The rise of peptides in bodybuilding has been hard to ignore, with their popularity surging dramatically in recent times. Each new month seems to introduce a promising peptide product, claiming unparalleled benefits. But in this sea of options, how can one discern the genuinely effective peptides from mere marketing gimmicks?
The volume of questions I've received about peptides is a testament to their growing intrigue. The primary concerns? Do peptides genuinely work? Are they safe? What about their legal status? And, of course, the best ways to incorporate them into one's regimen.
My initial curiosity about peptides led me on an exhaustive research journey. I delved deep, seeking to understand the nuances and potential of these amino acids in the realm of bodybuilding. This guide is the fruit of that labor, aiming to provide clarity on all things related to peptides in bodybuilding.
Read More: Top 5 HGH Supplements
What Are Peptides?
According to Wikipedia, a peptide is basically a short chain of amino acids. These acids are linked together with peptide bonds. Each chain consists of a total of 50 or fewer amino acids.
Peptides are naturally found within our bodies and are typically produced from the food we eat. With that being said, there are many different types of peptides depending upon the number of amino acids present in the chain.
For example, a peptide with just two amino acids is called a dipeptide. A compound with more than two but less than 20 amino acids is called an oligopeptide. This is just a more straightforward way of categorizing these compounds.
There are many different types of peptides available depending upon their method of usage. The three most important groups of peptides used in bodybuilding are listed below:
- Growth Hormone Releasing Peptides (GHRP)
- Growth Hormone Releasing Hormones (GHRH)
- Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)
What Do Peptides Do?
The function of peptides depends upon the group itself. For example, IGF-1 peptides work by boosting the insulin-like growth of muscles in both men and women (1).
According to the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), there is a widespread use of peptides in professional sports all over the world. Athletes and fitness fanatics alike are using these mini-proteins primarily to accelerate their recovery.
To get into the science behind these compounds, we need to understand how our bodies function naturally.
Have you ever heard of the Pituitary Gland? It is the small organ found at the base of our brains. It acts as a sort of a control unit. This “master gland” works by sending signals to other parts of our bodies in the form of hormones (2).
These hormones act as a trigger to kick other glands and organs into action. Now, I could keep talking about this stuff forever, but let’s stick to what really matters to us as bodybuilders.
The key hormone produced by our pituitary gland is actually the Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This is essentially the holy grail of all kinds of growth in our bodies.
According to the Medical College of Wisconsin, a low level of HGH in our bodies can lead to a significant decrease in lean muscle mass and thinning of the skin (3).
According to Godfrey RJ at Brunel University, HGH plays a crucial role in increasing our fat metabolism and maintaining a healthier body composition even in our later years (4).
With the basic understanding of the pituitary gland and HGH out of the way, let’s talk about peptides.
When you take peptides, these amino acid bonds travel to your pituitary gland and signal it to produce more HGH.
Contrary to what some “experts” on the forums might say, peptides don’t actually convert into Growth Hormones. These compounds merely act as a trigger or, rather, a signal.
Now, the actual process is a lot more complicated than what I have just explained. I could write a whole book and then some more, but this brief overview should help you understand how peptides work.
One common mistake that I see people make on the forums and the internet, in general, is that they group all HGH peptides into the same category.
The peptides that promote HGH can be divided into two broad categories:
Growth Hormone Releasing Hormones (GHRH)
The GHRH peptides work by targeting the Hypothalamus in our brains to trigger an acceleration in the production of the natural Growth Hormone Releasing Hormones already present in our bodies. These GHRHs act as a signal to the pituitary gland to produce more HGH.
Sounds confusing? Let me clear this one up.
The GHRH and the HGH are two completely different hormones.
As I mentioned earlier, HGH is the signal (hormone) that triggers the functions to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Now, GHRH is another hormone that actually triggers the production of more HGH in our bodies. So, the more GHRH in your body, the more HGH will be produced as a result (10).
The GHRH category of peptides causes a slow, but steady increase in the production of HGH in your body. However, you need to time your dosage for maximum impact.
Some of the more popular GHRH peptides include CJC 1295 DAC, Modified GRF (1-29), and Sermorelin.
Growth Hormone Releasing Peptides (GHRP)
The GHRP is actually an improved version of the GHRH peptides. These work directly by targeting the pituitary gland to increase the production of HGH in our bodies.
