You could think of MK-677 (Ibutamoren) as one of the most unique of all compounds used by bodybuilders and athletes. The way MK-677 works in the body is very different to anabolic steroids and SARMs, yet its main effects are still exactly what we’re looking for: muscle growth, endurance and recovery.
MK-677 comes with some other useful benefits as well, and while it’s built a reputation as one of the most side effect friendly compounds, it’s far from perfect in this regard as many first time users discover.
Is MK-677 really a good option for bodybuilding, performance enhancement and recomposition? Or are the possible side effects too serious to ignore? Are there safer and better alternatives we should be looking at instead of Ibutamoren? Find out all this and more in this guide to MK-677 side effects.
Author’s Note: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of SARMs.
What is MK-677 (Ibutamoren)
MK-677, also often called Ibutamoren or Nutrobal, is generally lumped in with SARMs however it is not technically a SARM. In chemistry language this compound is called a “non-peptide agonist of the ghrelin receptor” and a “growth hormone secretagogue”.
You don’t need to know exactly what these things mean. But what might interest you the most is that what it all means is this: MK-677 mimics the way ghrelin stimulates growth hormone.
Ghrelin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body whose release is normally triggered by your daily food intake cycle.
Higher ghrelin levels makes you feel hungry, and when levels are lower you will feel less hungry or not at all. One of MK-677’s effects is to raise your appetite.
Most importantly for our interests in using MK-677 is that ghrelin stimulates the pituitary gland’s growth hormone release.
While the hormone ghrelin doesn’t directly contribute to fat burning or muscle growth, growth hormone certainly does. And this is why Ibutamoren has the interest of bodybuilders, especially those who are looking for a potentially milder alternative to steroids.
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What does MK-677 do?
Thanks to MK-677’s effects on stimulating growth hormone release, it comes with a long list of benefits because growth hormone itself is hugely beneficial. This includes but is not limited to bodybuilding and performance benefits.
Growth hormone might also have some anti-aging benefits as well that can improve external appearance and bone health.
MK-677 not only increases the amount of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) released, but can do so without causing an increase in cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that can cause you to lose muscle mass – so keeping it under control is critical not only for making gains, but preserving existing muscle.
MK-677 causes an elevation of IGF-1 levels for up to 24 hours after a dose, and IGF-1 increases protein synthesis in skeletal muscle, essentially keeping you in a heightened anabolic and muscle building state for a full 24 hours.
Growth hormone is well known for its ability to promote healing and help you recover faster from injury. Muscle tissue after being exerted through weight lifting will be damaged, and the tissue needs to repair so it can grow.
Growth hormone, which MK-677 stimulates release of, gets this process moving more quickly. This promotes faster muscle gains, and allows you to get to your next workout sooner.
Growth hormone may play a role in reducing storage of body fat, and the hormone is known to speed up body fat loss when you’re on a calorie restricted diet.
A noticeable increase in strength should be having you lifting easier and heavier. Most users will find moderate increases in weight lifting is possible. Although MK-677 is not one of the most powerful strength boosting compounds, any increase in strength has big benefits for your gains.
Increased bone density
There have been studies on humans with positive results for increased bone density. With a higher bone mineral density, risk of fractures are reduced and the bones have additional strength to support your growing muscular frame. This particular benefit is one of the main areas of research for potential medical use of MK-677 which shows just how powerful it is when it comes to bone health.
Better sleep quality
Most users will find sleep comes easier when using MK-677, as it helps you fall asleep faster and into a deeper sleep. This can aid your recovery process and also help you feel more energized both mentally and physically the following day.
One of the more unique possible benefits of MK-677 is for increasing height. Can you really grow taller by taking MK-677?
Don’t expect to become a 7 foot basketball player. If any height gains can be made, they are exclusively going to happen in people who are below the early to mid 20s in age. Any older than that and your capacity for growing taller has come to an end.
For younger users of MK-677 (say aged 18-24), growth of about an inch might be possible. One study showed that this indeed did happen, but the participants were taking MK-677 for a whole year at 12.5mg.
While some people might find this to be a side effect, if you’re wanting to gain mass then the increase in appetite will be welcomed. It does make MK-677 difficult to use on a cutting cycle and most people will find it not to be a suitable compound for serious fat loss for that reason.
There are far better SARMs and other other options for fat burning that don’t cause a boost to your appetite and encourage you to eat excess calories (which will be useful when you’re trying to bulk up).
