Clenbuterol – Before and After Pics & Analysis. Worth It?
updated December 1, 2018
When it comes to getting shredded, there is a veterinary drug that that has been highly sought after as a fast and potent fat burner that claims to allow anybody to drop their body fat percentage down to single digits. Commonly known as ‘clen’, its full name is clenbuterol. In this article, we discover everything you need to know in order to help you decide if clenbuterol is for you.
What is Clenbuterol?
Clenbuterol is molecularly and functionally similar to adrenaline (aka epinephrine) and the related neurotransmitter norepinephrine. These, and related drugs, interact with adrenergic receptors on the surface of many types of tissue, including fat cells and muscle fibers, to generate a complex of signals that alter the metabolism of the affected tissue. In plain, English, they stimulate the body to generate the effects of the ‘fight-or-flight’ mechanism:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased energy substrate availability (i.e. calories from sugar and fat)
- Faster reactions
Of course, an all-out crazy attack on the fight-or flight response would not be tolerable or beneficial to an athlete or someone who is hoping to increase his/her basal metabolic rate all day. The advantage of clenbuterol is that it is sufficiently long acting to be used as an oral drug, and it is reasonably selective in the effects it generates, as opposed to an adrenalin rush.
Clenbuterol is used in veterinary medication to improve the performance of animals involved in sports events (e.g. horse racing) and in meat production in some third world countries. There are related drugs used therapeutically to treat asthma in humans, and limited human trials have been looking at the use of clenbuterol in improving heart function in people with severe heart failure.
Clenbuterol and Fat Loss
Gym goers are most interested in the fat loss effects of clenbuterol. They also have hopes of an anabolic muscle building effect based upon animal studies. The anabolic effect never really panned out, due to the intolerably high dose required, and given that most bodybuilders are taking clenbuterol during the pre-contest, hypocaloric phase of their training. It would be rare to encounter a competitor taking clenbuterol off-season or during a bulking phase of their training.
However, the fat loss is rapid and dramatic, especially when combined with thyroid extract or T3. Clenbuterol preferentially stimulates the beta-2 class of adrenergic receptors, which are involved in increasing the metabolic rate (calorie burning), increasing fatty acid oxidation ( burning fat for calories) and uncoupling (wasting calories as heat).
However, clenbuterol can stimulate the beta-1 receptors as well, which are primarily associated with increasing heart rate, potentially to a harmful, even life threatening pace that may precipitate tachycardia (rapid heart rate) or arrhythmia (broken heart rhythm).
Before & After Pics
There are some pretty impressive before and after pics floating around internet that are put down to clenbuterol use. Here are three examples . . .
These results look pretty impressive. It is images like these that have made clenbuterol very popular among people looking to lose fat fast and get ripped. However, there is no way that any of these people achieved these results without very strict control of what they ate and plenty of calorie burning cardio. Clenbuterol will provides that extra 5% but, if you’re not doing the other 95%, you will simply be wasting your money.
So, how much weight can you actually lose with Clenbuterol?
An analysis of reports from online users show the following average levels of weight loss:
- 3-6 pounds after a week
- 5-8 pounds after two weeks
- 10-16 pounds after a month
- 15-28 pounds after two months
It needs to be kept in mind, however, that these weight losses do not differentiate between fat loss, water weight and muscle tissue. This is significant, especially in light of the research detailed below, which seems to indicate that clenbuterol may have a muscle wasting effect.
With muscle weighing five times more than fat, this may have something to do with the impressive weight loss averages that users are reporting. Clearly you do not want to lose muscle tissue. So, if you are going to use clenbuterol, it would pay to get regular body fat testing done in order to discern what it is that you are actually losing.
Does Clenbuterol Break Down Muscle Tissue?
