What Are The Effects Of DHEA and 7-Keto-DHEA? Can They Increase Muscle?
While DHEA and 7-Keto-DHEA sound and look very similar, it is important to understand that they are not the same thing and have different effects on the body.
Before you read any further, remember that DHEA and 7-keto-DHEA are not the same thing and have very different effects.
So what do we know about DHEA?
DHEA is an extremely mild performance enhancer, and by extremely mild, I mean minimal to the point that the WADA has no reason to believe that there is any evidence to suggest it offers any advantage in male athletes.
In terms of effects on testosterone levels any study reveals there is little or no improvement in men. Although, contradictory it does appear to increase free testosterone levels in older men.
If you were not aware, free testosterone is the testosterone that is utilized by the muscles, therefore, increased levels of this free testosterone can have muscle building benefits for this section of the population.
It is important to note that this is not the case for young, healthy men. I.e those who are likely to be participating in competitive sports.
Why is this?
Well, while DHEA have been shown to increase (mildly) muscle mass and strength in elderly men, the lack of effects DHEA supplementation in healthy, young men is most likely due to the fact they have substantial levels already which is sufficient for their bodies athletic requirements.
However, as already stated elderly people have less DHEA available. Once supplemented it has been shown to increase muscular size by around twice that if exercised without DHEA supplementation. Not only that, strength increase are shown too.
Therefore, DHEA supplementation is only beneficial to those who naturally lack higher levels which is the elderly. However, it has no effect on healthy, trained men such as athletes.
What do we know about 7-keto-DHEA?
The research available on 7-keto-DHEA has not shown an increase in muscle mass, strength, testosterone levels or any sex hormones for any section of the population. Even more alarming, one study shows that when 7-keto-DHEA was applied via a skin patch it actually decreased testosterone and free testosterone levels. This, however, may not be the same for orally ingested 7-keto-DHEA due to the lack of studies available showing a similar result.
So, while we can see no relation to muscle mass or strength or even hormonal changes related to 7-keto-DHEA the effects do seem to reduce body fat when used in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet and exercise program compared to groups who have not supplemented it.
How does this work?
Results would suggest that it works by increasing levels of the thyroid hormone Triiodothyronine (t3) which can increase a person’s metabolic rate. When the basal metabolic rate is increased, the body burns through more calories when at rest.
However, before we all start supplementation, it must be noted that these weight losses are very small and only marginally better than a controlled group on the same diet and exercise program but minus the 7-keto-DHEA supplementation.
Now let’s consider that drinking green tea with a high caffeine content in conjunction with a calorie controlled exercise program can offer almost the same beneficial weight loss and this is true for even groups who did not participate in an exercise program with a calorie controlled diet. Green tea alone can increase weight loss of 3lbs over 12 weeks even when there’s not been a change in diet or physical activity.
So how effective is 7-keto-DHEA?
Marginally moreso than green tea, although for almost the same weight loss benefits no restricted calories nor additional exercise can be gained while drinking high caffeine green tea.
So while 7-keto-DHEA can be said to be more potent that green tea (only just) it is not anywhere near as powerful as banned substances such as clenbuterol.
There are many claims that 7-keto-DHEA is a rapid weight loss agent, and although it does have mild and limited effects these claims should be taken lightly.
This is no more evident when many of the studies purporting to illustrate its effectiveness seem to be funded by the patent holder of the ‘7-keto’ weight loss product. This could mean that the results of research are skewed slightly to look more favorable.
So what gains are to be had with 7-keto-DHEA?
It is important to state that while there are some very mild weight loss benefits by taking 7-keto-DHEA it is not a performance enhancing drug. It has no anabolic effects and therefore increase muscle nor strength.