In a world that is evidently becoming less “natty” by the minute, it has come to my attention that people are constantly looking for NEW shortcuts for gains, and SARMS are starting to be the next big thing. In fact, word on the street is that SARMs are safe, have virtually no side effects, and most importantly, they’ll get you those GAINS!!!
Well, just like most things, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! So, let’s take an in-depth, UNBIASED look at SARMs, discuss their benefits and risks, and be sure to stay tuned until the very end, because I will be sharing my own opinion on whether or not I think they’re worth the risk.
What Exactly Are SARMs?
For those of you who don’t know, SARMs are a group of compounds called Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, and they’re essentially DRUGS that are structurally very similar to anabolic steroids…Which should tell you something!!! But like I said… I will remain unbiased… for now.
As of today, there are quite a few types SARMs on the market, and unlike prohormones, they’re currently legal for over-the-counter purchase. As for research on SARMS, well… it has been very limited so far but it definitely looks promising. They appear to help build muscle & strength, accelerate fat loss and increase overall sports performance to a level comparable to steroids, but without as many side effects. Now, although the majority of studies have been performed on rodents, SARMs are still an interesting subject that merits discussion.
How Do SARMs Work & How Do They Compare To Steroids?
To understand how SARMs work, we first have to briefly look at how hormones function in the human body. Imagine, if you will, hormones are chemical messengers. They help carry messages from cell to cell, successfully establishing communication among them. These messages are usually vital instructions and commands and as they reach their target-cell, the instructions are carried out. Simple, right?
ANDROGENS are hormones that are associated with masculinity. They regulate the development and maintenance of MALE characteristics by binding to androgen receptors in the body, and perhaps the most commonly known androgen is testosterone. When you introduce anabolic steroids like testosterone to your body, with testosterone being a hormone, all of the following three things are going to happen to a different extent:
- The testosterone will bind to your cells’ androgen receptors.
- It will be converted to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which also binds to androgen receptors.
- Some of it will be converted to the female hormone, estradiol, which is essentially estrogen and binds to your cells’ estrogen receptors.
And here’s the English translation – Introducing steroid-like hormones like testosterone to your system will bring about anabolic, androgenic AND some estrogenic effects. But what you want exclusively the most is the anabolic effects! Those lead to increased muscle protein synthesis which results in more muscle growth and accelerated fat loss. What you don’t want are their androgenic and estrogenic effects. This is because the androgenic part of steroids is responsible for accelerated hair growth, man boobs, acne, and other side affects you probably don’t want.
The other serious concern with steroids is the strong possibility of side effects even in low and controlled dosages. This is why I get so MAD when people say “if you do it right…steroids are safe”. The truth is any side effects can happen at any level of usage, and these side effects may include high blood pressure, progression of heart disease, increased LDL cholesterol, mood swings, hair loss, sexual dysfunction and liver cirrhosis, just to name a few. That’s usually why people ultimately decide steroids are not worth the risk.
They simply don’t want to risk EVERYTHING just to get SOME gains that are not even permanent because YOU WILL LOSE MOST OF YOUR GAINS when your stop injecting. And while some of these side effects are reversible, some of them are not and you can easily end up dead, or needing Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) for the rest of your life.
But the main reason steroids are usually deemed unfit for our health is their dangerous by-products, namely the DHT and estrogen-like compounds and that’s where SARMs come in. The issue with steroids is that they have an anabolic-to-androgenic ratio of 1:1. SARMs, on the other hand, promise the same anabolic results that steroids bring to the table, without the androgenic adverse effects. This is because they selectively bind only to muscle and bone cell receptors and they’re not easily converted to DHT or estrogen, which are the main drivers of many unwanted effects of steroid use. Sounds amazing, right? Well, let’s keep digging!
What Different SARMs Are There?
Let’s talk about some of the most popular SARMS currently on the market as there are quite a few, with some of them being more powerful, meaning there is a higher risk of encountering unwanted side effects with them, while some are much weaker.
The most popular SARMs right now are:
- Ostarine (MK-2866 or GTx-024)
- Cardarine (GW-501516)
- Andarine (GSX-007 or S-4)
- Ligandrol or Anabolicum (LGD-4033)
Why the strange alphanumeric names? Well, SARMs haven’t been approved for medical use, so pharmaceutical marketers haven’t bothered naming them yet. And with that being said, let’s take a quick look at each of them.
Ostarine is the by far the most studied SARM, and studies actually found some powerful results. Not only did it help people gain muscle and lose fat without exercising, but the side effects were pretty much non-existent. There was some testosterone suppression reported, but not to a meaningful degree. Some studies also found a link between Ostarine and treating cancer patients, but the results are still premature.
