Cardarine Review: Dose, Stacking, and Potential Side Effects

By: Rob Miller
MD Reviewed By: Helen Okoye, MD What's This?
Fact Checked On: 11-21-2020

Home » SARMS » Cardarine Review: Dose, Stacking, and Potential Side Effects

Note:  This is just a review.  Click Here to buy Cardarine legally online.

From the hospital to the supplement bottle: Think about how many fitness supplements that are available on the market that once started out as a form of medicine.

One of the best examples is Cardarine.

Originally developed by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKlein (GSK), Cardarine was formulated to help:

  • Support healthy blood ldl and hdl cholesterol and lipid levels
  • Fight against specific cardiovascular disease risk factors

When GSK abandoned research in 2007, Cardarine soon found its way into the world of athletic enhancement.

Jump To A Topic

What is Cardarine?
What is a SARM?
SARM Vs. Cardarine
The Science Behind It
REAL Before And After Pics
Potential Side Effects
Does It Cause Cancer?
How Should I Use It?
Is It Legal? (US, UK, and Australia)
How Should I Stack It?

In fact, Cardarine was so effective at boosting endurance and performance that it was promptly banned in professional sporting events. Eventually, the medication was scraped by medical researchers and could only be found on the black market.

While the controversy surrounding Cardarine may have calmed, its benefits are still very well-known and it is still a widely-used supplement in the world of fitness.

So what happened?

How did this medication go from positive results to being shelved and winding up on the black market?

Let’s take a look at the history of Cardarine as well as its benefits and risks to see if it a supplement worth investing in to upgrade your muscle building and fat loss.

1.  What is Cardarine?

cardarine (gw 50516) review

This once-promising medical breakthrough is often classified as a SARM. in the fitness world and while it’s done so with good intentions to make it easier to find, the classification is a bit off.

Cardarine is the common supplement name but you’ll also find it listed as one of the following:

  • Endurobol
  • GW1516
  • GW501516
  • GW-501,516
  • GSK-516

Cardarine as a PPARδ modulator

Cardarine as a PPARδ modulator

Cardarine is a PPARδ modulator and I know that term looks intimidating so let’s break it down: A PPARδ modulator such as Cardarine directly stimulates the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) in your body.

This receptor, as defined by an article in the Annual Review of Medicine, is classified as a “nuclear hormone receptor.”

What does a PPARδ modulator do?

What does a PPARδ modulator do

It has many jobs including the oversight and management of a number of cellular processes in the body. These cellular level processes may play a direct role in disease prevention or development.

These diseases include obesity, diabetes, and cancer, which comes into play later in this article. (1)

How does a PPARδ modulator help with fat burning?

PPARδ modulator and fat burning

On the fitness side of things: The PPAR can be found in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. (See where this is heading?) The PPAR regulates the following:

  • Thermogenesis – Important for fat burning
  • Cholesterol and lipid metabolism – Also important for fat burning
  • Skeletal reprogramming – Important for muscle development
  • Wound healing – Important for recovery

And to bring it home: Since Cardarine directly stimulates the PPAR, it should come as no surprise that the benefits for athletic performance, bodybuilding, and weight loss began to quickly gain attention.

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Since Cardarine doesn’t promote androgenic effects, those using it don’t have to worry about common side effects associated with androgens.

For good measure, let’s explain what a SARM is so you can see the difference.

2.  What is a S.A.R.M.?

S.A.R.M. aka Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator

S.A.R.M. is short for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator, and some examples of SARMS include Ligandrol and Ostarine. Its benefits focus on the anabolic side of things without the androgenic effects.

Anabolic primarily refers to the increase in the size of the muscle tissue.

Androgenic refers to male characteristics that naturally occur during puberty.

If you’re over the age of 17, you know what this means.

Deepening of the voice, change in hormone levels, increase in the size of organs: these are all examples of androgenic effects.

Since a S.A.R.M. promotes anabolic benefits and no androgenic effects, you are skipping out on the horror story side effects commonly associated with anabolic steroids. You know the ones we’re talking about: hair loss, expression of estrogen in gyno-based side effects, and mood swings.

