SARMs vs Steroids: The Difference and How They Can Affect You

There’s nothing wrong with getting some assistance for your body. While many people not in the fitness community like to think that a majority of good-looking men and women at the gym or on social media are “all natural”, the truth is, many people take natural and chemical supplements to stimulate muscle growth, especially the people you see on the internet. After all, it’s your body, and you deserve to be allowed to look and feel good within your own body.

SARMs VS Steroids

However, if you’ve had your ear to the fitness community for a while now, you might have heard the term “SARMs” floating around. Indeed, they are a drug that can stimulate muscle growth for faster gains, but what are they exactly? You might have even heard them compared to steroids, which is never a good thing to be compared to. If they are like steroids, though, what’s the difference? Is there a legal alternative?

Don’t you worry, I have you covered. Here I’ll give you a rundown on the differences between the two contested drugs and what you should try instead.


What Are SARMs?

what are SARMs

SARMs is a term that stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. They are a class of therapeutic compounds that have around the same function as anabolic steroids; AKA, they’re a performance-enhancing drug, and are always taken in pill form. They stimulate tissue growth in muscle and bone, and they’re currently going through clinical studies (not trials, because it’s still considered unsafe) in treating muscle-wasting, which is a symptom of many diseases. They’re extremely new to the scene and so not documented in the long term.

Because of SARMs’ muscle-stimulating abilities, it’s become quite popular with bodybuilders and exercise enthusiasts, particularly those who practice bulking.

They are technically safer than steroids, but “safe” does not equate to “safe”. At least some steroids are able to be prescribed for certain medical conditions, all the while SARMs are unable to be obtained through any legal methods.


What are Steroids?

What are steroids infographic

Anabolic steroids are compounds that mimic testosterone, the chemical that is responsible for building muscle. It is 100% synthetic, no matter the variety. They can be taken as pills or injected into your body, but either way, the end result is muscle gain, increased fat loss, and in some cases, higher endurance.

Unlike SARMs, steroids have legitimate medical purposes and can be prescribed to fix hormone imbalances, help people heal from injuries faster, and can give your body a bit of a kick in order to work properly again, like with asthma.


What’s the Real Difference?

Difference between SARMs and Steroids

The one thing that separates SARMs from anabolic steroids is that SARMs bind androgen receptors in certain tissues, but not in others. Anabolic steroids, on the other hand, will bind to androgen receptors in tissues all over the body.

Their side effects can be similar in some cases, though it is worth knowing the exact differences.

Side effects of SARMs can include:

  • Suppresses the production of testosterone
  • Mood swings
  • Can potentially cause gynecomastia
  • Liver damage
  • Shrinking of the testicals
  • Increased risk of bowel and intestinal cancers
  • Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes



Side effects of anabolic steroids can include:

  • Increased risk of testicular cancer
  • High cholesterol/blood pressure
  • Damage to liver and kidneys
  • Hair loss
  • Mood swings
  • Risk of infertility/erectile dysfunction
  • Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes


As a side note, because SARMs is such a new creation, the long-term side effects aren’t quite known yet. Not to mention, people who take them aren’t going to exactly report that they take SARMs since it’s illegal all around. Steroids have been around for many years, and so its long-term effects are far better understood.


Are They Legal to Use?

Are SARMs and Steroids legal

No. Absolutely not.

The only way to get them is from some dodgy dealer you met from a friend of a friend or something like it. Consequences are tenfold as serious if you get caught using them for athletic events.

Believe it or not, SARMs are even less legitimate than anabolic steroids. These compounds are not on the legal market, nor are you able to be prescribed any by a doctor. At least with steroids, very few varieties are actually able to be prescribed and given to you with very strict instruction. The FDA has yet to clear SARMs for clinical usage, though like I said, they are being used in studies. In fact, the FDA has warned consumers about the potential life-threatening side effects of this drug.

Not to mention, if you are getting some of these from somewhere, you’re not exactly getting a regulated and safe dosage. Or, maybe, you’re not getting anything in them at all. Back before the FDA really started cracking down on SARMs, supplement companies would advertise having SARMs in their products. However, as reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association, 60% of all obtained supplements advertised as SARMs were found to have ingredients different from what was on the label (which is already worrying), while a good 10% had no active ingredients altogether.


Are There Legal Alternatives?

Legal SARMs and Steroids alternatives for bodybuilding

There are, in fact, alternatives on the market that are both safer and 100% legal to buy and own. Of course, it needs to be stated that these alternatives do not have the same power as SARMs and steroids. However, it get the job done all the same, in my opinion, just a little slower. You can’t die from it, though, so that has me sold on it.

The biggest one on the market right now is Crazybulk’s brand of SARMs and steroids alternatives. Although you will still see the word “SARMs” thrown around here and there, they aren’t actually the illegal drugs themselves. They’re safer, 100% organic, and have no known side effects. They do everything steroids and SARMs do, just at a more steady rate and without all the nasty side effects and risk of cancer or death. They have a wide variety of supplements and stacks they advertise, and believe it or not, it’s all legit.

We have a guide for the best legal steroids that you can check out and you will find reviews for all these products.

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About George Allen

George Allen – Author – An AFPA Certified holistic and preventative nutrition professional. George is a well known exercise physiology and sports nutrition expert, the co-founder of
Syracuse University graduate: bachelor’s degree in nutrition/dietetics (B.S.) and a master’s degree in nutrition science with a concentration in counseling (M.A.)
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