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How Healthy Are The Muscle Building Supplements That We Are Using Today?

Apr 28, 2008
We've all heard of steroids, prohormones, and protein powders. And we know that the supplement industry is a billion dollar industry, often feeding on the weaknesses of people hoping to make dramatic changes to their physiques in a short period of time. But how do we know which muscle building supplements are the most popular, and how they affect the health of their users?

We could look at some retail websites and see the top-selling supplements on their home pages, or, alternatively, we can examine what people are searching for on the Internet. (It is reasonable to assume that the most searched supplements are also going to be purchased relatively more frequently.) This article will look at the latter option. Since we don't have solid statistics, one reasonable way to estimate search traffic is to take one website which has supplement reviews as the major component of its content, and analyse the web server logs.

What we found was rather troublesome in some respects. The number one supplement in terms of Internet searches leading to this website, by a factor of greater than 2 over the next product, is RPN Havoc. This is thought by many people to be a prohormone, but it is, in fact, a "designer steroid". How, might you ask, is a steroid generally available to the public when steroids are supposed to be illegal? As it goes, the well-known steroids and prohormones of the "past" are controlled substances, meaning that you need a prescription to buy and use them legally. But in the past few years there has been a gold-rush of marketing modified versions of old steroids; this is technically legal, since these modified substances in particular have not yet been banned. They are being sold OTC to an unsuspecting public that does not know the potential perils of using them without proper monitoring, support, and post-cycle therapy. In fact, one such OTC "supplement" known as Superdrol, was the culprit for kidney and liver failure of one bodybuilder, who used it according to directions on the label. Superdrol was discontinued by its manufacturer, but its ingredient is still used in other OTC products today, some of them purportedly even more potent.

Reading the forums, one gets the impression that many of these strength and muscle supplements are used by teenagers and early-twenties bodybuilders who have not yet reached their maximum potential from natural, i.e., non-hormonal, training and nutrition methods. What does not seem to get discussed is whether these hormonal products are actually beneficial in the long term. In this context, we deem beneficial to mean that the user has reached some strength or muscle mass goal with minimal side effects, and managed to hold onto their gains by switching to natural methods. Apparently, all or most people believe that with proper "PCT" (Post Cycle Therapy), they can hold onto their gains indefinitely. However, this fundamental assumption has been challenged - just do a Google search on "anabolic steroids +permanent +gains", and you will find some very interesting results. At least several highly experienced bodybuilders, who have used large quantities of steroids in the past, have categorically stated that within a period of six months to a year, they had lost all of their steroid-related gains, even though they had practised good natural training and nutrition upon cessation of their steroid use. Other people claim otherwise, however. It is, nonetheless, common sense to assume that the human body will revert back to natural, genetically-predisposed hormone levels after a while. The point here is that it is not fully known whether gains can be held onto or not in the long run.

In conclusion, people are spending vast sums of money on hormonal supplements that may not produce any long-term benefits, and may cause undesirable side effects. Perhaps with more research and enough education, we might come to realize that natural methods of training and nutrition are far more healthy for us and can produce the best long-term gains. Other popular types of supplements used for building muscle mass and strength, such as creatine, whey protein, and quality carbohydrates, are known for their health benefits, and can be used long-term without any cause for concern. In any case, it is important to read reviews of muscle building supplements to learn about other users' experiences with them, and hopefully avoid potential problems down the road.
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