Observation reveals that peptides have become more and more popular in recent years among bodybuilders and those coveting a great body. This trend, perhaps, is influenced by relative difficulty in getting and using anabolic steroids. But what are these substances and are they really legal alternatives to steroids? What benefits do bodybuilders hope to get from using them? We answer these questions and more, including peptide types, in this piece.
What are peptides?
A peptide is basically a short chain of amino acids joined together by a bond. The chain usually comprises 50 amino acids or less with amino carboxyl end. Peptides exist naturally in the body and they are also manufactured. You can also get them from the food you eat.
These compounds are often confused with or thought same as proteins. This is obviously because both are made up of amino acids. But this thinking is not exactly correct. The two differ in terms of their specific makeup. Peptides are described as having no more than 50 amino acids, while proteins have more than that number.
These small chains of amino acids can be found in all cells of the human body. They are useful for efficient production of hormones, including growth hormone (GH), which are protein based. Peptides are of different types, including polymers, oligopeptides and neuropeptides.
Why are they used by bodybuilders?
Perhaps, the primary reason why peptides are used in bodybuilding has to do with how they improve growth hormone production. It is no longer a secret how HGH helps to improve lean muscle mass. Your body uses peptides to promote increased secretion of HGH. They, therefore, make it easier for interested persons to achieve bigger muscle mass. Their usage may help enhance strength. It is even said that these small amino acid chains could boost testosterone production.
Among the other reasons why bodybuilders use peptides is its ability to help you recover faster. They assist in making oxygen available to the muscle cells in sufficient amount. They also improve user’s level of endurance. These benefits make them popular among athletes generally. Peptides further help to burn body fat, which is another reason they are considered beneficial in bodybuilding.
Types of peptides
There is a wide array of peptides available to those who may be interested in them. And new ones are added from time to time. Some of these are more suited to specific purposes – say, muscle mass building, fat burning or performance enhancement.
The variety of peptide offerings on the market are categorized into groups. This is usually based on their mode of action. Following are some of the most popular groups and peptides that fall under them.
Growth hormone releasing hormones (GHRH)
Just as the name suggests, GHRH helps to stimulate secretion of growth hormone. The duration of secretion induced will depend on the specific type of peptide that you use. An important thing to note here is that these substances are effective only to a limit. Exceeding the saturation dose, which may vary between individuals, will not improve the amount of HGH that is secreted. Below are a few peptides that fall in the GHRH group.
Modified GRF (1-29) is known to be beneficial in promoting muscle growth and fat burning. Also known as CJC-1295 without DAC, the peptide may be useful to those looking to slow aging as well. It is thought to also help users sleep better. The half-life time of MOD-GRF (1-29) is roughly a half hour.
CJC 1295 DAC
This is the opposite of Modified GRF (1-29), in a way. CJC-1295 with DAC mainly differs from the other peptide in terms of how long the effects last. The half-life is estimated at about a week, making it ideal for people who wish to avoid the stress of having to use peptides frequently. The compound serves similar purposes as MOD-GRF (1-29).
HGH Fragment 176-191
As the name indicates, this peptide is a fragment of human growth hormone. It is more specifically a modified form of the amino acids 176-191 in the C-terminal section of the latter substance. Bodybuilders mainly use it enhance fat burning for improved and more noticeable muscle growth. For weight loss, HGH Fragment 176-191 is thought to be considerably more potent than regular growth hormone. It also offers anti-aging benefits as a result of positive effects on IGF-1 levels.
Boasting similar structure as CJC-1295, sermorelin is commonly used for anti-aging purposes. But it is also considered useful for muscle building. It accounts for 29 amino acids of the 44 that make up growth hormone releasing hormones. This peptide is very potent for improving HGH levels, as shown in studies. It was observed that the 1-29 amino acid chain is mainly responsible for the ability of GHRH to stimulate release of growth hormone by the pituitary. However, sermorelin has very short half-life of about 10 minutes or less.
Growth hormone releasing peptides (GHRP)
These compounds may be considered an improvement on GHRH in terms of ability to induce growth hormone secretion. GHRP, it is thought, causes secretion of greater amounts of GH in the body. Unlike in the case of GHRH, you do not need to aim at specific times to take advantage of pulse produced by your body. Growth hormone releasing peptides produce growth hormone burst practically any time you take them. They are also available in different types, including the following:
Used for muscle building, weight loss and anti-aging purposes, this is a very powerful peptide for promoting growth hormone release. GHRP-6 also helps in fighting inflammation and boosting recovery. Some professional bodybuilders are believed to use it together with steroids for greater potency. The peptide not only stimulates the pituitary to produce growth hormone, but also suppresses somatostatin which could impede release.
