The release of Body Beast has many of us thinking big — literally. And that vision can’t possibly be conjured in this day and age without thinking of one big, dirty word: steroids.

In this society of instant gratification, we’re all looking for that “magic pill” that will help us achieve our dreams overnight. Who doesn’t want to lose fat, add muscle, and get into shape pronto?

But when not administered by a doctor specifically for medical purposes, it’s best to avoid steroids altogether.

Many people believe steroids are an elixir. Well, they’re not. While it’s true that they can work for those looking to grow muscle and improve performance, they can do so at the expense of your overall health.

Unless you live in a cave, you know major athletes in almost every sport have been caught abusing steroids. Consequently, they’ve been stripped of their athletic honors. The reason for this is, unless you have a medical prescription, they’re illegal.

Steroids can be dangerous if abused. When you buy them from Joe Ripped at your local gym you just don’t know what you’re getting.

In the context of this article, the word “steroids” is actually a colloquialism for a group of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs). It covers a broad range, from pain-masking corticosteroids to synthetic hormones that stimulate testosterone, to blood boosters that alter how your blood carries oxygen, to bizarre substances that trigger myriad physiological responses.

While this might all sound great, there is a catch.

Unlike food supplements that work through the body’s natural pathways, steroids are hard drugs. This means they force processes on your body, which elicit natural responses. That can lead to trouble.

Even under medical supervision they are tricky to use. Without it, you’re starting a battle between nature and medicine inside your body over which you have little control.

Why You Should Avoid Taking Steroids

If you’re not already convinced, let’s take a deeper look at five reasons to say no.

1. Steroids Abuse Can Cause Serious Health Problems

Steroids can cause hormone imbalances that lead to depression and irritability, joint problems, muscle tears, and much more. They can also cause gender- and age-specific damage.

Men commonly suffer from shrunken testicles, premature baldness, and glandular gynecomastia (man boobs). Women often suffer from a deepened voice, growth of facial hair, baldness, cessation of menstrual cycle, infertility, and other unwanted side effects.

Teens Are Especially at Risk from Steroids
Need more reasons to avoid steroids? Teenagers may suffer the gender-related side effects listed above, as well as stunted growth due to accelerated puberty and premature skeletal maturation.

More recent studies have linked anabolic steroid abuse to an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and altered brain chemistry, which could lead to drug addiction.

The real scary part is that since new steroids come to market regularly, many of the side effects aren’t well known.

The average life span of wrestlers and NFL linemen — two professions anecdotally linked with long-term steroid abuse — is around 50 years. Based on lore alone, the dangers of steroid abuse clearly outweigh any potential benefits.

2. Steroids Are Illegal (Without a Prescription)

Ever since the passage of the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, steroids have been federally classified as controlled substances that may be prescribed for the treatment of diseases or other recognized medical conditions.

Provisions were added to the Anabolic Steroid Control Act in 2004 to change the definition of anabolic steroids and make them a Schedule III narcotic.

Using steroids without a legitimate medical condition is considered abuse. Illegal possession of anabolic steroids is punishable by unlimited fines and years in prison.

But it’s not all bad. At least you’ll have an hour in the yard every day to pump iron, as long as you stay out of solitary.

And another 23 hours to wonder why you didn’t simply avoid steroids in the first place.

3. Black Market Steroids May Be Lethal

The risks are high enough when you know exactly what you’re taking. Rolling the dice with black market steroids is a game of Russian roulette.

Sure, your buddy Alexi may bench 700 pounds, but do you really want to trust him as your doctor?

Black Market Steroids Might Not Even Be Steroids
If you’re thinking of obtaining your steroids illegally, consider this: An analysis released in 2009 by the Boston Medical Center evaluated the findings of 217 studies that examined the chemical composition of black market steroids and found that 30 percent of the drugs labeled as steroids did not actually contain any steroids.

Of those that did, only 44 percent contained the amount touted on the label. And 20 percent included heavy metals such as tin, lead, and arsenic. That’s why it’s easy for us to say that excepting legit medical cases, it’s best to avoid steroids altogether.

4. Healthy Supplements Can Increase Muscle Mass Similar to Steroids Without Dangerous Side Effects

Let’s make one thing clear: Supplements and steroids are two entirely different things.

Supplements are largely nutrient-based substances intended to enhance your body’s health and well being. Steroids are drugs designed to alter your body’s processes with the intent of disrupting the normal production of hormones, and consequences that can be irreversible.

Safe Performance Supplements
Supplements such as creatine, arginine, and beta-alanine are just a few of the nutrients scientifically proven to improve strength, recovery, and lean-muscle gains. While they aren’t the magic pill that many regard steroids as being, they have been tested rigorously and are completely safe when manufactured responsibly.

Reputable companies such as Beachbody make sure their supplements are manufactured in facilities registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they adhere to current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs), they are certified by the Natural Products Association (NPA), and they are screened for athletic banned substances.

Protein supplementation and post-exercise carbs: Protein mixtures for recovery are another safe way to build mass.

Numerous studies support this. These include a 2008 McMaster University studydemonstrating that drinking whey protein pre- and post-workout increased muscle density and strength especially when combined with a safe, effective mass-building program.

5. You don’t need to use anabolic steroids to gain muscle and lose fat

This is something Beachbody programs have proven time and time again. Practically anyone can improve their health and build their physique by improving their diet and increasing exercise intensity. Are you ready to challenge yourself and pack on some serious muscle?

Body Beast is an extreme training and nutrition program designed to build muscle fast without resorting to the abuse of dangerous, illegal drugs.

There is plenty of scientific evidence that even people with poor genetics can achieve good health, an excellent physique, and greater athletic performance through smart training, solid nutrition, and strategic use of supplements.

And if your body doesn’t change to extreme measures, your behavior will for sure’ don’t become an asshole.

When considering all of this, the rule is simple — avoid steroids.

A true love for sports

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