Short-Term Side Effects
When considering the short term side effects of MK-677, these are the immediate sides you might see during a MK-677 cycle and shortly after it.
These adverse effects should not persist much or at all beyond the end of your cycle. Of course, there are always going to be exceptions and you just won’t know how you will respond to MK-677 until you use it.
Commonly reported side effects include headaches, muscle cramping, increased appetite (some users might find this beneficial), joint swelling, fatigue, tingling feelings in the fingers and toes, and fluid retention.
Fatigue and lethargy aren’t side effects you want to be feeling when you’re taking a substance to enhance performance and build your physique, but unfortunately for some people increased tiredness does occur. Decreasing your dosage down to the minimum could help minimize this side effect.
Headaches are usually mild but can worsen in some people. Keeping up adequate food and water intake can help and many users find these headaches subside as the cycle progresses (often after the first week).
Some users find that anxiety increases when using MK-677. Whether this is mostly in people who already suffer anxiety, or whether it can produce anxiety if you’ve never experienced before isn’t known and this is likely to be on a case by case basis.
MK-677 comes with some rather strange side effects that you’re not likely to see with other compounds. One of these is a high number of people reporting vivid and unusual dreams.
These are people who suddenly, upon starting a MK-677 cycle, started having dreams of a type that they’d never experienced before.
This side effect does make you wonder what MK-677 is doing to the mind. While it’s not know exactly what causes this effect, it may be due to over-stimulation of the the ghrelin receptors in the brain.
While for a lot of us these dreams are harmless, some people do report nightmares which can make getting quality sleep difficult and does negatively offset one of the major benefits of MK-677 which is to improve sleep quality.
Another effect which might or not be seen as a side effect depending on your preference, is that of increased appetite. If bulking is your main goal then you’ll probably welcome that increased feeling of hunger, but it can be a real downside if you’re trying to keep your food intake under control to burn fat.
MK-677 does not cause any androgenic side effects, or any side effects related to estrogen or DHT. That means adverse effects like acne and hair loss shouldn’t be an issue with this compound.
Despite MK-677 not causing changes to estrogen, the development of water retention is still a possibility and this happens for reasons which I’ve outlined further below. Many people can use this compound without any fluid retention at all and it is often dosage dependent.
Long-Term Side Effects
Any potential long term side effects of MK-677 can often come down to over-use of the compound. High doses, very long cycles, and insufficient breaks between cycles will cause an excess of growth hormone being produced and this in itself can lead to all sorts of health problems.
Through sensible use of MK-677 you can reduce – but not necessarily eliminate – possible long term effects. We simply do not know what sort of impacts on long term health MK-677 will have without long term human studies yet existing.
High blood pressure can become a long term problem if you consistently take high doses of MK-677 and don’t control water retention. In most cases it would be negligence allowing this to happen, although some people can be more prone to blood pressure and cardiovascular issues in general and in that case you should rethink using MK-677 at all.
While there doesn’t yet seem to be any specific studies on MK-677’s possible effects on the brain, the dreams and nightmares that a lot of people experience do raise some concerns. It’s not just a few people here and there, but instead this has become quite a common “side effect” of MK-677.
Could MK-677 have long term effects on the brain? We simply don’t know at this point. We know the ghrelin receptors are stimulated and that MK-677 passes the blood-brain barrier. Exactly what this means for long term brain health is essentially a human experiment at this point, and those using MK-677 for bodybuilding choose to take this risk.
Long term and high dose use of MK-677, combined with an unhealthy diet, could put some people at risk of developing diabetes. This could be a serious long term health impact and sensible use of MK-677, as well as a healthy diet, is critical. If you are already prone to diabetes, it’s advised not to use MK-677 at all because of its effects on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar.
Gynecomastia and Water Retention
One of the most dreaded side effects of many steroids is water retention, and it’s one of the big reasons people move to other compounds. But MK-677 is not without risk of causing fluid retention. Not everyone will be affected, and its severity will heavily depend on your dosage.
Some users will find that water retention makes MK-677 an unsuitable compound to use before competitions. Those wanting a strictly dry physique will likely prefer other compounds.
The development of water retention can be a confusing MK-677 side effect, after all if there’s no estrogen conversion why would fluid retention come about? It has nothing to do with estrogen in this case, but can be caused by a few different things: firstly and most common is a low quality MK-677 product.
