- What is On-Cycle Support?
- On-Cycle Support vs PCT
- Why is On-Cycle Support Needed?
- When is On-Cycle Support Needed?
- Lifestyle Factors
- Key Ingredients
- All-In-One Supplements
- Take Homes
As the name suggests, on-cycle support supplements are designed to be taken when ‘on cycle’ with SARMs, prohormones or anabolic steroids. A cycle is essentially the length of time that the anabolic supplement is taken. This varies but might be 4-8 weeks followed by an ‘off’ period, where post-cycle therapy (PCT) is introduced.
Supplements will vary in their choice of ingredients and dosing, but they all have the same goal: to keep the user as healthy as possible while taking methylated compounds*. While the liver is often seen as the most important organ to keep healthy, the kidneys and heart can also be affected by prolonged use of a SARM/PH/AAS.
Before even deciding to make the leap into ‘hardcore supplements’ it is vitally important that you have weighed up the cost to benefit ratio. Before starting a cycle, have all relevant cycle support, post cycle therapy and general health supplements (vitamin D, magnesium, etc) at the ready. Make sure that you are in good health generally also. If possible, have blood work done to assess your baseline levels. You should be following a structured diet and training protocol, be able to maintain a relatively lean physique and not have any persistent health complaints if you wish to mitigate problems and reap the most rewards.
Remember that on-cycle support is different from post-cycle therapy. Running one does not negate the need for the other. Post-cycle therapy is introduced after the cycle has ended to kickstart testosterone production and prevent excessive conversion of testosterone to oestrogen (aromatisation). We would suggest taking an aromatase inhibitor (AI) such as Alchemy with a testosterone booster to form your basic PCT stack. Alchemy users can expect a dramatic decrease in estrogen, giving a harder, drier look to the physique. The benefit of adding a testosterone booster into the mix is increased bioavailable testosterone in the body (free testosterone) as well as support to mood and libido.
Other things to potentially consider are:
Progesterone control supplements such as Vitex, found in Inhibit-P. Like high estrogen, high prolactin levels can be a concern for males due to the side effects such as gyno, sensitive and puffy nipples.
A natural muscle builder to put you in the best position to maintain gains achieved on-cycle and even continue to make progress. Our best seller is Adamantine, which can be stacked with creatine and HMB. See our Grow Bundle or Natural Muscle Stack to save!
Ideally dosing and need will be defined by blood work to assess how much suppression has taken place compared to baseline pre-cycle levels and how oestradiol and oestrogen levels have been affected.
In addition to changes in natural hormone production and levels (to be confirmed by blood work) and effects on major organs, other side effects can manifest as a result of your cycle. These include:
- Hair loss
- Virilisation (development of male characteristics) in women
- Prostate issues
- Mood changes
- Libido changes
- Joint pain from 'dry' compounds
- Lower back 'pumps' (high blood pressure related)
Development of side effects and their severity is very much individual, however genetic predisposition can give you an idea of the level of risk. For example: a family history of high blood pressure or heart issues, acne or gyno during puberty, early balding in male family members...
While the supplements that we will suggest can slow and manage certain processes, we cannot guarentee that you will not notice changes such as breakouts on the face and back as a result of high androgens. We would always advise starting with the lowest effective dose of any compound and tracking your own feedback.
Don't wait to experience side effects to implement on-cycle support! On cycle support should be taken whenever methylated compounds* are used. Even for non-methylated compounds, a cycle support product will still help maintain good health from cholesterol levels to blood pressure to hormone health and inflammation. You may also see a benefit if regularly using substances that put a strain on the liver, and/or when recommended by a doctor.
*Methylated compounds: The methyl group on some prohormones and oral steroids blocks the liver in degrading the active agent before its conversion. This makes it hepatoxic – poisonous to the liver. Keep this in mind when stacking prohormones. A methylated compound should be stacked with a non-methylated compound for best health. An example would be Epistane with Androtest.
Unlike other supplements such as pre-workouts and BCAAs, which can be considered luxuries rather than essentials, we would recommend always using on-cycle support with methylated compounds. They should be seen as a complementary stack – always budget for both! We cannot expect the supplements to do all of the work, however. There are health markers we can easily track and lifestyle factors we can control to maintain optimal health on and off cycle.
One thing that we would suggest, is avoiding placing any additional stress on the liver while on cycle. This means not binge drinking or taking painkillers unnecessarily. The role of the liver is to filter the blood, detoxify chemicals and metabolise drugs. Minimising strain on this vital organ is key in maintaining health. Blood work can tell you exactly how well the liver is performing and flag up any issues.
Be wary of weight. This might seem counter-intuitive to some bodybuilders, but we’re talking extreme ends of the spectrum here. Prolonged periods of force-feeding and carrying around so much mass that simple cardiovascular tasks are a challenge in the offseason puts stress on the heart among other systems! Try to always keep a degree of cardio in, even if this is simply tracking steps day to day and hopping on the spin bike for 30 minutes on rest days. Not only will this keep your heart healthy, it will translate into better performance during higher rep sets! Weight will also affect other possible side effects. For example, the aromatase enzyme is expressed in fatty tissues, making being overweight a risk factor for estrogen related side effects.
Track blood pressure. An increase in blood volume can lead to high blood pressure. Thankfully, you can look out for this easily and cheaply from home. One 2016 study by the Endocrine Society found that mean daytime systolic blood pressure (BP) was higher among ongoing and former anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) abusers than among the controls, and night-time systolic BP was higher among the ongoing AAS abusers compared with the controls. Night-time systolic hypertension (high blood pressure) was more frequent among ongoing AAS abusers than among the former AAS abusers and the controls. Diastolic BP was similar in all groups. A major reason for this is increased water retention. Always keep track of side effects and changes around cycle so that they can be addressed early.