If GHRP-6 is powerful for growth hormone release, this peptide is even stronger, albeit slightly so. GHRP-2 is used for similar purposes as the other compound. But it does not fire up appetite as the other peptide is known to do. This may make it more ideal for people interested in improving lean muscle mass. Furthermore, it does not desensitize when taken in low doses without observing breaks as required for other peptides.
In this one you have a peptide with potential to stimulate GH release without resulting in issues associated with others. Just like GHRP-6, it both stimulates the pituitary and suppresses somatostatin. This is not the most powerful growth hormone releasing peptide. But neither causes your appetite to surge drastically nor your prolactin or cortisol levels to rise. These reasons make them a favorite for some users.
Users get even greater growth hormone release from this peptide than both GHRP-6 and GHRP-2. Much like other GHRP and GHRH peptides, it is believed to be useful for muscle building, fat loss and anti-aging. Hexarelin is stronger than practically all other growth hormone releasing peptides at all dosing levels. But this means it has higher potential to desensitize, regardless of dose or whether breaks are observed.
Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)
This class of peptides is used to enhance the insulin-like growth of muscles by bodybuilders. These compounds are great for targeting specific muscle groups. Also known as Somatomedic C, IGF-1 has become one of the more popular peptides used for muscle building in the last 10 years or so. Englishman Dorian Yates, who was named Mr. Olympian for six straight years in the 1990s, is thought to have been a prominent user. This contributed to make many professional bodybuilders to include it in their regimen as well. IGF-1 is also available in different variants.
This is the most popular variant of IGF-1 that buyers will find on the market today. IGF-1 LR3 comprises 83 amino acids. That means it adds extra 13 amino acids to the sequence of the standard insulin-like growth factor-1. The polypeptide boasts qualities that make it much more powerful than normal IGF-1. It boasts a longer half life of up to 30 hours, compared to the latter’s 15 hours. In addition to bodybuilding, IGF-1 LR3 helps with fat burning, quicker recovery and slowing aging.
Mechano Growth Factor (with PEG)
Also known as PEG-MGF, this peptide not only helps to promote muscle growth, but also to cause new muscle cells to be formed. The IGF-1 form is linked to polyethylene glycol (PEG), which differentiates it from ordinary mechano growth factor. The implication of this is that the half-life of MGF increases from minutes to days. It is more ideal to use PEG-MGF after workouts. The reason for this is the mechano-sensitive nature of MGF. That means it is activated by mechanical stimulus. The peptide facilitates faster recovery from muscle damage.
The list of peptides mentioned so far is of course not exhaustive. There are numerous other types on the market, some of which may not be necessarily beneficial for bodybuilding.
How do you use peptides?
These substances come in form of powder that has to be reconstituted with sterilized water and injected. The injections are given either subcutaneously or intramuscularly, but the former option is more common. The advice is to use an insulin syringe for administration purpose. You need to be extra careful when self-injecting peptides. Make sure you do not strike a vital blood vessel.
Combining GHRH with GHRP
The use of peptides is not necessarily a case of one or the other. While you can derive benefit from using either GHRH or GHRP, the effects can be amplified by using both. This, for one, will help to better keep levels of somatostatin under control. The amount of that hormone is an issue you will be forced to contend with when using only GHRH. This is because it is known to inhibit growth hormone.
In addition, when using GHRH and GHRP together you need not target specific times when your body produces pulse to get greater benefits. It will be recalled that GHRP is able to create larger GH pulse without relying on the body for that.
There is need to point out here that how much growth hormone release is amplified depends on what peptides you combine. A sample combination that can deliver tremendous effect is GHRP-6 and MOD-GRF (1-29). You may need to do a bit of mix and match to find the right combo.
Are peptides legal to use?
The purpose for which peptides are used determines their legality. For research purposes, it is perfectly all right for you get these compounds if you need to. But then, the discussion here is not about medical research but bodybuilding. It is less likely you are interested in them for the former purpose. Do note that it is illegal to buy and use peptides for purposes other than research.
Those who sell these substances get away by including a disclaimer on the bottles that they are for research only. This means you could be arrested and prosecuted if you are found to be using them. It is the reason some users speak in coded language when discussing usage, such as talking about injecting their animals with the compounds.
One major reason why it is considered illegal to use peptides for bodybuilding is that their safety is not yet clear. For any substance to be cleared for use by human, a lot of testing must have been done. It appears sufficient research needed to approve use by humans is not yet available.
Peptides can make the goal of growing bigger muscles possible. They may also help to burn body fat, improve muscle recovery and slow aging. Each type has specific purposes for which it is more useful. These compounds are in many cases beneficial because of how they boost release of growth hormone by the pituitary gland. GH secretion is amplified when GHRH and GHRP substances are used together. As awesome as the benefits they offer sound, you should remember that peptides can be legally used for research purpose only.