The tale about steroids is one that is known to all-good or bad? We’ll know from this write up.
From the steroid scandals that plagued major sportsmen both track and field, it’s quite obvious that steroids won’t be earning a reputation quite soon.
It’s true that using certain steroids in small amounts under medical supervision won’t hurt you. However, using large amounts of anabolic steroids for a long period of time can do you real harm.
This write up would help look closely into the usefulness of steroids both legal and illegal.
WHAT ARE ANABOLIC STEROIDS?
Technically called anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs) , steroids are a type of artificial testosterone. They can be taken as a supplement to replace or raise your body’s natural levels of testosterone.
Testosterone is a hormone typically associated with the male body. The average male has about 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) of this hormone in their body.
Testosterone is the hormone responsible for bodily changes in the male body during puberty, making the voice deeper and the body hairier. It also increases sperm production in the testicles.
The female body also produces testosterone. But it’s usually found in smaller amounts, where it’s used to keep bones strong and sexual function healthy.
And having testosterone levels that are higher than normal, such as through use of steroids, can help create proteins that are used to support:
• muscle growth
• hair growth
• sexual functions
• bone density
That’s why steroids are associated with athletes like bodybuilders. It’s thought that the more anabolic steroids you take, the more potential for strength and muscle growth you have. That’s why you may hear these referred to as performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
WHAT ARE ANABOLIC STEROIDS USED FOR?
Steroids aren’t always harmful when used appropriately. They’re used for a variety of both health and athletic purposes, including:
• gaining body mass from more protein production in the body (about 4.5 to 11 lbs)
• lowering your overall body fat percentage
• gaining muscle strength and endurance
• increasing how dense your bones are
• increased red blood cell production
• improve performance in strength-related sports, such as weightlifting
• “stacking” steroids with other substances, such as growth hormones and insulin, for increased muscle mass
• maintaining muscle mass when you have a condition like liver disease or cancer that causes your muscles to waste away
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF ANABOLIC STEROIDS?
In small doses for short amounts of time, when their use is monitored by a doctor, anabolic steroids have lower risk of long-term or harmful side effects.
Your genetic make up can influence how steroids affect you.
There’s also a ratio of androgenic to anabolic components for most steroids:
• anabolic components help grow muscle
• androgenic components affect male sex traits like body hair or sperm production
But using high amounts of steroids, even for a short time, or using them for a long period can lead to numerous side effects, including:
• raising your risk of heart disease and heart attacks
• making you act more aggressively and impulsively
• making you feel worse about your body
• damaging your liver
• causing fat tissue to grow in your breasts (called gynecomastia in men) because of a loss of hormone balance, especially if you stop taking steroids
• reducing how much testosterone your body makes naturally (hypogonadism), as your body gets used to the extra dose from steroids and stops producing as much
• reducing your fertility because of lower sperm production
• causing male-pattern baldness or making it start earlier in life
Side effects for women
Steroid use can have specific side effects in the female body in addition to the others listed above, including:
• deeper voice
• changes in face shape
• facial hair growth
• clitoris growing larger than normal
• period becoming irregular
• shrinking breasts
How are anabolic steroids abused?
Many anabolic steroids come in supplement or injection form. These forms usually contain these substances in very high concentrations. Many people who abuse these steroids do so without medical supervision.
The way they’re abused can make them dangerous too:
• cycling: using a large amount of steroids and then stopping for a while before using them again
• stacking: use multiple types of steroids at once, or using different delivery forms (like injections and supplements together)
• pyramiding: starting with small doses and then taking more and more, followed by reducing the amount again
• plateauing: changing to another steroid suddenly to keep the steroid from become ineffective and then switching back
Some people can become used to the feeling of strength or endurance that steroids give them and become dangerously addicted.
ARE THERE SAFE ALTERNATIVES TO ANABOLIC STEROIDS?
There are plenty of safe, natural ways to get the performance, strength, and bulk you’re looking for:
• Eat a healthy, balanced diet high in proteins, fiber, and healthy fats.
