Although many people tend to put human growth hormones and steroids in the same “basket” when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs discussions, there is a big difference between the two.
This article aims to shed some light into this issue, so if you’re interested in knowing how HGH and steroids are different, you’ve landed in the right place.
Is There Anything HGH and Steroids Have in Common?
Although totally different classes of substances, they both can be classified as ergogenic aids, meaning substances that enhance performance.
Apart from this, they have different effects on the body and on the athletic performance, as we are going to see right here, below.
What Are Anabolic Steroids?
Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of testosterone, the male sex hormone that stimulates the development of male characteristics such as deep voice, or body hair.
Testosterone also has anabolic effects that translate into an increase of the bone density and of the muscular mass. This is why athletes take anabolic steroids for building their muscles.
Because oral steroids may be hard on the liver, many athletes prefer to inject them.
What Is the Human Growth Hormone?
The human growth hormone is naturally secreted by the pituitary gland which is located at the base of the brain.
The role of HGH is to maintain a normal bone development in children until they reach adulthood.
Children with an HGH deficiency will suffer from dwarfism.
An excess of HGH will lead to acromegaly, which is a
medical condition characterized by an overgrowth of the extremities of the body such as hands, feet and face.
Acromegaly is accompanied by an enlargement of the internal organs as well as by heart problems.
Synthetic human growth hormone was developed with the purpose of treating growth disorders. It is also effective against the HIV/AIDS wasting effects.
The HGH intake stimulates the synthesis of proteins, thus leading to an increase of the muscle mass. It also stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, thus leading to a reduction in the body fat percentage.
The human growth hormone plays an active role in regulating the ratio between muscle and fat in the body. Athletes who take HGH claim to be able to better tolerate the workload.
They often use HGH is conjunction with anabolic steroids, because they believe the anabolic effect is enhanced by the presence of HGH in the body.
What’s the Difference Between HGH and Steroids?
Basically, while steroids make individuals stronger but slower, HGH improves the hand-eye coordination. This difference was clearly explained by Adam Pallone, a famous baseball athletic trainer.
Rules for Using HGH and Steroids
Both HGH and steroids can be used for medical purposes, as they are perfectly legal.
The only condition is that they need to be prescribed by a medical doctor and only for the FDA-approved indications.
Therefore, a doctor who prescribes HGH for improving athletic performance or for weight loss is illegal.
As a matter of fact, the prescription of any Rx drug for off-label purposes is prohibited by law.
While HGH is not controlled by law, steroids are. Steroids possession without the ability of producing a valid medical prescription for them is a felony which may be punished by a fine as well as a prison sentence.
How Testing for Steroids and HGH Works
HGH is normally present in the human body, but only 80%-85% of it is of the same variety as the synthetic one. If testing shows a bigger percentage for this variety of HGH, it means the individual injected it into his body.
Testing for HGH is actually very difficult, because there isn’t any commercially available blood test for it. Antidoping officials expect a such blood test to be developed soon.
Testing for steroids can also be tricked by some athletes. Since they usually take steroids during off-season workouts, they will come out negative if tested in-season.
Besides, there are some forms of steroids which are water-based and which are totally cleared from the body in a matter of several days. This is why testing should be done frequently in order to be effective.
Athletes shouldn’t strive to boost their performances with the help of such substances, as sometimes the price they have to pay for their performance is way too high to be worth it.
As you can see, there are reasons why people get confused when talking about HGH and steroids and tend to include them in the same category.
However, you should now be able to tell the difference and realize that not everything that helps improving performance does it in the same way, nor that it improves the same kind of performance.