Winstrol Benefits Vs Side Effects (Worth the Risk?)

Dr George TouliatosDisclaimer: The following article is for educational purposes only and does not promote the use of illegal steroids. If you have any questions or concerns, Dr. Touliatos is currently available for consultation.

Winstrol (Stanozolol) has been one of the most popular anabolic steroids in bodybuilding since it came on the market in 1962.

In medicine, Winstrol was initially prescribed as an appetite stimulant and mass-building agent for patients suffering from malignant and non-malignant diseases, osteoporosis, and trauma.

It was later given to the elderly to reduce debility and to those suffering from dwarfism due to its stimulatory effect on the pituitary gland.

However, during the 1970s, Winstrol’s side effects became better known, with it consequently being prescribed for fewer diseases and illnesses.

Winstrol is now classified as a controlled substance and is thus illegal to use for bodybuilding purposes.

However, it remains an FDA-approved medicine for the treatment of hereditary angioedema (1), due to its ability to increase C1 esterase inhibitor (C1INH) and C4 proteins (2). Patients, however, are placed on the lowest possible effective dose, which is indicative of Winstrol’s toxic nature.

Winstrol Benefits

Muscle Gain

Although Winstrol is predominantly used as a cutting agent, its anabolic effects and ability to add lean mass should not be underestimated.

Users at our clinic have reported building 10–15 pounds of muscle when first cycling Winstrol, even if they’re in a calorie deficit.

This potent form of exogenous testosterone helps users defy the bulking/cutting cycle strategy by building muscle and burning fat at the same time.

Thus, some users may not use Winstrol for cutting but for a lean bulking cycle. Therefore, if someone does not want to add excessive amounts of hypertrophy, Winstrol may be utilized instead of bulking steroids, like Dianabol, Anadrol or Testosterone.

Fat Loss

The main benefit of Winstrol is subcutaneous fat loss, hence why it is a popular cutting steroid. Winstrol also causes water loss (as it doesn’t aromatize), thus having a drying-out/diuretic effect.

Fat loss and reductions in extracellular fluid will both promote a more vascular and defined physique.

How much fat a user loses will depend on their diet, training, and dosage. However, in our experience, someone regularly eating in a 500-calorie deficit and taking a moderate dosage of Winstrol (20 mg/day) can expect to burn approximately 5-6% body fat in an 8-week cycle.

No Water Retention

Many anabolic steroids are estrogenic and are referred to as ‘wet’ compounds due to the amount of water retention and bloating they cause. One unique benefit of Winstrol is that it has the opposite effect: producing a bigger, yet leaner, and more aesthetic physique.

Many bodybuilders want to hide their torsos with t-shirts and jumpers when taking estrogenic bulking compounds because of excessive water retention. However, Winstrol has a ‘Photoshop’ effect, making users appear more ripped and vascular.

Enhances Endurance

Based on our lab results, Winstrol is one of the best steroids for muscular endurance due to the stimulation of new red blood cells (erythrocytosis).

Erythrocytosis will occur with all anabolic steroids, but most will also cause dramatic weight gain and water retention.

Winstrol thus enables athletes to remain light and powerful due to simultaneous muscle-building, fat loss, and water loss.

Increases Strength

Winstrol significantly increases strength due to greater levels of protein synthesis and nitrogen retention inside the muscle cells.

With Winstrol depleting intracellular water levels, we find it isn’t the most potent of AAS at enhancing strength. This is due to decreased levels of adenosine triphosphate production inside the muscle cells, a protein molecule crucial for energy.

Bodybuilders under our care, who are relatively new to anabolic steroids, have reported adding 15-20 pounds to their big compound lifts on Winstrol. This is a dramatic increase, considering most bodybuilders will be in a calorie deficit when taking this steroid and thus are aiming to simply maintain their strength.

Note: We often find that the extent of Winstrol’s benefits depend on the person’s genetics, dosage, cycle length, training and diet. For maximum fat loss, users should eat in a small calorie deficit (-500). For maximum muscle gain, users should weight train 4-5x per week. For maximum results bodybuilders will utilize a dosage of 25 mg/day for 6 weeks. Winstrol’s benefits will also be amplified when stacked with other anabolic steroids.