All of the studies regarding Cardarine are performed on rodents, and no human studies exist currently. With that said, researchers found Cardarine to be excellent at burning fat while preserving muscle, in rats. The side effects were, again, insignificant.
Andarine or S4 was one of the first, if not the first SARM on the market, and it’s usually stacked with other SARMs. Its biggest side effect is visual abnormality, and that’s because it actually binds to certain receptors in your eye cells which can cause altered color perception and nighttime blindness. That’s why Andarine is not usually the first choice for people looking to gain some muscle.
Ligandrol is one of the better studied SARMS, and exactly like Ostarine, it shows promising results judging from human trials. It has been shown to increase muscle and bone mass as well as sex drive without damaging the liver or the prostate. It doesn’t seem to offer any fat loss benefits on its own, and that’s why most people stack it with Ostarine. High dosages of Ligandrol have been shown to suppress natural hormone production, hence people with low-T levels tend to skip this one altogether.
After hearing that, you probably think you are you ready to buy your first bottle of SARMs, but don’t be hasty because it’s time to talk about the PROBLEM with SARMs.
The Problem With SARMs
The main problem with SARMs is quite frankly, there’s really no sufficient research. The studies do indeed offer some promising results, but there are no long-term human studies. Unfortunately, we just don’t know enough about how they work and their potential long-term side effects, which is a very legitimate cause for concern. SARMs were not even initially intended for human use and most people willing to try them, actually have to purchase them for “experimental research only” as, once again, they are not meant for human consumption. Having said that, they might be legal, but they are certainly not allowed in most competitive sports, and they can actually get you banned if you’re tested positive for them.
Furthermore, like steroids, the more SARMs you use, the more side effects you are bound to experience. Acne, hair loss, testosterone suppression and other side effects associated with steroid use are still very possible with SARMs, especially if you are not using small dosages. Also, the issue with steroids and steroid-like drugs is that they are ADDICTIVE. It’s very difficult to stick to “small” dosages when you start experiencing their anabolic benefits. You’re going to start yourself in the mirror looking bigger, more ripped, and you’re going to want to take more.
Another concern that I have with SARMs is the substantial cancer growth that rodents experienced in several studies. Of course, humans are not rodents, but as long as there are no long-term studies on SARMs and cancer, I think it would be ill-advised to use them as bodybuilding supplements. Remember, cancer is a mutation of your cells, and whenever you take a drug that is going to enhance your cells, you’re also enhancing these types of mutations.
Finally, since you can get SARMs everywhere now, I should address this as well. A lot of supplement companies have started selling SARMs, and the main issue is that SARMs are not qualified or quantified substances, meaning you don’t really know what’s in the bottle you purchased, or which China lab it came from. With unregulated substances like SARMs, there is always the possibility that you are buying a powder or a pill that looks like Ostarine, but is in fact Clenbuterol or Trenbolone which is pretty frightening because you don’t know what you’re putting in your body. So it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the risk.
Pros VS Cons
SARMs are steroid-like compounds that are not as effective as steroids but certainly far more potent than common supplements like creatine or beta alanine. They also seem to have minimal side effects, but the actual research is far from indicative, or remotely final.
- Steroid-Like Anabolic Results
- Minimal Short-Term Side Effects
- Easy To Recover From
- Minimal Conversion to DHT & Estrogen
- Not As Potent As Steroids
- Unknown Long-term Side Effects
- Potential Cause For Cancer
- Lose Your Gains As Soon As You Lay Off Them
Also, keep in mind, the extend of the potential side effects (and benefits), actually depends on dosage, type of SARM your using, your genetic factors, overall nutrition, age, sex, etc..
So now that you are armed with this information, as always, the choice is yours. But remember, anytime you attempt Biohacking, there always carries a risk with it, especially if you’re trying cutting-edge drugs like SARMs. Even if the gains ARE GREAT, they are still temporary and will go away when you stop taking them. That’s how the human body works. It retains the muscle mass it NEEDS and when you stop taking chemicals and hormones that TRICK your body into building muscle, it simply doesn’t have a need for all that muscle mass anymore. Also, when you stay natural, you keep your gains forever.
So, unless you plan on taking SARMS for the rest of your life, I’d stick with being NATTY FOR LIFE. That’s where the meaningful gains are, and more importantly, that’s where the core values of health and fitness are. In my opinion, the risks of using SARMs far outweigh the benefits, and they’re just not necessary to build a muscular, strong, and lean body that you can be proud of.