• Work closely on different muscle groups. Focus on sets of muscles like biceps, triceps, or quads during a single workout. Alternate between muscles groups for the best long-term results.
• Get on a consistent exercise plan. Use a fitness app or work with a personal trainer to keep yourself on track and accountable whether you’re trying to get fit, compete, or bulk up.
When used in moderation under medical supervision, anabolic steroids aren’t dangerous.
But like any artificial supplement, they can be dangerous or even deadly when misused, whether you use too much or for too long a time.
Talk to a doctor before you add steroids to your workout routine or just because you want increase muscle mass. Steroids get the best results if your dosage is specifically recommended for your body by an expert.
People use performance enhancers to improve their performance during high-intensity physical exercise. A performance enhancer, or ergogenic aid, is anything that gives you a mental or physical edge while exercising or competing.
This can range from caffeine and sports drinks to illegal substances. There are a variety of both safe and harmful ergogenic aids.
Safe ergogenic dietary supplements
Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, “vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other botanicals that are taken by mouth and don’t also contain controlled substances can be labeled “supplements”.
Many of these supplements are marketed to boost athletic performance. However, scientific proof of their effectiveness is sometimes lacking.
There are other ergogenic aids that are generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Examples include naturally occurring compounds like: HMB, creatine, chromium, carnitine, CLA.
HMB is an amino acid found naturally in the body. It’s purported to enhance and strengthen muscle as well as help slow muscle wear and tear during strenuous activities/exercise.
Research hasn’t proven that HMB will enhance athletic performance. When taken at standard doses of about 3 grams, the supplement is generally considered safe. However, in large doses, it can be harmful to the kidneys.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
CLA is a type of fat that athletes take to reduce muscle damage and increase lean body mass after exercise. The supplement is especially popular with bodybuilders, who use it to enhance recovery.
However, CLA can cause side effects, including upset stomach, nausea, and fatigue. It can also impact how well the body uses insulin for energy. CLA can interact negatively with certain medications, like antipsychotics.
Carnitine transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria. This allows them to be burned for energy, which can boost exercise performance. The body’s liver and kidneys naturally produce lysine and methionine, amino acids that break down into carnitine.
Carnitine hasn’t yet been scientifically proven to enhance athletic performance. Even so, many athletes continue to take the supplement. Taking more than 3 grams of carnitine per day can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, and diarrhea. Carnitine can also interact harmfully with some medications, such as pivampicillin, an antibiotic.
Chromium is a trace mineral in the body, but it’s essential to daily body functioning. The mineral is said to increase lean muscle mass, burn fat, and enhance a person’s energy levels. However, chromium hasn’t been proven to enhance athletic performance.
Taking too much chromium can be harmful because it’s associated with damaging DNA and healthy fats.
Muscles use creatine to release energy, which enhances lean muscle mass and increases muscle energy. While creatine is a natural substance, it’s also produced in a laboratory and sold as a supplement. Those who take creatine often do so as a means to build muscle mass.
Taking creatine is also not without its side effects. For example, creatine can cause weight gain, muscle cramping, and stomach cramping. Additionally, the liver and kidneys must filter creatine. Taking an excessive amount can put too much workload on these important organs, which could potentially damage them.
HARMFUL OR ILLEGAL ERGOGENIC AIDS
The NCAA and the Olympics commission have banned some substances. This is because they offer an unfair advantage or can cause harm to the athlete.
Examples include androstenedione, stanozolol, axiron, and fortesta, diuretics.
Steroids, legal or not, are never the best solution for building muscle or getting fit. They can cause many side effects that may threaten any progress you’ve made at all and have long-term health consequences.
It’s best to focus on sustainable, healthy ways to build muscle and stay fit. You’ll also prevent the possible physical and psychological harm of relying on artificial substances to achieve the level of fitness you want in the process.
To achieve optimum performance, focus more on a healthy diet and exercise routine supervised by sports nutritionist and physiotherapist, the high risk of abuse of these steroids come in handy.