Wondering about prohormones? Don’t have enough info on them? We help change that by giving you the most vital info you’ll ever want to know about prohormones.
When you think of classic weightlifting and bodybuilding, where does your mind go?
If you’re like most, steroids are likely not far from your mind. Despite the wave of natural bodybuilding in recent years, old-school bodybuilding, and huge muscle gain linger. They often go hand-in-hand with the dangerous and illegal steroid use that was once, and in some cases still is, common. What you may be less familiar with is the family of closely related supplements, prohormones.
Though it may be easy to confuse with classic anabolic steroids, prohormones describes a standalone supplement worth brushing up on if you’re not familiar with it. When you think classic steroids, you’re likely envisioning huge rapid muscle growth and out-of-this-world gains and stamina. Indeed, this is a hallmark of steroid use, as they act in the body as synthetic testosterone – the mecca of muscle gain.
Using steroids amps up the body’s natural ability to gain muscle, shed fat and increase stamina. Of course, with these perks, come dangerous side effects. That’s what has led to their banning. Enter, prohormones.
Before moving into all you need to know about the details and function, as well as the safety concerns of prohormones, though, we need to make clear the differences between anabolic steroids and prohormones.
The sad fact is that many may be confused or are unaware of the distinction between the two classes.
Steroids Vs. Prohormones
When it comes to ways to ramp up your muscle gain and boost your strength and stamina, there are a few options. While classic anabolic steroids act as a hormone in the body, and other supplements known as boosters simply prompt the body to boost its production of testosterone, prohormones are in a class of their own.
Thanks to the unique way they function in our bodies.
Prohormones were first put out into the bodybuilding supplement world in 1996. A chemist named Patrick Arnold was behind it. At first, prohormones were introduced as a safer, cheaper and legal version of classic anabolic steroids. Since bursting onto the scene, various types of prohormones have been released.
The one that caught the most praise and attention was prohormone 1-AD. This converted to 1-testosterone in the body. In other words, the prohormone resulted in muscle-gain effects about equal to that from old-school steroids. Hence the eyes and ears of the bodybuilding world were fixed closely on these products.
It’s vital to make clear that while prohormones are really neither strictly hormones nor steroids on their own, they certainly play a role in our bodies as a steroid. Make no mistake about that. They fall under the umbrella of a steroid, though they differ from the banned anabolic steroids you might be thinking of.
How Do Prohormones Work?
The way prohormones work in your body is fairly simple. They act to complement existing hormones (such as testosterone) in your system. In essence, prohormones ramp up the effects of naturally occurring hormones in your system. They themselves are not hormones on their own. In fact, they have a very small hormonal effect.
You can think of them as a natural boost to existing hormones in your body. For insulin, there is a proinsulin. For testosterone, there is a pro-testosterone. Prohormones simply boost the already existing hormones found in your system. This translates into such desired effects as amplified muscle growth, strength, fat burning abilities and stamina.
Make no mistake, the only major difference between steroids and prohormones is that they don’t introduce new hormones. Instead, they play off those already in the system. When a bodybuilder takes a prohormone, it is enzymatically converted to anabolic hormones. This, in turn, raises the levels of muscle-increasing hormones, like testosterone, in the body.
Since more testosterone equals a greater ability for your body to burn fat and build muscle, this two-step process of taking prohormones leads to muscle gains that wouldn’t be possible to achieve without this boost. There is the option of choosing prohormones in pill, capsule, patch or liquid form.
Are Prohormones Legal?
Prohormones emerged on the scene in large part as an alternative to the almost always illegal anabolic hormones we’ve all heard of. The industry tried to bring in a legal choice after anabolic steroids became widely banned (although now many of the original prohormones are also off limits).
The idea was that instead of injecting your body with a straight dose of a hormone, prohormones could simply boost those hormones already in circulation, thus having the same effect, but hopefully skirting around the legal red tape. For years, they did. In 2004 though, George W. Bush signed into law the Anabolic Steroid Control Act. This made the supplements illegal as well.
This act in effect outlawed all designer steroids and prohormones. With many of the supplements bodybuilders relied on outlawed overnight, it would seem the world of prohormones was over. But, the situation is a complex one. It was not as black and white as it may have seemed. The industry itself is fraught with loopholes. New products are always being released and ways exist to still allow the use of certain types of prohormones that have not been deemed illegal.
In the last 10 years, many changes and developments have occurred. That’s resulted in certain options remaining on the market. They are surprisingly effective, 100% legal and cheap to obtain. This means prohormones certainly remain popular options with many to this day. While most steroids and prohormones are off limits, the next wave of prohormones hit the market after the changes in 2004.
Though the landscape of the prohormone is ever changing as new products are released and others fall by the wayside or get banned, some types of prohormone will almost certainly always be available if the current options are any sign. Yes, that’s despite the 2004 act that at first seemed to spell the end of the field.
Since the changes in 2004 and the later banning of certain new products that were deemed too potent to be safe, the quality of prohormones can be iffy.
