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When it comes to the world of bodybuilding, there’s a lot of information on how to get the most impressive results in the shortest amount of time. There are specialized diets guaranteed to provide the right balance of proteins and carbohydrates. There are special powders and supplements to help pad out any nutritional voids. There are even pre-workouts that promise twice the energy and focus for your workout. But at the top of the list, you find steroids.
Despite their reputation, steroids serve a purpose; hear me out. Doctors regularly prescribe steroids to patients who have hormonal imbalances or degenerative muscular disorders. This is because anabolic steroids are synthetic forms of testosterone—the male sex hormone responsible for creating traditionally masculine features. Unfortunately, when anabolic steroids are abused, they often lead to some pretty severe side effects, including rage, paranoia, delusions, and mania. Instead, many bodybuilders have turned to a healthier and safer option—selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs).
SARMs are a class of androgen receptor ligands that prompt the body to begin producing more male sex hormones. By stimulating the androgen receptor, SARMs can produce similar results as steroids or hormone therapy without actually adding more hormones to the body. The benefit of this is that users get all the same results—stronger bones, less fat, and increased muscle mass—without the negative side effects related to steroids. For men experiencing low testosterone, SARMs may even be able to take the place of lost androgens and act in their role until the body can naturally regulate its hormone levels again.
This is positive news because, although SARMS have been around in various forms for nearly a century, it is only in the last few years that scientists have developed non-steroidal varieties. With previous versions, the ligand acted as a substrate for aromatase, causing excess estrogen to build up in the body, leading to gynecomastia, or breast development. For many male bodybuilders, this risk eliminated SARMs as an option. As well, the last decade’s continued research has led to the discovery of selective androgen receptor modulators that help increase bone density and muscle mass without also causing harm to the prostate or heart.
Although it’s most common to administer SARMs through an injection, they can also be taken orally. This is because, unlike many other oral steroids, SARMs are not harmful to the liver. Doctors can measure the treatment’s effects similarly to how they would measure the results of testosterone treatment. Positive side effects include an increase in bone density relative to the administered dose, and patients also see muscular growth in size and strength. SARMs can also help lower body fat, promoting a leaner structure.
Because these new forms of the compound are so new, much of the research conducted on SARMs have been conducted on rodents, the findings so far have been highly supportive. SARMs have yet to reach clinical use though researchers have identified a valid link to increased muscle and bone strength with only minor risks to the prostate. Researchers have also begun conducting SARMs trials in humans and have reported similar findings so far.
Because of the experimental nature of these compounds, we do not recommend taking them without a doctor or researcher’s guidance. Potential side effects are still unknown and could cause more harm than good. As researchers release more findings, we will keep you updated on the status of selective androgen receptor modulators, but until then, we advise sticking to more clinically approved workout supplements.