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What are SARMs and what do they do?

Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, better known as SARMs, are the hottest topic in fitness circles for promising all the benefits of anabolic steroids – increased muscle mass and strength, faster recovery and improved performance – but with none of the potential side-effects, such as acne, mood swings, testicular shrinkage, low libido or fertility problems. Sounds good. Yet are SARMs yet another example of a fitness industry quick-fix solution that’s just too good to be true, asks New Body Plan’s Joe Warner

Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) have been gaining traction in fitness circles as the “cleaner” alternative to anabolic steroids. Designed to selectively target muscle and bone growth without the unwanted side effects, they represent a novel approach to performance enhancement. Yet, beneath this appeal, there are complex realities and potential pitfalls to consider. Keep reading our in-depth guide that sheds light on the science, applications, and the far-reaching implications of SARMs on your health and wellbeing.

TL;DR SARMs are a class of drugs designed to offer the muscle-building benefits of anabolic steroids without the accompanying downsides. They work by selectively binding to androgen receptors, resulting in targeted muscle growth. While promising, they’re not fully researched or regulated, meaning potential risks are still shrouded in uncertainty. The best, quickest and safest way to add more muscle and burn body fat is to increase testosterone naturally through prioritising quality sleep, weight training and a balanced, nutritious diet.

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What are SARMs and how do they work?

Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, better known by the abbreviation SARMs, are a fascinating development in the world of fitness and bodybuilding. Unlike traditional anabolic steroids, which have a wide-ranging impact on the body, SARMs are more focused, hence the term “selective.” They’re designed to target androgen receptors in your muscle and bone cells, stimulating growth without the wide-ranging hormone alterations anabolic steroids are known for. In other words, SARMS provide the growth and strength benefits without some of the unwanted side effects.

Yet, as promising as SARMs may sound, it’s essential to note that they’re still under investigation, and much of the touted benefits are primarily based on early clinical and pre-clinical trials. A quote from a paper published in the Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism states: “While SARMS (like S-22 and LGD-4033) have progressed to phase II clinical trials, the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and safety profiles of these compounds have not been fully elucidated.”

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Are SARMs legal?

In terms of legality, SARMs occupy a grey area. They’re not approved for medical use by the US Food and Drug Administration or the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Instead, SARMs are marketed and sold as “research chemicals.” This clever marketing technique skates around certain legal boundaries, but it also highlights their unregulated status.

Moreover, professional sports bodies including WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and IOC (International Olympic Committee) have banned their use, classifying them as performance-enhancing drugs. An article in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism says: “The use of SARMs by elite athletes has been banned by WADA since 2008. The common argument in support of their use is that they have anabolic effects on the muscle, but lesser virilizing effects on women.”

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What are the potential benefits of SARMs?

In the world of health and fitness, SARMs are often lauded for their muscle-building potential. The fact that they’re targeted to affect only muscle and bone cells means that they can enhance muscle mass and bone density without significantly affecting secondary sexual organs. This potential to boost physical capabilities without some of the infamous side effects associated with anabolic steroids makes them attractive to bodybuilders and athletes.

However, the science behind these claims is not yet rock solid. A paper from the Endocrine Reviews highlights this uncertainty: “While some SARMs have entered phase I and II clinical trials, the evidence base for the safety and efficacy of these drugs is still in its infancy, and many of the potential therapeutic applications of SARMs are still speculative and based on pre-clinical studies.”

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What are the potential risks of SARMs?

Despite their targeted mechanism of action, SARMs are not without risks. The lack of comprehensive research means that their long-term effects are still unclear. Known short-term side effects include liver damage, changes in mood, and cardiovascular risks. They can also suppress your body’s natural testosterone production, which requires careful management and post-cycle therapy to restore.

The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology provides a sobering reminder: “At present, SARMs are still in the early stages of development. It is anticipated that future clinical trials will address the safety and side effect profile of these compounds and their clinical utility.”

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Do SARMs have the same side effects as steroids?

SARMs were designed to minimise the side effects associated with anabolic steroids. That being said, they’re not entirely free of side-effects. Reported issues include mood swings, liver damage, and cardiovascular issues, all of which are also associated with anabolic steroids. Importantly, the suppression of natural testosterone production is a concern with SARMS, leading to a requirement for post-cycle therapy.

A sobering report in the JAMA states: “Among the users of SARMs in our study, we found that it produced similar side effects to other anabolic agents, including the potential for developing cancer and heart disease.”

Are SARMs better than steroids?

The term “better” is subjective and depends on the risk-to-benefit ratio you’re willing to accept. While SARMs may offer the possibility of fewer side effects, they lack extensive human trial data, making them a less understood choice.

An article from The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism underscores this: “Given the widespread illicit use of SARMs, their biological and clinical effects, including harm, are not yet fully understood.”

Can SARMs help with weight loss?

SARMs are not designed as weight loss aids. They are more about muscle and bone growth. However, some proponents suggest that by increasing lean muscle mass, SARMs can enhance your metabolic rate, leading to greater calorie burn and potential weight loss. But remember, this is an indirect effect and is not the primary aim of these drugs.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity: “Although these compounds may have potential benefits in terms of muscle growth and strength, their use for weight management should be approached with caution due to a lack of comprehensive safety data.”

Will SARMs help me build muscle?

Preliminary research suggests that SARMs can indeed increase muscle mass, which is why they’ve garnered interest in bodybuilding circles. However, whether they can improve muscle strength and athletic performance to the same extent as anabolic steroids is less clear.

As stated in Clinical Therapeutics: “Further clinical studies are necessary to explore the potential of SARMs as a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of muscle wasting and weakness.”

How much do SARMs cost?

Pricing for SARMs can vary widely, depending on factors like the specific compound, the seller’s reputation, and the product’s purity. As they’re marketed as unregulated research chemicals, the quality and safety of these products can’t be assured.

Should I take SARMs?

The decision to use them should not be taken lightly. While they are often presented as a safer alternative to anabolic steroids, SARMs are not fully understood or regulated. It’s important to consider the potential risks and benefits and to seek professional medical advice before starting any new supplement regimen.

As emphasised in the Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity: “SARMs are an emerging class of drugs, and with the use of any new, unregulated substances, the purity and safety of the product are questionable.”

5 scientific ways to build muscle without taking SARMs

Here’s how – according to science – you can boost your testosterone level the quick and natural way to make building lean muscle mass and burning stubborn body fat that much easier!

  1. Sleep well: Research in JAMA found that poor sleep can significantly lower testosterone levels. Strive for quality slumber.
  2. Exercise regularly: According to the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, resistance and high-intensity interval training can boost testosterone levels.
  3. Eat a balanced diet: Diets high in lean proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables can help maintain healthy testosterone levels, per research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  4. Mind your stress: Chronic stress can negatively affect hormone balance, including testosterone, according to a study in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity can lower testosterone levels. Research in Nature Reviews Endocrinology highlights the link between weight loss and increased testosterone levels.

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