Blog Post

Turkesterone: What Does the Research Say?

Turkesterone What Does The Research Say

Turkesterone is a supplement that has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years as a potential option for helping muscle growth, without the downsides of anabolic steroids.

It is an option that has some pretty strong claims, although the research is relatively limited as of right now.

This post aims to cover what research we DO have on the topic. In addition, there will also be an interpretation of that research, alongside looking at the results people are seeing in practice.

What is Turkesterone?

Turkesterone

Turkesterone is a form of ecdysteroid. Put simply, ecdysteroids are the insect equivalent of human steroid hormones.

Automatically, you can see some form of link people can connect between ecdysteroids and potentially muscle growth.

Turkesterone can be found in a variety of arthropods, insects and plants.

Why Does It Have Any Hype?

I have personally had a lot of clients ask about Turkesterone and the two main reasons I see people interested in it are:

  1. They have either seen Derek from More Plates, More Dates OR Andrew Huberman talking about it.
  2. They want to increase muscle growth but do not want to take performance-enhancing drugs.

For those who are interested, I have linked below featuring Andrew Huberman on Joe Rogan’s podcast, with an analysis from Derek.

This video does a solid job of explaining the hype.

From one perspective, you have some wild claims. Huberman literally said “it acts the same way as Deca or another testosterone derivative. It increases testosterone, performance and recovery by an equivalent amount.”

It is easy to see why that sounds appealing to people if it comes with no downside.

Summarizing How Derek’s Analysis

For those who would prefer to skip the video, here is a brief summary of Derek’s response to some of the claims that were made.

  • Firstly, he addressed the claim that it is like taking anabolic steroids. He says that only one study exists comparing it to steroids. And it was Dianabol in this case (not Deca). In a rodent model. And it outperformed Dianabol, which is wild.
  • Derek also highlighted that it doesn’t increase testosterone, which goes against Huberman’s claim. It doesn’t work through that mechanism. Anecdotal bloodwork shows no change in testosterone. It also has not been found to suppress natural production either. 
  • He talks about a lot of anecdotal case studies that got good results. But then also said there were “non-responders.” 

I personally think that Derek highlighting that it was never compared to Deca AND doubling down on it being based on a single rodent study makes him seem more trustworthy. Acknowledging the flaws makes him seem more likely to be right.  

From what I could see, the study he was referring to was not actually on Turkesterone, but on ecdysteroids in general.

It is also worth having an awareness that Derek owns a supplement company that sells turkesterone. He mentions that every time he makes a video about it, it sells out. I do not think it is unfair to say it is in his interest to put a positive spin on the evidence that is available.

In summary, the main reason turkesterone has hype is due to the potential for muscle gain without side effects.

What Does the Research Show?

The first thing to be aware of is that there is zero human research on Turkesterone.

That is crazy.

When preparing for this blog post, I was reading what other people were saying and I saw lines from supplement companies such as:

“What few studies of Turkesterone have shown is it may help promote lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, promote protein synthesis, aid muscle hypertrophy & increase strength. Human and animal studies have been conducted that do support this.”

And there are only 3 explanations for this:

  1. I have somehow missed human studies, even though I have looked hard.
  2. That particular supplement company saying is unintentionally unaware of the fact that there are zero human studies on turkesterone.
  3. That company is intentionally lying.

I personally think it is the middle one. But that is speculation.

Since there is no human research on turkesterone, all we can do is look at animal research or research on ecdysteroids. I much prefer human research for a variety of reasons.

Early Research on Ecdysteroids

Prior to 2006, there was no human research on any form of ecdysteroids. Animal studies started in 1978, but there was not really anything interesting enough to prompt human studies.

In 2006, there was a study with 45 lifters. One group took a form of ecdysteroids, the other took placebo.

After 8 weeks of supplementation, there was no improvement in muscle or strength vs placebo. There was no change in testosterone either. 

Consensus as of 2018

ISSN

In 2018 the ISSN released a position stand on supplements. Within that position stand, they summarised all of the research on ecdysteroids. They came to the conclusion that it does not really do anything for muscle, strength or performance.

That was a pretty far analysis of the research at that point.

A Curve Ball from a 2019 Study

Then in 2019, the most recent study to the best of my knowledge came out. And the results were insanely good.

It involved 46 men with around 1 year of training experience. The intervention involved a supplement that was labelled to contain 100mg of ecdysterone, for 10 weeks.

Muscle gain in the ecdysterone group dramatically outperformed placebo. Oddly enough, the placebo group LOST muscle during this period of time.

The weirdest aspect of this study though was that after later analysis it was found the supplement only contained 6mg of ecdysterone. To be clear, that is 6% of what was on the label.

There are a lot of theories as to why this study had this wild result, even though the supplement barely contained ecdysterone. But no matter how we look at it, the findings do not add up in a way that is worth reading too much into.

If You Take It, What Dosage Should You Use?

Turkesterone Nutrition Panel

From my personal perspective, the way we find the “optimal dosage” of a supplement is to do a bunch of research with higher/lower dosages to see what performs best.

Since we have no human research, we obviously cannot use that approach.

If you were to choose to use turkesterone, you would have to go based on anecdotal reports and theoretical thinking.

It seems like 500-1200mg per day is a common dosage. In terms of safety, higher dosages than that have been used safely, but it is unclear what the upper limit should be.

Summary and Interpretation

The main red flag is that there is no human research. An obvious question to ask is: Why?

Why is there no human research?

If ecdysteroids have been studied since 1978 in animals, and from 2006 onwards in humans, why is nobody researching turkesterone?

Surely supplement companies have an interest in research being published if it works?

If you want my personal opinion, I think it does not do anything meaningful for muscle growth. If it did, people would produce research to provide evidence that it does, which could help sales of turkesterone.

I am not ignoring anecdotal evidence. But there is nothing there that has convinced me it is effective either.

I am open to being wrong on that. If research comes out showing muscle growth consistently, I will happily change my mind. Heck, if it leads to muscle growth without side effects, I would be interested in taking it personally.

For now, I would rather be looking at other options instead of turkesterone.

By Aidan Muir

Aidan is a Brisbane based dietitian who prides himself on staying up-to-date with evidence-based approaches to dietetic intervention. He has long been interested in all things nutrition, particularly the effects of different dietary approaches on body composition and sports performance. Due to this passion, he has built up an extensive knowledge base and experience in multiple areas of nutrition and is able to help clients with a variety of conditions. One of Aidan’s main strengths is his ability to adapt plans based on the client's desires. By having such a thorough understanding of optimal nutrition for different situations he is able to develop detailed meal plans and guidance for clients that can contribute to improving the clients overall quality of life and performance. He offers services both in-person and online.