SARMs Vs Steroids: Comparing Gains, Fat Loss And Sides

sarms vs steroids

Steroids are known to do much the same as SARMs. However, some claim that SARMs are the better choice.

Unlike steroids, SARMs mostly are believed to be the better choice because they don’t disturb the muscle tissue of the body as steroids do.

It’s this, apparently, that makes it effective at increasing muscle mass.

But that’s not what everybody believes and we are going to look at both of them and let you be the judge.

SARMs vs Steroids (Differences & What’s Best)

Know Your Steroids

Steroids are often called ‘juice’ or ‘roids.’ They are similar to some of the real natural hormones in the body.

The body actually makes its own steroids naturally which help people to fight stress.

Steroids in the body also assist in promoting growth and development.

Some people believe that if they take anabolic androgenic steroids, they are just boosting the natural steroids in the body, like giving the body a double dose. 

They think that that is going to improve their sports performance and also give them the desired body shape and look they desire.

These steroids that are artificial steroids are called anabolic steroids [1].

They are effectively artificially produced hormones. They are similar to androgens which are the male sex hormones in the body.

One of the most powerful androgens in the body is testosterone. Testosterone is mainly a male hormone but girls also produce it in smaller amounts.

Testosterone helps to build muscle mass and it’s what gives guys their masculine traits during puberty.

A boy’s voice will deepen and he will start to grow hair on his body.

Athletes like to take anabolic steroids because they believe it boosts their natural testosterone levels.

Other Types Of Steroids Called Steroidal Supplements 

These contain dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in them or androstenedione (andro).

Steroid supplements used to be found at a lot of health food places, gyms, and stores.

But now they are illegal. They need a prescription to get hold of them.

DHEA is one of the exceptions though, and you can still find this at health shops and in chemists as an over-the-counter supplement.

Steroid supplements are like weaker androgens – and their effects are not that well known.

It is thought that if people take them in large doses, they can achieve similar effects as that of other androgens such as testosterone.

Research studies suggest that they don’t really improve athletic performance at all.

The companies that make them often will make false claims about them.

Only people who have taken them will be able to tell you about the long-term effects of what taking them has on their bodies.

That’s why the US government took action by passing laws to control the distribution of steroids [2].

Synthetic Steroids Are Synthetic Forms of the male Hormone, Testosterone

They are made by humans and have been in use for a while. They are considered to be illegal because they can result in many unwanted side effects.

That means professional competitors cannot use steroids because of this reason.

In the bodybuilding industry, people will often misuse steroids. Many people think that doctors recommend taking steroids for treating various kinds of diseases.

But in actual fact, doctors prescribe certain steroids in cases of severe conditions.

Steroids have been used for treating muscle wastage and muscular dystrophy in AIDS patients [3].

And they have helped those who have experienced the loss of testicular function.

You may often think that steroids aren’t bad. But they can cause harm, and they have [4].

Often the dosages that people take can really be harmful to the human body.

Often bodybuilders who dream of the body-beautiful will ignore professional advice.

They might inject about 10-100 times more than they should, sometimes without realizing it can do way more harm than good.

Steroids Are Illegal In Many Countries And Sporting Federations

But still, bodybuilders are determined to use them because they support muscle growth and help with muscle recovery as well.

There are downsides to steroid use and those are the side effects.

Because it interferes with the hormones, there can be some unwanted physical changes.

Things like shrunken genitalia for one, or loss of hair growth.

A lot of these side effects occur, though, when there has been improper use of synthetic hormone injections.

Knowing SARMs

SARMs were created about 30 years ago. A scientist by the name of James T Dalton identified a SARM called Andarine while he was busy researching prostate cancer treatments.

Then he discovered and developed Ostarine some years later.

Unfortunately, though, the development of these research drugs for cancer patients came to an end.

But it was while he was researching Ostarine, that James Dalton discovered that Ostarine was able to reduce fat and increase muscle mass. 

You can imagine that this has resulted in them becoming extremely popular in the bodybuilding world.

Nevertheless, they didn’t come without their side effects as well, just to what some say, to a lesser extent than that of anabolic steroids.

Types of SARMs

Some common SARMs include: 

1) Ostarine

Ostarine is also known as MK-2866. It helps to stimulate testosterone production and improves lean muscle mass.

