Does Smoking Affect Muscle Gains?

A common question among smokers who get into bodybuilding is wondering if smoking has any effect on muscle building. Smokers want to have their cake and eat it too, so they are hoping it doesn't affect their gains.

I used to smoke and when I first started bodybuilding, so it's hard for me to know how much of an impact it had since my gains were because I was new to working out. I felt it had a negligible effect. Smoking increases your metabolism making it harder to gain weight for hardgainers, but it doesn't increase your metabolism that much. You could easily just compensate by eating slightly more calories. If anything, smoking suppresses your appetite a bit. This makes it harder to bulk, and get enough calories to gain weight.

Smoking also effects your blood flow. Blood flow is important for sending nutrients to your muscles and could theoretically effect muscle gains. It also effects your lung capacity, so your more likely to get worn out before a heavy workout set is finished or not be as focused on your form during a set as your gasping for breath. Affecting your workout intensity this way, could also lead to less muscle gains, at least in theory.

Even though smoking does all these negative things, I think it's impact overall will not be real significant. If you want the best muscle gains possible though, you have to quit smoking. You should quit smoking anyways for your health's sake.

Do Steroids Help 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 for also 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 itra-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 Tren 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.


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