Most cases of clenbuterol toxicity involve cardiac symptoms caused by clenbuterol present in foods, taken as a fat-loss agent or even used as an adulterant to ‘black market’ heroin. Recently, a new presentation of clenbuterol-associated toxicity was published, rhabdomyolysis - the destructive breakdown of muscle tissue. Most bodybuilders are aware that muscle growth response to microdamage in the muscle tissue so that repair and regeneration build larger muscles to cope with the new challenge. This kind of damage occurs inside the muscle cell, and primarily involves the actin-myosin complex. Though some markers of the damage can be measured in the blood, it generally does not cause tissue breakdown with the release of HUGE amounts of enzymes and proteins that are typically confined inside the muscle cell.
Rhabdomyolysis occurs when the muscle is so that it literally fails and the membrane leaks or bursts, spilling enzymes and proteins into the blood in a tsunami like pattern. This may sound relatively benign, as the body constantly is receiving and clearing proteins and other metabolites in the blood.
However, when it appears directly in the peripheral circulation, the amount that reaches the kidneys is so overwhelming, it is like one of those Black Friday scenarios you see on the news where people trample each other to get a $198 flat screen television. The glomeruli (filtering units) of the kidney becoming plugged with myoglobin and die.If the process is not caught early and proper support provided, permanent kidney damage can occur.
Rhabdomyolysis can occur in the setting of exercise, even in the absence of any performance-enhancing drugs. This is not a rare event in endurance events.
In a paper published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, a case was described that involved a 29-year old man who had been using clenbuterol for a relatively short period of time, and his use pattern suggested he was following the typical ‘on-off’ cycling of three to five days of use, followed by two days off clenbuterol (to delay receptor down regulation) and then repeat. He combined the clenbuterol (40 micrograms orally, twice a day) with 90 minutes of high-intensity training to promote weight loss.
This subject showed up at the emergency room complaining of various symptoms related to sympathetic overstimulation (elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, etc) and dark urine. The lab tests showed an outrageously high level of creatine kinase (CK), an enzyme released when muscle breaks down.
Well, it was in excess of 100 times normal. In addition, he had muscle soreness. Surprisingly, his kidney function was not affected, despite spilling large amounts of blood, protein and ketones into his urine. The doctors immediately flushed his body with fluids to increase glomerular (urine production) and dilute the ‘gunk’ that could potentially damage his kidneys. After more than 24 hours (and probably innumerable bathroom trips, unless he was catheterized), his CK had dropped to a still-elevated but no longer dangerous level. Thankfully, this young man avoided serious injury.
Keep in mind that the dose of clenbuterol used was relatively low and appeared to be similar to the protocols described in bodybuilding lore. Yet, when combined with vigorous exercise, not to mention whether he may have experienced some dehydration or been on a potentially kidney-straining diet (e.g. very low carb, very high protein), he not only experienced the cardiotoxic effects (such as rapid heart rate) but also taxed his muscles so severely that he hit the ‘self-destruct’ level of over-training.Had he not sought medical care so quickly, he may have suffered permanent kidney damage.
A French study which was published in the February 27th, 2015, issue of the Journal of Physiology shows that while clenbuterol causes hypertrophy, muscle force does not keep pace with the increase in muscle surface area. The capacity of muscle to contract and relax is reduced, particularly in fast-twitch muscle fibers. The researchers concluded that chronic clenbuterol use results in reduced muscle contractile efficiency and impairs the capacity of the muscles to relax.
So, Is Clenbuterol Worth It?
As we’ve seen, clenbuterol has potential to be both a fat loser and a muscle builder. In terms of muscle building, on paper clenbuterol appears to increase the rate of protein synthesis, reduce protein catabolism and improve muscle regeneration after injury. When we get out of the books and into the real world, however, clenbuterol doesn’t seem to deliver in this area. At least in terms of muscle growth, its effects are weak at best.
Most bodybuilders who use clenbuterol favor it for two reasons only. One, it is a decent long-acting stimulant. It provides a good kick of energy that is a bit more notable than moderate caffeine use. Your body will get used to it over time, but in the short term, it will help you to shed extra body fat, especially if you are restricting calories.