2) Ibutamoren

Ibutamoren is also known as MK-667. Sometimes this one is said to be a SARM, but in actual fact, it is more a growth hormone.

It is used for bulking so bodybuilders find this a very popular selective androgen receptor modulator.

3) Cardarine

Cardarine is also known as GW501516. Cardarine is thought to enhance performance because it promotes endurance, and strength, and increases lean mass.

It might not actually be a SARM, but it is often classified as one.

4) Lingadrol

Lingadrol is also known as LGD-4033. Lingadrol a very popular and well-used SARM, as it accelerates muscle growth and increases stamina and strength.

5) YK11

There is not a whole lot of information on this SARM, except to say it is used by fitness-builders and bodybuilders for its muscle-building compounds.

6) Andarine

Andarine is also known as S4. Bodybuilders love Andarine because it promises such immediate results.

It makes sense as it’s one of the most powerful, dynamic SARMs for getting rid of unwanted fat.

SARMS vs Steroids – The Key Differences

SARMs are said to be different from steroids in that they are “tissue-selective”. 

This means that they only target the muscles. They don’t interfere with the other parts of the body.

SARMs have been evaluated in the past as clinical treatments for medical purposes.

But to date, you can’t buy SARMs for use yourself. The studies have never been approved for human consumption.

They are only available for research and investigational purposes.

There is a reason that they are not fit for human consumption in that they are considered harmful.

They apparently have the same benefits as steroids, but without the undesired side effects.

Fitness lovers and bodybuilders continue to buy them because they believe that there are no dangerous side effects to using SARMs.

And as we mentioned above, SARMs are highly selective [4].

Which one is the better choice if you had to choose? Steroids or SARMs?

Steroids are known to do the same as SARMs do. But there are certain properties that SARMs have that make them the better choice.

That’s the belief. SARMs don’t disturb the non-skeletal muscle tissue as steroids do.

For SARMs, the only androgenic activity caused is limited to muscle tissue. This makes SARMs highly effective at increasing lean body mass.

Steroids, on the other hand, can cause really serious side effects.

That’s why SARMS are thought to be the better alternative to steroids.

They give the same benefits, but they don’t harm the body as steroids do. But you will be the one to make your own informed decision.

You will need to understand just how SARMs and steroids work and their benefits and side effects.

So let’s compare them.

The PROS Of Steroids

  • Steroids might be bad for your health, but they do offer some benefits. Unfortunately, even some of the benefits come at a price. Why do people take steroids, to begin with? – It really is good at aiding muscle building. Testosterone also influences the muscle quite significantly. It’s that that makes anabolic steroids so popular [5].
  • It can offer huge gains that can provide you with the desired results. Anabolic steroids also allow bodybuilders and athletes to last as long as their workout requires. They help to reduce the amount of muscle wastage in each workout. This means you will be able to work out longer and also to more easily perform strenuous exercises.
  • You will notice that your muscles grow substantially; almost extraordinary.

The CONS Of Steroids

  • There is no doubt that using steroids comes with side effects. Men can develop breasts after taking them. This condition is called gynecomastia. Some men are known to experience infertility and shrunken testicles. Another side effect is an enlargement of the prostate gland.
  • Women aren’t exempt either. They can experience a deepened voice, enlarged clitoris, and hair growth where there used to be no hair. Steroids can mess with their menstrual cycle as well.


SARMs are excellent when you want specific results; like for losing weight, or for bulking up. Some of the main benefits of SARMs are;

  • An increase in lean muscle mass
  • Injuries heal faster because SARMs stimulate anabolism
  • You can improve weight loss while not compromising muscle mass. It is the anabolic effects and fat-burning potential of SARMs that make them attractive as a fat loss go-to for some bodybuilding enthusiasts.
  • Prevents muscle wastage during workouts
  • Longer lasting workout sessions

It is said that SARMs offer these benefits without other physical changes happening in the rest of the body.

The CONS of Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators

  • The benefits offered by SARMs are similar to steroids. But they can result as well in similar side effects. It will depend on whether you stick to the correct dosage or abuse the dosage. For instance, people say that the SARM, Andarine, causes vision problems, for example, night-time blindness [6]. But this side effect does not occur if you take small dosages.
  • Then another con is that SARMs can suppress a natural hormone in the body; testosterone [7]. This also happens with steroids, but to a less extent with SARMs.

