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Something that is particularly alarming about the widespread use of anabolic chemicals in athletics is how few people actually know the truth about steroids.
A great deal of misinformation has been circulated about what steroids can and can’t do.
As well, the kind of long-term effects it can have on the body are little understood.
There are documentaries that look at the truth about steroids, as well as other online resources.
But not all information sources are created equal. The information overwhelm of the internet age can actually worsen the state of ignorance about performance enhancing drugs.
In an effort to help educate individuals about this controversial topic, this article will debunk common myths about steroids and discuss the benefits and downsides of using it.
The Truth About What Steroids Can’t Do
One of the most pervasive myths about steroid use is that it will promote muscle growth spontaneously.
Many individuals have the mistaken belief that if they take steroids, their muscles will grow on their own due to the increased amount of testosterone in their body.
The truth is that while steroids do assist greatly in muscle growth, it is still necessary to lift heavy weights, eat a healthy diet, and get a good night’s sleep to promote muscular hypertrophy.2
Another misconception about steroids is that it will make a man’s penis smaller.
This is not true and has never happened to any individual who has taken steroids.
Steroids can lead to a condition in men called testicular atrophy where the testicles shrink.
This is a concerning possibility for most men. Let’s just say if you ever found yourself Googling steroid balls pictures in your research about steroids, you wouldn’t be the first!
You might be relieved to know this side effect is usually temporary, with testicle size returning back to normal after the steroid cycle is complete.
Although extended steroids use can affect the genitals of both men and
women, one thing it definitely does not do is decrease penis size.1
Perhaps the most dangerous misconception many individuals have about steroids is that they aren’t as dangerous as people claim.
Users will say since they are used by doctors to help individuals recover from debilitating injuries they must be safe.
The truth about steroids and bodybuilding is that the type of steroids used for medical treatment is drastically different from the kind used by athletes and bodybuilders.
Corticosteroids are medical tool derived from the natural substance cortisone, which is effective at reducing inflammation from injury, while athletes andbodybuilders use anabolic steroids to synthetically increase the amount of testosterone in their body.3
The Truth About What Steroids Can Do
While many of the popular conceptions about steroids are false with no scientific backing, some of the statements commonly made of this substance are true.
For instance, it is true that an individual who is taking steroids will be able to grow a greater volume of muscle mass over a shorter period of time than an individual who is not taking steroids. This effect is caused by the androgenic and anabolic characteristics of steroids. 4
A fact about steroids is that they are androgenic.
They supplement the body’s natural supply of androgens, also known as male sex hormones.
Why are steroids so effective?
The primary androgen supplied by steroids is testosterone, a hormone necessary for normal growth and maturation.
This hormone has anabolic qualities, meaning that it helps to create additional mass during the normal metabolic process.
As a result, steroids help an individual gain muscle mass.
Because steroids can have such a drastic effect on the amount of hormones in an individual’s body, it also has a drastic effect on the body’s ability to create and regulate these hormones.
An individual’s endocrine system, which is in charge of regulating hormone production, can go awry with the surge of testosterone that comes with steroid use.
As a result, it can increase production of other hormones such as estrogen, which is why many males who take steroids experience mood swings, testicleshrinkage, and growth of breast tissue.
Side Effects of Steroid Use
Taking steroids safely really means taking them under the supervision of a medical professional.
This isn’t possible for bodybuilders because medical experts do not prescribe steroids unless there’s a medical necessity.
However, at the end of the day steroids are a drug.
And like any drug, there is a risk of side effects even when taken with the correct dosage.
One common side effect is weight gain after use of anabolic steroids.
Some of these drugs are notorious for throwing off the sodium and water balance in the body. This leads to water retention, which is characterized by a puffy look hated by most people striving to improve their physique.
Some of the other possible side effects of steroid use include:
Mood swings and increased aggression
Decreased sperm count and testicle size in males
Increased body hair and clitoral growth in females
Increased acne and oily skin
Heart problems and high blood pressure
Alternatives to Steroids
The impressive results that can be achieved through steroid use in a very short amount of time are the reason why it is such a popular substance today, despite being a highly controlled substance.
But once you know the truth about steroids—that they are risky, illegal and expensive—you may be interested in looking at some other options for accelerating your gains at the gym.
There are some alternative supplements an individual can take to achieve similar results without the dangerous side effects.
CrazyBulk offers legal steroid alternatives to just about any anabolic steroid or performance enhancing drug (PED) you could think of.
The following list of products can help you build the colossal muscles and size that bodybuilders go to steroids for in the first place.
The results won’t be as immediate, but with the right workout routine and lifestyle they can help accelerate your results at the gym.
Not ready to take the leap into organic steroid alternatives? There are also some other natural options that are worth exploring.
Creatine: This is a substance that is naturally created in the body that increases the ability for muscles to retain water.
It can be found in red meat and fish or it can be found in powder supplements. Taking creatine supplements can decrease your recovery time and increase your muscle size without disrupting your endocrine system or harming your liver.6
BCAA’s: Valine, leucine, and isoleucine are all branched-chain amino acids, or BCAA’s for short. These are powerful natural chemicals that work to promote protein synthesis in the human body.
Supplementation of these substances will promote anabolic muscle growth, even while losing weight, without causing mood swings orgenital shrinkage.7
ZMA: ZMA is a popular bodybuilding supplement that is a combination of zinc and magnesium.
This is useful for assisting the body in increasing testosterone production and recovering faster with more restful sleep.
Since the effects of ZMA work to improve endocrine functionality rather than disrupt it, none of the hormonal effects that are associated with steroid useare present in ZMA use.
The facts about steroids are much more mundane than many individuals may first believe it to be.
Despite what the media and that one sketchy guy at the gym may say, steroids are not some magic potion that will turn you into Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight.
In actuality, the truth about steroids is that they will only provide results with a considerable amount of hard work, and will come with enough downsides to make those results significantly less appealing.