They say what’s new is just what’s been forgotten. And in the case of effective supplements for muscle building purposes, desiccated liver was a staple of many old-time athletes and weightlifters, and it’s slowly being rediscovered by a whole new generation.
How They Got Their Reputation
There is centuries-old folklore that has been attributed to the use of liver. It isn’t just conjecture, however. It stems from observance. When animals in the wild go for the kill, the first thing they eat isn’t the flesh — it’s the organs. It’s instinctual to go for what is most nutrient-dense. And liver is the most nutrient-dense animal protein. That scenario translated into the old-time physical culturists recommending liver as the ultimate bodybuilding food. (Along with eggs).
One obvious drawback about liver is that most people don’t like the taste. That makes liver in tablet form the perfect solution. Desiccated liver tablets and pills are made by taking fresh, raw, grass-fed, beef liver and dehydrating it at a low temperature. It is then milled into a fine powder and encapsulated or formed into a tablet. Some say the capsules allow for more the substance to be released in the stomach and therefore become more fully digested. But it’s for the very reason that you can get some unpleasant “after taste” with the capsules. In that regard, the desiccated liver tablets are more palpable. With Desiccated Liver supplements, you can get all of the health benefits of fresh, raw, beef liver without having to actually eat foul-tasting organ meat.
The bodybuilders of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s caught onto this principle and used up to 20 desiccated liver tablets daily with great success. It wasn’t until the era that “Designer Supplements” came along that Desiccated Liver Tablets started to lose their appeal. They weren’t deemed as “exotic” as all the new pseudo-scientific “steroid alternative” supplements. Then around 1985, a product called “Hot Stuff” came along that used dehydrated glandular meats, including liver, as its primary source of protein along with various herbs. Needless to say, it tasted awful! But it was unique and appealed to bodybuilders willing to do anything to get results. And those who used the original version of Hot Stuff was indeed effective — most probably from the protein content and partially to the stimulative effects of the herbs. Then in 1990, protein powder was re-invented in the form of something called Met Rx — which wasn’t really anything all that new, but the marketing scheme was brilliant. It was touted as the latest scientific discovery and included in the advertising promotion was information that supposedly objectively critiqued other protein products, including Desiccated Liver. It was dismissed by the Met Rx promoters as old fashioned placebo. To those who knew it worked, they saw through the hype, but to a young audience first getting into bodybuilding and supplements, they went with the new and discarded the old. And Desiccated Liver eventually fell out of favor. And it stayed that way for quite a while. But it’s back. And with good reason.
Desiccated Liver Benefits
It Builds Muscle.
Several studies and abstracts have been conducted on desiccated liver. Desiccated liver is a fantastic form of bio-available protein with a complete amino acid ratio. These “building blocks” are required for building, repairing, and healing all the cells in the body, and equally significant is the fact that muscle cannot be built without them. You need amino acids for metabolism, weight maintenance, fat loss, and muscle growth. That is significant because unless the amino acid profile is complete, the protein will not be as effective and could actually be inert.
You can get a comparable gram of complete protein, high in BCAA’s, with liver tablets as you can with most high tech amino acid capsules. Taken throughout the day they can assure a positive nitrogen balance. And Desiccated Liver tends to be far less expensive!
It Builds Strength
Desiccated liver contains several vitamins and minerals and is abundant in iron, which is essential for cells throughout the body, in particular, red blood cells. It is vital for strength and energy. An iron deficiency will leave you feeling fatigued quicker than if you have a sufficient supply readily available in the bloodstream. Without iron, hemoglobin can’t be formed, and hemoglobin is required for the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It should be stated that too much iron can be toxic and it is especially so for men, yet Desiccated Liver contains heme iron — the type that is naturally available in meat whereas most iron supplements are made from ferrous sulfate, which can cause constipation gastrointestinal discomfort as well as potential constriction of blood vessels. The heme iron is more absorbable, therefore utilized more naturally and efficiently and is less likely to build up in the system.
The use of desiccated liver powder or capsules is a great way to prevent and treat iron deficiency and anemia since the naturally-occurring iron in desiccated liver is highly unlikely to cause the side effects and overdose dangers of synthetic iron supplements.
