The Council for Responsible Nutrition reports that 77% of Americans use dietary supplements. This number, reported in 2019, represents an all-time high.
Using supplements can enhance your physical and mental health. However, it can also be overwhelming to sort through all of your options.
Take SARMs. What are they? What are SARMs used for? What are SARMs made of? Should you add SARMs to your healthy living plan?
Find answers to these questions and more in this comprehensive guide on SARMs.
What Are SARMs?
The term SARMs stands for selective androgen receptor modulators. SARMs attach to the body’s male hormone, or androgen, receptors. As such, SARMs are similar to androgenic drugs, or anabolic steroids.
However, SARMs are more targeted in their action. This means that they are safer and have fewer side effects than steroids.
How Do SARMs Work?
Like anabolic steroids, SARMs bind to the body’s androgen receptors. In doing so, they prompt changes in your DNA, which encourage your muscles to grow.
Testosterone is an important androgen that helps to build muscle. While it’s often described as a male hormone, both men and women have—and need—testosterone in their bodies.
Like anabolic steroids, SARMs work by affecting testosterone production. While steroids increase testosterone throughout the body, though, SARMs’ work is tissue-specific. In particular, SARMs only affect the androgen receptors in the muscles and bones. From there, they send messages to the cells to increase their muscle- and bone-building activity.
What Ingredients Make Up SARMs?
The SARMs used by athletes most often include the following ingredients:
- Cardarine (GW-501516)
- Ostarine (MK-2866)
- Testolone (RAD140)
- Andarine (S-4)
- Ibutamoren (MK-677)
- Ligandrol (LGD-4033)
In addition, SARMs supplements tend to include vitamins and minerals to promote overall health. Many SARMs supplements also include branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). Like testosterone, BCAAs are essential to the body’s muscle-building efforts.
What Are SARMs Used For?
Nonsteroidal SARMs were first discovered in the 1990s. Today, SARMs uses include athletic and medical applications.
Early Use of SARMs and Current Medical Applications
SARMs were first developed as a way to stimulate hormone production and treat infertility. Then, researchers investigated the potential to use SARMs to fight muscle loss associated with certain diseases, like osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Today, research into these uses continues. SARMs may be a valuable tool for doctors and patients battling the following conditions:
- Cancer-related cachexia, or muscle wasting
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
A 2019 review of the literature shows positive results when SARMs are used to treat these conditions.
The most obvious reason athletes use SARMs is to build muscle. In fact, bodybuilders find various SARMs effective for bulking, cutting, and maintenance cycles.
An advantage of SARMs is that they work quickly. Muscle gains from SARMs use are generally faster than those achieved through anabolic steroid use. This is because SARMs target the muscles and bones while steroids affect the entire body.
One study found that SARMs increased lean body mass after just 21 days of use. However, anecdotal reports from SARMs users suggest results appear even faster—often within a week.
In addition to building lean muscle mass, SARMs also burn fat and increase bone density. Furthermore, they’ve been shown to improve athletic performance and enhance recovery. Runners, in particular, experience increased endurance and energy when using SARMs.
Do SARMs Have Side Effects?
A key advantage of SARMs is that they are generally much safer than anabolic steroids. The side effects of steroid use include:
- Heart and liver disease
- Mood disorders, aggression, and suicidal thoughts
- Acne and other skin disorders
Men using steroids may also experience erectile dysfunction and shrinking of the testicles. Meanwhile, women using steroids may experience masculinity-enhancing effects. These include excessive hair growth and changes in the voice.
Because they are more selective, SARMs avoid the negative gendered changes associated with steroids. SARMs are also generally safer than steroids, especially in the long term.
Like any supplement, though, SARMs use does bring some risks.
In rare cases, SARMs use has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. SARMs have also been shown to increase the risk of liver toxicity.
Anecdotal reports indicate that some users experience skin rashes, impotence, and vision changes, as well. Users of the SARM Andarine, in particular, may notice a yellowish or greenish cast to their vision.
In assessing the side effects of SARMs, it’s important to note that the drugs are relatively new. As such, studies on their use—and especially on their long-term effects—are limited. Many early studies showing risks involved animals. Later studies in humans, though, demonstrated no adverse effects.
It’s important to exercise caution when adding any supplement to your diet. It’s also important to talk to a doctor or sports nutritionist. These professionals can help you choose the right supplements for your needs. They can also monitor you for any changes in your overall health.
Are SARMs Legal?
Under U.S. law, SARMs are classified as experimental chemicals rather than dietary supplements. Unlike anabolic steroids, however, SARMs are legal to buy and use.
Are SARMs FDA-Approved?
Currently, SARMs are FDA-approved only for research into certain medical applications. These include the treatment of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
The FDA has not yet approved SARMs for athletic or recreational purposes. This is because additional research is required to meet FDA’s stringent standards.
Can Competitive Athletes Use SARMs?
The decision to use SARMs is up to each individual athlete and his or her trainers and doctors. However, it’s important for competitive athletes to be especially careful when deciding to add SARMs to their training plans. This is because most SARMs are prohibited by the WADA, or the World Anti-Doping Agency. WADA considers SARMs S1 anabolic agents.
Can Women Use SARMs?
Yes! Women can use SARMs safely, and some studies suggest that women should use SARMs.
A key advantage of SARMs over anabolic steroids is that SARMs avoid the masculinity-enhancing effects of steroids.
