity in SARM products
  • Subpar potency relative to anabolic steroids
  • Risks negating one’s ‘natural’ bodybuilding status

2. Turkesterone

Turkesterone is an ecdysteroid, a natural steroid hormone found in plants and insects akin to human testosterone.

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Because it is naturally sourced, bodybuilders opting for turkesterone need not worry about compromising their ‘natural’ designation. Furthermore, it is entirely legal and hasn’t been banned by any sports federations.

Regarding research, turkesterone has displayed impressive anabolic characteristics.

One notable study by Syrov, V. N in 2000 compared the anabolic effects of different phytoecdysteroids to steranabols in male rats, showing turkesterone to surpass even Dianabol in prompting weight gain.

Remarkably, turkesterone-associated weight gain translates to lean mass rather than the significant water retention commonly linked with Dianabol use.

However, with this research centered around rodents, doubts about the applicability of turkesterone’s effects on humans persist until more human-based studies are conducted.

As of now, without human trials, it’s challenging to ascertain whether turkesterone will offer steroid-like benefits to natural bodybuilders.Reports from bodybuilders have varied widely, with some noting gains of up to 12 pounds of muscle at the high end and others noticing no discernible effects at the low end. This suggests that the effects of turkesterone may hinge on the supplement’s quality and the individual’s unique response to it.

Turkesterone is distinctive in that it doesn’t attach to the androgen receptor, avoiding a significant reduction in the body’s own testosterone production. As a result, we’ve observed that natural testosterone levels stay constant while using turkesterone, and the common steroid-related side effects like elevated blood pressure, liver damage, and gynecomastia, among others, are not present.

Turkesterone Advantages

  • Potential improvements in muscle size, fat reduction, and strength (for some users)
  • Absence of side effects
  • Fully legal for use

Turkesterone Disadvantages

  • Insufficient research to conclusively determine outcomes similar to steroids.

3. Ecdysterone

Ecydsterone - Closest thing to steroids.

Ecdysterone is an ecdysteroid, akin to turkesterone, sharing structural similarities with it.

Comparatively more research has been conducted on ecdysterone, which gives us a clearer insight into its possible anabolic effects than turkesterone.

The results from research on ecdysterone have been inconsistent, with both animal and human studies showing a range of effects.

For instance, a 2000 study by Syrov, V. N., highlighted that ecdysterone induced significant weight increase in lab rodents, though not as potently as turkesterone, indicating that turkesterone appears to be the more powerful ecdysteroid.

A landmark study in 2006 involving 45 male weight trainers divided into four groups did not show significant enhancement across any of the groups regarding serum testosterone levels, maximum strength test (one rep max), or lean body mass.

On the other hand, a subsequent 2019 study involving 46 men with a year of weightlifting experience, split into three groups, found that both the moderate and high doses of ecdysterone led to substantial muscle mass increases compared to the placebo group. Interestingly, those on the higher ecdysterone dose put on noticeably more muscle than those on the moderate dose.

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Yet, upon analyzing the ecdysterone supplement’s content, it was found to contain merely a small percentage of the claimed ecdysterone (6%), casting doubt on ecdysterone’s sole responsibility for these significant results. Still, the findings prompted researchers to advocate for ecdysterone’s inclusion on banned substance lists in sports.

“Our findings strongly support the inclusion of ecdysterone in the list of banned substances and methods in sports under class S1.2 ‘other anabolic agents’.”

Nevertheless, as of now, ecdysterone remains allowed in sporting competitions by WADA and other sports federations.

More investigation is required for ecdysterone to be recognized as an anabolic supplement. Despite being at a preliminary phase, there is an indication of potential efficacy.

Ecdysterone Advantages

  • Completely natural supplement
  • Lack of side effects
  • One study indicates significant anabolic effects in humans.

Ecdysterone Disadvantages

  • Scientific proof of effectiveness is still pending (due to limited research)
  • Potentially less potent than turkesterone.

4. HGH (Human Growth Hormone)

HGH is not categorized as an anabolic steroid but shares many similar properties, such as aiding in fat loss, muscle gain, strength, and stamina.

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HGH, a peptide hormone, is often chosen by bodybuilders seeking to ascend to peak physical form. The effects of HGH contrast with those of steroids; it tends to promote more lipolysis (fat reduction) than anabolism (muscle growth).

Accordingly, HGH might be more favorable than anabolic steroids for cutting down fat mass yet may be less effective in terms of muscle enlargement.

Typical HGH transformations

In addition, HGH usage does not result in a ‘crash’ after a cycle, thus post-cycle therapy (PCT) is not deemed necessary.

Even though externally sourced HGH can cause a temporary dip in the body’s own HGH production, this typically rebounds swiftly after the cycle’s conclusion.

Conversely, endogenous testosterone levels can be adversely affected for extended periods post steroid cycle due to harm to the HPTA (Hypothalamic Pituitary Testicular Axis).