Winstrol Side Effects

Liver Damage

In our LFTs (liver function tests), we have found Winstrol to be one of the most hepatotoxic anabolic steroids, partly due to it being an oral and therefore c-17 alpha-alkylated. Thus, it must be processed by the liver before becoming active, causing additional workload for the organ.

In the short term, we see this causing inflammation and ALT/AST enzymes to rise. However, for users with compromised liver function or those excessively using Winstrol, cirrhosis of the liver is possible.

Bodybuilders at our clinic who take liver support supplements to reduce hepatic damage, such as formulas containing tauroursodeoxycholic acid (500 mg/day) during their cycle; often have success in alleviating ALT and AST enzymes. TUDCA is an FDA-approved treatment for various cholestatic liver diseases (3).

Liver support supplement

Cholesterol Alterations

From our tests, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol will rise significantly on Winstrol, with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) dropping, resulting in higher blood pressure and an increased risk of myocardial infarction.

This cardiovascular side effect is particularly notable on Winstrol due to it being an oral steroid and thus hepatic lipase being stimulated in the liver, which can cause further reductions in HDL cholesterol.

Furthermore, a lack of estrogenic conversion can exacerbate blood pressure, with estrogen having a positive effect on cholesterol.

Bodybuilders under our care have had success supplementing with fish oil (4-5 g/day) and implementing regular cardiovascular exercise to prevent blood pressure levels from rising excessively. However, the risk of cardiac damage can also depend on the person’s genetics and if they are susceptible to heart disease.

Joint Pain

The advantage of water loss is a more ripped appearance due to less extracellular fluid obscuring muscle definition.

However, the disadvantage to this diuretic effect is less cushion for joints, which can be painful, especially for older steroid users.

Winstrol, in this regard, is the opposite of Deca Durabolin, which can actually improve joint health due to increased production of synovial fluid.

Thus, if someone is regularly using Winstrol for cutting, it may be beneficial to utilize Deca Durabolin in off-season bulking stacks to protect their joints long-term.

Testosterone Suppression

We have found that Winstrol, as with other anabolic steroids, causes damage to the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis (HPTA), thus causing the shut-down of endogenous testosterone. This is mostly a short-term side effect; however, due to the potency of Winstrol, low testosterone levels can be experienced for several weeks or months following cycle cessation.

Low testosterone can cause people to have less well-being, diminished sexual function, and testicular atrophy.

Thus, bodybuilders under our care commonly utilize a post cycle therapy (PCT) to successfully accelerate the recovery of their testosterone production.

Common PCT medications effective in treating hypogonadism include Nolvadex, Clomid, and hCG.

We have found that Nolvadex or Clomid is sufficient for single-steroid cycles; however, all three medications can be utilized together if a potent stack has been taken. hCG is predominantly used for its ability to restore sperm reduction rather than to recover endogenous testosterone by itself.


steroid acne
Winstrol is a DHT derivative and thus has the potential to stimulate the sebaceous glands and block pores due to excessive sebum production.

However, the androgenicity of Winstrol on paper is notably lower than that of other anabolic steroids, such as Dianabol and Testosterone; therefore, this side effect is unlikely to be severe in our experience.

Hair Loss

DHT (dihydrotestosterone) levels will rise on Winstrol, accelerating the thinning or recession of the hair on the scalp. Although we see bodybuilders predisposed to male pattern baldness experience notable hair loss, this side effect is not overly dramatic for most users due to Winstrol’s mild level of androgenicity.

Finasteride and other medications commonly used to inhibit hair loss will be ineffective on Winstrol, as it’s not a substrate for the reductase enzyme. In short, Winstrol doesn’t convert testosterone to DHT, as Winstrol itself is already a derivative of DHT; thus, blocking such a conversion is futile.

We have seen Winstrol cause masculinization in women in moderate doses due to its low affinity when binding to SHBG, thus dramatically increasing free testosterone levels.

Therefore, Winstrol generally isn’t a suitable steroid for women if they want to remain looking and sounding like women. The only exception to this is if very small doses of Winstrol are taken. In this case, we have seen females complete cycles unscathed. However, such a protocol is unlikely to surpass the results of taking more female-friendly steroids, such as Anavar.

