Bodybuilders have intense workouts that involve little cardio. Instead, they focus their efforts on what will win them the most attention, awards, money and fame—their muscles. By lifting weights at intense levels and eating diets high in protein, these athletes are able to create amazingly buff and toned bodies worthy of strongest man competitions, Mr. Universe contests and various body building pageants.
But some of these body builders are not just showing you a body created by their weight lifting prowess. Oh sure, most of them spray tan and grease up to help accentuate the muscles, but there is something even more nefarious that they use to help give them a competitive edge. No, not steroids—although some of them do use steroids—the muscle building helpers we are talking about are called prohormones.
What are prohormones?
When you produce hormones synthetically, instead of normally as the body would, you get prohormones. When prohormones (or synthetic hormones) are put into your body your liver enzymes work to turn them into regular hormones. So why add these fake but eventually turned real prohormones in your body when you are a competitive athlete? Well, because prohormones are said to build muscle mass and increase the size and endurance of those people who take them. There are even some claims that they improve strength as well as muscle size.
There are many different types of prohormones that people can choose to take. There is the human growth hormone (HGH), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and others. The promise of prohormones is that they are safer than steroids, but interestingly, they have the same negative side effects. When you take prohormones your prostate may become enlarged, you may experience hair loss, you may notice excessive growth of breast tissue and you could get acne.
Are prohormones legal?
Until recently, prohormones were legal in the United States. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated their classification from legal to illegal, just like steroids. They have been declared unsafe by the FDA and that is not likely to change any time soon.
Some over the counter supplement companies have found ways around the FDAs ban on prohormones and offer “legal” substitutes with ingredients that are similar to those ingredients that have been banned, but are apparently different enough that they can sell them. It is impossible to know whether or not these supplements are safe, whether or not they offer the same side effects as the traditional (and banned) prohormones, and whether or not they are made of strong enough ingredients to be effective.
What is a bodybuilder to do?
In order to be safe, bodybuilders, athletes, and anyone who is looking to increase their muscle size, endurance and strength should stick to a workout routine that promotes muscle growth. In addition, they should adjust their diet to be lower in carbohydrates (although not too low as you will need quick energy during workouts) and high in protein. They should also consult a physician to find out of there are any safe vitamins or other supplements (like protein powder for instance) that they can take to increase their bodybuilding success.
If you decide that prohormones supplements are the right choice for your routine you should always let your primary care physician know which supplements you plan to take and how often you plan to take them. Together you and your physician can decide whether or not that is a safe and smart decision and whether there is a safer alternative. Remember, it does not matter how big your muscles get if you permanently damage your health in the process of getting them.