"To be, or not to be" is the famous opening line of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. And in the fitness world, we could say something like “to be natty, or not to be natty.”
However, that's not the only dilemma gym-goers are facing, especially those who aren't experienced.
Many wonder whether muscle-building supplements are the same or similar to steroids and if they will stop being natty due to the consumption of protein, pre-workout, and creatine.
I intend to put that discussion to bed once and for all in this article.
Table of Contents
Do Pre-Workout Supplements Count As A Steroid?
Some bodybuilders believe that even if you use supplements to improve performance, you are not natural. I don't share their opinion.
One scoop of whey is similar to eating a steak, and pre-workout is like a double espresso or big coffee. So I don't see how that makes you less natty.
Anyway, neither mine nor their opinion matters. What is important is the stance of regulatory bodies, such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Their list of banned substances does not include pre-workout supplements.
There are pre-workouts, namely, Dark Energy, that contain DMAA, an amphetamine derivative, and such products are banned.
Learn More - What is DMAA Pre-Workout?
You should always be careful and read what a pre-workout supplement contains, or you can potentially get into trouble.
For example, Bucked Up pre-workout contains deer antler velvet extract. IGF-1, a hormone that influences growth hormone (GH), is present in deer velvet.
This makes it unsuitable for military personnel. Although it is not an anabolic steroid, certain organizations have their own rules.
Nevertheless, those are isolated examples, and most pre-workouts are both safe and won't make you fail a drug test.
Consumption of the most famous pre-workouts, including C4 pre-workout, Gorilla Mode, DSN pre-workout, and Transparent Labs BULK, carry no risk for healthy adults.
Learn More About - Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout Review
Do Pre-Workouts Have Similar Side Effects As Steroids?
Will pre-workouts act as a steroid-like supplement? No, they don’t. Side effects of most pre-workouts are limited just to beta-alanine tingle and caffeine jitters.
On the other hand, steroids may cause various dangerous medical conditions, both physical and psychological. It is important to know that steroids and anabolic steroids are not the same.
However, the term steroid is often used for medicines that are actually anabolic steroids, so I want to clarify things.
Steroids Vs Anabolic Steroids & Their Side Effects
Steroid, or corticosteroid, is an umbrella term for anti-inflammatory medicines, and most of them do not cause significant side effects. They are often prescribed.
Unlike steroids, anabolic steroids have limited medical use and are primarily used as performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
They are banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), as well as in most, if not all, pro sports leagues.
Anabolic steroids have similar effects as testosterone, a male sex hormone, and therefore affect natural testosterone levels, which may lead to shrunken testicles, among other things.
Infertility, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, gynecomastia, increased risk of cancer, and acne are just some of the frequent side effects.
Many pre-workout supplements are advertised as testosterone boosters, but they cannot affect testosterone levels the way anabolic steroids can.
Pre-workouts contain zinc and some other natural testosterone boosters.
Still, the difference in the amount of free testosterone in the blood before and after consumption is very small, so consequently, there are no side effects.
Learn More - Hair Loss, Acne, Erectile Dysfunction (Common Pre-Workout Side Effect And How To Deal With Them)
Legal Supplements That Are Closest To Steroids
No legal supplement can cause changes in your body, both positive and negative, like anabolic steroids.
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) have the most similar anabolic properties as steroids but with fewer side effects.
However, SARMs are also banned, so you can use them and compete in official competitions.
So-called legal steroids or workout steroids are becoming more and more popular for increasing muscle mass and to improve strength training results.
Still, legal steriod is just a fancy name for a mix of minerals, vitamins, and similar substances.
Fortunately, many natural supplements will help you with building lean mass, focus, endurance, pump, energy, and busting through the gym plateau without causing health problems.
I will mention the supplements that work best, and we should not forget BCAAs, mass gainers, and fat burners as well.
Learn More - BCAA Vs Pre-Workout Comparison
Pre-workouts combine many different ingredients, the most common of which are caffeine, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, and betaine anhydrous.
In addition, they often contain BCAAs, creatine, and many other herbs and proprietary blends.
Each of these ingredients should help you get through your workout.
For example, caffeine gives you energy and focus, L-citrulline is a vasodilator – substance that stimulates nitric oxide production thus improving blood flow and muscle pumps, beta-alanine reduces fatigue, and so on.
Recommendation | Our #1 Pre-Workout
Protein is a molecule made up of amino acids and is one of the three macronutrients. It is essential for many functions in the human body, one of which is building muscle mass.
Whey protein powder is the best option because you will find all nine essential amino acids in it.
Vegan proteins have an incomplete amino acid profile and are, therefore, inferior to whey.
Whey protein is best in combination with a proper diet, so pay attention to what food you eat on a daily basis.
Learn More - Protein Powder Vs Pre-Workout
There are different types of creatine, but I usually recommend creatine monohydrate to my clients since most clinical trials have been conducted on it.
Creatine monohydrate, in general, is one of the most comprehensively researched supplements.
It will help you build muscle mass faster by improving your strength and physical performance. That is what every gym-goer hope to achieve.
Inform your doctor if you are using creatine monohydrate because an elevated creatinine level can be a sign of kidney disease.
Learn More - Pre-Workout Vs Creatine (Which Is Good For You?)
Every time I buy a new pre-workout, I find at least one herb I've never heard of.
Almost every herb is generally safe and is not a banned substance. Still, it is questionable whether those herbs really help you reach your fitness goals or are beneficial during exercise.
That's why you should stick to Ashwagandha, black pepper, and green tea.
They improve our immune system and recovery, accelerate the absorption of nutrients, and even boost testosterone secretion.
Pre-Workout Supplements If Taking Steroids
Although the side effects of Deca-Durabolin, Anadrol, Winstrol, and other anabolic steroids are well-documented, a large number of amateurs and professionals still decide to take them orally and intramuscularly.
I strongly advise you against doing that, but if you decide to do that anyway, you have to be extra careful.
Many ingredients found in pre-workout supplements speed up your heartbeat, while testosterone and other anabolic steroids tend to thicken your blood.
You don't have to be a cardiologist or a medical expert to understand that such a combination is potentially fatal.
Frequently Asked Pre-Workout And Steroid Questions
Are pre-workouts considered a drug?
No, pre-workouts are not considered a drug, but you may notice that some of them contain a banned ingredient called DMAA.
Learn More - Does Pre-Workout Show Up On Drug Test?
What are some common non-natty substances in bodybuilding?
Anabolic steroids, insulin, DHEA, and human growth hormone are the most common non-natty substances in bodybuilding.
Research showed that consuming steroids brings risks that far outweigh the benefits.
Do natural bodybuilders use pre-workout frequently?
Yes, pre-workouts are part of the everyday routine for most natural bodybuilders and athletes.
Even though the FDA does not regulate the supplement industry the way they do with the pharmaceutical industry, you can be sure that they would step in if a certain pre-workout is deemed unsafe.
To put it in perspective, pre-workout supplements are legal to buy in the United States, even if you are under 18.
I certainly wouldn't recommend pre-workouts to minors, but it is an excellent indicator that confirms the safety of products available on the market.
So if you are taking supplements reasonably, there is no reason to worry about your health or is pre-workout a steroid.
However, drug tests, in case you are an athlete or employee, are often subjected to testing.
And my final advice is to resist the temptation to use steroids. Although steroids are a shortcut to big muscles and improved sports performance, that is the only advantage.
These drugs are also a shortcut to oncology and other hospital wards.
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Last Updated on February 22, 2023