There are hundreds of products on the market claiming to improve performance. Sports supplements are known as ergogenic aids, from the Greek ergon, meaning “potential for work.” They include vitamins, synthetic drugs, and hormones, all believed to build muscle mass, strength, and stamina. These products are not regulated by the FDA, and not all have been properly tested.
Sports supplements are required to list all ingredients on their labels, but if a consumer is unfamiliar with harmful substances, the list will be meaningless. Beware when a product claims “rapid results,” cites oversimplified research, or provides statistics from only one study. Look for “IOC approved” on the label, which is a thumbs-up from the International Olympic Committee.
The following harmful ergogenic aids are banned by the IOC.
These steroids are similar to the male hormone testosterone and are taken to build muscle mass. Side effects include high blood pressure, heart disease, liver damage, stroke, blood clots, depression, and aggression.
In males they create baldness, acne, infertility, breast enlargement, and erectile dysfunction. In females they create a deeper voice, smaller breasts, facial and body hair, and menstrual irregularities.
Androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone are actually pro-hormones. They are not testosterone, but break down into testosterone in the body. The effects are similar to anabolic steroids, creating a hormone imbalance. These products, if taken too young, stunt growth by tricking the body into believing it has already gone through puberty.
Manufactured by your body naturally in the liver and pancreas, creatine supplements are taken to increase strength. Use can lead to muscle cramps and tears, weight gain, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration, seizures, and kidney failure.
This herb, also known as ephedrine or ma huang, is taken as a fat burner. It raises body temperature and speeds the nervous system, increasing metabolism. It also creates anxiety, insomnia, heart problems, stroke, and in some cases, death.