While this is an important question on a subject that has become very popular in the last few years, the answer might be a bit complex. There are at least a couple of levels at which body-building supplements impact individuals, families, businesses and society. As writer Randy Roach emphasized, the world of body building requires as much dedication and “regimentation” as any activity or sport. But the fanatic followers of body-building regimen have certainly had an impact on college and professional sports, in addition to impact on how the public view body building.

The use of supplements to enhance body shape, muscle growth and so on is one part of the overall field of body building. But it may be one of the most important parts because it directly affects the health and longevity of the person using supplements. Roach’s great history of nutrition as it relates to body building covers the field for more than 100 years. The focus is on foods and other nutrients, beginning with the decision to eat raw foods or cooked foods, for example.

But the more recent history touches on such factors as the male hormone, testosterone, and the increased use of it as part of the body-building program. This of course leads us into the discussion of steroid use in sports such as baseball and football, in addition to weight lifting and body building.

Over a period of time (in the last 40 years or so) athletes in many sports have employed steroid supplements to increase muscle mass. Some athletes turned to increased or improved diets, either because they feared using steroids for health reasons or because they thought they might be cast out of the sport.

Much of the alternative-to-steroid group used large amounts of natural protein and other natural diet supplements in an effort to get the same results that steroid users were getting. There were carbohydrate-rich diets, protein powders and a lot of white meat such as chicken and fish in the meals. Yet, other athletes continued to employ steroids and even turned to such items as growth hormones.

One lasting impact of supplements on body building has been the negative feel about unnatural items that have shortened the careers or ended the lives of some athletes. In response, some professional body builders and athletes in other sports have returned to carbohydrate and protein diets, which could be considered a positive impact of supplements on body building.

Those who watch the sport closely and have a keen interest in supplement use, nutrition and so on, feel that experience has shown there is a clear danger with steroids and other chemical supplements.

For them, the number of safe supplements for body building is very low. Most experts in this field would agree that the impact of body building supplements has at least two parts: the true increase in muscle mass and strength that comes from steroidal drugs; and the limited use by many athletes because of the experience of others.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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