3.  S.A.R.M. vs. Cardarine: The PPARδ Modulator

 S.A.R.M. vs. Cardarine

Okay, both of these sound great. They both boost fat burning and lean tissue so what’s the real difference between these two?

Why is Cardarine not listed as a SARM?

While many of their benefits overlap, their pathway to trigger these benefits is what separates the two.

What’s more, a SARM is more commonly used for gaining muscle mass while promoting fat burning. Cardarine, on the other hand, is more popular with the performance side of fitness.

As we’ll talk more about below, the endurance gains related to Cardarine are incredible.

4.  Cardarine: Scientifically Backed Benefits

Scientifically Backed Benefits of Cardarine

All this positive talk about Cardarine, let’s get on with what the research says about it.

Cardarine, Athletic Endurance & Performance

A study published in Scientific Reports showed that Cardarine may have potential as a highly effective way to boost endurance and performance.

In this case, when we are talking about endurance, we are focusing on running.

The study was performed on mice and after three weeks of Cardarine supplementation, the mice saw an increase of up to 31% in their exhaustive running distance.

cardarine study in mice

What’s more, those same mice demonstrated an increase in the distance they ran by up to 68.6%! So not only could the mice run further but they could do so without feeling as fatigued. (1)

Cardarine is Protein Sparing

High endurance athletes (like a marathoner) rarely carry what you may consider a “jacked” or massive frame.

Cardarine and energy utilization

This is because high endurance athletes such as marathon runners are utilizing glucose and protein for fuel.

When the body is snacking on muscle protein for energy, this is called catabolism.

This would be the reason why so many runners are slim and possibly defined, but rarely muscular in the Arnold sense of muscle.The same study mentioned above showed that Cardarine was able to focus energy utilization on the consumption of fat, not glucose or protein.

As you may already have guessed, this is the reason that Cardarine is so popular during a “cutting” or “shredding” season. (1)

Cardarine Promotes Fat Burning

Continuing with the point above, several studies (and plenty of user reviews) have cited Cardarin as an effective fat burner. Since Cardarine shifts the focus away from burning protein and glucose as a fuel source, the body turns its attention on fatty acids.

fatty acid burn from cardarine

This is great news for anyone trying to lose weight or for those who have finished with a bulking season and are ready to start leaning out without sacrificing muscle mass. (1)

Related Article:  5 BEST SARMS For Bulking

Cardarine Fights Inflammation

Inflammation is being considered one of the central causes of disease. This is especially true with diseases such as diabetes and arthritis.Studies suggest that Cardarine may be able to effectively fight against inflammation.Not only may you decrease your risk for these types of diseases but you may also find that you are less sore post-workout. (2-3)

5.  Cardarine Before And After Pics

It’s been said “the proof is in the pudding”, and when it comes to Cardarine, they weren’t lying.

Check out some of these REAL before and after pictures from guys who have used Cardarine:

mikes results from taking cardarine

cardarine before and after pictures

Clearly this stuff is no joke.

6.  Potential Side Effects of Cardarine

After all those great side effects, you are expecting a laundry list of side effects, right?

Guess again.

Cardarine is almost side effect free. It won’t promote androgenic side effects as I mentioned above nor will it suppress testosterone or trigger estrogen-based side effects.

This alone is one of the things that may draw people to Cardarine as opposed to its alternatives.

There has to be a catch though right?

7.  Cardarine & Cancer

can you get cander from Cardarine

Remember how I said that Cardarine was placed on the shelf despite positive research results.

The reason for that is due to cancer. While testing Cardarine on mice, an emergence of cancer on the treated mice started to emerge.

Once this trend was discovered, researchers pulled away from the project and threw it on the shelf. (4)

However, the cancer claims aren’t so black and white…

There is a study that claims the long-term use of Cardarine resulted in colon cancer due to cell proliferation; however, there are serious doubts regarding this study due to sample size and the dosage given to the mice.

