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All About Performance Enhancing Drugs, Side Effects and Their Alternatives

Medically reviewed by Raymond Radiguet M.D.

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Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) are substances designed to improve the user’s physical abilities. There are various types of PEDs including stimulants, anabolic steroids, etc.

They all have different purposes, from building muscle mass, to increasing speed and agility. PEDs are most commonly taken by athletes, though not all performance-enhancing drugs are legal.

Excessive consumption of PEDs could also lead to life-threatening side effects that could affect the user greatly.

Performance Enhancing Drugs

Side Effects and Health Risks of Performance Enhancing Drugs

Performance-enhancing drugs, as the name suggests, can greatly improve the athletic performance and physical abilities of their users. It does this by altering certain biological functions in the body. However, when taken in the long term, these drugs also possess the ability to drastically affect the user permanently, and also pose a dangerous threat to the user’s body.

Whether taken in small or large doses, the risk of long term effects for PED users is very high. These effects vary depending on the type of drug you take, your gender, and the strength of your dosage. Your genes also greatly influence how the performance-enhancing drugs affect you.

These side effects could range from mild and temporary effects to life-threatening, permanent effects. Some of these effects will remain with the user long after they stop taking PEDs.

Some common side effects applicable to most performance-enhancing drugs include;

  • Increased risk of heart attacks, and other heart diseases
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Problems with blood-clotting
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of getting infections

Apart from the general effects of PEDs, these drugs also have some underlying psychological and physiological effects on their users. Some psychological based side effects of using PEDS include severe headaches, nausea, dehydration, muscle cramps, anxiety, acne, stunted growth, premature baldness, and so on.

Psychological effects may include increased sex drive, aggressiveness (roid rage) and violence, mood swings, depression, etc.

Extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs could also lead to some specific gender-based side effects in female and male users.

Some common side effects often found in female performance-enhancing drug users include;

  • Deepening of the voice
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Growth of body hair on the face, arms, and back.
  • Enlargement of the clitoris
  • Reduction in breast size
  • infertility

Some side effects often found in male performance-enhancing drug users include;

Keep in mind that these side effects do not apply to all performance-enhancing drugs. However, they are common with most of them.

Alternatives to Performance Enhancing Drugs

Many athletes and youths who use performance-enhancing drugs are simply looking for easy ways to gain extra bulk and get the upper hand in their sport of interest. But PEDs are extremely risky to use, and they can become quite addictive.

For those looking to improve their, strength, speed, and all-round agility, there are safer alternatives to performance-enhancing drugs that can get you the same results. These alternatives are legal to use, and some require no monetary purchase whatsoever.

Most performance-enhancing drugs are artificial replicas of substances and hormones that your body produces naturally. The key to optimum performance is to maintain a high-quality amount of healthy blood. This is achieved through healthy eating of balanced diets, and stable exercise.

Here are some of the best alternatives to performance-enhancing drugs that can help improve your speed, strength, and performance;

1. Eat Healthy, Balanced Meals High In Protein and Fats

Proper nutrition and hydration is the best way to build up your body’s natural strength and endurance. A balanced diet full of bodybuilding food will have almost the same effect as a PED.

The protein assists your body in providing iron, which fills you with more oxygen and helps in making your blood as healthy as possible. With a balanced diet filled with healthy fats, protein sources, vegetables, and fruits, your body’s blood chemistry will enable you to perform at an elite level.

2. Get Enough Hours of Sleep

It’s not unusual for people to skip hours of sleep to get more work done. However, research has shown that people tend to get things done faster and better when they’re well-rested. When you sleep, it gives your body time to relax and charge up for upcoming activities. You are less likely to get tired and will find yourself full of energy.

Long sleep hours also ensure that your brain is well-rested, which means you have an increased mental capacity and energy to do strenuous things such as running, boxing, or lifting weights.

The best way to utilize your workout would be to take a short 1-hour nap after you’re done. This gives the body time to recover, and build up its endurance and strength.

3. Consistent Exercise Plan

No matter what your body size is, exercise is needed and important for everyone. A consistent exercise plan will not only help you stay fit but will also help to build up your body’s strength and endurance abilities. This is needed if you’re involved in sports of any kind.

You could hire a personal trainer, use a fitness app, or visit your local gym to get your exercise done.

While working out, remember to focus closely on specific muscles that you’re trying to develop. For example, if you’re a sprinter, it would be best to focus on exercises dedicated to building up your legs and lower body muscles.

Focusing on a specific set of muscles such as quads, triceps, etc. also helps to improve effectiveness during workouts. Remember to alternate between various muscle groups to get the best possible results.

4. Meditation/Quiet Time

Research has shown that giving your body time to rejuvenate itself while meditating is a great way to conserve and build up energy in the body. The effects are similar to sleeping, except you’re still fully conscious. Simply shut off your phone, and be silent.

Conclusion

The allure of performance-enhancing drugs could attract even the best of athletes. But while these drugs are effective, the long term effects are not user friendly at all.

The bottom line is, the majority of these PEDs come with a lot of side effects that render them too risky to use. Therefore, the best way to build up your body’s performance abilities would be with the natural alternative to PEDs highlighted above.

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