Although the use of HGH has been associated with a range of side effects akin to anabolic steroids, our patients’ reports include increased risks of heart disease (particularly left ventricular hypertrophy) and type II diabetes.

Additionally, there may be carcinogenic risks associated with HGH use, as Dr. Grant Fourie has noted the emergence of various cancers in patients with a history of regular GH cycles.- Melanomas are rephrased as “Melanoma instances”

  • Esophageal cancers become “Cases of esophageal carcinoma”
  • Brain cancers are rewritten as “Instances of brain neoplasms”
  • Heart tumor (single case) becomes “A solitary cardiac tumor instance”
  • Gastrointestinal tract cancer is rephrased as “Gastrointestinal malignancies”

The notion that HGH might elevate a person’s cancer risk finds a basis in the fact that it increases IGF-1 levels, which is an indicator often associated with cancer risk.

Furthermore, a common side effect of HGH is an enlarged abdomen, colloquially referred to as ‘HGH gut’, a phenomenon primarily ascribed to enhanced visceral fat deposition, giving the waistline an inflated appearance.

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Anabolic steroids may produce a similar but typically less pronounced distended abdomen. We theorize the distinction stems from HGH’s more substantial impact on insulin and blood sugar variability (6).

HGH isn’t sanctioned for aesthetic applications; hence, bodybuilders often procure it from illicit sources because prescriptions are limited to those with verifiably insufficient endogenous levels.

HGH Benefits

  • Pronounced reduction in fat mass
  • Increment in lean muscle tissue
  • Potential anti-aging effects

HGH Detriments

  • Development of an HGH-induced gut
  • Illicit status barring medical prescription
  • A spectrum of negative side effects
  • Compromises athletes’ ‘natural’ classification

5. Natural Testosterone Enhancers

For bodybuilders wishing to remain completely natural and within legal parameters, natural testosterone enhancers like d-aspartic acid, tribulus terrestris, ZMA, and others are an option.

Evidence does indicate that these herbs and amino acids could positively influence testosterone levels (7), though significant boosts are generally not expected.

There may be isolated hyper-responsive individuals who could experience up to a 10 lbs gain in lean muscle over a course of 4-6 weeks of supplementation, but such cases are not the norm. For the majority, the gains will be more modest.

Supplements such as protein powders, creatine, and BCAAs typically do not yield results comparable to those seen with the use of steroids. 

Testosterone Enhancer Benefits:

  • Regarded as very safe with no reported side effects
  • Entirely natural composition
  • Clinical substantiation for bolstering testosterone levels

Testosterone Enhancer Limitations:

  • Marginal muscle development

Given their natural, FDA-recognized ingredients and complete legality, testosterone boosters are readily available for purchase online or in stores. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Between anabolic steroids and natural supplements, which is superior?

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This inquiry yields a personal answer that will differ for each individual.

We have clients who prioritize achieving a highly muscular physique for aesthetic reasons, even if it means compromising their health or longevity. Steroids might be the preferred choice in such scenarios.

Conversely, others prioritize their health and long-term wellbeing and find that natural supplementation aligns more with their goals of happiness and success.

Understanding the competitive nature of bodybuilding, we recognize that genetics, diligent training, and diet may not suffice at the highest levels of the sport.

Meanwhile, there are talented natural bodybuilders who are content participating in less prestigious contests for the sake of competing without enhancement.

Is it possible to use steroids safely?

Medical practitioners do prescribe certain anabolic steroids for conditions like cachexia and osteoporosis, suggesting a degree of safe use under professional medical supervision at appropriate dosages.

Nevertheless, this generally applies to a select array of anabolic steroids with FDA approval for medical use (Anavar, Testosterone, Deca Durabolin, and Anadrol), given that many are not prescribed because of their severe toxicity.


In truth, anabolic steroids present unmatched positive effects.

While other articles might suggest that natural supplements like creatine, protein, and amino acids have beneficial outcomes, our experience shows that the results are not comparable to those achieved with steroids.

SARMs and HGH might be the closest alternatives to steroids in terms of emulating muscle growth and fat reduction, albeit not without side effects.

For those committed to staying entirely natural, turkesterone and ecdysterone may be the best available options.

The advisability of anabolic steroids is questionable given their potentially harmful side effects. However, if steroids are chosen, opting for the milder varieties might be safer than some of the ‘alternative’ substances mentioned in this discussion, such as SARMs.









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Dr. Grant Fourie, a specialist in male hormones, is based in Cape Town, South Africa. He provides comprehensive treatments for conditions related to low testosterone, such as erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and mood changes. His methods include hormone replacement therapy and other modern treatment options.
Contact me via email or phone to book personal appointment in my clinic: The Village Square, Cape Town - South Africa


About Dr. Grant Fourie

Dr. Grant Fourie, a specialist in male hormones, is based in Cape Town, South Africa. He provides comprehensive treatments for conditions related to low testosterone, such as erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and mood changes. His methods include hormone replacement therapy and other modern treatment options. Contact me via email or phone to book personal appointment in my clinic: The Village Square, Cape Town - South Africa

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