If you’re into fitness, you’ve probably come across the term “fake natty”. Recently, social media and YouTube was taken by storm when the steroid shopping list of a famous influencer called “Liver King” was leaked, revealing that his – actually impressive – physique is a result of not only his diet and lifestyle, as he would claim, but the results of a heavy ongoing steroid and peptide cycle.
This recent episode was not the first and certainly will not be the last, but what exactly is a fake natty? Short for fake natural, it’s a term to used to describe people who conceal their use of steroids (and other PEDs), claiming that their physiques were built solely on dieting and training. These individuals usually make use of steroids, HGH, peptides and other drugs and yet claim that they’re clean.
Most of us know the risks involved in taking steroids, both regarding the law and our health, but in the end it’s a matter of personal choice whether or not to do it. Just to make it clear, simply using steroids doesn’t make you a fake natty. Lying about it, however, does. So, why do people still lie about using steroids in 2022, when there’s so much information available for free?
Well, the answer to that question is not always 100% clear, but I’ll try to list some of them:
- They’re scared of getting in trouble: even though many anabolic steroids are legitimate and have real medical purposes, most doctors won’t prescribe these drugs for enhancing performance nor for aesthetic reasons. That being said, steroid usage in most countries is illegal, which means openly talking about using and buying steroids is basically a confession and may lead to some very unwanted attention from authorities.
- They want the attention: we all know that building a great physique is something that takes hard work, investment and great discipline. What we also know is that steroids can help you achieve said physique faster and sometimes easier. So, whenever we see a guy that was supposedly able to build a lot of muscle and stay lean naturally, most of us automatically pay extra attention to what that person has to say, that’s a fact.
- They’re trying to sell you something: most of the times, whenever a fake natty gains some popularity, he starts talking about his “crazy” diet or workout program, sometimes even crediting his results to some kind of unknown and exclusive supplement, or this amazing product that he’s put together that will make you look like him if you just buy it. In no time he’s selling all these things with promises to make you progress like you never did, of course, for terribly high prices.
- The “ethics” involved: most of us, especially older folks, grow up hearing that “steroids are cheating”, or that “steroids will kill you”. The truth is, almost everybody involved a high-performance environment (including the Olympics) are on PEDs, whether they’re designer steroids or carefully planned cycles that bypass the anti-doping efforts through perfect timing and masking of their metabolites. But somehow, whenever somebody openly admits to using steroids, for the general public it seems like their merits go down significantly.
The reason why fake natties are especially dangerous is that they influence unexperienced, natural lifters who are unknowingly taking advice from these concealed steroid users and might:
- Buy and follow a poorly designed (or at least suboptimal) dieting and training program, as what these fake natties sell is often hot garbage;
- Get bad nutrition advice that may harm their health from the “crazy” diets these fake natties claim to be eating;
- Have unrealistically high standards for their own physiques;
- Become discouraged when they underperform and turn to extreme measures such as starving themselves (or actually taking steroids, but in the wrong way);
If you want to spot a fake natty, there are no surefire ways of telling they’ve done steroids or other drugs, but there are a few signs you can look for:
- An inhuman combination of size and leanness: humans can either get big or lean naturally, but both at the same time is extremely difficult for naturals, as the calorie deficit required to make you lean will not allow you to be big and vice-versa;
- Extremely rapid strength and muscle gains: most of us can make quick progress if we come from an untrained state (the first months of training and dieting). After that, however, it becomes extremely difficult to pack on more muscle quickly;
- Strength that doesn’t match the size: steroids can make you grow even if you’re using low weights. Building strength, even with steroids, takes time;
- Bubble-guts: most steroids also cause the growth of internal organs. So, a guy that is lean with a bubble-gut is a great sign that he’s done steroids;
- Huge shoulders and traps: These 2 groups (but not only them) are filled with anabolic receptors and tend to respond quickly when a person is on steroids, given the right genetics.
- Common sense: perhaps the most important one. We live in 2022, there is plenty of information out there for free, including people that openly talk about taking steroids. If you see somebody with a great physique claiming to be natural and making money out of it in any way, your first instinct should be to question it.
In the end, it’s not taking steroids that makes someone a fraud, it’s lying about it. Most fitness influencers of professionals do it or have done it as a way of improving their body, which in turn becomes their marketing vehicle. Remember: they do it for a living. Just be careful with guys out there that claim to be naturals when they’re clearly not.