Are Prohormones Safe to Use for Muscle Building?

Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) are often used inside gym walls, during bodybuilding competitions, and by athletes on the field. A popular PED that can be purchased as a supplement is a prohormone, a chemical compound also known as an over-the-counter androgen. Manufacturers claim that pro-hormonal supplements build muscle and burn fat, and unlike steroids, they are legal to use.

Many powerlifters, bodybuilders, and other athletes turn to steroids and hormonal supplements like pro-hormone to improve their athletic performance and / or muscle size. Some may be looking for a quick fix to build muscle mass, while others may feel pressured to get an edge on the competition. Learn about prohormones and the risks associated with using these dietary supplements.

What are prohormones?

Prohormones are converted through an enzymatic process into anabolic hormones that help generate protein synthesis and stimulate muscle growth. These supplements can produce quick results, allowing bodybuilders to change their body composition in no time.

However, any gains or improvements made from the use of prohormones are usually short-term and come at a price. Prohormone supplementation can boost testosterone levels, leading to side effects similar to anabolic steroids, which are illegal to consume.

Legality of Prohormones

Some sports associations banned prohormone supplements. If you are a competitive athlete and are taking a drug test, you need to know what you can and cannot use.

Some prohormones can test positive for drugs, depending on what a sports association deems illegal for their athletes. You should also be aware that some manufacturers add prohormone blends to supplements without including them in the ingredient list.

Remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements with a different set of requirements than pharmaceutical drugs. Manufacturers are responsible for their own safety assessment and labeling of their products prior to marketing, which explains why prohormone supplements are technically legal despite the health risks.

Prohormones have a troubled past.

When prohormones were first introduced in 1996, many athletes took advantage of their powerful abilities. For example, Major League Baseball legend Mark McGwire was known for taking prohormones while working to break home run records. However, he soon became a central figure in a steroid scandal that rocked the sports industry.

But almost all prohormones on the market were banned when the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 went into effect. The law stated that all prohormones for sale were illegal and that using them was the same as taking a steroid. Still, prohormones weren't off the shelves for long. Manufacturers found ways around the 2004 law and began selling them again in 2005.

Do Prohormones Actually Work?

Some clinical studies have shown the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of prohormones. Here's what the research says on whether or not prohormones really work.

Improved muscle mass and performance.

In a review of the effects of prohormone supplementation in humans published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found that prohormones may produce anabolic and / or performance effects, but not enough to be worth it. take them.

In addition, the following side effects were observed:

Hormonal imbalances: Oral intake greater than or equal to 200 milligrams per day increased the concentration of testosterone and was also accompanied by sudden increases in estrogen, which means that the breasts can develop.
Decreased HDL cholesterol: Doses greater than 300 milligrams per day for up to 12 weeks had no effect on body composition or physical performance and caused a decrease in high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol.

Endurance training

The research examined the effects of serum testosterone and resistance training adaptations in young adults using prohormones. An earlier study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed 30 healthy individuals ages 19 to 29 who were not taking any nutritional supplements or steroids and were not participating in any resistance training.

The subjects were divided into two groups: 20 subjects underwent eight weeks of full-body resistance training, and the remaining 10 received a single 100-milligram dose of prohormone. During weeks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8, the first group randomly received a 300-milligram dose of the prohormone or a placebo.

The researchers measured the subjects' changes in testosterone, estrogen concentrations, muscle strength, muscle fiber, body composition, blood lipids, and liver activities. The results did not show significant increases in lean body mass or decreases in fat mass in the prohormone and placebo groups. In the prohormone group, HDL cholesterol dropped after two weeks and remained low

Medicinal Usage

A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Nephrology and Renovascular Disease examined whether the medicinal use of vitamin D prohormones could treat patients with hyperparathyroidism, which is caused by decreased kidney function in chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The researchers found that patients who took prohormone supplements during the later stages of the disease received little benefit. Only patients with early stages of the disease had a measurable level of success during medical treatment with prohormone supplements.

Side Effects

Since prohormones are legal, many people assume that they are safe to consume. But it is important to understand that they have the potential to cause substantial and harmful side effects.

These effects can vary from one individual to another, as with any food supplement. For some people, the effects can be severe and long-lasting, similar to the side effects of steroids.

The following side effects have been associated with the use of prohormones:

  • Headaches
  • Incrise of cardiac frecuency
  • Nausea
  • Stomach ache
  • Insomnia
  • Increased anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Acne
  • Mood swings, which can range from a mild bad mood to drastic personality changes.
  • Hair loss
  • Testicular shrinkage
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Increase or decrease in libido.
  • Enlarged female breast tissue (men sometimes develop breasts)
  • Lack of motivation to do activities you used to do (similar to how you feel when you suffer from depression).

Who Should Avoid Using Prohormones?

Due to side effects and a lack of sufficient evidence, over-the-counter prohormone supplements should be approached with caution. Anyone considering prohormones should consult their doctor before using them.

The use of prohormones can be especially dangerous for the following groups:

  • People under 18 years of age
  • People who are breastfeeding
  • Those who are pregnant or actively trying to get pregnant.
  • People who want to lose weight.

Should you try prohormones?

There isn't enough research to give a distinctive vote of confidence that you might benefit from supplementing prohormones in your diet.

Future randomized, peer-reviewed, and placebo-controlled clinical trials should be conducted to demonstrate that oral prohormone supplementation can increase muscle mass.

Until then, you should look for other, more substantive and scientifically backed ways to build more muscle.

The most effective way to stimulate muscle growth, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), is to add moderate to high intensity muscle-building activities, such as lifting weights or using weight training, at least two days a week.

You should also spend less time sitting down and gradually increase the intensity of your exercise over time.

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