Bodybuilders have often sought to boost testosterone as a sure fire method of building muscle. Law no longer permits steroid use; it was banned in 2004 and carries a pretty hefty prison sentence if you’re caught.
With anabolic steroids out of the equation (at least for anyone who want to stay on the right side of the law) bodybuilders have sought out alternatives.
Prohormones are often seen as a viable alternative, but they are powerful supplements, with some serious medical implications. It’s difficult to educate yourself with so much misinformation around, so what is truth and what is fiction?
What Are Prohormones?
Scientifically speaking prohormones are a chemical compound naturally found in the body.
Every hormone in the body has a prohormone, a chemical compound that increases the effects of hormones in the body. So if you have low testosterone for example, a prohormone can boost the effect of the hormones you do have. It shouldn’t be surprising then that prohormones that enhance the effects of testosterone are popular with bodybuilders.
Aren’t They Illegal?
Yes they are, but there are still some products being sold as prohormones.
In the US the ‘Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2014’ banned a long list of prohormones. The medical establishment believes prohormones are dangerous substances that are at least as harmful as anabolic steroids and warrant a ban to preserve public health.
Yet some products are still being sold. This doesn’t mean they are safe, or even safer, than the banned products. They are legal because they exploit a loophole in the law.
Substances are only illegal if they are specifically named in the Act. When new prohormone supplements come onto the market there is often a delay before they are added to the Act and become banned substances.
As a result, there are some products that are sold as prohormones available to buy legally—for now.
What Benefits Do They Offer?
Prohormones enhance the effects of the corresponding hormones in the body. If you’re taking a testosterone prohormone, you’re boosting the effects of testosterone in your body. So you can expect to see the usual benefits:
- Larger muscle mass
- Your voice will deepen
- Thicker facial hair
- You’ll experience quicker recovery times after training
- Greater strength
- Higher libido
What Side Effects Do They Have?
The side effects of prohormones are same as any supplement or drug that artificially boosts testosterone (including anabolic steroids):
- The Liver damage
- Swollen breasts
- Loss of hair
- Acne/bad skin
- High blood pressure
- Enlarged prostate
- Dizzy spells, vomiting and headaches
- Anger and depression
Prior to 2014, prohormone products were usually methylated and so risked significant liver damage. Since many substances were banned in 2014, new products on the market usually aren’t methylated and so the risk of liver damage has fallen. However it is still possible, you’re pummeling your body with artificial hormones after all.
Any Special Things To Take Note Of?
There is a lot of misinformation out there, much of it coming from online stores with an interest in selling products to you. These are serious chemical compounds with potential to have long term effects on your health so take note of the following advice:
- If you are under 21, there is potential for prohormones to cause you greater harm. All through our teenage years and into early adulthood, our endocrine system is still developing. Artificially boosting hormones can have a significant detrimental effect on your long-term health and hormone production.
- Alcohol and prohormones don’t mix. Your liver is already working hard to process extra hormones, adding alcohol to the mix forces your liver to work even harder. Liver damage may be more likely as a result.
- Don’t increase your dose to increase its effect. It doesn’t have the desired effect and only serves to place your body under greater stress. High doses could result in hospitalization. Start with small doses to identify your body’s limits.
Should I Take Them?
Only you can decide whether to take the prohormone products currently available on the market. If you do choose to take them, listen to your body and start with small doses. Never forget prohormones are banned for a reason, they can have long-term medical effects.
Always make sure you have a good exercise and diet plan in place before taking any prohormone supplement.
“Author Bio: Phil Slater is a blogger, nutrition expert and fitness enthusiast who writes about all things relating to health and fitness. Over the years, Phil has helped many of his personal coaching clients live happier lives by helping them achieve their fitness goals.”