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Steroid gut, roids gut, bubble gut, HGH gut; all of these names refer to one very unique condition: palumboism.
Named after famed American bodybuilder Dave Palumbo, it’s a wholly modern phenomenon that affects bodybuilders and bodybuilders only. When someone has palumboism, they have a distinctly distended stomach regardless of build, diet, and exercise. Oftentimes you’ll even see clearly outlined abs despite the bloated belly. They can’t suck in their gut, either, making hiding it practically impossible, even when performing on stage.
The condition is commonly known as HGH gut, as it’s directly linked to human growth hormone (HGH) found in anabolic steroids. HGH is a hormone that is naturally produced in our bodies that helps us develop as we age, and is especially vital at a young age when development is both critical and rapid. It’s also used in physical therapy for those who lack the hormone or need it to alleviate the symptoms of certain conditions. It wasn’t until the 90’s when bodybuilders realized that it could be used to massively increase muscle growth over a short amount of time, which is when cases of HGH gut started to pop up.
What Causes The HGH Gut?
If you or someone you know is taking legal HGH therapy, then don’t worry! There have been millions of individuals who require HGH to certain conditions, and not a single one has come down with the same gut that occasionally plagues muscle men. The causes aren’t definitely known because the condition didn’t start appearing until the 90’s when HGH started to be incorporated into anabolic steroids. There hasn’t been enough time to really study the conditions, especially since it’s fairly rare.
What scientists have been able to do, however, is exclude possible causes, such as extreme diets or unique workout programs. For quite some time it was thought that bulking (eating extreme amounts of calories in order to gain muscle faster) could contribute, but that’s not true, either. HGH gut is directly linked to the hormone in question, but outside of steroid usage, there are no cases of palumboism when it comes to legal usage. This is likely because HGH therapy is always undergone through prescriptions and the passive observations of a doctor.
The doses are often very low and put through a steady schedule, while bodybuilders tend to use over 10x that amount and are not under any advised timeline from a doctor. There are indeed rare side effects from using legal HGH, but these are easily solved through the doctor adjusting the doses. Oftentimes, bodybuilders are unable to recognize the red flags of HGH abuse since the hormone is only available through prescriptions. It is sold over the counter by some supplement companies for anti-aging companies, but not only is it not approved for that sort of usage, but there is no correlation between HGH and anti-aging, and studies have deemed it ineffective.
The current working theory at the moment is that along with muscle growth, it’s believed that HGH also causes a severe size increase of one’s abdominal organs. The liver and large intestine have shown to grow larger with the increased usage of HGH in steroids. There is also the presence of edema, which is swelling caused by retention of fluids, mainly water. While mainly occurring in the legs and feet, it can happen anywhere on the body, including the stomach.
Essentially, it’s believed that the bloated gut of bodybuilders is actually a mix of water weight in the stomach tissue and the enlarged organs pressing outward against the muscle man’s tissue, which would explain why the abs are still very present.
It should also be mentioned that while this is more prominent in men, it can still occur in women, so female bodybuilders shouldn’t think that they’re immune.
How to Reverse It or Prevent it
Because the phenomenon of HGH gut is relatively a mystery, there are no known cures to the symptoms that will allow a bodybuilder to continue their routine with anabolic steroids. There is only one way to reverse it and prevent it entirely: stop using anabolic steroids.
Some might consider it a copout for me to say that, as it’s in the same vein as “if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex”. With steroids, though, you’re already playing with fire if you take them. They have been well-documented as leading to a multitude of health problems, such as blood clots, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. The addition of HGH has only tacked on another side effect. Not to mention, with HGH now being popular in steroids these days, you’d be hard-pressed to find some without it. Even if you do, it would be a little hard to trust the seller on it, as it’s well known that anabolic steroids are illegal when not prescribed by a doctor.
If someone gains HGH gut and decides to halt steroid usage altogether, the swelling will dissipate and things will return to normal. Well, on second thought, not quite.
Dave Palumbo actually got rid of his HGH gut some time back. He stopped his steroid usage, and with it, his famed gut deflated like a balloon, and I mean that in the most literal sense. He showed off his new stomach on camera at one point, and while you can still see his abs, the skin has been left wrinkled and the muscle underneath undefined. His stomach is sunken and there’s no doubt that there are stretch marks from how big his stomach had gotten. HGH gut is reversible, but you won’t come out cleanly.
It’s common knowledge in the bodybuilding community that the extreme result granted from steroid usage is not attainable through natural means. That’s just a fact. If you want to build muscle mass fast, there are many extreme diets and exercise regimens that, while perhaps not the best for your body, will still bring you great results. Not to mention, they probably won’t make you look like you’re pregnant.
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