It Builds Endurance
More than 65 years ago, Benjamin K. Ershoff, Ph.D., conducted research showing the fatigue-fighting benefits of desiccated liver. He put mice in water to see how long they could survive by attempting to swim. Various substances were given to the mouse to see if they’d fare better with one of the other. (This excluded drugs).In his experiment, lab rats were split into three groups:
Group 1 was fed an average diet.
Group 2 was fed the same diet as Group 1, with the addition of vitamins.
Group 3 also ate the same diet as Group 1, but 10% of their diet was given as Desiccated Liver.
The rats continued on their assigned diets for a few weeks, at the end of which they were put in a container of water that they could not climb out of. (I know, that sounds mean, but it’s in the name of science. Besides, they’re rats).
The results of this experiment were as follows:
Rats in Group 1 swam an average of 13.3 minutes before tiring and sinking.
Rats in Group 2 did slightly better, swimming an average of 14.9 minutes before giving up.
The rats’ in Group 3 who were fed desiccated liver swam for over an hour!
That’s pretty damn impressive. And conclusive. These results suggest that there may be something in the desiccated liver not yet discovered that may prevent the body from becoming fatigued. This bodes well for bodybuilders, endurance runners, and athletes of all sports as well as those suffering from chronic fatigue.
It Builds Immunity To Disease
Desiccated liver powder or capsules is also a terrific source of Vitamin A, which is critical for vision, organ health, and immunity. Vitamin A from a food source may also be instrumental in lowering the risk of contracting cancer. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, night vision, and age-related vision loss, such as presbyopia and macular degeneration. Similar to iron, a vitamin A overdose is much less likely with a naturally occurring form from a food source such as Desiccated Liver.
It Builds Mass
If you want more size, you must ingest more high-quality calories. That means you need to eat more. Desiccated liver contains vitamin B12, which stimulates the appetite so you can take in more food.
A recent discovery about liver is that it also contains Vitamin K2, which is being used to treat clear plaque from the arteries making it one of the most heart-healthy nutrients you can use. And as a kicker, Desiccated Liver contains COQ 10, which also supports heart health, lowers cholesterol, and helps keep blood pressure in check.
The Myth of Liver Being a “Storehouse of Toxins.”
The belief that liver is loaded with toxins is something some supplement manufacturers used to dissuade people from using desiccated liver, but it’s absolutely not true. It’s true that the liver is the body’s filtering system, but it is for that very reason that liver does not contain any toxins! Toxins are not stored in the liver. They are stored in fat. The liver is constantly removing toxins and does not “hold on” to them. That only happens unless the liver is diseased or malfunctioning, and Desiccated Liver only uses healthy bovine liver.
Where To Get Capsules, Tablets, and Powder Supplements
Argentine Desiccated Liver is readily available in most health food stores and online through dozens of companies.
How Much is Enough?
Since each tablet is usually around a gram of protein you can use liver several ways — as a fuel source in between meals, as a way to pump up the protein content of a low protein meal or snack or just as a way of getting additional aminos when on a bodybuilding program. It would be almost impossible to overdose on them, but 10 -20 tablets a day seems to be the amount where you really start to see some results. Some people will “stack” desiccated liver tablets with an herbal testosterone booster such as UNLEASHED from Protein Factory.
In that way, you get a one/two punch of anabolism and androgenic enhancement, providing the effects similar to a mild steroid cycle, but without any of the side effects or suppression. In fact, many bodybuilders who take steroids will use a Desiccated Liver/UNLEASHED combo in between cycles to help maintain their gains.
All in all, Desiccated Liver is an excellent and economical solution for boosting strength, promoting health, and helping to build maximum muscle gain. Sure, it’s simple. It isn’t the latest cutting edge, state of the art technological breakthrough. But it works.
What’s old is new again. But this time, there’s proof. Why not add some onto your supplement regime and see for yourself. You might be surprised.
Nelson Montana is a bodybuilding expert and author. He has written hundreds of articles for all types of bodybuilding media outlets. He is the author of two books, The Bodybuilding Truth & Bottom Line Bodybuilding. He is also an expert supplement formulator and is the creator of the best-selling testosterone supplement Unleashed.