You’ve already heard about performance-enhancing drugs and how they’re the sort of drugs used to improve physical development by promoting muscular growth, bone density and improve fat loss. You may know them as steroids, anabolic steroids or testosterone. Those three drugs offer similar benefits and side effects and are usually taken to increase strength and make working out more effective.
When they are injected into the body, they attach to things called “androgen receptors” in cells. Nearly all our cells have this, whether they are from our muscles, bones, skin, eyes or any other part of our bodies. When the receptors detect testosterone, or any other substances that “look” like androgens, they will respond accordingly.
The responses can vary and include tasks like gathering more protein, increasing bone density or promoting cell division among other actions.
The problem with steroids is that its side effects are caused by this very effect. When someone injects themselves with steroids, everywhere the steroid goes, it activates. This causes acne, male pattern baldness, virilization and more, which is why you’ll often see videos like the following online:
So, where do SARMs fall into this?
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator
One great advantage SARMs have is that they virtually offer the same benefits as steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, but without or with minor side effects. While SARMs work in a similar fashion as steroids, let’s go by the name SARM to understand their exact nature.
- Selective (S)
SARMs only affect certain types of cells. Commonly they only affect muscle and bone cells. Other cell’s receptors are not affected by this, thus won’t react. This is the main reason why SARMs don’t have the same side-effect as steroids. While steroids raise muscle growth and bone density, other cells like your skin, liver, and kidneys are also exposed to it. This is why one of the common side-effects of steroids is acne because the skin reacting to the testosterone surges.
- Androgen Receptor
As said before, each cell has receptors. These receptors are like little receivers that accept certain chemicals and compounds. When something attaches to the right receptor, the cells act in a certain way. It could produce a certain chemical, increase activity, or gather a certain compound. Nearly every cell in the body has androgen receptors.
The chemicals commonly make the cells behave as if testosterone attached to them, but certain types of SARMs stimulate specific cells to do certain tasks like create growth hormones or make the cells expend more energy.
Are SARMs As Good As Steroids?
The answer is up for debate. The general answer to this is that the effects are just about the same. Some people would argue that steroids still produce faster effects, yet some say that the overall effect is the same. A steroid’s potency is often calculated in “Androgen to Anabolic Ratio.” Consider Anabolic as the unit of measurement that represents how much positive muscular effect you’ll have. The Androgen is the amount of androgen “units” that the drug has, which can potentially cause side effects. Commonly, steroids have a 1:1 Anabolic to Androgen ratio, which means you’ll get equal potential gains and side-effects. Other brands have ratios such as 90:37, or as simple as 3:1.
There’s still debate whether SARMs’ potency can be measured using the ratio, but certain SARM formulations are marketed to have a blistering 90:1 ratio. That’s 90 points of gains for every 1 point of potential side effects. The effect will still vary on the individual, but one thing assured is that SARMs don’t cause nearly as many side effects as steroids.
Do SARMs Have Any Side Effects?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Normally, there’s none, especially if the individual is healthy and dosage is kept on the lower end.
There are some factors that may produce side effects.
Some users take a bit more because they aren’t getting the expected results. This is the same as taking medicine for your headache. One tablet or two is fine, but more can cause negative effects. Best advice is to take it only for a month, then stop for at least a month.
- Preexisting Conditions
Before taking SARMs or Steroids, it’s best to see a physician. Men with lower than normal testosterone often suffer serious side-effects when taking steroids or SARMs. Others also have genetic risks for diseases like diabetes.
Some SARMs cause small side effects like night blindness or tingling of the fingers. That’s normal and are all reported to go away either halfway through the dosage, or shortly after stopping the dosage. Always remember, it’s your body, so do your homework before doing anything to it.