For the Liver
Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) is a bile salt that can be found naturally occurring in the body. Many studies have presented strong evidence for TUDCA reducing liver enzymes and increasing hepatocyte regeneration. It is thought that TUDCA mediates hepatoxicity by preventing cell death. While most studies thus far have been carried out on liver disease patients, application to PED users is promising. Diarrhoea has been reported from dosages of 1,000 – 1,500 mg of TUDCA, therefore we would suggest starting at 500mg per day (daily recommended dose of Predator TUDCA Elite) and going from there.
COQ10 is a part of the endogenous antioxidant system, as it is majorly produced in the liver, damage to the organ can limit production, causing all kinds of downstream deleterious health outcomes. In a study where subjects with Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease were given 100mg daily, results suggested that the supplement was effective for improving systemic inflammation and biochemical variables.
NAC is valued primarily for its role in making and replenishing glutathione, an important antioxidant. These properties have made it popular in medical settings for normalising liver enzymes. For example, a 2010 study by Khoshbaten et al. found that N-acetylcysteine can improve liver function in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Silymarin, derived from the milk thistle plant, has been used for centuries to treat liver conditions. Silymarin is thought to act as an antioxidant by reducing free radical production and lipid peroxidation. Improvements in liver function tests have been seen with milk thistle supplementation.
For Cardiovascular Health
Supplements that cause vasodilation can assist heart health, in addition to, vitally, cardiovascular exercise. L-Citrulline and Beetroot Extract are excellent choices. Shop Nitric Oxide Boosters or Cardiovascular Health Supplements.
For Blood Pressure
Managing stress will play an invaluble role here. Get enough sleep and put strategies in place to manage times where life stresses become overwhelming (breathing exercises, meditation, steady walks outside...). As far as supplements, ingredients such as Hawthorn Berry have shown great promise in research. Find it in Cycle Assist.
For Lipid Profile
A lipid panel, assessed by blood test, looks at good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, which can become skewed from a cycle. To keep 'good' cholesterol high and 'bad' cholesterol low, supplement a high quality krill or fish oil. Cardarine has also been touted to improve lipid profile, this has been supported by several studies. One 12 week human trial found GW501516 produced significant changes in HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, apoA1, and apoB, suggesting it might provide cardiovascular protection in metabolic syndrome-like patients (Olson et al., 2012).
For Mood and Wellbeing
Some compounds may cause lethargy, whereas other may ramp up aggression - this is something to be aware of in yourself as a cycle progresses.
Fatigue and Low Mood: this could be due to the compound, such as MK677 (not a SARM but a GH Secretagogue) which can improve sleep and recovery but increase lethargy through the day, or due to your actual stack design. For example, a Methylated PH such as Nano 1T or Nanodrol is well complimented by a test base such as Androtest to elevate mental wellbeing and libido. Stimulant pre-workouts like Hydrazine and nootropics such as Neurogenesis can help around times of training and study for that extra something right when you need it!
Aggression and Anxiety: Try sedating and anti-inflammatory supplements such as CBD and Emoxypine to take the edge off when feeling mentally wired. These can be especially helpful on an evening or after training.
While the breakdown above has hopefully helped you identify specific supplements that might be of help, we also have some great on-cycle support formulas that can be better value than buying several single ingredients. One, or a combination, of these can form the groundwork for your ultimate health stack!
Perfect for stacking, Predator Nutrition TUDCA Elite is simply one of our favourite on-cycle support ingredients, offered at a competitive price. Take with another formula which does not contain, or is underdosed on, TUDCA for a bulletproof stack.
A premium cycle-support supplement from customer favourite Olympus Labs. A TUDCA containing liver support complex combined with added ingredients to optimise hormones by boosting testosterone. Managing prolactin and lowering oestrogen to avoid a whole host of possible side effects.
The most expensive offering here but for good reason. The panel is bursting with clinically dosed ingredients, making it the most complete organ and health support supplement around. Not only does it provide liver protection, but it helps to control oestrogen and supports cholesterol and cardiovascular health.
• On-cycle support is intended to maintain liver health primarily, but often formulas will support kidneys, cardiovascular system, hormone levels and more!
• Any PH/AAS that needs to be processed through the liver must be taken alongside on-cycle support
• There are several key ingredients to look out for in a good product
Endocrine Society. (2016). Anabolic steroid abuse is associated with increased systolic hypertension risk. ScienceDaily.
Farsi, F., Mohammadshahi, M., Alavinejad, P., Rezazadeh, A., Zarei, M. and Engali, K. (2015). Functions of Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation on Liver Enzymes, Markers of Systemic Inflammation, and Adipokines in Patients Affected by Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 35(4), pp.346-353.
Flora, K., Hahn, M., Rosen, H. and Benner, K. (1998). Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) for the Therapy of Liver Disease. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 93(2), pp.139-143.
Khoshbaten, M., Aliasgarzadeh, A., Masnadi, K., Tarzamani, M. K., Farhang, S., Babaei, H., … Najafipoor, F. (2010). N-acetylcysteine improves liver function in patients with non-alcoholic Fatty liver disease. Hepatitis monthly, 10(1), 12–16.
Olson, E., Pearce, G., Jones, N. and Sprecher, D. (2012). Lipid Effects of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-Δ Agonist GW501516 in Subjects With Low High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 32(9), pp.2289-2294.