If you get a bad quality formula that contains other unexpected ingredients, you can expect unusual side effects. Secondly is a bad diet, and thirdly is not drinking enough water. Drink more water and avoid dehydration, and this will go a long way to eliminating or completely preventing any fluid retention when using MK-677.
Increased water retention can cause high blood pressure so if you do suffer this side effect, it should be kept in check. Lowering your MK-677 dosage may also reduce the impact of fluid build up.
Women Specific Side Effects
Most of the known side effects will affect women just the same as male users of MK-677.
At low doses most women can expect minimal side effects, but the risks increase as your dosage does. Women are just as likely to see the onset of strange and unique dreams that have often been reported as a unique side effect of MK-677.
Headaches, fatigue and lethargy are common side effects that women may report. This can obviously have a negative impact on your workouts and is the opposite to how you want to be feeling when using a performance enhancing substance.
Is MK-677 Safe?
The safety of a compound like MK-677 can not be known for sure because a lot more long term study needs to be undertaken. With that said, as far as SARMs and similar compounds like MK-677 go, this is one of the more researched ones by comparison. So far at least, no serious side effects have been discovered.
But without long term high dose studies, especially those on people using MK-677 purely at performance doses, you will never have 100% certainty that MK-677 is not going to cause health complications now or in the future.
The fact that MK-677 crosses the blood-brain barrier tells us this is a powerful substance with many unknown effects. Additionally, continually flooding the body with growth hormone (which MK-677 stimulates the release of) can have untold impacts. This is of course a much greater risk at high doses, but even long term low dosage use may not be without risk.
As with any investigational drug such as MK-677, the use of this compound is entirely at your own risk.
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Is MK-677 a steroid?
No MK-677 is not a steroid, but it does have some similar anabolic effects to steroids through the way it stimulates release of growth hormone and IGF1.
This makes MK-677 powerful for muscle tissue growth similarly to how anabolic steroids are, as well as many other benefits some of which you won’t get with steroids (anti-aging effects for example).
What are the side effects of taking MK-677?
MK-677 has mild side effects for the most part, especially when compared to steroids. At low doses most users can avoid serious side effects, but adverse effects are more likely at high doses.
Examples of reported side effects include lethargy, fatigue, water retention, headaches, unusual dreams, tingling in the toes and fingers and increased blood sugar.
Does MK-677 increase testosterone?
MK-677’s role is to increase growth hormone release, and it does not have a direct effect on testosterone. Despite this MK-677 still results in anabolic effects that can be similar to what you’d experience when taking a steroid or SARM that does increase testosterone. MK-677’s main effect is to increase growth hormone – another powerful anabolic hormone.
Does MK-677 need a PCT?
No PCT is required when using MK-677 because it is not known to cause testosterone suppression. In fact, some people consider MK-677 a possible PCT drug itself to be used after suppressive SARMs cycles. More research will be needed to find out whether MK-677 could be an effective PCT compound.
Does MK-677 increase cholesterol?
MK-677 may help control your cholesterol levels positively. A study has shown that LDL (bad) cholesterol levels were not noticeably changed when using MK-677, but HDL levels may increase during the first couple of weeks on MK-677.
Does MK-677 increase cortisol?
Studies show that regular (daily) use of MK-677 decreases cortisol, but when MK-677 is taken every other day this cortisol reduction doesn’t occur.
Since MK-677’s half life is about 24 hours, it seems that to ensure a decreased cortisol response you simply have to take your dosage at the recommended once daily schedule.
High cortisol inhibits muscle growth so MK-677’s effective prevention at promoting gains without raising cortisol is one of its big benefits.
MK-677 is definitely an appealing compound to use. It has a big range of benefits covering most of the areas we are interested in as bodybuilders, competitors or athletes. The relatively mild list of side effects makes this seem like one of the less risky compounds, but that can be deceiving.
One of the hazards is what can happen when you can’t find pure high quality MK-677 to buy. It’s impossible to evaluate, but there’s a good chance a lot of complaints about side effects come about from people who are using poor quality MK-677.
The fact is this: you don’t know exactly what you’re getting every time you buy Ibutamoren and the implications of this inconsistency and can be very harmful.
One of the more worrying things about MK-677 that I find is the way it causes very unusual and vivid dreams in so many people. This indicates MK-677 is having a powerful effect on the brain.
While there are only theories so far as to what – if any – impacts on brain health MK-677 might have, for me this is way too big of a risk. Anything that potentially messes with your brain can potentially cause major problems down the road.