Women taking steroids may find their voice deepening and their breasts shrinking. They may also experience unwanted hair growth or, on the other hand, male pattern baldness.
Women using SARMs experience none of these effects. Again, this goes back to the fact that SARMs are tissue-specific. They don’t increase testosterone throughout the body. Rather, they simply act on androgen receptors in the muscles and bones.
So SARMs are safe for women to use, but do women really need to use SARMs? Studies suggest that the answer to this question is also yes.
Women naturally have less testosterone in their bodies. This makes it more difficult for them to build muscle. SARMs enhance the body’s muscle-building efforts by targeting androgen receptors in muscle tissue.
Still, the benefits of SARMs extend beyond the muscles to include the bones as well.
Besides struggling to build muscle, women also experience more problems than men with bone health. Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis and two times more likely to develop osteopenia.
Here again, SARMs are an ideal piece of the solution for better bone health for women. Andarine (S-4) has been shown to improve bone strength and prevent bone loss in both women and men.
Finally, many women find it difficult to burn fat, especially as they get older. Cardarine is an excellent SARM for women seeking to burn fat and train at more intense levels.
Where Can I Buy SARMs?
SARMs products are available for purchase from your local health food and nutrition stores. Many online retailers also have SARMs for sale. In recent years, the number of online searches for SARMs has steadily increased.
Online retailers provide a convenient option for SARMs users. However, every retailer—and every SARM product—is not created equal. Furthermore, since they aren’t FDA approved for athletic uses, SARMs also aren’t regulated by the FDA. This makes it essential for SARMs users to do their research before purchasing SARMs.
When purchasing SARMs online, look for a retailer that offers third-party testing of its products. Without FDA regulation, the lists of ingredients in SARMs can be misleading. Therefore, this testing should include detailed reports on the identity, purity, and concentration of chemicals in SARMs products.
Which SARM or SARMs Should I Buy?
Ostarine, or MK-2866, is one of the most commonly used SARMs. It’s also one of the best SARMs for enhancing performance while building muscle and bone and burning fat. In other words, Ostarine’s effects are wide-ranging.
They can also be achieved with relatively small doses. Ostarine users find noticeable results with doses as low as 1 milligram.
Testolone, or RAD140, is among the most potent and fast-acting SARMs. Testolone’s muscle-building effects are particularly profound. However, the compound has also shown promise in boosting cognitive capacity and suppressing cancer.
YK-11 is another fast-acting muscle-building SARM. It works by suppressing the body’s natural production of myostatin. Myostatin causes muscle atrophy and impedes muscle growth. By inhibiting myostatin and promoting the protein follistatin, YK-11 contributes to muscle strength and mass. It may also enhance metabolism.
Ligandrol, or LGD-4033, is likewise potent. Its most noticeable results tend to target bone health. This makes Ligandrol an ideal SARM for women hoping to fight bone loss associated with aging and osteoporosis. At the same time, though, Ligandrol, like other SARMs, acts to build lean muscle mass as well.
Like Ostarine, Ligandrol is effective at low doses. Average doses range from 0.1 to 1 milligram.
Finally, if you’re looking to burn fat, Andarine, or S-4, is the SARM for you. Like the other SARMs, Andarine builds muscle and bone. However, it’s especially effective for bodybuilders’ cutting cycles when they aim to enhance fat loss.
How Can I Get Started Using SARMs Safely?
The first step in using SARMs safely, of course, is choosing a quality product. Once you’ve done that, though, it’s up to you to use SARMs safely.
This means starting with a low dose. From there, you can gradually increase the dose to achieve your desired effects.
The ideal SARM dose is different for every person. In general, though, the average woman should use about half the dose of the average man.
Most people find the greatest benefits when they take SARMs about an hour before working out. You can also stack different SARMs together for enhanced benefits. You might, for example, take Cardarine and Andarine together to promote bone and muscle health.
Using SARMs safely also means using them for short periods of time, or cycles. Generally, experts recommend using SARMs for 8 to 12 weeks. After each cycle of SARM use, allow your body to rest for the next 4 to 12 weeks. Doing so prevents your body from getting used to the SARM, which could reduce its effectiveness.
Including short breaks also protects your body’s natural efforts to produce testosterone. People who take SARMs without incorporating breaks may find that their natural testosterone levels fall. Breaks help the body maintain stable hormone levels.
What Else Can I Do to Achieve My Health and Fitness Goals with SARMs?
SARMs can be a valuable piece of a health and fitness regimen. However, they are not the only piece of the puzzle. SARMs users see the greatest benefits when they combine the use of supplements with intensive workouts. Fortunately, a key benefit of SARMs is that they make these workouts easier to complete. Plus, they enhance your workouts’ results.
Another essential component of a healthy lifestyle is nutrition. Hormones, like testosterone and other androgens, promote muscle and bone growth. At the same time, though, the body needs a complex blend of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to stay healthy and grow stronger. In other words, your body needs a balanced diet.
In the end, SARMs can enhance a healthy program of diet and exercise. They are not a substitute for diet and exercise.
Building Strength Safely Using SARMs
For individuals seeking strength and performance enhancement, SARMs are a promising option. Research into SARMs as a treatment for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other diseases also continues.
After reading this article, you can answer the question, “What are SARMs used for?” You also know how to use SARMs safely.
As you continue building not only strong muscles and bones but a strong and healthy life, count on our blog to help you reach your goals.