There are plenty of misconceptions about what steroids are, their dangers, and their role in bodybuilding. This article takes a deeper look into steroids and lays out everything you need to know on the topic.
The term “steroid” refers to a broad class of organic compounds made up of hormones and vitamins with a structure containing four carbon rings. Steroid hormones can be split into two categories; corticosteroids and anabolic steroids, with each serving different functions. Anabolic steroids have muscle-building capabilities, which explains their prevalence in bodybuilding. On the other hand, corticosteroids hold functions important to treating diseases and allergies, so you won’t be finding them in a bodybuilding steroid cycle.
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What Are Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances that mimic testosterone. Testosterone is the male sex hormone important for healthy libido levels (aka sex drive), the development of male secondary sex characteristics (facial and body hair, deeper voice), and most relevant to a bodybuilder, the development of lean muscle mass. The addition of anabolic steroids to already normal levels of testosterone can result in an increase in muscle size and strength, as well as sometimes unpredictable effects on other organs.
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What Are the Different Types of Steroids
Anabolic steroids come in many forms, simply due to the fact that they are produced in labs. Here’s just a few common ones:
How Are Steroids Different From Human Growth Hormone
Anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) are different in the way they work and in their functions. HGH is produced in the body and is responsible for cell reproduction, replacement of cells, proper functioning of certain hormones and enzymes, and proper brain function. On the other hand, anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone) are responsible for enhancing male traits, increasing strength and muscle mass.
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What Are the Dangers?
When a person with normal testosterone levels takes anabolic steroids they can incur both short-term and long-term side effects, including:
Cardiovascular and organ damage
Liver disease and liver cancer
Shrinkage of testicles
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Where Can I Get Them
Prescriptions for anabolic steroids are given to patients to treat conditions such as anemia and low testosterone levels. U.S. federal law prohibits the prescribing of anabolic steroids for enhanced athletic performance or increase muscle mass.
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What Are My Natural Testosterone Levels and How Do I Know If I Have a Deficiency?
A typical male adult produces anywhere from 300 to 1050 ng/dL on a daily basis. This varies from person to person and is also age dependent. Natural testosterone rise throughout a male’s teenage years, peak around the early 20s, and then begin to slowly but steadily decline from the 30s onward.
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Symptoms of Low Testosterone Include
Low sex drive
Difficulty achieving erections
Lack of energy
Loss of muscle and bone mass
Low testosterone can be treated through medical means, so if you believe you might have low testosterone levels, consider seeing a doctor.
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What Can I Do to Make Sure I have Optimal Testosteron Levels
Here are a few ways to ensure that your natural testosterone levels are in top shape:
Find the right supplements for your diet and fitness goals at GNC Live Well.
Keep a body fat level below 20%. Higher levels of body fat lead to decreased test levels.
Train. Both strength training and high intensity interval training have been shown to increase testosterone.
Meet your daily zinc and vitamin D requirements, as they play important roles in the body’s production of testosterone.
Consume healthy fats from foods such as nuts, oils, eggs, meats and avocados.
Consume protein with a high leucine content from meats, nuts, dairy products, and whey protein.