Clenbuterol vs. Albuterol


by Josh Hodnik

Clenbuterol has been used for years for its ability to shed body fat and preserve lean muscle mass. Although this is highly debated, clenbuterol has been thought to have mild anabolic properties, which is believed to be the reason for the preservation of muscle mass when dieting. Bodybuilders have used clenbuterol as a diet drug for over three decades, and until the last 10 years or so, most of the clenbuterol came from Mexico and Europe. Since then, China has taken over as the largest pharmaceutical raw material supplier in the world.

Livestock growers have learned that clenbuterol can be used to increase muscle to improve the animal’s muscle to fat ratio, producing leaner meats at a much faster rate. Using clenbuterol in animal feed can double profits. In September of 2006 a large case of food poising involving clenbuterol occurred in Shanghai, China when 336 people were hospitalized after ingesting pig meat that was contaminated with the feed additive. The Chinese government has since taken steps to eliminate clenbuterol from animal feed, which has resulted in clenbuterol to become more restricted and regulated than most other pharmaceutical raw materials in China. With this extreme regulation, albuterol has taken its place with many research companies on the internet.

Since albuterol has become a popular drug with many bodybuilders trying to lose body fat, there have been many different views when comparing clenbuterol and albuterol. Both drugs are beta-2 adrenoreceptor agonists, which act on the beta-2 adrenergic receptor, causing a dilation of bronchial passages, vasodialation in muscle and liver, and a release of insulin. These characteristics have made this class of drugs a prime choice in treating asthma.

When comparing these two drugs, we must understand how they work, which requires taking a look at the beta-adrenergic system. This system is comprised of adrenoreceptors, but what is relevant here are the beta-receptors. The beta-receptors are located in the cell’s phospholipid membrane, and are stimulated by stimulants like clenbuterol, albuterol, and ephedrine. The beta-receptors can be divided into three subtypes (1,2,3), but when looking at clenbuterol and albuterol, the beta-2 receptor is what we are focusing on. Stimulation of the receptors from stimulants like clenbuterol or albuterol causes a breakdown of fatty acids into the bloodstream to be used as fuel. With this stimulation there will be an increase in heart rate and body temperature.

Beta-2 adrenoreceptor agonists, such as clenbuterol and albuterol, have been shown to activate cyclic-Adenosine Monophosphate (cAMP). cAMP then activates calpistatin, which inhibits calpain. Calpain degrades protein in muscle tissue. By inhibiting calpain, beta-2 adrenoreceptor agonists have been shown to be anti-catabolic. This becomes very beneficial when trying to shed body fat while wanting to preserve muscle mass. A bodybuilder’s goal is always to become as lean as possible while holding as much muscle mass as possible. This is why this class of drugs has always been very popular among this group.

Albuterol can be viewed as a shorter acting version of clenbuterol. They both stimulate the beta-receptors in a similar manner. When looking at beta-2 agonists that are longer acting than clenbuterol, and then compared to clenbuterol, clen had a better rating when it came to anabolic effects. So it would be logical to think that maybe albuterol has an even higher anabolic effect than clenbuterol due to the shorter half-life, but it isn’t always that simple. There is still much more that needs to be studied and looked at before determining this.

The anti-catabolic effects of clenbuterol and albuterol are a plus, but the primary goal of taking either drug is for fat loss. When honestly looking at things, there are far too many other substances that carry more weight in preserving muscle mass than any beta-2 agonist when there is a deficit in calories. Anabolic steroids and human growth hormone cast a shadow over clenbuterol or albuterol when it comes to preserving lean muscle mass. Most bodybuilders that are dieting are usually taking one or both of these substances, so the anti-catabolic effect is not much of a factor compared to the fat loss that occurs from either of these drugs.

When comparing clenbuterol and albuterol in the category of fat loss, the half-life has to be looked at. Clenbuterol has a half-life of about 48 hours, while albuterol has a half-life of just about 6 hours. There is an upside and downside to the half-life to both of these drugs. The long half-life associated with clenbuterol will allow a person to dose less often with the drug still staying active in the system and doing its job with burning body-fat. The downside to this long half-life is that the body stops responding to this drug fairly quickly. This requires a person to cycle the drug 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, or the person will have to dramatically increase the dose after 2 weeks to feel any effect at all. The short half-life of albuterol requires a person to have to dose more often throughout the day for the drug to be most effective, but tolerance is not built up nearly as fast as it is with clenbuterol.

Albuterol has a more mild stimulant effect than clenbuterol, and some people find it easier to focus while taking albuterol than clenbuterol. Clen leaves some people shaky, sweaty, and unable to focus during a workout, so albuterol would be the obvious choice. When dieting, some people feel sluggish and find it hard to power though a workout without a strong stimulant. Clenbuterol will often give them that extra edge to push through a workout they normally couldn’t while dieting. Clenbuterol would be the choice for this group.

Both of these drugs fall into the same class of drugs. There are positives and negatives to each one, but when it comes to clenbuterol and albuterol, everything kind of evens out at the end of the day. Everyone responds differently to every compound. Some are more sensitive to stimulants than others. I do believe that you will not see much difference in the fat burning and anti-catabolic effects between clenbuterol and albuterol.

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