The Dangers of Poor Diet and Bodybuilding Supplements

10th May 2020
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Bodybuilding is becoming more and more popular, with both men and women of all ages and even among teenagers. Many young people go to the gym with no initial desire to take their body to such extremes but soon become hooked. But, as it gets more popular, so too do bodybuilding supplements.

Often, amateur bodybuilders plan their own diets and bodybuilding supplements. This is a risky practice. Poor supplements and an uncontrolled high-protein diet carry plenty of risks and can even lead to permanent side-effects.

Diet-related risks when bodybuilding

Too much protein

One mistake that athletes often make is not planning their protein intake properly. Their diets are usually meaty diets that they supplement with other supplements. They often don’t know enough about what they’re doing and don’t think about the quantities or the types of supplements they’re using.

This is normally because of the false belief that the more protein they consume, the quicker they’ll build muscle. The fact is, that everyone’s body is different. Everybody has specific protein requirements that they shouldn’t exceed.

Sometimes, this means that the protein doesn’t have the desired effect. Instead of building more muscle mass, it damages the kidneys. This is because the kidneys have to remove a lot of urea which is produced through the metabolism of proteins. It can even increase urinary calcium excretion and increase the risk of osteoporosis.

A range of foods for a bodybuilder's diet.

As a result, if you consume excessive amounts of protein for months or even years, you may overload your liver or kidneys and damage them.

Lack of fresh food: bodybuilding supplements

Something else which many bodybuilders do is take diets from the internet which contain very little fresh food, such as fruits or vegetables. In this long term, this can cause cardiovascular problems and increases the risk of many other diseases. These diets are generally very unstructured and harmful.

Dangers of bodybuilding supplements

Bodybuilding supplements generally carry the following main risks:

  • Most athletes, particularly non-professionals, don’t really know enough about protein supplements to make good decisions.
  • Whilst there may be no problem with the active ingredient, the supplement may contain other harmful ingredients.

Protein

The most common protein used by athletes, including bodybuilders, is whey protein. This is a complete protein, extracted from the whey of milk, which has good absorption capacity. As a result, it’s won awards for best protein supplements in sporting circles for many years.

Another popular product is branched-chain amino acids. These are the amino-acids that mainly form muscle proteins and play a role in the recovery of muscle mass.

The biggest problem is not so much its chemical composition, but that fact that, as we mentioned, some supplements may contain other ingredients. For example, a supplement may contain a doping substance, such as fibrin.

Creatine bodybuilding supplements

Although this supplement is safe, the biggest problem is that very few people seek advice before taking it. As a result, they’re completely ignorant about the potential risks of taking incorrect quantities.

One of the most immediate effects of taking creatine supplements is weight gain. Greater muscle mass accounts for 50 percent of this weight gain. However, the other 50 percent is actually water retention in the muscle cells.

A man preparing some bodybuilding supplements.

Anabolic steroids for bodybuilding supplements

Anabolic steroids are produced from testosterone, a hormone produced by the testicles. Through its anabolic action, testosterone builds muscle tissue, stimulates protein synthesis and cell growth, improves protein utilization, and assures nitrogen balance. Furthermore, it increases the energy stored from carbohydrates and improves the oxidation of fats.

However, as great as all this may sound, there are several potential side effects. These drugs can have a negative effect on various body systems, such as your cardiovascular system, endocrine glands, reproductive organs, gastrointestinal system, nervous system, and skin.

The risk of side effects of taking steroids is high – between 80 or 90 percent. This means that four out of every five users will experience unwanted side-effects. The most common problems are acne, gynecomastia, stretch marks, and shrinking of the testicles.

Most of these complications are reversible and will disappear if you stop taking the drug. However, some side-effects, such as alopecia and stretch marks, are permanent.

Although the risk of minor side effects is high, serious side-effects, such as those impacting the heart or liver, are less common. They’re more related to the dose and period of time that you consume it. The more you take and the longer you take it for, the greater the risk.

  • Mier, M. 2001. Anabolizantes: complicaciones cardiovasculares. Muerte Súbita Inesperada. Cuadernos de Medicina Forense, 29
  • Arroyo JAM et al. 2003. Identificación y comparación de síntomas de dismorfia muscular entre sujetos que practican físico culturismo y otros que realizan entrenamiento con pesas. Pensar en Movimiento: Revista de Ciencias del Ejercicio y la Salud, 3(1), 54-62.