The higher quality, stronger versions are often banned.
Are They For You?
Despite being widely lauded by the bodybuilding world for their indisputable muscle growth effects, prohormones, like any supplement or addition you bring into your body, come with a laundry list of side effects as well. The classic side effects caused by prohormones range from pesky to severe. They can cause everything from acne, gyno or increased breast tissue enlargement, to hair loss, mood swings or even liver damage, as they’re processed through the liver.
To understand why prohormones can have the unwanted side effects they often do, it’s crucial to understand how they are received and processed in the body once taken. In a nutshell, we each have multiple receptors in our bodies that prohormones are processed through.
The three are androgenic, estrogenic and progestogenic.
Prohormones, just like classic anabolic steroids, mostly affects the androgen receptor in the body. This leads to an increase of alpha male symptoms and characteristics. For the purposes of putting on muscle, this is a good thing. It spells a heightened ability to gain muscle, strength and a hardening of muscle. All are core reasons for taking prohormones in the first place and all desired by bodybuilders.
But with heightened effects of the male hormone testosterone also comes the potential for hair loss, acne, aggression and unwanted symptoms. These can range in harshness simply depending on the person and their preexisting health conditions.
In addition to being received by the androgen receptors in the body, prohormones have an impact on the two other receptors in the body, estrogen, and progesterone. It is within this realm that the dreaded negative side effects most link with prohormones, or classic steroids can rear their ugly heads. Most notably, it’s in regards to the estrogenic side effects. While all prohormones have an androgenic effect, others will still also run the risk of providing a mixed bag of estrogenic/progestogenic side effects as well. That’s despite working mainly on the androgen receptor.
Because of these complex side effects and potential risks, frequent users of prohormones will often go through a process known as post cycle therapy. This is when they attempt to negate or at least offset these negative effects by boosting their natural hormone levels back to normal states and flushing out the liver to negate toxins.
Prohormones are not only hepatoxic (liver damaging), but they can also spell disaster for your lipid panel. Those with preexisting conditions of any sort will no doubt only face more severe consequences from taking them. But, even the healthiest of lifters and bodybuilders have to take caution to undergo post cycle therapy and other techniques to balance the body after the impacts of prohormones have kicked in. The most basic description of post cycle therapy is a period following the consumption of taking prohormones when a bodybuilder will give their system a chance to reset.
Since taking prohormones boosts the amount of testosterone, having this artificial flooding of the hormone can in time signal to your body that its quota has been met. As a result, the natural process of making testosterone can come grinding to a halt. If this is continued long term, it can be a real concern.
Your body becomes acclimated to the artificial testosterone supply and more or less ceases to create a natural supply of its own.
What About When Stop Working?
As soon as 24 to 48 hours after a cycle of prohormones is discontinued, the effects you experienced while taking them will quickly come to a halt. This means that the beneficial anabolic or androgenic effects will cease as well. Many new lifters will assume their body will naturally pick up where the progress left off. But, as discussed, the natural testosterone process will have likely been all by shut down. That means a PCT is needed when building muscle or general.
The basic goals during a PCT are to recover proper levels of testosterone, keep estrogen levels at bay, reduce cortisol, restore overall health and minimize fat gain. More side effects that can rear their ugly heads post-prohormone use are raised cholesterol levels, blood pressure issues, headaches, dizziness and more.
Younger bodybuilders and weightlifters are more at risk to suffer the consequences of prohormones.
Their effects can harm their younger bodies. Those under 19 years of age should always steer clear of the supplements.
To be extra cautious, many experts warn that those under 21 are at a heightened risk. Since they mess with the body’s endocrine system, younger bodybuilders can suffer more severe and irreversible damage if they get into the prohormone habit too soon. Other experts tend to advise even greater caution, saying no one under the age of 25 should risk taking prohormones, as endocrine systems can still be developing at this age.
Who Should Steer Clear?
While some sites and bodybuilding communities might say otherwise, the general belief is that any negative side effect of prohormones will typically be even more severe for a woman than a man. Most experts, for this reason, strongly advise against a female bodybuilder using prohormones to increase muscle gain.
By boosting the presence of male hormones whether via traditional steroids or prohormones, women are likely to experience greater negative side effects. Women should always consult with a doctor before considering using them.
Further, anyone suffering from existing conditions like heart disease, liver or kidney issues, or diabetes should always work closely with a doctor before starting any sort of prohormone regimen. This isn’t an all-inclusive list of the types of people who should stay away from using prohormones.
We’re all unique. As a result, you should talk with your doctor to be sure it’s safe for you before you start taking any prohormones. From there, do your research. Above all else, don’t forget that this won’t replace hard work and long-term commitment to your health.
By Emily Schneider-Green
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I know everyone is looking for an edge. But relying on “loopholes” to get safe, effective supplements? In an industry already fraught with junk? Definitely not for me…
Well the one who are not sure about taking prohormones can consult a doctor or physician and then decide the worth. If anyone has use then then take their review because no one can tell you the best results rather who has used it.