Cardarine is supposedly a powerful fat-burning substance which can essentially trick your body into burning fat for energy, as opposed to glucose.
At least, that's what people say...
The truth is, not very much is known about the benefits OR the potential health implications of Cardarine.
Much of what you read on forums or blogs is controlled by companies that sell Cardarine and want you to buy it, no matter what.
They're not interested in telling you the entire story...
So I will.
In this article, we'll go over everything you need to know about Cardarine, including what it is, how it works, and what the research (or lack thereof) has to say.
If you're tired of reading a bunch of industry-influenced nonsense about Cardarine and actually want to know the facts, read on...
What Is Cardarine (GW-501516)?
Cardarine is a synthetic drug originally developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Ligand Pharmaceuticals as a treatment of dyslipidemia, a condition characterized by higher than normal triglyceride (fat) and cholesterol levels.
It is commonly referred to throughout the scientific literature as GW-501516.
So, not to be confused. Cardarine and GW are exactly the same thing.
They just have different names, as do most similar compounds, like SARMs.
Early research indicated that Cardarine could up-regulate (increase) pathways in the body involved with fatty acid metabolism.
In other words, Cardarine is supposed to be able to mimic the effects of exercise.
In mice, it has been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and protect aginst Type 2 Diabetes.
Now, you're probably wondering what bodybuilders and athletes want with Cardarine, and that's a fair question...
Why Do People Use Cardarine?
Cardarine is believed to:
- enhance exercise endurance
- increase fatty acid utilization
- improve insulin sensitivity
It has been shown to do all of these things in mice, but human studies are scarce.
One study found that Cardarine improved cardiovascular health in patients with Metabolic Syndrome (the precursor to Diabetes), but absolutely no studies have been conducted in healthy, human subjects.
Most of the benefits attributed to Cardarine--particularly better muscular endurance and increase fat-burning--are based on inferences drawn from rodent studies.
That said, it does have a legitimate mechanism of action by which it MAY burn additional fat.
How Does Cardarine Work?
Cardarine is a Peroxisome Proliferator-Activator Receptor-delta (PPARδ) agonist.
There are several sub-types of PPARs:
PPAR-delta is the most ubiquitous of these sub-types, found in adipose tissue and many other tissues as well.
In theory, a potent enough PPARδ (or alpha) agonist, should be able to re-engineer the body to fulfill it's energy needs by burning fatty acids instead of carbs, which are the preferred source of energy ordinarily.
Research has confirmed that Cardarine is a fairly potent agonist of PPARδ, but again, that's just a mechanism of action.
The truth is, there is very little research on Cardarine at all, let alone as a practical solution for fat-loss.
Is There Any Research Behind Cardarine?
There is some research on Cardarine.
- It has been shown to increase endurance in mice.
- It has been shown to increase fatty acid utilization in mice.
- It has been shown to improve lipid metabolims in humans.
Cardarine HAS NOT actually been shown to increase endurance or cause fat-loss in human beings, even though that's why most people are using it.
It definitely appears to be effective for encouraging the metabolism of fatty acids and this could ultimately result in increased fatty acid utilization, but again, there are no actual studies confirming this in humans.
Cardarine Dosage (A Guessing Game)
You may not care that Cardarine hasn't actually been proven to burn fat or boost endurance in humans...
Maybe rodent studies are enough for you to say "sure" and give it a shot.
That's fine, but there's still the issue of how much to take.
Since Cardarine has never actually been shown to burn fat or boost endurance in humans, it's tough to say how much you would have to take to achieve those benefits.
In the lone human study, in which Cardarine was shown to improve cholesterol status in people with Metabolic Syndrome, the subjects took 5-10mg.
So it would appear as though Cardarine is at least biologically active at those doses.
Most people who use Cardarine for fat-burning take between 10 and 30mg/day for at least several weeks.
Does Cardarine Have Any Side Effects?
Most fat-burning drugs come with serious side effects such as:
- rapid heart beat
Cardarine, on the other hand, does not appear to cause these kinds of side effects, at least not based on the little bit of human research.
It's not a stimulant, so it's not likely to cause the kinds of side effects that most stimulant fat-burners cause.
Some people have expressed concerns that Cardarine may cause cancer, though.
It was discontinued because it appeared to increase cancerous growths in mouse intestines.
Elsewhere, however, Cardarine has demonstrated anti-cancer properties, so it's not really accurate to claim "Cardarine causes cancer".
Still, if you're concerned with your health, it's probably best to avoid it.
Is Cardarine A SARM?