The dosage was far more than those used in previous studies. (4)

Since that study (and the consequential throwing away of the project), more research studies have come out citing just the opposite. Some studies have even shown that Cardarine is able to shrink tumors and prevent certain cardiovascular diseases. (5-8)

So, what’s the take away here? Seeing as how there are far more studies supporting the responsible use of Cardarine as a medicinal tool, it may be safe to say that Cardarine is not the cancer-causer that it’s been made out to be. Still, if you want to err on the side of caution…

With that being said, it is ultimately up to you to weigh the risks of taking one supplement over another against its benefits and decide if it is the best fit for your health.

8.  Best Way to Use Cardarine

Best Way to Use Cardarine

If you are planning on using Cardarine but that cancer study has you rattled, keep in mind that the study was performed with near toxic doses of Cardarine AND it was supplied to the mice over an extended period of time, which was far longer than your normal Cardarine cycle. With that said, follow these guidelines and do NOT over do it.


  • Average dose (according to user reviews and brand recommendations): 10 mg
  • Highest dose (ideal for a second or third cycle): 20 mg (do NOT go any higher than this)

Cycle Length

  • This will vary by company. The general time frame is 4 to 6 weeks.

Cycle Support

  • No intra-cycle support or post-cycle support is needed.

9.  Is Cardarine Legal?

Is Cardarine Legal

We are heavy in the gray area with this topic. First, let’s discuss something that is obvious and well-known: If you are a professional athlete, Cardarine is considered a banned substance due to its effect on your performance. In fact, it was added to the WADA prohibited list in 2009, effectively banning it for use in professional athletes.

Where is it legal and illegal?

With the easy part out of the way, let’s talk about the legality of buying it around the world. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer for this.

Legality in the US

Technically, it’s legal.

I say technically because, while it can’t legally be sold as a supplement, it CAN be sold as a research chemical.

I’ve personally bought Cardarine online on multiple occasions, and never had a problem.

My preferred vendor for Cardarine is Chemyo, check out their site here:

What about other countries?

If you live outside of the U.S. and Canada, then you need to do some research on your government website for the equivalent of our Food and Drug Administration.

You can also check the forums, HOWEVER, it should be noted that information in forums is not always reliable.

We’ll get to that in a minute.

Cardarine Legality in Australia

For example, when looking up laws against products like Cardarine in Australia, we found a story on someone who has never had an issue and we found just the opposite with another individual.

is cardarine legal in australia

Again, they were both from Australia, and the posts were dated in 2016.

However, I did a little digging and it looks like the Australian government is considering placing Cardarine as a Schedule 10 drug.

cardarine schedule 10 drug australia

This notice was issued on February 5, 2018, which is why you should NOT rely on forum posts.

A schedule 10 drug, as defined by Australian law, are “substances of such danger to health as to warrant prohibition of sale, supply, and use”.

scheduled 10 drug australia definition

This could be done as early as June 1, 2018, so DEFINITELY make sure it’s legal after this date.

Legality in Canada

When I originally wrote this review, Cardarine was legal to buy in Canada as a “research chemical”.

However, a warning was posted on the Health Canada website on April 27, 2017, stating the following:

“Cardarine is another drug that is not authorized in Canada for any use.”

Does this mean that you’ll end up in jail if you buy it in Canada?


The most likely thing is that your shipment would get confiscated by customs, and you would get a warning letter saying “don’t do that”.

Now, if you were buying VERY large quantities of the stuff, then you may be in trouble.

Legality in the UK

As of today (March 22, 2018) SARMS like Cardarine are legal for purchase in the UK as a “research chemical”.

When you search around on the forums (again, not the GREATEST idea), you’ll see that lots of guys have bought it in the UK with no issues.

is cardarine legal in the UK

However, I again did a little digging and found this:

UK ministry of health search

This was a meeting that was conducted by the Advisory council on the misuse of drugs, and guess what they were talking about?

cardarine legality in UK

That’s right, SARMS…

These supplements are usually produced in the gray area of the law, meaning that by purchasing them, you are rolling the dice with potential complications and questions.