A Brief Summary Of SARMs vs Steroids

  • STEROIDS: Illegal
  • SARMS: Illegal/Legal. Legal (in circumstances)

How To Administer

By injection, liquid, or pills, taken orally.

Increased liver damage can occur with orals, as they have to be broken down by the organ upon entering the bloodstream.

Side effects

More than SARMs. SERMs anabolic activity can impact the entire body less than steroids.

SARMs are targeted toward the muscle*.

In theory, SARMs should be milder than their steroidal counterparts because of tissue selectivity.

But some experts say they could be worse. See side effects below

Main characteristic

  • Steroids were designed to promote development, growth, sexual differentiation, and reproduction.
  • Tissue selectivity, preventing unwanted effects in other parts of the body
  • Medical research suggests that the benefits of anabolic steroids to users are more enhanced than SARS.
  • SARMs only able to build a fraction of lean muscle as anabolic steroids
  • For sale on the black market:

Some anabolic steroids have received FDA approval for certain purposes.

They can be prescribed for medical purposes Pharmaceutical grade is a high-quality product that has been produced in a lab by scientists.  

No pharmaceutical grade is available for SARMs. It is not FDA-approved. Further research is still required.

*Although SARMs are noted not to be without side effects. Some users report an increase in blood pressure, skin irritation, vision changes, etc.

Are SARMs Safer Than Steroids?

The research on anabolic steroids is plenty. There is no doubt that the same can’t be said for SARMs.

The benefits and side effects of steroids are well-known over the years.

SARMs today are classified as investigational drugs. And some anabolic steroids are even FDA-approved in medicine.

Take for instance anavar, testosterone, and deca durabolin. They are at acceptable levels of safety for treating some chronic diseases.

SARMs have no FDA approval and there are serious safety concerns about using them or other drugs in clinical trials.

One doctor, Dr. Thomas O’Connor, has the experience of treating thousands of people for almost two decades on anabolic steroids.

Dr. O’Connor has vast experience from anecdotal evidence and analysis of patients’ labs.

He actually says that SARMs are more dangerous these days than anabolic steroids.

He has observed SARM’s side effects to be endogenous testosterone suppression [8], cardiovascular strain, and liver stress.

Dr. O’Connor has likened the effects of SARMs on people to be equivalent to that of taking huge doses of Anavar; around 50 mg a day!

Not only that, but the FDA has also found evidence of cardiovascular and liver complications in people who use SARMs.

So that in 2017, the FDA labeled SARMs ‘potentially dangerous.‘ They closed down quite a few online forums and websites.

These websites were labeling androgen receptors as dietary supplements for humans to use instead of selling them as ‘research chemicals’. 

In theory, the side effects of SARMs should be milder than anabolic steroids because of SARM’s tissue selectivity.

However, in practice, Dr. O’Conner likens SARMs’ side effects as similar to or even more severe than anabolic steroids.

Let’s look at the effects of both steroids and SARMs on certain serious medical conditions –

Anabolic Steroids And Blood Pressure

Anabolic steroids are noted not to be perfect. They have a negative effect on HDL/LDL cholesterol as well as blood pressure.

Different steroids pose a cardiovascular risk. Take, for example, oral steroids like Anadrol or Dianabol.

They can cause fluctuations in cholesterol and an increased risk of hypertension.

There is evidence, too, that SARMs also reduce HDL cholesterol levels which increases the risk of arteriosclerosis.

The negative effects of SARMs’ on the heart might be similar to oral steroids in severity due to both being administered orally.

When taken orally, SARMs and oral steroids get processed by the liver. This increases the hepatic lipase enzyme.

It has an adverse effect on HDL cholesterol. It might just be possible that some injectable steroids could be safer when it comes to cardiovascular risk when compared to SARMs.

It is because they bypass the liver, maintaining a healthier blood lipid profile.

Liver Toxicity

Liquid SARMs get broken down by the liver. This causes the ALT/AST enzymes to rise and impair normal liver function.

Stress and inflammation affect the organ, in the same way as C-17 alpha alkylated oral steroids do.

But there is clinical research that demonstrates that the hepatotoxic effects of SARMs cause liver health problems including injuries on a short-term basis [9].

