Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among bodybuilders and athletes looking to enhance their physiques and performance. SARMs are synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of testosterone and other anabolic steroids by binding to androgen receptors in the body, which can stimulate muscle growth.
Currently, SARMs are not legal for sale as dietary supplements in the US, and little is known about their long-term safety or side effects.
This article will provide an overview of what SARMs are, why people use them, whether they work, and the potential dangers associated with their use.
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What are SARMs?
They are drugs that act on the androgen receptor, the biological target of the body’s natural male sex hormones (androgens) like testosterone. While anabolic steroids exhibit their effects throughout the entire body, SARMs are designed to selectively target the androgen receptors in specific tissues like muscle and bone.
SARMs were originally developed by pharmaceutical companies to treat problems like muscle wasting and osteoporosis. Research showed promise in developing SARMs that could provide the benefits of anabolic steroids, like increased muscle mass, without the unwanted side effects. However, no SARMs have been approved for medical use yet.
Among these, Andarine Powder (S4 SARM) is a specific formulation of the Andarine compound, gaining popularity due to its purported benefits in muscle growth and bone density enhancement. Other popular SARMs sold online include Testolone (RAD-140), Ostarine (MK-2866), and Ligandrol (LGD-4033).
However, currently, SARMs are only being sold for laboratory use or research purposes and are not approved for human consumption.
Why Do People Use SARMs?
SARMs are primarily used by athletes and bodybuilders to rapidly build muscle, improve strength, boost endurance, enhance performance, and speed up recovery time. They are also sometimes used for weight loss, as certain SARMs may help burn fat.
The targeted action on specific muscles and tissues is said to allow SARMs to provide anabolic, muscle-building effects similar to or better than steroids but without the unwanted side effects.
Some additional purported benefits of SARMs include:
- Increases in lean muscle mass
- Decreased body fat
- Enhanced strength
- Improved athletic performance
- Faster recovery from exercise
- Healing benefits for muscles and bones
Do SARMs Actually Work?
There is some evidence that certain SARMs may help increase muscle mass and physical performance. However, most research showing muscle-building effects has been limited to animal studies and small, short-term human trials. More extensive, long-term human studies are needed to determine if SARMs work as well as claimed, especially when taken for prolonged periods.
Some key points on the effectiveness of SARMs:
- Results vary widely among different SARMs. Each has a unique profile of effects and side effects.
- Muscle-building effects appear modest compared to traditional steroids but may be similar to lower doses of testosterone.
- Optimal dosing, cycling protocols, and long-term effects are largely unknown.
- Muscle gains achieved during a SARM cycle are likely not fully maintainable after discontinuing use.
- Some SARMs may help preserve muscle mass better than others during calorie restriction.
- Performance-enhancing effects like increased strength and stamina have not been well-substantiated in humans yet.
In summary, SARMs may help build some muscle, but the effects can be subtle and likely do not match the dramatic muscle gains achieved with steroids. Much more research is still needed to understand their effectiveness.
Are SARMs Safe?
Despite being marketed as safe, selective alternatives to steroids, SARMs do carry risks of side effects. Since they are unapproved drugs, the full safety profile of SARMs is unknown. Potential side effects include:
- Testosterone suppression – SARMs may suppress natural testosterone production. This can negatively impact fertility and sexual function.
- Liver toxicity – Some SARMs may cause damage to the liver or liver failure at high doses.
- Increased LDL cholesterol – Bad cholesterol levels can rise, increasing heart disease risk.
- Suppressed HDL cholesterol – Levels of good cholesterol may decrease.
- Vision issues – Some SARMs are associated with vision problems like yellow tints or night blindness.
- Aggression and mood changes – Irritability, anxiety, and depression have been reported.
- Hair loss and skin changes – Acne and hair loss are possible side effects.
- Suppressed immune system – SARMs may weaken the immune system, increasing illness risk.
- Unknown long-term effects – The long-term impact of SARMs on health and hormones is unknown.
Are There Safer Alternatives?
For those looking to build muscle, improve athletic performance, or enhance their physique, there are safer alternatives to SARMs available:
- Weight training – Progressive resistance training is essential for muscle growth. Ensuring a proper training program optimized for hypertrophy (muscle growth) can help maximize gains naturally.
- Nutrition – Consuming enough protein (around 0.5-0.8g per lb of body weight) and calories in a slight surplus is key for building muscle mass. Time protein intake and carbohydrate consumption appropriately around workouts.
- Rest and recovery – Allowing enough rest between intense training sessions and getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours per night) enables the body to recover and build muscle fully.
- Legal supplements – Products like creatine monohydrate, caffeine, beta-alanine, and citrulline malate can provide pre-workout energy, endurance, strength, and muscle-building benefits legally and more safely than SARMs.
- Testosterone (with medical supervision) – Under a doctor’s care, testosterone therapy may help some people (with clinically low testosterone) gain muscle mass and strength safely and effectively.
The risks of SARMs outweigh any potential benefits they may provide over safer muscle-building options. Natural training, nutrition, rest, and legal supplements should form the foundation for improving physique and performance.
Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are a class of investigational drugs currently being studied for a variety of potential therapeutic applications, including muscle wasting and osteoporosis. SARMs are similar to anabolic steroids, but they are thought to be more selective and have fewer side effects.
SARMs are still in the early stages of development, and more research is needed to understand their long-term safety and efficacy fully. However, SARMs have the potential to be a valuable tool for researchers and clinicians.