Again, this can get confusing, so let me explain. GHRH peptides work by stimulating the secretion of GHRH themselves – which in turn causes our bodies to produce a small burst of HGH. Do note that we can’t control when that burst happens (in the case of GHRH peptides).
GHRP, on the other hand, directly targets our pituitary gland to deliver a massive burst of HGH in a short amount of time. So not only do you get more HGH, but you actually get an instant burst throughout your bloodstream whenever you take the GHRP.
Ipamorelin and GHRP-2 are most commonly used by bodybuilders and fitness fanatics alike.
Benefits of Peptides
Peptides can help you improve your body in a lot of different ways. But let’s talk about the two most important ones:
Peptides for Muscle Growth
The added influx of HGH caused by peptides can help you build muscle faster by improving your performance at the gym. It will help you go through a more rigorous workout for a more extended period (11).
Optimal levels of HGH have been linked with a faster recovery period time after time (14).
The right peptides should help you increase the intensity of your workouts for more pronounced results.
If you want to put on some serious mass, then Modified GRF (1-29) and Hexarelin are definitely worth considering.
With all that said, peptides only work to amplify your results. You should not expect to put on pounds after pounds of pure muscle every week if you spend your days watching TV on the couch.
Peptides for Weight Loss
HGH has been scientifically proven to have a significant impact on your metabolism. Simply put, the more of these wonderful hormones there are in your body, the faster you will burn your calories (15).
In a study by the University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital, increasing the HGH levels in children caused an acceleration in growth while noticeably reducing the overall body fat percentage at the same time. A higher rate of fat oxidation was also recorded in the subjects’ bodies (16).
It is no wonder, then, that a study by Mayo Clinic found a significant correlation between belly fat and the levels of HGH (17).
In fact, individuals who carried 300% more fat around their bellies compared to the control group had less than 50% of the HGH levels of the same.
So if you’re struggling with keeping your weight (especially fat percentage) in control, peptides might be the ultimate chain breaker you’ve been looking for.
We all know that someone who won’t lose weight, no matter how much they exercise or reduce their calories.
If that someone sounds like you, then you should definitely look into the HGH Fragment 176-191 and Ipamorelin. These peptides are widely popular for their fat-burning properties.
I must warn you, though: If you don’t watch what you eat, then no brand or quantity of peptides is going to make any significant difference.
Remember, folks: every successful weight loss journey starts in the kitchen!
I get a lot of questions about Ipamorelin. I think Ipamorelin is one of the better options out there.
For the record, Ipamorelin is not as potent as some of the other peptides mentioned in this article.
However, that is a good thing because that small sacrifice in performance has made this peptide a lot safer than the other options out there (18, 19). I think its balance of potency and safety is what truly sets it apart.
Another significant advantage of ipamorelin is its somatostatin-suppressing properties. To put it in simple terms, it suppresses the production of the hormones that actually decrease the level of HGH in your body (20).
So, it is essentially a dual-action solution to maximize your HGH levels with the minimal side effects possible.
Peptide Side Effects
Although peptides are generally safer than most alternatives, you might experience some of the following side effects:
- Increased hunger
- High or low blood pressure
- Mouth Dryness
- Itching or redness at the site of injection
- Increased water retention
- Numbness in some parts of the body
- Abrupt weight loss or gains
I know how scary this list of potential side effects must sound, but “potential” really is the keyword here.
Generally speaking, peptides are quite safe when taken correctly. As with anything, please make sure to stay within the recommended dosage.
How to Take Peptides? A Step-by-Step Guide
Misusing peptides can be quite dangerous. And I know how confusing this whole thing can be.
So, let’s break down the whole process into a simple step-by-step format. If you follow each step as explained, you should be able to avoid 99% of the mistakes most rookies make.
#1 Choose Your Goal & Set Your Expectations
What is more important to you, muscle growth or weight loss? How much risk are you willing to take?
The more relatively riskier peptides you choose, the more pronounced your results will be.
In my humble opinion, it is much better to stick with something less potent, but with a significantly reduced risk of side effects.
A lot of people seem to mistake peptides for some magical pill that will give them the body of a ripped model while leading the lifestyle of a couch potato.
Spoiler alert: it won’t!
In fact, even with a proper diet and an ideal workout routine, it will take some time to get any noticeable results.