The term SARM stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator.
This is just a scientific way of saying:
Any substance which increase androgen (Testosterone) activity in certain tissues (like muscle and bone) but not in others (like the prostate, liver, and brain).
Since Cardarine has no impact on androgen receptors in any tissues, it's not a SARM.
The confusion stems mostly from the fact that it was introduced around the same time that many SARMs were introduced and was created, in part, by one of the major pharmaceutical companies (Ligand Pharmaceuticals) responsible for SARMs like Ligandrol.
You'll find that many SARM vendors also sell Cardarine as well, claiming it's the "ultimate cutting SARM". But again, it's actually not a SARM at all.
It's a PPAR agonist.
They're two entirely separate classifications of drugs.
Is Cardarine Legal?
Cardarine is legal to buy, possess, and sell.
It is not legal to sell it as a dietary supplement and label it for human consumption, however.
If this seems at all confusing, that's because it is...
You see, in the US, we have a legal gray area between unapproved drugs and supplements.
Unapproved drugs (like Cardarine) can be sold as research chemicals as long as they're "not for human consumption".
Obviously, most people are buying Cardarine to consume it, but that's just the country we live in...
Ultimately, as a consumer, you're not going to get in trouble for buying any supplement, even if it's mislabeled as is actually an unapproved drug.
It's the companies that sell it and label it as a supplement that may get in some legal trouble, if anything.
Effective Fat-Burning Supplements To Consider
If you'd rather not roll the dice on Cardarine, I understand.
I personally don't care for it because there are just too many unknowns.
If that's your stance too, there are some other useful fat-burning supplements which have actually been proven to work AND are entirely safe.
As a beta-receptor agonist, Synephrine is capable of directly stimulating lipolysis, the breakdown of fat.
You see, your body has 2 types of receptors which regulate lipolysis:
Beta-receptors initiate lipolysis and alpha receptors put a stop to it. Normally, these receptors work closely to regulate the amount of fat your body burns.
By increasing the activity of beta-receptors, Synephrine is capable of directly increasing the amount of fat you burn and boosting your metabolic rate.
Unlike Cardarine, Synephrine has actually been shown to cause weight-loss in humans.
You're probably aware that Caffeine increases energy and alertness, but did you know it also burns fat?
Caffeine has been shown to increase fat oxidation by triggering the release of a group of fat-burning chemicals, called Catecholamines.
By increasing level of these fat-burning chemicals, Caffeine can increase the amount of fat you burn.
Unlike Cardarine, Caffeine has been proven to help you burn fat and lose weight.
Forskolin is the active component of the herb, Coleus Forskohlii.
It is one of the few non-stimulant supplements that can actually help you burn fat and lose weight.
It works by increasing cellular concentrations of cAMP, a signaling protein which essentially tells the body to burn more fat.
In fact, Forskolin is so reliable at increasing cAMP activity, that it is often used by scientists in studies where a high cAMP environment is needed.
Research has confirmed that Forskolin can reduce fat mass with several weeks of supplementation.
Formula 56 is a product I created after researching and experimenting with a ton of different fat-burning supplements.
Needless to say, most fat-burners contain ineffective ingredients or under-dosed "would be effective" ingredients, so most of them won't actually help you burn more fat or lose more weight.
Formula 56 contains a thorough blend of unique fat-burning ingredients which:
- increase the metabolic rate (amount of calories you burn at rest)
- trigger lipolysis (fat-breakdown)
- help curb your appetite
A fat-burner that actually works...
Formula 56 contains only research-backed ingredients at true clinical doses, in-line with what research has proven to be effective.
If you're looking for a more well-rounded, effective fat-burner, there isn't one.
Formula 56 is in a league of it's own and is definitely worth considering if you're trying to get leaner, but don't want to experiment with strange, potentially dangerous drugs.
You can learn more about it here.
The Bottom Line On Cardarine
Cardarine is an interesting drug which may burn fat, boost endurance, and ultimately function as an exercise-mimetic.
Unfortunately, there isn't much research on it so it's pretty speculative.
To make matters worse, it was discontinued due to safety concerns, so it's unlikely that there will be much research in the future.
While Cardarine doesn't appear particularly dangerous, we really have no idea what the long-term health implications are.
If you value safety AND efficacy, you should probably pass on Cardarine.
If you don't mind being the guinea pig, feel free to give it a shot. Let me know how it goes!
Matt Theis is the Co-Founder and CEO of Momentum Nutrition. Among other things, he is chiefly responsible for product formulation and has spent years researching, testing, and developing supplements.