A gym owner-cum-instructor in Chamarajpet was recently arrested by the Bengaluru police for selling steroids at exorbitant rates to customers who wanted a lean or muscular body quickly. The incident is reflective of the rampant usage of steroids in the fitness industry today, frequented by youngsters looking for quick fixes for social media validation.
In most cases, the clients are not told about the entire side-effects of using these substances and even if they are, the instructors, with their dubious credentials, are not competent enough to prescribe these steroids to people. They sell these at exorbitant prices so the monetary gain is their only aim. The industry is completely unregulated, which makes it impossible to verify the quality of the ingredients or manufacturing process.
Dietician Nmami Agarwal, CEO and founder, Nmami Life, says that though body makeover was always popular, it is only recently that the hype around it has become so big. “The result is a mushrooming of body studios with a bevy of fitness experts ready to magically transform your body quickly. While the idea of being fit and healthy should motivate everyone, they shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations about the process. There are no shortcuts to a fit and healthy body,” she says.
She advises people against falling into the trap of resorting to supplements for a healthy body as a natural and well-balanced diet provides all the required nutrients.
Steroids affect you physically, mentally
Dr Pallavi Prasad, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVI Fertility, says they are seeing an increasing number of men at Nova who simply aren’t aware of how anabolic steroids can damage their long-term health and fertility. Anabolic steroid is a synthetic steroid hormone which resembles testosterone in promoting the growth of muscle.
“Many bodybuilders use performance-enhancing substances like anabolic steroids and HGH to help build muscle mass. In addition to other side effects like stroke, liver damage and acne, most steroids can cause the testicles to shrink and stop producing sperm. Certain steroids act similar to testosterone in the body. Introducing synthetic sources of testosterone can impact the internal hormone thermostat, and can lead to a low or zero sperm count,” she says.
Other risks associated with steroids are problems like kidney failure, enlargement of the heart, increase in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, risk of stroke and heart attack in young people and increased risk of blood clot. And when people start taking it from a young age, the problems are compounded, including stunted growth, says Dr Sheetal Brahmesh, Consultant Endocrinologist, Apollo Hospitals, Sheshadripuram.
“Men will also see decreased sperm count, breast enlargement and increased risk of prostate cancer, if they start using steroids from a young age. Women will suffer from reduction in the breast size, growth of facial hair and excess body hair,” she says. She adds that it can impact one’s mental health too, leading to more aggressive and irritable behaviour and feelings of delusion, which impair their judgements.
Quantity doesn’t matter
There are some who feel that if taken in moderation, steroids are okay as they help with the fat-burning process. Various experts have completely debunked this notion.
Don’t take shortcuts
Nmami says that weight loss has to be a gradual process which should include an appropriate workout regime as per your body type as well as a healthy diet and an overall optimistic attitude with stress management. She advises consulting a nutritionist to know one’s dietary needs.
Darshana Nahata, founder and owner of Enerjuvate Studio and Cafe, says that many of their clients have their own doctor or weight loss consultant to guide them. “We curate food for people looking to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Each meal we provide is a balance of proteins, carbohydrates and a lot of fibre. We recommend exercises — 5,000 to 10,000 steps a day and some light cardio — to go along with the diet,” she says.