Now, don’t get me wrong; peptides will amplify your gains. However, nothing will come out of thin air.
So, for step one, choose a specific goal and give your expectations a quick reality check.
#2 Choose Your Stack
As I explained in an earlier section, HGH peptides can be grouped into two categories: GHRH and GHRP.
To recap, GHRH results in a slow but steady secretion of growth hormones. GHRP, on the other hand, causes a massive burst of HGH in your body within minutes of taking it.
Now, I’m sure it sounds like a no-brainer to just pick a GHRP and be done with it. But that’s actually NOT the best course of action.
You see if you combine a GHRP with a GHRH peptide, the results are far greater than the results of each one individually (21).
The result is further enhanced by the fact that HGH makes the maximum impact on your body when it is secreted in large quantities at once (22).
This synergy of GHRH and GHRP is precisely why I highly recommend that you stick to a combination of both. The results will be minimal otherwise.
For GHRH, Modified GRF (1-29) is hands down the best option out there. I usually avoid such absolute statements, but it really is that much more effective.
Most GHRH peptides only have a small window of action before the blood enzymes consume them, whereas the Modified GRF (1-29) can survive for up to 30 minutes, which is more than enough time for it to reach the pituitary gland in your brain.
For GHRP, you have two options, namely GHRP-2 and the Ipamorelin.
Now, both of these can be an excellent choice. However, GHRP-2 is significantly cheaper than the alternative.
A 2,000 mcg vial of Ipamorelin costs about $26. You can get a 5,000 mcg vial of GHRP-2 for the same price.
So, obviously, GHRP-2 offers the best bang for the buck. Unfortunately, GHRP-2 has been shown to increase the production of the hormone prolactin (23). This increased level of prolactin can cause lactation in some users, especially women.
With that being said, I believe the best course of action would be to go with GHRP-2. If it doesn’t sit well with you, just switch to Ipamorelin instead.
My recommended stack: Modified GRF (1-29) with either GHRP-2 or Ipamorelin.
#3 Time to Inject!
While there are fancier ways out there, subcutaneous injection is the most common way of taking peptides. Why? Not only is it cheaper, it is also more effective.
Subcutaneous injection basically means to inject into the fat layer between the skin and the muscles.
Where should you inject? I believe the side of your abdomen is the best spot as it’s the easiest to access. Just make sure to avoid the area around the belly button.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the dosage. Around 100 mcg (micrograms) is the amount used in the vast majority of studies out there. This is usually the best spot for both men and women.
Another way of doing it would be to take the same amount as your bodyweight. But obviously not in kilograms.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a big fellow that weighs in at 115 kilograms. In that case, you should inject 115 mcg of these peptides.
However, if you weigh less than 100kg, you should still stick to a minimum of 100 mcg dosage.
This figure is the same for both GHRH and the GHRP. So, in case you chose the Modified GRF (1-29) and Ipamorelin as your stack, you should take 100 mcg of each.
Now that you know how to take peptides, let’s talk a bit about when.
If you want to keep it simple and straightforward, you should stick to injecting both before going to bed at night. There is no missing on this one.
However, for maximum efficiency, I recommend that you take one dosage after a workout and then another at night.
On that note, please make sure to inject 50 mcg of both peptides at each interval. As I explained earlier, the synergy between GHRH and GHRP is the key here.
Peptide Pro Tips
- Beware of dosage saturation. What it means is that you will get diminishing results once you go over the recommended intake of 100 mcg per day.
- Assess your body’s toleration before going all in. So, for example, if you plan on taking 100 mcg of peptides, start with 25 mcg on the first day. See how that feels. If everything goes well, keep increasing it incrementally until you reach the target of 100 mcg daily.
- Most of the brands won’t send free syringes with your vial of peptides. You will have to get one on your own. Be wary of buying on Amazon, though, as the syringes on there come without needles. Your best bet is to get the insulin syringes from your local Walmart.
- When you’re putting the needle in the vial containing the peptide solution, always make sure to aim for the center. The needle on the syringe will be prone to bending or even breaking otherwise.
#1 What Is the Difference Between Peptides and Protein?
A lot of people confuse peptides with proteins. This is actually not true. Peptides never have more than 50 amino acids in a single chain. A compound with more than 50 amino acids is called a protein. With that said, peptides can be considered as mini-proteins.
