There is a renewed interest in non-hormonal anabolics. What that means is “anabolics” (muscle builders) that don’t impact your natural testosterone production (shut down) yet still build mass along with diet and exercise through alternative pathways.
The market has changed over the years going from ecdysterone to turkesterone to laxogenin and now to 6-keto-progestins. One thing that seems to be the common denominator is that these steroids (loose term) share some unique benefits and safe effects that go well alone or with prohormones.
Some key things that all 6-Keto derivatives of larger than C19 steroids share are:
- Not androgenic
- Not strongly estrogenic (ecdysterone may have some estrogenic effects)
- Not progestational
- Can’t convert into active steroid hormones like testosterone
First, if you look at all the studies of 6-keto-derivitives, including brassinosteroids, sterols, ecdysteroids, and progestins, you will see that they don’t interact with the androgen receptor in any way. This means side effects like hairloss, prostate issues, HPTA shutdown and aggression are simply not an issue with this class of steroid product. (we use the term “steroid” loosely here)
Second, other than ecdysterone, it appears that these compounds are not estrogenic to an appreciable level. Ecdysterone does have some activity at the estrogen receptor in some studies but the others seem devoid of these effects. This means that there won’t be an issue with gynocomastia or water retention or mood swings with the current leaders in the 6-keto anabolic agents. These are also seemingly safe for men under 18 (please check with a physician for people under 18) and due to their activity on myotubules (which I will discuss later) it appears that the most benefit can be gained by people under 21 since they are likely to have higher myotubule levels compared to adults. ER beta stimulation seems to be a good thing for building muscle, so some ER beta stimulation is actually beneficial.
Third, even full on progestins like 6-Keto-Progesterone don’t have appreciable progestational activity. Progesterone is quite good for men and women, but it is in no way an anbolic. 6-Keto-Progesterone is a totally different animal however and seems to have a similar effect to other 6-Keto-anabolics which are not progestins in activity.
6-Keto anabolics are also resistant to metabolism into androgenic and estrogenic compounds, which makes them good as a standalone item or in a stack with testosterone boosters and other agents.
COMPARING THE STRUCTURES AND ACTIVITY
If one looks at the structure of these steroids we can deduce their benefits. It appears that all 6-Keto anabolics work by increasing both protein synthesis (suggested via messenger RNA) and myotubule increases (the creation of new muscle cells) and the only thing that separates them is their ability to be metabolically cleared in the body.
In order of excretion (rendering the steroids inactive) would come at the expense of their hydroxyl groups and skeleton modifications. Hydroxyl groups are ripe pickings for sulfotransferase, which makes sulfated forms of these steroids. Sulfated steroids are what is commonly excreted in the urine as the body processes steroids, so the more resistant the steroid to sulfation the greater the activity.
Based on structure from worst to best here is the list of metabolic resistance (more activity)
Turkesterone – this appears to have more metabolic activity than standard ecdysterone, but also shares the same metabolic fate of this steroid since it contains hydroxyls at both the 2 and 3 positions. The 11-Hydroxyl group seems to have no appreciable effect but the massive amount of C-17 crown hydroxyl groups make this a good candidate for glucoronidation and excretion.
Beta-Ecdysterone – this would be the “second weakest” 6-keto anabolic because it has the most hydroxyl groups for the body to attack. Specifically the 2 and 3 position hydroxl groups allow for immediate sulfation and excretion and it also shares a lot of crown hydroxy groups like turkesterone. Thus, both of these likely suffer from poor bioavialability due to metabolic clearance.
5a-Hydroxy-Laxogenin – this should be more metabolically active than it’s other ecdysterone counterparts because it lacks hydoxyl groups at the bottom of the molecule (C17 side chains) yet still has the 3b-hydroxyl group which can easily be sulfated. Seems like that the anecdotal data on this steroid is backed up by its structure which is more resistant to metabolic clearing than the other two.
6-Keto-Progesterone – this steroid is the most metabolically active since it has no hydroxyl groups at the C17 side chain and also has a 3-keto group, which must be converted to a hydroxy before it can be sulfated.
COMPARING THE ACTIVITY
This part is difficult because none of these compounds are incredibly well studied, however it appears that 6-Keto-Progesterone is the most active, followed by the Laxogenins and finally the ecdysterones. Both in studies and anecdotally, these compounds are well received and show some activity. Much of the studies are done on myotubules, which are the slowest and hardest way to gain muscle mass for men over 18. This is backed up by the ecdysterone studies which show the greatest effect in young mice compared to older mice.
Muscle growth is achieved mostly in our early life my hypergenesis (creation of new muscle cells) and then also by my hypertrophy as we are matured. Most studies are done measuring hyperplasia which isn’t quite accurate since new muscle cells must then go through the process of hypertrophy to make them relevant for the bodybuilder.
Hyperplasia is good, but it requires much more time to show “gains” compared to hypertrophy, but those gains tend to stay with you for a much longer time when you add in protein and water to your training routine. Thus, be prepared to stay on 6-Keto anabolics for at least 8 weeks to really see results. Doses range anywhere from 300-600mg of ecdysterone, 100mg of Turkesterone (due to it being in low concentrations), 200mg of Laxogenins and 150mg of 6-Keto-Progestins. These should be split evenly throughout the day but should always be taken with a protein meal to aid in the RNA transcription portion of hypertrophy.
Hopefully, this helps shed some light on the 6-keto compounds out there and I am sure the industry will find some additional candidates to try out in the near future.