10.  Stacking Method with Cardarine

Stacking Method with Cardarine

If you’ve been looking around bodybuilding forums, you already know that Cardarine is one of the most popular stackable products.

Since it doesn’t cause any unwanted side effects, many fitness enthusiasts use it in combination with other compounds, specifically anabolic compounds.

In fact, Cardarine has been said to clean up the messy side effects associated with some of those anabolic and androgenic compounds.

When it comes to stacking recommendations, the most popular and least risky stack is with Ostarine.

Ostarine is a S.A.R.M. (just like we discussed above) and it has been shown to promote anabolism without those pesky androgenic side effects.

Osta will promote size gains while Cardarine will help shed body fat and improve performance.

You can also buy Ostarine on the Chemyo website, here’s a link:

Can you see why these two work so well together?

Here are the recommended dosages:


  • 10 mg


  • 12 to 15 mg

11.  Highlighted Benefits of Cardarine

Highlighted Benefits of Cardarine
Source: Masculine Development

Here’s a quick rundown of the finer points of Cardarine:

  • Protects muscle from catabolism
  • Increases fat oxidation
  • Will not negatively impact the liver / cause liver damage
  • Supports lean muscle tissue growth
  • Boosts athletic endurance
  • Increases performance levels
  • Fights inflammation

12.  Popular Brands of Cardarine

Popular Brands of Cardarine

Here are a few popular brands of Cardarine that received universally positive support on forums and review sites:

  • Cardarine by Sarms1
  • Elite SARM Stack by Focused Nutrition
  • Super Cardarine by Primeval Labs

13.  Conclusion

cardarine and increased muscular endurance

If you are looking for a way to safely increase muscular endurance and performance without sacrificing mass, Cardarine may be exactly what you need.

This PPARδ modulator has been shown in several studies to be effective at promoting fat loss, protecting muscle from catabolism, skyrocketing endurance, and boosting performance.

When used as a part of a stack, Cardarine quickly becomes the backbone by boosting your results and negating androgenic side effects.

Despite having a somewhat shady reputation, Cardarine should be considered a powerful tool to achieving your fitness goals.

Stay safe and follow procedure when supplementing with Cardarine. Never use more than recommended.

Most importantly, get ready to take before and after pictures.

Have you used Cardarine? Leave your review below!



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Ask A Question

User Questions and Answers

Is there a preferred method of administering cardarine, i.e orally versus subcutaneous injection? -Lou

The cardarine that I recommend is only to be taken orally.- Rob

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Author: Rob Miller

Supplement Critique

Rob Miller founded over 7 years ago, and has been the chief editor ever since. He has a diploma in Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor, and worked at GNC for 3 years. He KNOWS supplements, both inside and out. Rob currently resides in Jupiter, FL, with his wife of 4 years.  Learn more about him in his Bio here. Follow him on Twitter , Facebook, LinkedIn, or find him on Google +.

Medical Reviewer: Helen Okoye, MD

Dr Okoye

Dr. Helen Okoye is an American Public Health Physician, Health Care Executive, Researcher, Entrepreneur with a Doctor of Medicine Degree (MD), an MBA in Healthcare Management, and a Masters in Epidemiology/Public Health). Her specific responsibilities for Supplement Critique including reviewing previously published articles for accuracy and relevancy. Her expert opinion was featured on NBC News for the President’s physical exam. Learn more about Dr. Okoye here. Follow here on Twitter and Instagram.

3 comments on “Cardarine Review: Dose, Stacking, and Potential Side Effects”

Leave A New Comment

  1. I tried just one capsule of gw and I can definitely say that was the most strong “supplement”
    I have ever tried .No matter how hard I was training I wasn’t able to feel exhaustion ,my rest periods were reduced dramatically,and I also experienced noticeable increase in endurance , I am little bit afraid from the potential side effects ,I don’t know it’s to good to be true!
    1. Hey Patric,
      I’ve seen that claim in a few forums, but it would be highly irregular for Cardarine to cause anything like that.

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