Creatine and anabolic steroids are unavoidable supplements when it comes to professional bodybuilding, but many amateur bodybuilders also use them in order to achieve better results. Although they both contribute to increasing muscle mass and strength, they are very different substances with entirely different mechanisms of action and side effects. Here we discuss some of the main differences of these supplements.
Mechanism Of Action
Creatine normally occurs in the human body and it represents one of the ways the human organism stores energy. Creatine depots are located mainly in the muscles and in the brain. Energy is very easily and quickly mobilized from creatine and used to replenish the main energy source which human cells use for their functioning (adenosine triphosphate – ATP).
The naturally occurring amount of creatine in the body is limited and it can be significantly increased through supplementation. This provides more energy resources and the ability to perform training with higher intensity and for a longer duration.
On the other hand, anabolic steroids are analogues of the male sex hormone testosterone, and they express their action by binding to the specific receptors located inside of human cells. By doing that, they promote the creation of complex molecules, such as proteins, which are the most important components of the muscles. In combination with working out, anabolic steroids can provide muscle growth to an extent not possible to achieve only by exercise.
Types And Ways Of Administration
Creatine is most commonly present in supplements in the form of creatine monohydrate, because it increases its bioavailability. Most manufacturers offer creatine powders, which can be diluted in water or any other fluid. Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, but can also be injected subcutaneously (right beneath the skin). Many would think that the oral administration of steroids is safer, but this is not true. Everything that is taken orally must pass through the liver and therefore, these supplements can cause liver damage. Subcutaneous administration prevents the steroids from passing through the liver, so this is a safer approach.
Effects on Muscle Building
The effects of creatine on muscle building are not guaranteed by just taking the supplement. It is very important that weight training is performed in order to increase muscle mass. Creatine only provides a higher energy capacity to help you keep up with a more intense training.
On the other hand, studies have shown that anabolic steroids increase muscle mass even without exercise. Of course, no significant results can be achieved without a dedicated workout plan. The combination of anabolic steroids and workout is the quickest and the most certain way to build muscle mass. Note that if you are overweight, anabolic steroids will not help you lose extra fat. In fact, as said above, steroids will increase the production of most complex molecules, including fats.
When it comes to safety issues, we can say that creatine has little-to-no harmful effect on healthy individuals. Its side effects include nausea, stomach ache, and muscle cramps, but these are all temporary and they disappear after quitting the supplement.
Anabolic steroids are in essence hormones, resulting in their having a large impact on many physiological processes in the human organism. Prolonged intake of testosterone analogues will lower the endogenous production of testosterone in the testicles, which can cause a lack of this hormone after quitting the supplement. Persons with heart-related disorders or prostate enlargement should not take anabolic steroids, as they can worsen these and many other conditions.
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