Nowadays due to ignorance among the public and media hype, a lot of people easily confuse sports/dietary supplements with anabolic steroids... When I was just starting my sports life, I was also misguided by all those "experts", who kept saying that if you were "on protein", then you're not "natural". I still remember my mom's face, when I bought my first creatine capsules, and some of my training partners told me that I had changed, after they had seen me drinking a protein shake when I finished my training. (smh...)
Well, I don't feel like writing a long scientific article here, in short, I'm going to explain the difference between anabolic steroids and sports supplements.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic (man-made) substances similar to male sex hormone, testosterone. The term "anabolic" means "growth" and here it refers to growth of the muscle mass. So, in a nutshell, "roids" are artificial performance enhancers, which are used to build muscle mass, prolong endurance and enhance performance. They are converted into testosterone in the body, beyond normal levels. This may lead to some serious side effects like dramatic increase in muscle mass (greater anabolism), organ damage (liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease), impotence, gynecomastia (fat deposition on the chest due to increased estrogen levels causing abnormal breast enlargement in men's body), severe acne etc.
"Roids" do harm to your body.
Sports supplements are, on contrary, foods, vitamins in concentrated form. They include great amount of proteins, vitamins, acids and other minerals that can be also found in foods. People who are into intense exercise regimes, sports enthusiasts, athletes, competitive bodybuilders are the ones who need dietary supplements to repair the wear and tear on their body, grow and maintain healthy muscle mass, enhance their functionality and improve the immunity of the body.
Now when we've, finally, learnt what the difference between steroids and sports supplements, I would like to share my opinion on what exactly each sport enthusiast might take to improve his physical performance.
1. Whey Protein
It's arguably one of the most commonly used yet super effective supplement in sports. Whey protein aids in protein synthesis, helps you with your metabolism and muscle development and is a very useful thing in terms of post-training recovery.
2. Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine is number one supplement to improve your performance in the gym. It helps you to increase your muscle mass, strength and endurance. It’s also found in salmon, tuna, and other sources of fish and poultry.
3. BCAA (Branch-Chained Amino Acid)
There are 20 different amino acids that make up thousands of different proteins in the human body. 9 of 20 amino acids are considered to be essential, what means that they cannot be made by your body and must be obtained through your diet. Of the nine essential amino acids, three are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine and valine.
BCAA is an essential supplement for athletes involved in high intensity workouts. It helps with lean muscles growth, decreasing muscle soreness and providing better and faster recovery.
4. Tribulus Extract
Tribulus is one the most famous natural testosterone boosters in sports. Unlike anabolic steroids, Tribulus naturally increases the level of testosterone in a person's body by making the brain produce more. It helps with building lean muscle mass, increasing a strength level and improving libido.
5. Fish Oils
It's proven that athletes who live active lifestyle tend to have higher Omega-3 needs than the average person. Fish oils are essential to your cardiovascular health. They help to regulate your hormones, heart rate, and they even lower your blood pressure. They’re also supplemental to your mental health.
Athletes should never neglect taking vitamins, as they are crucial for their immune system and health, while training hard. You have to make sure that vitamins you take contain: potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamins C, B, D.
7. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
Chondroitin is a naturally occurring substance formed of sugar chains. Chondroitin is believed to help the body maintain fluid and flexibility in the joints. Glucosamine is a sugar protein that helps your body build cartilage (the hard connective tissue located mainly on the bones near your joints). Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance found in bones, bone marrow, shellfish and fungus.