While steroids are no new kid on the block, performance-enhancing drugs have risen in popularity in recent years. Today, they are very much the norm amongst bodybuilders, gym-goers and athletes looking to perform at the top of their game.
However, one particular chemical compound has begun to gain traction – known as prohormones. But what are prohormones?
Commonly referred to as over the counter androgens, many manufacturers claim that these muscle-building legal prohormone supplements can help you shred fat and build muscle.
Many gym-goers are looking for a quick and easy way to lose weight and build muscle. But, instead of sticking to a strict diet and fitness regime, they opt for steroids and supplements geared towards boosting performance and muscle size. Sadly, this quick fix has become the popular go-to in comparison to physiological effort and motivation to build muscle and get fit.
However, that’s not all. Many feel the pressure to perform in competitions, believing that steroids and apparently legal prohormones are the only way.
What are prohormones?
A common compound of illegal steroids, prohormones are a chemical compound designed to help sportsmen and women improve their physical performance and build muscle mass.
Pretty similar to popular steroids, prohormones have the benefit of helping bodybuilders shift their body composition within a relatively small timeframe. For those looking to cut body fat percentage and stack themselves with muscle, these compounds become incredibly tempting.
But what are prohormones and how do they work?
When taken, these compounds are converted by the body into anabolic hormones. These hormones help stimulate the body to grow muscle and generate protein synthesis.
However, the results of taking prohormones don’t last forever. In fact, they’re pretty temporary and come with a price. While the results may be tempting enough to consume them, prohormones can skyrocket your testosterone levels, leading to side effects similar to anabolic steroids – which FYI, are totally illegal.
Are prohormones legal?
Due to the nature of prohormones, many athletic associations have banned them entirely. If you are competing and required to undergo drug testing, you could easily test positive for drugs – according to what they deem illegal for athletes.
The world of steroids and supplements can be a daunting one. Especially when some manufacturers add prohormone mixtures without full disclosure. But how can that be right?
This is due to the way that the Federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements differently from other food and drugs. The manufacturers themselves are responsible for their evaluation – when it comes to the safety and labelling of products.
The history of prohormones
Back in 1996, prohormones were a new and exciting possibility for many athletes looking to up their game.
At the time, it wasn’t uncommon for sports superstars to take legal prohormones. Many became caught up in steroid scandals, changing the sports industry.
However, it took some time for the law to really get involved, when media attention got too much to ignore – In 2004 all prohormones became illegal, forming the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004.
This law considered prohormones to be the same as illegal steroids that had previously ripped through professional sports. But that wasn’t the end for prohormones! Just a year later, manufacturers found a workaround to create ‘legal’ prohormones.
Do prohormones work?
While many sports stars have backed prohormones in the past, there are a variety of studios that both back their effectiveness and claim them totally ineffective.
Prohormones for physical performance
For many athletes, the opportunity to improve physical performance makes taking the likes of prohormones worthwhile. Studies have shown that prohormones may lead to anabolic/physical performance effects, however, their effects have been deemed not worth it.
The trouble is, like any steroid or illegal supplement, there are always side effects and room for complications. Orally ingesting prohormones (greater or equal to 200 milligrams daily) may increase testosterone, but also increases estrogen. In men, this can lead to dreaded man boobs – the complete opposite of your body goals!
When sportsmen and women were unsure on the dosage, taking an amount greater than 300 milligrams per day for a 12 week period has shown to have no positive effects on performance, and instead, cause a decrease in lipoprotein cholesterol.
But what is high density liporotein?
While we all hear about cholesterol in a negative way, some cholesterol is considered ‘good’ – one of which is high density lipoprotein. This type of cholesterol works to remove fat from the artery walls, lowering your risk of heart disease.
Prohormones for resistance training
To further examine the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness!) of prohormones, research has looked into the effects of serum testosterone and the changes in resistance training in men taking prohormones.
During the study, researchers analysed changes in T levels, estrogen, muscle fiber, body composition, muscle strength, blood lipids and liver function. During this research, there was no significant increase in lean body mass and decreases in fat mass – however, lipoprotein cholesterol was reduced after just two weeks.
To summarise: Research showed that prohormones gave no enhancements, and instead may result in negative health effects.
Prohormones for medicinal reasons
One study into secondary hyperparathyroidism (caused by a declining renal function in chronic kidney disease) showed that prohormones resulted in limited efficacy in later stages of the disease.
However, success with prohormones was only present in those at the early stages of the disease.
What are the side effects of prohormones?
Although some legal prohormone alternatives do exist, many return to the original prohormones for their desired results. Sadly, these can have devastating side effects.
While the body’s response to prohormones can differ from one person to another, there can be long term side effects of prohormones.
To keep yourself safe, avoid them altogether and avoid all side effects of prohormones. Otherwise, you could be quickly experiencing side effects similar to illegal steroids.
Here are some prohormones side effects to look out for:
- Increased anxiety
- Increased heart rate
- Hair loss
- Testicular shrinkage
- Aggressive behavior
- Stomach pain
- Breast tissue growth (man boobs)
- Lack of motivation
- Increased or decreased sex drive
- Significant mood swings
But what are the long term side effects of prohormones?
Well, these you’ll definitely want to avoid. Since some prohormones side effects can include cardiovascular concerns, such as heart attack and strokes, liver and other organ damage, lowered immune system, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Since there are so many prohormones side effects, who should avoid them?
With little extensive research into these over the counter supplements, their impact on the body is simply – not worth it.
So, who should avoid prohormones? Everyone. But these categories, in particular, should really avoid using them:
- Those who want to lose weight
- People are who breastfeeding
- Anyone under the age of 18
- Women who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant
Who should use prohormones?
Since prohormones are an illegal type of steroid, we’d recommend avoiding them altogether. With little research to back them and their ‘legal’ counterparts that have found a workaround the law, the ability to understand their benefit is tricky business.
With little research identifying prohormones as making a positive impact on muscle mass, opting for a well-structured workout regime and healthy diet will benefit you far more.
Also Read: 5 Testosterone Killing Foods to Avoid
Consider adding high intensity weight training into your workouts, as well as bodyweight exercises at least two days each week. While the pandemic has had many of us sitting down far, far longer, gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts will benefit you greatly.
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