Have you ever noticed that bodybuilders tend to shave their scalps? There’s actually good reason for this too, as this makes the upper body appear more muscular by reducing the size of your head in comparison with the shoulders, traps and notoriously hard-to-train upper chest muscles.
Despite this, there are various reasons why bodybuilders and athletes may continue to take steroids as part of their training, so long as they receive a recommendation from a doctor and use approved compounds in safe dosages.
Still, there’s a long held assumption that steroids can contribute to hair loss in those who use them regularly, although this is not necessarily as simple as it may seem. We’ll explore this in further detail below, whilst asking how you can get big and build muscle mass without the consumption of steroids.
Steroids and Hair loss – The Key Considerations
There are innumerable myths surrounding hair loss, with one of the most common suggesting that the regular consumption of steroids will cause you to go bald.
In fact, premature hair loss is one of the most widely reported side effects of steroids, and this is certainly a significant risk in the event of improper use or the consumption of unregulated compounds that include harmful ingredients.
This is not to say that steroids are bound to cause hair loss, however, as we must remember that our bodies already include a delicate balance of corticosteroids (which are steroids that occur naturally in the body) and hormones.
This means that whilst man-made steroids are known to replicate the activity of our own endogenous compounds, they won’t necessarily cause or accelerate hair-loss unless they cause a significant imbalance within the body.
The issue is that the balance of corticosteroids such as testosterone and hormones is an extremely delicate one, so introducing artificial compounds into this mix can quite easily throw your bodily systems out of whack. This is especially true without the correct supervision, or a basic understanding of how the consumption of steroids impacts on your body.
OK, I hear you ask, but how exactly can steroids trigger or exacerbate hair loss in the worst case scenarios?
The answer to this questions lies with the mechanism that causes male pattern baldness, which is genetic form of progressive hair loss that remains incredibly commonplace.
In fact, this condition begins to affect an estimated two-thirds of all men by the time they reach 35, whilst 85% of males will experienced significant thinning by the tender age of 50.
In short, male pattern baldness is caused in instances where the body produces an excess of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is derived from testosterone and is present in both men and women.
It’s categorised as an androgen, and one that contributes to make sex characteristics such as muscle mass, a deep voice and increased body hair.
Interestingly, male pattern baldness may also occur in instances where you’re exceptionally sensitive to DHT, as variations in the so-called androgen receptor (AR) gene may prevent proteins from binding with Dihydrotestosterone and similar hormones.
This is something to keep in mind if you begin to lose your hair prematurely, as whilst your body may produce perfectly normal levels of DHT you can still struggle to retain a full head of hair.
It’s proven that whether your body produces inflated levels of DHT or is particularly sensitive to this androgen, the hair follicles on your scalp could shrink whilst the anagen stage of the hair growth cycle is shortened.
In these instances, your scalp hair is likely to grow out looking thinner and far more brittle, before falling out at a quicker and more noticeable rate. At the same time, an excess of DHT could delay the growth of new hairs, with this cycle continuing until the numerous stages of male pattern baldness are complete.
In the case of steroids, there remains a risk that you’ll artificially increase the amount of DHT in your bloodstream and dramatically upset the balance or hormones that exists within your system.
In the worst case scenario, this can have one of two potential outcomes. Firstly, it may serve as a trigger for premature hair loss in people who aren’t actually genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness. This would be a slow and gradual process, and one that would become increasingly apparent over an extended period of steroid usage.
Secondly, the improper or unsafe use of steroids can accelerate male pattern baldness in those who are predisposed to the condition. After all, this will suddenly expose your body to far higher levels of DHT, which in turn will cause you to lose your hair at a far quicker rate.
So, Can I Still Take Steroids and Keep my Hair?
At this stage, you’re probably wondering if you can take steroids at all without losing your hair? Whilst the broad answer to this question is yes, there’s no real way guarantee this or fully account for the affect that steroids can have on your body.
Instead, the very best that you can do is take proactive steps towards minimising the impact of steroids and protecting the head of hair that you retain.
One step that you can take is to seek out trusted advice from your doctor, particularly if you suffer from specific health conditions or dietary issues that prevent you from building muscle mass.
Without this kind of guidance or advice, it’s extremely risky to take steroids even in relatively small dosages, and if you do use doctor-prescribed compounds be sure to follow the instructions to the letter.
Similarly, we’d also recommend that you don’t order steroids online, primarily because this makes it hard to determine purity or precisely what ingredients have been added.
Overall, of course, the very best course of action is to avoid taking steroids at all.
However, if you are taking them and believe that they may be responsible for the sudden and unexpected loss of hair, you should note that continuing to consume steroids could lead to permanent and irreparable damage.
On a slightly more positive note, if you’re not predisposed to male pattern baldness and believe that your premature hair loss is being caused by taking steroids, ceasing this practice immediately should halt the process and reverse much of the damage done over time.
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What are the Worst Steroids for Hairloss (and the “Safest”)
Remember, not all steroids have been created equal, and the composition of different compounds means that some are likely to do more damage to your hair than other.
The majority of these have a direct influence on the bodily production of DHT, and are commonly used for enhancing muscle mass.
However, this list also includes compounds that aren’t classed as anabolic steroids, whilst many can be prescribed by doctors for a number of different reasons. These include:
Now, in the case of Dianabol and Trenbolone, we’re dealing with steroids that are not exclusively DHT-based. As a result, they’re less likely to act as a trigger for hair loss in people who aren’t genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness.
