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People Are Smarter Today Yet the Fake Natty Trend Continues

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

I remember years ago when the whole fake natty subject became popular, and all the YouTube channels were making videos calling people out for claiming they were natty and not using steroids or PEDs.

Today, people and consumers are much smarter, and even those who aren’t in the fitness industry can pinpoint what to look for when it comes to figuring out if someone is a fake natty or not.

In this article, we are going to dive a little deeper into this whole fake natty trend and discuss why someone would want to claim natty status and how YOU can tell if someone is natty or not.

Disclaimer: This article is my opinion, and not every scenario is 100% accurate in all cases, as you have people with amazing genetics and who work hard to attain their physique. It is not recommended that you use what’s below to publicly call out anyone for being a fake natty.

What is a Fake Natty?

The term “fake natty” refers to someone who claims to have achieved their physique without using anabolics or performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) when, in reality, they have used such substances.

The term “natty” is short for “natural,” and it is commonly used in the fitness and bodybuilding industry to describe individuals who rely solely on natural means, such as implementing exercise, diet, and supplement regimen to achieve their physique.

A fake natty, therefore, is someone who deceives others by presenting themselves as a natural athlete but secretly uses or has used PEDs such as anabolic steroids, human growth hormone (HGH), or other substances to enhance their results in the past. This term is often used to criticize individuals claiming their amazing physique is solely the product of hard work and natural genetics when they have actually taken shortcuts through drug use.

The persistence of people to claim natural after they’ve used drugs exposes their dishonesty and undermines their credibility. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in where many people are a fake natty, but they claim they’ve never touched anything, never would, and that they’re natural for life. It seems like an episode of Maury where he would read, “The results of the test have determined that was a lie.”

Why Would Someone Claim to Be Natty If They Aren’t?

Many of us would look at the situation with a fake natty and question why they would feel the need to lie about their natural status. Why not just tell the truth, right?

Well, there can be several reasons why someone might claim to be “natty” or natural when they aren’t. These reasons can vary from individual to individual, but below are a few possible reasons.

1.      Public Perception

Being seen as a natural athlete often carries an encouraging image of hard work, discipline, and genetic superiority. Some people may want to maintain this perception to gain admiration, respect, and validation from others in the industry or even the general public around them, like family and friends. Claiming to be natty can help them establish themselves as a role models or fit individual in the eyes of others when ultimately, they are a fake natty in the eyes of the industry.

2.      Competitive Advantage

In the fitness and bodybuilding industry, claiming to be natty can give someone a perceived “advantage” over their competitors when it comes to comparing physiques. By presenting themselves as drug-free, they may be able to gain various sponsorship opportunities, endorsements, or other benefits that are exclusive to natural athletes. Ultimately, being a fake natty and lying about PED use is just a way to improve their chances of monetizing their physique on social media and online.

3.      Moral Justification

Some individuals may feel the need to justify their achievements morally or ethically. By claiming to be natty, they may alleviate guilt or judgment associated with using PEDs, as many people view them as “cheaters.” That said, many people who are of fake natty status may believe that their hard work and dedication will compensate for any shortcuts they have taken through drug use.

4.      Fear of Consequences

Admitting to PED use can have legal, professional, and personal consequences. Some people may choose to claim natty to avoid these potential repercussions and will blatantly lie to avoid any consequences they may face. This is especially true in sports where PEDs are strictly prohibited and can result in bans, fines, or damage to their reputation (think along the lines of Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire).

Is There a Way to Tell Who is Authentic and Who is a Fake Natty?

Determining with absolute certainty whether someone is a “fake natty” or 100% natural can be challenging without concrete evidence, and many doubters may have to take their word for it if they can’t prove they are a fake natty.

However, some specific indicators and factors can raise suspicions or hint at a person’s potential use of anabolics or drugs.

To preface the below, it’s important to approach this topic with caution and avoid making false accusations, as assumptions can be damaging and could even lead to lawsuits if the person is actually natural and ends up proving it. But getting that out of the way, there are some factors that can be considered that I have laid out below.

1.      Unusually Rapid Progress

If someone experiences rapid and significant muscle growth, insane gains in strength, or had a major transformation in a very short period, it may raise suspicions of PED use. While genetics, training, and diet play significant roles, the extent of progress can sometimes indicate the potential use of PEDs. It tends to be much easier and faster for people to lose weight than it is for them to gain lean muscle mass.

2.      Extreme Conditioning

Maintaining an extremely low body fat percentage while retaining significant muscle mass all year round tends to be challenging (for most people) without using PEDs. If someone consistently appears extremely lean (low single digits in terms of body fat) and muscular, it can be an indication of potential drug use, although it is not definitive proof.

3.      Disproportionate Development

PEDs can often lead to imbalances or exaggerated development in certain muscle groups. If an individual has a noticeably larger or more defined muscle group than the rest of their physique, it may be an indicator of PED use. For example, you may notice the upper body of someone is insane. They have a big chest, wide capped delts, insane v-taper, and massive arms, but then have toothpicks for legs, which may be a sign of potential drug use.

4.      Reversal of Natural Limits

Human physiology has certain limits when it comes to muscle growth. If someone surpasses those limits significantly, it can raise suspicions. However, it’s essential to consider genetic outliers and individual variations before jumping to conclusions. One thing is being in insane conditioning in your 50s and up. There are people who are in their 50s and 60s who look better than guys in their 20s and 30s. While it may not be definite that they are a fake natty, it raises some suspicion that they are potentially using something.

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