Do steroids burn fat?

The idea of steroids having direct fat burning properties is a commonly held belief among steroid users. This is why bodybuilders use steroids also during dieting, so they can maintain more muscle and lose more fat. How does anabolic steroids help burn fat, is it direct or indirect and what type of fat. I’ll help try to answer these questions.

Steroid fat loss studies

Unfortunately, most of the studies on fat loss and steroids is done on cattle. It’s a pretty scientific way of looking at it since it’s a controlled environment and they don’t do anything unique that might alter results.

In a study published in J Anim Sci. 2007 Feb;85(2):430-40 they measured carcasses of steers and cattle after they had been implanted with Synovex-Plus (SP), which is testosterone. This study shows that anabolic implants do not appear to have direct effects on intra-muscular lipid deposition. In other words implanting did not change the bodyfat percentage of visceral fat, the fat inside or around the muscles.

Another study J Anim Sci. 1999 May;77(5):1100-4 used implanted steroids trenbolone acetate plus estradiol benzoate ot progesterone at various times and dosages over 2 months. They found no significant differences on intramuscular lipid content.

Notice in those studies that they are talking about intramuscular fat. Its been theorized by many that steroids do a bad job of stopping intramuscular or “visceral fat”. However, they do seem to help promote fat loss overall. This is done by losing fat subcutaneously, which is the fat under the skin, which you can visually see.

A study published in J Anim Sci. 1996 Aug;74(8):1770-6. compared control cattle to three other groups; those implanted with trenbalone acetate, implanted with testosterone propionate +20 mg of estradiol benzoate, or both implants. This study found that groups all gained weight and lost fat(were leaner cows). Interesting enough they found the cows that had been implanted with 200 mg trenbolone acetate only, were the leanest.

Another study published in J Anim Sci. 1987 May;64(5):1428-33 showed that suggest that trenbolone acetate is able to depress lipogenesis only when not competing with the effects of circulating estradiol. This means that it stops fat from forming directly, when estrogen isn’t circulating. This supports the previous study, that when trenabolone is taken by itself it has better fat burning properties. We know from the other studies it doesn’t change visceral fat around the organs or inside the muscles. Steroids seem to have the ability to instead burn the subcutaneous fat and not the internal fat.

Steroids fat loss action on the AR receptor

All androgenic steroids bind to the AR receptor at different levels, not only in muscles but fat cells too. When steroids bind to the AR receptor in the fat cells stronger they probably cause more subcutaneous fat loss. Trenabolone binds very strongly, much stronger than testosterone (3.5 times more). The fact that tren binds strongly to the AR and it doesn’t aromotize to estrogen may be one reason why it seems to be better at preventing fat gain during bulking compared to testosterone. As in the last study cited on cattle, only when estradiol (an estrogen) was not circulating, did tren stop fat from forming directly. Taking testosterone while dieting will help you burn fat too, just not as much as tren because of the estrogen circulating due to aromization. Testosterone also doesn’t bind as strongly to the AR receptor. Another reason why steroids might help with fat loss is by decreasing the levels of an enzyme called lipasel. This forms lipids in fat cells and may be upregulated by how strongly a steroid attaches to a AR receptor in the fat cells.

Steroids fat loss action on the glucocortisoid receptor

All steroids upregulate the glucocortisoid receptor. By blocking this receptor they control cortisol  and is this is how people on steroids can workout more often, without as much worry about overtraining. Controlling cortisol should lead to fat loss because cortisol promotes fat gain and muscle loss. When you prevent cortisol from attaching to the glucocorticoid receptor, you lower lipasel. This is the same enzyme we mentioned earlier, that helps form lipid.

Special Cutting steroids

Winstrol and  Trenbolone are a couple steroids touted to be popular for using during cutting. One major reason is because they don’t convert to estrogen. This reduces water bloat and makes it easier to see your fat loss. They should especially help fat burning, if taken by themselves because of no circulating estrogen. Estrogen is not completely evil for fat burning, there is some fat burning properties of estrogen according to studies. The fat burning power of anabolic steroids is probably stronger for burning fat than estrogen. Therefore, the benefits of non-aromatizing steroid only cycles benefits those stacked with aromatizing steroids for cutting.

Oral anabolic steroid treatment decreases abdominal fat in obese, older men.

Different steroidal analogues (Oxandrolone,nandrolone,Testosterone enanthate) going head to head as combatants of fat production/storage...Worth noting is oxandrolone's SUPERIORITY over test and deca in visceral and abdominal fat depletion.Ox also carried some negative sides- cholesterol scale tipping to an unfavorable balance,T-3 &T-4 suppression,as well as T levels dropping slightly. deca was actually able to REVERSE the cholesterol scale back to a favorable position,as well as reverse suppression of thyroid hormonal output(maybe a need to stack deca and oxandrolone together?)Enjoy folks...

Oral anabolic steroid treatment, but not parenteral androgen treatment, decreases abdominal fat in obese, older men.

