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the use of peptides in bodybuilding: Cures, effects and risks

the use of peptides in bodybuilding: Cures, effects and risks


These drugs are often presented as a safe, legal alternative to the notorious anabolic steroids. And for many, they're the miracle solution to doping without getting caught, since detection of these products is much more difficult. Let's take a closer look.

What are peptides ?

These are molecules composed of several amino acids linked by peptide bonds. They are found in our bodies and in common protein foods. They can also be artificially manufactured in the laboratory. But when athletes talk about peptides to improve performance, they're really referring to the peptides used to stimulate the secretion of human growth hormone, not those found in food..

Why do athletes use peptides?

Studies (1) show that peptides increase levels of human growth hormone (HGH). Having more GH hormone in the body is positive for athletes, as it releases IGF-1, a "growth factor" (2) that triggers muscle growth and helps mobilize fat (3) and get rid of fat.

For bodybuilding, taking peptides helps you gain muscle and lose fat, which coincides perfectly with the goal of both recreational and competitive bodybuilders. And because peptides are more readily available and generally considered safe, they're a healthier, less risky alternative to steroids

Are peptides effective?

Research on these compounds rarely focuses on the effect on body composition and sports performance. Studies (4) show that peptides are effective in increasing GH and IGF-1 hormone levels in children suffering from short stature, that they help improve body composition in some obese people (6) and that they also have beneficial effects in seniors who have suffered an injury (5). However, it's hard to see how any of these findings can be applied to healthy young people looking to stimulate fat loss and muscle growth using peptides.

A few studies (7) have examined the effect of peptides on healthy people, and although the results seem favorable, they are difficult to extrapolate to athletes.

All these findings are undeniably promising, but they tell us nothing about how peptides affect young people who work out regularly. What's more, numerous studies report undesirable side effects from taking peptides, including increased sweating, hot sensations, muscle soreness, water retention, sleep disturbances and increased cortisol and prolactin. Interestingly, two other common side effects are increased appetite (8) and decreased insulin sensitivity, both of which could potentially undermine your efforts to lose weight.

The legality of peptides is also unclear. The law prohibits the sale of peptides as dietary supplements, but authorizes their sale for research purposes. As a result, the majority of peptides you see for sale online never end up in a laboratory. Instead, they end up in the bags of bodybuilders and athletes who want "more muscle and less fat". For many, the peptide market is a risky bet that you shouldn't take if you're serious about your health.

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Side effects of peptides

Most studies (9) suggest that peptides can be used safely in the short term, but we have little data on their long-term safety.

Athletes and bodybuilders who use injectable peptides base their claims on rodent studies and testimonials from practitioners on the Internet, particularly on specialized forums. Often, peptides are coupled with SARMs, although these are a different class of supplements with unrelated mechanisms of action. Synthetic peptides are generally less risky than SARMs when it comes to side effects, but they can still cause effects comparable to taking GH hormone, such as water retention, headaches and reduced insulin sensitivity.

The biggest risk with SARMs, as with synthetic peptides, is that nobody knows where these compounds come from when ordering online. Technically, chances are you're not really getting what you ordered. Without making it a blanket statement, many supplement companies claim they sell the "best peptides for bodybuilding", but this is often just marketing.

Using peptides: natural or doped ?

The use of peptides for bodybuilding has sparked much debate in the fitness community, as the categorization of these substances as "performance-enhancing drugs" is open to interpretation. Many natural athletes believe that taking peptides is equivalent to using anabolic steroids. For them, you're going over to the dark side. But many bodybuilders argue that certain peptides - which work by increasing the body's endogenous production of growth hormone - cannot be considered products that cause an athlete to lose natural status. For them, technically, it's not the same as injecting HGH or IGF-1..

In any case, the use of synthetic growth hormones is not authorized by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Almost all natural bodybuilding organizations have also banned these peptides.

What to use instead of peptides ?

If you want to take supplements with proven efficacy and no negative side effects, here's what's recommended when the goal is to gain muscle and lose fat:

1 - Consume enough protein, and whey. You should consume 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day. This gives your body what it needs to build and repair muscle, and help you recover perfectly from your workouts. Whey protein is useful for supplementing your intake. It's also a special kind of protein, stimulating anabolism and stopping muscle catabolism. It also stimulates production of the growth hormone IGF-1, a powerful anabolic hormone.

2 - Use creatine. Creatine will enable you to train much harder than usual, resulting in additional muscle gains. Studies (10) have shown that creatine acts on the secretion of growth hormone. This explains, among other things, its indirect action on muscle gain. For the dose, 3 to 5 grams of creatine per day will stimulate muscle and strength gains, and reduce muscle damage and soreness caused by your intensive workouts.

3 - Opt for fat burners. Use fat burners like caffeine to increase the number of calories you burn and also your strength, muscular endurance and performance. Also consider yohimbine, which effectively increases fat loss.

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AuthorAlexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his bodybuilding experience with MegaGear blog readers

Posted in: Steroid profile