Big muscles, short life. Steroids. You have likely seen steroids in the news at some point, and the career-ending sob stories that frequently follow. In the 21st century, athletes rejoiced at the birth of a promising new compound called SARMs.
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs), initially promised something attractive to the athletes of the world: steroid-like results without side-effects, and, just as important, invisibility to modern drug testing. SARMs remained a great secret in underground performance communities until anti-doping agencies caught on.
Without getting too technical, scientists call steroids anabolic–androgenic steroids. SARMs exhibit similar anabolic (muscle building) effects to steroids without impacting the androgenic (male sex characteristic) side. Theoretically, this means rapid muscle growth and easy fat loss without jeopardizing your liver, balls, man boobs, or heart.
For some, SARM use might make sense. Notably non-competitive athletes (they are banned substances), and older folk looking for an alternative to hormone replacement therapy. Unless you fit into either of those categories, here is why I recommend you steer clear of SARMs.
1. Permanent Endocrine System Damage
Hormones affect every single system in the body. Altering hormones is risky. The body aims to maintain normal hormone levels. Until the mid-twenties, the endocrine system is sensitive to change. Artificial changes cause the body to hyper-compensate in the opposite direction.
Whether steroids, SARMs, or another substance, there's a non-zero chance that your endocrine system won’t return to baseline function. Are sub-par results worth potentially life-long endocrine issues or hormone replacement therapy?
2. The SARMs “Hangover”
You made it through your three months cycle, now what? Hopefully you did research and are ready for months of hormonal fluctuations. Mood, energy, weight, and overall health will feel off.
Post cycle therapy, the “antidote” to these fluctuations, attempts to stabilize this new imbalance with cocktail of drugs. What kind of drugs?
Doctors prescribe some of them to treat cancer and other serious diseases. They come with nasty side effects.
3. Fully Detectable & Banned
Professional athletics moves fast. Once the preferred performance enhancer of professional athletes and Olympians alike, virtually all major competitive leagues have banned SARMs. Most leagues have a zero-tolerance policy towards banned substances.
Probably not worth losing a gold medal over.
4. You Might Not Gain Anything
Don't get fooled.
Steer clear of products marketing SARMs as “side-effect-free steroids”. Most are for lab research only. Or, in other words, not for human consumption. And it's not because they are too powerful.
We might not know all the mechanisms of action, but search the web and you'll find overwhelming anecdotes claiming no benefit. Most of the research is on sick individuals. In healthy subjects, few studies have shown real benefit from taking SARMs.
Unless you are an elite athlete, you will likely notice no difference from the SARMs themselves. Changes in workout routines, diet, and lifestyle accompanying the SARMs can play the bigger part in the outcome. Let's not forget about the placebo effect either.
Grey area legality has made hunting down actual SARMs an art in itself.
5. Would You Consume a Random Powder off the Street?
That's akin to buying SARMs online.
The FDA won't protect you. Classified as research chemicals, SARMs do not fit into the FDA’s jurisdiction. Credit card payment processors cracking down on research chemical sales have only driven these products further underground.
Even if you track down an online lab you don’t know what exactly arrived on your doorstep. Noticeable effects in the gym? Likely the result of a product tainted with pro-hormones or other toxic steroids. Heavy metal and other compounds contaminate many unregulated products. Buyer beware.
6. How Will You Fare Later in Life?
What should come as no surprise following the other five previous bullets, we still don’t know much about SARMs or long-term effects of use. Remember that the steroid craze didn't result in obvious endocrine damage until many years after use.
The fate of a particular SARM can waver on the outcomes of one single study. Assuming you miraculously source the real deal, do you fit the exact lifestyle profile of the researched subjects? If not, perhaps other undocumented side effects will arise.
Few people take SARMs, but otherwise live “typical” lifestyles. Considering that users usually stack SARMs, combine supplements, drugs, and experimental compounds, interaction data between everything surely does not exist.
Pharmaceutical companies have officially halted the development of a number of SARMS citing issues with adverse effects or worse. Full clinical approval for human consumption does not exist for any SARM ever developed despite some having over two decades of research.
I see the allure of SARMs. Simple, affordable, easy to use, and without major androgenic side effects. What's not to like?
Ignore these marketing-fueled claims. Experts urge that these compounds are not risk-free. Should you still want to venture into the wild west of SARMs, at least enlist the oversight and assistance of a willing doctor.
Better alternatives exist.
In future posts I will reveal the cousins to SARMs fueling elite sports and what to expect from them.
Hint: One form of precision medicine is currently taking the world by storm. Athletes use them to bounce back from injuries, heal, and even reverse biological age.