Lovejoy JC, Bray GA, Greeson CS, Klemperer M, Morris J, Partington C, Tulley R
Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1995 Sep 19:614-24

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects of testosterone enanthate (TE), anabolic steroid (AS) or placebo (PL) on regional fat distribution and health risk factors in obese middle-aged men undergoing weight loss by dietary means. DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, carried out for 9 months with primary assessments at 3 month intervals. Due to adverse blood lipid changes, the AS group was switched from oral oxandrolone (ASOX) to parenteral nandrolone decaoate (ASND) after the 3 month assessment point. SUBJECTS: Thirty healthy, obese men, aged 40-60 years, with serum testosterone (T) levels in the low-normal range (2-5 ng/mL).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Abdominal fat distribution and thigh muscle volume by CT scan, body composition by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), insulin sensitivity by the Minimal Model method, blood lipids, blood chemistry, blood pressure, thyroid hormones and urological parameters.

RESULTS: After 3 months, there was a significantly greater decrease in subcutaneous (SQ) abdominal fat in the ASOX group compared to the TE and PL groups although body weight changes did not differ by treatment group. There was also a tendency for the ASOX group to exhibit greater losses in visceral fat, and the absolute level of visceral fat in this group was significantly lower at 3 months than in the TE and PL groups. There were significant main effects of treatment at 3 months on serum T and free T (increased in the TE group and decreased in the ASOX group) and on thyroid hormone parameters (T4 and T3 resin uptake significantly decreased in the ASOX group compared with the other two groups). There was a significant decrease in HDL-C, and increase in LDL-C in the ASOX group, which led to their being switched to the parenteral nandrolone decanoate (ASND) after 3 months. ASND had opposite effects on visceral fat from ASOX, producing a significant increase from 3 to 9 months while continuing to decrease SQ abdominal fat. ASND treatment also decreased thigh muscle area, while ASOX treatment increased high muscle. ASND reversed the effects of ASOX on lipoproteins and thyroid hormones. The previously reported effect of T to decrease visceral fat was not observed, in fact, visceral fat in the TE group increased slightly from 3 to 9 months, although SQ fat continued to decrease. Neither TE nor AS treatment resulted in any change in urologic parameters. CONCLUSIONS: Oral oxandrolone decreased SQ abdominal fat more than TE or weight loss alone and also tended to produce favorable changes in visceral fat. TE and ASND injections given every 2 weeks had similar effects to weight loss alone on regional body fat. Most of the beneficial effects observed on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors were due to weight loss per se. These results suggest that SQ and visceral abdominal fat can be independently modulated by androgens and that at least some anabolic steroids are capable of influencing abdominal fat.

According to the drug and what kind of receptor it attaches to certain steroids can produce a fat burning effect.

Winstrol can bind to an adrogen and microsomal receptor. If you look at the adrogen receptor it has been shown to be found in both muscle and adipose tissue; Winstrol binds to both. So not only does this mean that hypetrophy is induced in the muscle cell, but because Winstrol also binds to adipose tissue this allows for fat inhibition to ocurr.

De Pergola G, et al. "Up-regulation of androgen receptor binding in male rat fat pad adipose precursor cells exposed to testosterone: study in a whole cell assay system." J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 1990 Nov 30;37(4):553-8

Not only this, but the more an adrogen binds to the AR the more upregulation of AR occurs in the adipocytes which means more fat loss.

Dieudonne MN, et al. "Androgen receptors in human preadipocytes and adipocytes: regional specifities and regulation by sex steroids." Am J Physiol 1998 Jun;274(6 Pt 1): C1645-52

An other one:

Higher muscle mass but lower gynoid fat mass in athletes using anabolic androgenic steroids.

Nordström, A, Högström, G, Eriksson, A, Bonnerud, P, Tegner, Y, and Malm, C. Higher muscle mass but lower gynoid fat mass in athletes using anabolic androgenic steroids. J Strength Cond Res 26(1): 246–250, 2012

This study evaluated the relationship between anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use and body constitution. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to measure bone mineral density (BMD, g·cm−2) of the total body, arms, and legs. Total gynoid and android fat mass (grams) and total lean mass (grams) were measured in 10 strength trained athletes (41.4 ± 7.9 years) who had used AASs for 5–15 years (Doped) and 7 strength trained athletes (29.4 ± 6.2 years) who had never used AASs (Clean). Seventeen sedentary men (30.3 ± 2.1 years) served as Controls.

Doped athletes had significantly more lean body mass (85.5 ± 3.8 vs. 75.3 ± 2.5 vs. 60.7 ± 1.9, p < 0.001) and a greater index of fat-free/fat mass (5.8 vs. 2.6 vs. 2.5, p < 0.001) compared with Clean athletes and Controls. Doped athletes also had significantly less gynoid fat mass compared with that of Clean athletes (2.8 ± 0.4 vs. 4.8 ± 0.2 kg, p = 0.02). There were no differences in BMD between the athletes (p = 0.39–0.98), but both groups had significantly higher BMDs at all sites compared with that of Controls (p = 0.01 to <0.001).

Thus, long-term AAS use seems to alter body constitution, favoring higher muscle mass and reduced gynoid fat mass without affecting BMD.