However, they are capable of accelerating the process in people who are susceptible to this condition, so if you’ve already begun to notice the hair thinning around your crown and temples then it may be a good idea to avoid these compounds completely.
At this stage, it’s important to reiterate that there are no steroids that have been clinically proven to be safe for hair loss. It’s also hard to determine how different and complex compounds will impact on each individual, particularly when you consider that some are more sensitive to DHT than others.
Whilst a steroid that causes hair loss in one individual may have no effect on another, however, there are a selected few compounds that are generally considered to be less damaging to scalp hair. These include:
This is one of the least androgenic steroids on the market, and one that generally does not convert estrogen to DHT when taken in small doses. In larger doses of 100mg or more, however, it may begin to impact on hair follicles and the androgen growth cycle.
Generally considered to be a fairly safe steroid for hair, this compounds converts 5-alpha reductase into the relatively harmless DHN rather than DHT. Once again, smaller doses are particularly safe, but it’s still wise to check in with a medical professional before taking this steroid.
According to some sources from a theoretical perspective, this means that the compound won’t cause any hair loss at all, and it’s widely considered to be the safest product of its type on the market. Still, large enough does can still disrupt your body’s hormonal balance and accelerate genetic hair less or premature baldness.
Finally – How to Get Big and Build Muscle without Steroids
Whilst steroids may provide a handy short-cut towards building muscle and achieving the physique that you desire, taking artificial compounds is fraught with risk.
So, if you really want to enhance your muscle mass but aren’t keen on the various side-effects of steroids, you may want to focus on getting bigger naturally with the right diet and training program.
To help you on your way, we’ve provided a few handy tips that will enable you to build muscle without the need for any artificial help.
Get the Right Calories Balance
You may be inclined to think that building muscle requires a huge increase in your calorie intake, but this is nothing more than a huge misconception.
In fact, gaining mass for body sculpting only really requires you to add around 500 calories to your recommended daily total in most instances, especially if you’re just starting out and not established as a competitive bodybuilder.
This need to be factored into your daily regime, as it’s crucial that you strike the right balance between fuelling your body effectively and avoiding instances where you pile on the pounds.
The first step is to determine roughly how many calories you need each day to maintain your weight, taking into account numerous factors such as your age, sex and activity level. It’s almost impossible to calculate this accurately without an army of scientists behind you, of course, but you can usually estimate your intake based on general guidelines.
Legion Athletics estimates that the average 160-pound male who enjoys between three and four hours of exercise per week requires around 2,240 calories per day to maintain their existing weight.
Now, if you intend to exercise more frequently you should increase this amount incrementally, with males who are more active likely to require in excess of 2,400 daily calories.
Once this number has been determined, you can look to add incrementally to your calories intake as you begin to train and build muscle. This will help to keep you lean and avoid the risk of putting on excess weight, whilst it enables you to experiment in your quest to build muscle quickly, safely and effectively.
Focus on Volume Rather than Weight
If you’ve seen bodybuilders pumping iron in the gym, the chances are that you’ll have marvelled at the amount of weight they’re able to lift and bench press.
Not only is trying to emulate this foolhardy as a beginner, however, but it’s also not an effective method of building defined muscle and mass.
In fact, it’s the volume of reps that you perform that’s more important than the amount of weight that you lift, thanks to the inextricable link that exists between volume and hypertrophy.
According to one study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, each additional exercise set performed by the participants triggered a healthy 0.37% increase in muscle size each week.
These findings have been verified in subsequent studies too, so there are obvious benefits to focusing on volume rather than weight when looking to build muscle mass as a beginner.
Try to factor this into your training regime from the outset, and don’t be afraid to use slightly lower weights whilst building the number of reps and sets that you’re able to perform.
Sure, you may not look as impressive as those bench pressing 250lbs or more, but you’ll at least achieve noticeable and sustainable gains that help you to achieve to achieve your goals naturally.
Put Protein at the Heart of your Diet
Protein is central to any muscle building attempts, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned competitive bodybuilder.
The chances are that your body needs more protein than you realise, however, with the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommending that your daily goal should be between 1.6 and 2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
This translates to between 116 to 160 grams of protein per day, which is the equivalent of 22 large eggs or 15 ounces of chicken breast.
Of course, you’ll tailor the precise amount of protein to suit your existing weight, but there’s no doubt that you’ll need to increase your intake if you’re serious about building muscle naturally.
However many grams of protein you seek to consume, you should try to distribute your portions evenly throughout the day. This is because the body can only use a certain amount of protein at any given time, with any excess used for energy or broken down in waster products.
Using our previous example, the ideal scenario would see you consume around 0.4 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight across four separate meals.
This is a far more effective way of building muscle mass, whilst it enables you to achieve optimal results from your diet and exercise regime.
The Last Word
Whilst steroids are commonplace in the realms of building and muscle building, they can have an extremely detrimental impact on your hairline (particularly over a period of extended us or at a high dosage).
Whether you’re predisposed to male pattern baldness or not, there’s no doubt that consuming steroids can damage your hair follicles and ultimately contribute to premature hair loss over time.
With this in mind, the best course of action is to avoid taking steroids entirely and instead focus on the dietary and training techniques that will enable you to build muscle naturally.