Note: The extent of Winstrol’s side effects will depend on the person’s genetics, dosage, cycle length, training and diet. For decreased side effects, men shouldn’t take more than 25mg/day for longer than 6 weeks. We typically see Winstrol’s side effects worsen if stacked with other anabolic steroids.


Oral Winstrol vs Injectable Winstrol

Oral Winstrol has a lower biological availability due to passing through the liver and glucuronidation.

Thus, oral Winstrol is more easily broken down and cleared by the body; thus, more regular dosing is needed to maintain peak serum testosterone.

Therefore, with injectable Winstrol, users are effectively taking a higher dosage due to its higher biological availability.

We have observed reduced hepatotoxicity with injectable Winstrol, as it only strains the liver upon exit rather than upon entry and exit. Thus, AST and ALT enzymes are often lower when injecting (4).

Equally, we find injectable Winstrol poses less cardiovascular risk, as hepatic lipase is not stimulated, and HDL cholesterol levels thus do not decline significantly.

Therefore, injectable Winstrol is a better option for many bodybuilders, as it essentially amplifies results without having to increase the dosage. Decreased hepatotoxicity is another notable benefit.

However, oral Winstrol is more convenient, as our patients sometimes report Winstrol injections as painful.

Do Winstrol’s Benefits Outweigh the Side Effects?

For most people, Winstrol is perhaps an unnecessary steroid, as mild compounds can be utilized that are less hepatotoxic and cardiotoxic.

For example, Anavar can be taken when cutting, which we find to be a much safer compound that replicates many of Winstrol’s benefits.

Also, in terms of building lean muscle, there are various bulking steroids that are superior to Winstrol (in terms of effectiveness).

In terms of safety, we see Testosterone in the off-season causing significantly less damage to the heart as well as providing greater muscle hypertrophy and strength (5,6).

Furthermore, if someone wanted to take Winstrol purely for its benefits and had little interest in the severity of its side effects, Trenbolone is a more potent compound that produces better results (in terms of fat loss and muscle gain).

Can Winstrol Cause Gynecomastia?

Winstrol is unlikely to cause gynecomastia as it does not aromatize or directly stimulate estrogen receptors.

However, in bodybuilding dosages, Winstrol can increase progesterone, a female sex hormone that can potentially cause gynecomastia.

Thus, it is not common, but it has occurred in a handful of our patients.

Anti-estrogen medications have an inhibitory effect on progesterone and thus can be taken if nipples start to become puffy when on Winstrol. Letrozole (Femara) and Anastrozole (Arimidex) are a couple of examples that we have found effective in treating Winstrol-induced gynecomastia.

However, anti-estrogens should only be taken as a last resort, and if blood pressure isn’t overly high, This is because we commonly see AEs reducing HDL cholesterol and exacerbating blood pressure.

Note: If Winstrol is stacked with an estrogenic steroid, the risk of gynecomastia can increase.

Are Winstrol’s Benefits Permanent?

In our experience, the majority of muscle gains, strength gains, and fat loss are permanent from a Winstrol cycle. However, should someone cease training, results can diminish.

However, due to steroids permanently altering myonuclei, when a person resumes lifting weights again, muscle size and strength are restored.

We have even seen bodybuilders appear a little bigger or fuller after a Winstrol cycle, due to increased levels of intracellular fluid post-cycle (as Winstrol’s diuretic effects wear off).

Fat loss on Winstrol is also permanent; however, if a person overeats post-cycle, subcutaneous fat can accumulate (as normal).

How Quickly Does Winstrol Work?

How fast Winstrol works, causing peak serum testosterone levels, will depend on the method of administration.

Winstrol Depot (injectable) has a half-life of 24 hours and thus is slower-acting than oral Winstrol, which has a 9-hour half-life.

Therefore, oral Winstrol is superior for faster results, which can be experienced in the first week of a cycle.

We see injectable Winstrol take a little longer to kick in; however, due to its higher biological availability, the results by the end of the cycle can be slightly more noticeable.


Winstrol’s benefits are certainly tempting for the bodybuilder looking to get ripped, whether for cosmetic or competitive purposes.

However, Winstrol’s side effects should be enough to make someone think twice about whether it is worth the hepatic and cardiac damage in the quest to add moderate amounts of muscle and fat.

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