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Fake natty. It’s a term that most people have never heard. To be fair, it’s a term that most people won’t care about. But it’s a term that is well known in some bodybuilding communities, particularly the health community.
This term is highly controversial, and if you don’t know why, you will by the end of this post.
If today’s post doesn’t interest you, why not click here to learn how to become a weekday vegan.
The term “fake natty” is short for fake natural. Natural bodybuilding is the process of putting on as much muscle as possible without the use of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), including but not limited to AAS (anabolic and androgenic steroids).
“Fake natty” is the nickname given to bodybuilders who secretly use drugs to achieve and maintain their physiques, but claim to have done it naturally. This phenomenon is much more widespread than you might think. Believe it or not, a lot of the guys with the big arms and chiseled abs that you see on fitness magazine covers are on steroids. They just want you to think that they’re not.
There are a number of different reasons why bodybuilders lie about their AAS use. The first reason is obvious: THEY’RE ILLEGAL. To admit that you are on steroids is to admit that you purchase, possess, and use illegal drugs. While there are some bodybuilders that are open about their steroid use, most are not for fear of getting arrested.
Another reason that bodybuilders don’t talk about their steroid use is because of the social stigma attached to steroid use, and drug use in general. There is a ton of misinformation out there about steroids. Most people think that they are, these evil drugs that make people get “roid rage” and go crazy. The truth is that they simply improve protein synthesis and have few side effects. 70 percent of Americans are on prescription drugs, and most of them are much more dangerous than steroids.
All the other reasons have to do with money. The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Fitness models sell supplements. Their job is to convince people to buy supplements. They do this by convincing people that they look the way that they do by using these supplements. If you knew that they look the way that they do, not because of the use of supplements, but because they use steroids, then you’d probably be a lot less likely to buy these supplements. Many bodybuilders have contracts with supplement companies. If they told the truth about their steroid use, they’d lose their contracts.
And not only would they lose contracts, but they’d lose fans. I’m not going to name any individual bodybuilders and fitness models, because several of them are known to sue anyone that publicly calls them out for their drug use. But there are some fake natty bodybuilders out there that have millions of social media followers. More followers=more money. The more people that follow you, the more people you can market to. A lot of fake natties sell supplements, clothing, workout plans, and other stuff to their fans. If their fans knew that they were on the juice, they would lose tons of followers and tons of money.
What’s the problem with fake natties?
You may be thinking to yourself, “So what if these guys lie about their steroid use. What’s the big deal?”
Well, there are a couple of problems with this. The first and biggest problem is that it sets false expectations. This is especially true of guys in their teens that are just starting to work out. They see guys that are just a couple of years older than them with amazing physiques claiming that they built their physiques naturally. This can be incredibly disappointing for young guys that work hard in the gym and the kitchen, yet end up looking nothing like their fake natty heroes.
What I find to be very interesting is that tons of young guys keep believing that their favorite fitness models are natural, in spite of evidence to the contrary. Some of these fake natties have legions of fans that defend them blindly. Whenever someone calls them out on their drug use, they don’t have to say a word. Their fans come to the rescue and defend them. For someone like me, this is very interesting to watch.
Another problem with this is that it is false advertising. If you see an ad for a supplement with a guy standing next to it with huge arms and washboard abs, the implication is that he uses that particular supplement. The truth is, he probably never has and never will use that supplement. He got his physique from training hard, eating right, and using drugs. There are no supplements in existence, aside from AAS, that can make you look that way.
As P.T. Barnum (supposedly) famously once said, “There’s a sucker is born every minute.” To believe that some of these guys built their physiques naturally without drugs, you’d have to be a sucker.
How to tell if someone is a fake natty
The honest truth is that it is often impossible to tell if someone is on steroids. If a guy is 250 pounds with 6% body fat, they are obviously on steroids. No question about it. But if a guy is 190 pounds with 6% body fat, it’s harder to tell. There are a couple of tell-tale signs, though.
1. Shoulders – If a guy has big, round, 3 dimensional, cannonball deltoids, he’s probably on steroids. Have you noticed that guys on steroids have big huge shoulders? This is because there are a lot of androgen receptors in the shoulders. Steroids cause the “gorilla” look. If a guy has huge shoulders that really pop, odds are it’s from steroid use.
2. Low BF% year round – It is almost impossible to maintain <6% body fat year-round. Bodybuilders that are truly drug-free have to diet for months to get down to this low body fat percentage. And they are only able to maintain that low percentage for a very short time. After their competition date, their body fat percentage goes back up again. It is not only difficult but also unhealthy to maintain that low of a body fat percentage without drugs.
3. Fluctuations in weight – If someone’s weight goes up by 20 pounds in 2-3 months, they’re almost definitely using steroids. Especially if their body fat doesn’t go up by too much. There are some fake natty guys on social media that, if you compare their photos over time, have had major weight fluctuations.
4. Moon face – This is exactly what it sounds like. Several anabolic steroids have a side effect called moon facies (aka moon face or puffy face). This causes the tissue in your face to retain a little more water than usual, giving it a puffy look.
5. Natty-itis – Okay, I made this one up. But there’s some truth to it. Nattyitis is when someone mentions that they are natural all the time. Fake natties are notorious for going out of their way, every chance they get, to tell you that they are natural. This reminds me of some vegans. Fake natties are constantly telling you that they are “Fair and Balanced,” even though they are quite obviously unfair and unbalanced. The same is true with fake natties. Even though people in the know they are quite obviously on drugs, they are constantly claiming to be natural.
And now you know all about fake natties. You can see why “fake natty” is such a controversial term. Don’t be taken in with their lies. Use your head. If someone’s physique looks too good to be natural, it probably is.
There’s no reason you can’t get yourself into incredible shape naturally. But some physiques simply aren’t attainable without the use of drugs. We all want to believe that we can have the body of a Greek god, and every fake natty knows this. They exploit it to sell products. But don’t let them fool you. Now you know what to look for.