protein-powder steroidsUse of supplements like creatine and whey protein can lead to use of anabolic steroids. This is the findings of Skidmore College psychologist Tonya Dodge as reported in Times Union.

Research by Skidmore College psychologist Tonya Dodge suggests legal performance enhancing substances may serve as a gateway to steroids. Now Dodge has won a $385,000 National Institutes of Health grant to investigate that relationship in young men.

Dodge, 33, will survey 4,500 students from Penn State and her alma mater, UAlbany. She’ll ask about what they use, how risky they perceive the substances to be and how easy they are to get.

Use of the many legal supplements available is growing, Dodge said. In the case of one common supplement, Creatine, the substance helps replenish your body after bouts of energy, Dodge said, so you can recover more quickly and get back in the gym.

In previous research, Dodge found that anywhere between 15 and 20 percent of college males say they’re currently using legal performance enhancing substances.

She doesn’t take a position on whether they’re good or bad, or advocate that they be illegal.

But she did find their prevalence surprising.

“I wouldn’t have expected that many people would be using something to make them get bigger and stronger,” she said. “It suggests to me that males are unhappy with their bodies.”

Dodge’s findings are supported by one student leader at the same university. Bryant Gapard, a student senator, says supplements are widely used among their college’s athletes, particularly popular with football and baseball players.

“I don’t think I know of an athlete that does not use it,” said Gaspard, 21, a weightlifter. “I’m not saying 100 percent, but it’s very common.”

However, unlike Dodge’s claim that legal supplements are a ‘gateway to anabolic steroids’, Gaspard says no.

“I don’t think that would be a gateway drug,” he said. “If you’re an athlete, you know the side effects of steroids, so you’re not going to risk doing that.”

Numerous supplements are used by bodybuilders and athletes as alternatives to anabolic steroids.  These compounds are sometimes collectively known as steroid alternatives, which enjoy legal status in the United States and elsewhere.

Contrary to the belief of many that these steroid alternatives do not pose health risks to users, these compounds do cause side effects. Take the supplement creatine powder as an example.

Creatine is a protein made from amino acids which can cause cramping, diarrhea, increased urination, and dehydration. Because most athletes think creatine is a harmless supplement, they tend to adopt “the more the better” mentality, thus practicing megadosing.

This is just to illustrate that these legal supplements do have beneficial and detrimental effects on the body just like anabolic steroids. Now the question is why are anabolic steroids classified as controlled substances and not these supplements? This is precisely the point of supporters of anabolic steroids.