With pool season upon us, dudes everywhere are on a mission to make big gains in a small amount of time. But if you only have a few weeks to get shredded and you’re scouring YouTube for shortcuts, you may have heard about turkesterone: the spiciest new supplement on the market.
Turkesterone (or “turk” as it’s often called in gyms locker rooms) is a “natural steroid” that allegedly delivers the same muscle-building benefits of anabolic steroids without the harsh side effects—plus you can buy it online without breaking any laws.
Joe Rogan, scientists, and countless TikTok influencers have all touted turk’s potential. So far, the bold claims about turkesterone have been fueled by sketchy online reviews and marketing hype. But what does science have to say?
What Is Turkesterone?
Turkesterone is an ecdysteroid that comes from a plant called Ajuga turkestanica. It’s basically the arthropod (AKA insect) version of the male steroid hormone testosterone, which your body produces naturally.
Side note: there are several types of ecdysteroids, such as ecdysterone. But since turkesterone is the most popular by far, we’ll focus on that.
Turksterone helps insects and plants grow, just like testosterone fuels human muscle growth.
In terms of their molecular structure, turkesterone and testosterone are actually pretty similar. Since testosterone is anabolic (meaning it increases muscle mass) some people believe turkesterone could produce the same effects in humans—hence its popularity.
Turkesterone supplements usually come in the form of pills, which you can buy online for around $50 per bottle. As of now, it’s 100% legal to buy turkesterone and it’s not listed as a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Bottom line: turkesterone is a bug steroid/hormone that theoretically replicates the effects of anabolic steroids. To see if turkesterone lives up to the hype, we started by digging up some old papers from a Russian lab (not kidding).
Does Turkesterone Work?
There’s currently no solid scientific evidence that turkesterone (or any other ecdysteroids) significantly improves athletic performance. That doesn’t mean it’s totally bogus—it just means there’s not enough data to make any claims.
The first study on turkesterone dates back to 1978 when Russian scientists administered the compound to mice. This stimulated liver protein synthesis, but that’s not the same as muscle protein synthesis.
Let’s fast forward 41 years to the latest human study involving ecdysteroids. The researchers had 46 men train for 10 weeks and gave them either a placebo pill or an ecdysteroid supplement. The supplement group saw more muscle gains than the placebo group. But as YouTuber Jeff Nippard pointed out, the people that use this data to hype up turk don’t realize that the study was performed with ecdysterone, not turkesterone. Not to mention those results have never been replicated.
TL;DR turkesterone is far from the cheat code that some people hope for.
Brands that sell turkesterone supplements online tout all sorts of health benefits like improved body composition, faster recovery time, and more lean muscle. One bodybuilder on YouTube said he improved his strength after 30 days of using turk. Others have called it a placebo, and some have even called it a scam.
We’re a long way from turkesterone becoming an approved mainstream supplement. For context, it took decades to clinically show that creatine (a compound found in a lot of pre-workout supplements) supports muscle growth. Meanwhile, turkesterone supplements have only been on the market for a few years.
Turkesterone Side Effects
One of the main draws of turkesterone is that you can avoid the bad androgenic side effects of traditional anabolic steroids. These include low testosterone levels, hair loss, acne, shrunken testicles, and more.
According to one site that claims to be “the most trusted source of turkesterone on the internet,” the main downside to taking this stuff is the lack of research around what happens when humans take it. How reassuring!
YouTuber Remington James said the only side effect he experienced from turkesterone was an upset stomach when he took the supplement without any food. Then again, you never know how your body will react to unregulated supplements, especially when there’s been so little human testing. Buyer beware.
Stick With Weights and Protein Powder
The human brain is wired to fall in love with shortcuts. If you see a video of some guy talking about a legal, affordable plant steroid that gives you bulging biceps and a six-pack, you’ll be tempted to click.
Just beware of protein farts.