#2 Are Peptides Legal?
It depends entirely on your location and profession. For starters, professional athletes are not allowed to use peptides to prevent any unfair advantages.
If you’re not an elite athlete, however, you will find that peptides are legal for almost everyone else. Still, I highly recommend that you talk to a doctor before taking peptides.
Oh, and in case I forgot to mention, you need a prescription to get your hands on these mini-proteins anyway.
#3 Are Peptides Safe?
According to Associate Professor Peter Crack from the University of Melbourne, peptides are perfectly safe as long as you take them correctly. It is recommended that you take these on short courses rather than a daily routine.
With that being said, I must warn you that there haven’t been enough clinical trials to truly understand the long-term effects of these compounds.
#4 Are Peptides, Steroids?
Peptides and steroids are quite similar in function, so it comes as no surprise when a lot of our readers think they are both the same. However, peptides are not steroids.
Peptides only target the production of HGH, whereas steroids usually aim for testosterone, among other hormones.
Peptides are not even remotely as potent as steroids, but they also come with a significantly reduced risk of side effects. Steroids are just an entirely different beast, and hence, illegal in most parts of the world.
#5 What Is The Best Peptide for Fat Loss?
If you’re looking to lose fat, not just weight, then I highly recommend you consider the Ipamorelin peptide. As I explained earlier, it is quite effective, yet it carries the least risk of all peptides mentioned in this guide. To put it quite simply, it is currently at the forefront of the latest peptide inventions (24).
#6 How Much Will Peptides Cost Me Each Month?
The cost of peptides can range quite wildly depending upon your choice of the compound and the brand itself. However, as a rough estimate, you should expect to spend around $150 to $500 each month on peptides.
If that sounds too much, then you should consider checking out the natural alternatives mentioned in the next section.
How Do Peptides Compare to IGF-1 LR3 in Bodybuilding?
Best Legal Alternatives to Peptides
If injecting peptides sounds too scary, then you should consider the following two natural supplements from CrazyBulk:
HGH-X2 is another excellent alternative to peptides that can be ordered without any prescription or a visit to the doctor. Just like Trenorol, all the ingredients in HGH-X2 are 100% natural.
HGH-X2 is actually quite similar in function, such that its core application is the acceleration of HGH production in your body.
The company claims that these supplements can help users increase the intensity of their workouts with a much more rapid recovery period.
Each bottle of HGH-X2 contains around 60 capsules. At 30 servings per bottle, you’re looking at a total cost of just $50 per month.
If you want to maximize your gains at the gym without putting your body at any significant risk, I highly recommend giving HGH-X2 a shot. You can learn more about it by clicking here (Buy 2, Get 1 Free).
Trenorol is an all-natural alternative to peptides that can help you reduce your cortisol levels while improving the nutrient efficiency in your body at the same time. According to CrazyBulk, the supplement can help you lose weight without sacrificing your muscle gains.
And to top it all, its natural ingredients are some of the safest out there. At just $62 for each bottle, Trenorol is a lot cheaper than any peptide.
Please note that you can only buy Trenorol through CrazyBulk's official website only. On the bright side, this pretty much guarantees that the product will be 100% genuine.
If you would like to learn more about Trenorol, visit the official website here.
With the ever-growing demand for peptides in bodybuilding, I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand the science behind something before you put it in your body.
I couldn’t find a lot of unbiased information on peptides when I was first introduced to these “magical” compounds, but I hope my guide will help you make an informed decision.
If I missed any of your questions, or if you have any other concerns, please let me know in the comments section, and I’ll try to answer as many of you as possible.
And if you really enjoyed this article, please don’t forget to share it with your friends. Remember: peptides can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Oh, and for those of you already on peptides, please do share your wisdom with the rest of the community.
Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a licensed physician or M.D. The purpose of this article is educational only. Do not use any substance without consulting with a licensed medical professional first. The author does not claim to diagnose or cure any medical conditions.
Holding a Ph.D. and driven by a profound passion for fitness, Dr. Jack Parker, a Fitness & Legal Steroids Expert, is a trusted authority in both physical health and legal steroids. He masterfully blends in-depth research with hands-on insights, guiding Muzcle's readers towards personalized fitness routines and safe steroid alternatives. Outside of his professional endeavors, he cherishes quality time with family and immerses himself in the ever-evolving world of health literature.