Part 1 of this series focused on two of the most common (and also most commonly misunderstood) supplements used by professional and recreational athletes. Protein powders and creatine are supplements derived from food products and so are no more dangerous than any other common food, such as milk, bread, or sugar. In other words, they are not drugs.
Drugs are typically synthetic substances (man made, even if based on herbs or other plants) not commonly found in food, and are taken to induce the body to react in a certain way. Aspirin is a common drug that blocks the pain receptors in the brain, reducing the amount of pain felt from headaches and such. "Performance enhancing" drugs (PEDs) are not actually miracle pills or shots that give super-human strength, speed, endurance, or size to a person, even though they are portrayed that way in the media. What PEDs like HGH and anabolic steroids actually do is help the body recover more effectively from training sessions.
Those who do not train often misunderstand the importance of recovery. Athletic training is hard work for any sport. Hours are spent drilling technique, as well as training for increased strength, increased cardiovascular output, and endurance. Two main factors allow the human body to cope with this: nutrition and recovery. As stated n part 1, even non-athletes use supplements to get nutrients that are difficult to get through diet alone. Athletes place much higher demands on their bodies than the average office-worker; consequently, they need more nutrients. Their bodies also take longer to recover from those workouts. Recovery times are necessary to allow the body and mind to recuperate and grow stronger from the stresses put on them through the training sessions.
The human body naturally makes Human Growth Hormone and testosterone. These substances are necessary for the body to recovery from the stresses of training. Testosterone mainly helps recovery by promoting protein synthesis into muscle tissue. HGH stimulates cell reproduction and regeneration, as well as overall growth. A greater amount of these two substances in the body leads to shorter and more effective recovery sessions. Shorter recovery allows an athlete to train most often.
Most PEDs are synthetic versions of one or the other of the above chemicals (synthetic testosterone being better known as anabolic steroids). While a small increase in athletic abilities is possible by just taking PEDs, they will not turn an average athlete into an excellent one. Even when taking PEDs, hard work and training time are still the most important pieces of the equation for success.
Part 3 coming soon.