These are quite alarming outcomes, due to the fact that the liver has self-healing properties as well as the ability to endure high levels of stress.

It is concluded that thought that injectable steroids would be much safer, actually, than SARMs, regarding liver health.

It is considered that even mild oral steroids like Primobolan acetate, Anavar, and testosterone undecanoate, are likely to show fewer hepatic health risks.

Testosterone Suppression

When the body detects that there are excessive levels of artificial testosterone, it shuts down natural testosterone production.

Naturally, when a full steroid cycle ceases, the natural testosterone is diminished.

This means there will be diminished libido, low energy, sexual function, and decreased well-being.

The side effects will depend on how long the steroids have been used.

SARMs aren’t steroidal compounds. But they do have a high affinity when binding to the androgen receptor.

And this can decrease the natural testosterone. Testosterone suppression is not fully known with SARMs.

But bodybuilders try and make use of post-cycle therapies after a SARMs-cycle to try and recover back their natural testosterone production.

Unfortunately, the more potent the SARMs are, the greater will be the decrease in natural testosterone. 

So Which Is The Winner – SARMs Or Steroids?

There are literally years and years of research done on anabolic steroids.

Back in 1935 testosterone was synthesized, to be used medically to treat depression.

Then professional athletes began misusing anabolic steroids in the 1954 Olympics when Russian weightlifters were given testosterone.

Check out the history of anabolic steroid use here.

It became so popular that young men started using substances to enhance their athletic performance and to improve their personal appearance.

In 2004, Congress enacted the Anabolic Steroid Control Act [10].

It banned over-the-counter steroid precursors. There were penalties for, making, selling, or possessing illegal steroid precursors.

SARMs, on the other hand, have only had around 30 years of research.

Very few human trials have been completed. Based on anecdotal data and existing studies, there is evidence to suggest that SARMs are more harmful than steroids [11].

There is evidence to suggest that SARMs impact body composition. 

It is true that SARMs are very sought-after compounds in the world of bodybuilders.

This is due to the marketing claims that promote SARMs as the answers to building a ripped physique in a short space of time, and with few side effects.

But is all the hype and information around SARMs true?

SARMs, if they are deemed as being safe, will do the same job that anabolic steroids do in medicine.

That will be to increase lean muscle mass, bone mineral content, and red blood cell count, particularly in patients who suffer from cachexia (muscle wasting), osteoporosis, and anemia.

SARMs were formulated by scientists with the same objectives as anabolic steroids scientists.

SARMs were intended to be a superior medicine that would not present with the androgenic, cardiovascular, hepatic, or estrogenic effects of anabolic steroids.


SARMs are currently being classed as novel food rather than medicine or supplement. They are not dietary supplements.

They have been banned by sporting authorities. Using them is against the world anti-doping agency doping code.

There is no doubt that much more research needs to be done on SARMs to understand everything about them and to understand their risks and dangers of taking them.

Do they have a long-term outlook?

Thomas O’Connor, the doctor mentioned above, who founded a men’s health clinic and also wrote the book, “America on Steroids,” has said that a lot of his patients used anabolic steroids users and then turned to SARMs.

Why? Because they were told androgen receptor modulators SARMs were non-toxic and safe.

It is not easy to determine the impact that SARMs are having on people.

But one thing Dr. O’Connor has seen is that SARMs in people worsen their cholesterol levels.

It causes their liver enzymes to rise, causing increased strain on their livers.

Others have experienced low libido, acne, hair loss, and irritability.

It might not be 100% true that it’s SARMs that cause these symptoms, or whether it is some unlisted ingredients in the products.

 Dr. O’Connor said he relates to many of his patients whose desire is to be fitter, stronger, and bigger.

But he does counsel them to give up the drugs because they are really jeopardizing their health.

He says, “These are illicit agents. They’re not supported by expert guidelines and they’re dangerous. So don’t take them.” 

The best option for anyone who is thinking of taking anabolic steroids or SARMs would be to rather eat healthily and exercise regularly.

It will in all probability not offer you the ‘best’ or the desired results you yearn for, but you will be protecting your health.

And then too, it is always best to consult with a doctor before you do administer anabolic steroids or SARMs.

But as for the question, “Are SARMs safer than steroids.” That’s a really hard one – you will have to be the judge of that!