There are typically two reasons to take a supplement: to add more lean muscle mass, or cut more body fat. Sometimes diet and exercise alone only take us so far. Our genetics, our age, even the modern environments we live in can all have an affect on our bodies that we can’t really control. 

As fitness and health writers, we have to look at all options that our readers and clients want to know about. So when the weight-loss and the mass-building communities are both talking about the same supplements, we need to do our research to stay ahead of the game. In this case, everyone seems to be talking about SARMs (selective androgen receptor modulators) and Peptides.

Both of these groups are pretty big, so this article is going to cover a lot of ground. Use the table of contents to jump around, and make sure to check out the FAQs at the end.

What Are SARMs?

SARMs, or selective androgen receptor modulators, are not steroids. But they can emulate some of the effects of steroids in some users.

SARMs were developed as alternatives to steroids in medical applications, such as for muscle-wasting diseases.

They’ve been around since the 1940’s, and they hold a lot of promise in medical applications.

On a molecular level, both steroids and SARMs help get hormones and hormone-dependent nutrients to muscles and cells in need. The main difference between them is that a steroid artificially inflates the hormone level across the entire body. Usually the hormone is testosterone, and the steroid is a straightforward injection of this into the blood. Overtime, this will decrease the body’s ability to produce its own testosterone, and damages filtering organs like kidneys and liver, as well as stressing the heart and vascular system.

SARMs are marginally safer because they are not injections of raw synthetic hormone into the system. Instead, as their name implies, SARMs are selective about which cells they modulate. This means that they only impact certain cells within the body, such as bone cells, or muscle cells.

SARMs were developed to help treat illnesses that have been traditionally treated with steroids. At this time, however, no SARM is approved by the FDA for any reason.

What Are Peptides?

There is a lot of mystery surrounding Peptides, especially in the fitness community. Part of the confusion stems from two very different forms that peptides take: amino-chain and hormone.

In their primary form, peptides are a form of amino-acid chain, similar to what we think of as normal proteins. The difference is that peptides are shorter than amino-acid chains that build into proteins. This makes peptides much more adaptable within the body.

We can think of it this way: a full protein is like a complete fence, with slats, 2x4s, cement, and a gate. Each piece is a single amino acid. You can take a section of that fence, and that would be your peptide.

Using this analogy, peptides are useful for the body because you can take a fence section and use it for all kinds of things: repairing other fences, blocking off a section of yard, using it for trellis to grow plants, even making a wall of a shed.

That’s the first form of peptides, and these are extremely helpful in biomedicine and for weightloss and muscle building. In the studies we found, collagen peptides are the superhero, allowing the body to bond proteins to muscles, bones, and connective tissue during muscle building phases, as well as helping burn fat and sugars more efficiently.

Peptide hormones, however, are different. Similarly to how testosterone and estrogen are packaged in the body as cholesterols, many hormones in the body are classified as peptides. These hormones include Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF-1). 

This common use of the word peptide makes perfect sense to chemists, because both are made of those shorter chains of amino acid. But to us consumers, it can be tricky knowing which peptide is in our supplement–a good peptide like collagen, or a potentially dangerous and illegal one, like HGH.

How SARMs and Peptides Can Be Dangerous

One of the big red flags for us about SARMs are that they aren’t approved for any use in the US. This means that SARMs, developed for medical use, still have no approved application.

This lack of approval results from limited gains in trials and multiple risks associated with them. Risks include heart attack, liver toxicity, and stroke.

Peptides, of course, have to be split into their two categories. The risks associated with peptide hormones range from diabetes and hypertension all the way to paralysis and cancer.

Peptide chains, in and of themselves, are typically well-tolerated by healthy individuals because they are naturally occurring amino acids in our own bodies and in our foods. In fact, one of the most common peptides is also one of the most successful supplements of all time: creatine.

Pros and Cons

We’ll break this down into three categories, essentially because the peptide group has two categories. Please note that we do not endorse nor condone any illegal activity.

SARMs

PROS
  • Safer than steroids.
  • Targeted to certain areas of the body.
  • Legal for “personal research” uses.
CONS
  • Still dangerous.
  • Not approved for any use.

Peptide Hormones

PROS
  • Over two hundred FDA approved uses.
  • Well-researched.
  • More effective than SARMs.
CONS
  • Illegal.
  • Dangerous for recreational use.

Peptides

PROS
  • Easily digested.
  • Well-tolerated by most bodies.
  • Legal.
  • Largely safe.
  • Effective according to most studies.
CONS
  • Easy to confuse with Peptide hormones.
  • Hard to research on some supplement labels.

Bottom Line

We cannot condone or endorse the use of any substance deemed illegal to use or purchase. But we do want to educate our readers, because we know that people are going to do what they’re going to do, and we want our readers to be as informed and safe as possible.

If you’re considering taking SARMs or Peptide hormones, make sure you’ve done your research on the legality in your area and the risks of the specific supplement. If you’re looking for the benefits of SARMs but don’t want to risk them, we do recommend both CrazyBulk and Brutal Force, makers of fine supplements.

Between all three options, however, we do recommend Peptide chains as a supplement over Peptide hormones or SARMs. Be safe!

FAQs

How Do I Know If a Peptide Is a Hormone?

Unfortunately many labels don’t come right out and tell you. That’s why you should do some research. We have come to trust everything from BrutalForce and CrazyBulk. Other than that, check your ingredients against this list of peptide proteins and this list of peptide hormones.

So Are SARMs Legal?

Yes, and no. We know that’s an annoying answer, but the bottom line is you can purchase them legally in some areas and ship them to yourself; but you cannot take them for any medical or recreational reason. But you can use them for “personal research.” Typically speaking, the government goes after SARM fraudsters rather than individuals, but it’s still a risky legal area.

Are Peptide Hormones Legal?

Only for medical use. Doctors may prescribe them, but they are banned by the major sports bodies, and illegal to sell as supplements.

What Are Some Common Peptides?

Creatine, like we mentioned. There’s also collagen peptide, Follistatin, and Ipamorelin.

About the author 

Simon Courtney

Simon has been involved in the healthcare industry for over 20 years. He has served on the board of several healthcare non-profits and has written numerous articles on health and wellness. He is passionate about helping people improve their health and lives. Simon currently resides in New York City with his wife and two children.

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