If you are into fitness or read news related to sports and fitness, you might be aware of terms like supplements and steroids. There have been numerous instances when top athletes have been banned temporarily or permanently for using ‘prohibited drugs’ Now, we need to understand which are the banned drugs and why are they banned before specifying their category. To start with, a lot of new athletes or beginners take these banned drugs mistaking them for supplements, This confusion arises due to the lack of knowledge regarding the two. The market is full of steroids selling in the name of supplements and it is almost impossible for a layman to spot the difference between the two.

To spot the difference, we need to understand Supplements and Steroids in their individuality.

Steroids are nothing but artificial variants of testosterone, the masculine-type hormone. This is why they are also called unnatural supplements. Steroids are basically used to treat rare medical conditions including reproductive dysfunction and are administered in the form of injections. Now coming to sports, testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) are the two naturally occurring components that are responsible for male characteristics. But our body can produce only a limited amount of these two components. Every individual’s body releases testosterone at different rates and that is why every individual has a different rate of muscle growth, a different type of beard and other male characteristics.

Why do athletes use steroids?

steroids vs supplements

Since we are clear about the importance of testosterone and HGH in sports, we can simply call asteroids as artificial versions of testosterone and HGH. The reason that athletes use steroids is that increased levels of testosterone and HGH increase energy, libido and muscle mass. There are external as well as internal drugs that athletes use as steroids. Steroids are used by athletes across the world.

Why is the use of steroids banned and termed unprofessional?

Use of steroids or similar drugs is known as doping in technical terms. Before any major sporting event, athletes have to undergo a medical examination called a doping test. Anyone found positive for doping is barred from participating in the event. Now the question that arises is, “When the use of steroids is completely a matter of personal choice, why is it banned?” The answer to this lies in the definition of sports. Sports is all about being fair and competitive. Steroids provide athletes with an unfair advantage over their competitors. This may affect the outcome of any sports where the decision of the winner is not merit-based. To eradicate the practice of unfair advantage, an anti-doping committee is set up prior to major sporting events.

One question that might trouble your mind is: “Why don’t authorities ban the use of steroids completely?” The answer to this is very simple. Steroids are not just used by athletes. They are also used by medical experts for treating several diseases. If we ban the steroids completely, it may pose a new challenge for the medical world. While steroids are not available in all common medical stores, their sale is not completely banned.

Apart from this, doping also has adverse effects on the health of athletes. The intake of steroids needs medical supervision and without any supervision. Without any medical supervision, the health of athletes may be compromised. Use of steroids is a double-edged sword.

On the other hand, supplements are artificial proteins that are produced from natural ingredients including milk. Whey protein, multivitamins, mass gainers and creatine, all are variants of supplements. As the name suggests, supplements suffice our daily nutrient requirements that are not fulfilled by normal diets. Supplements are a combination of vitamins, proteins and other necessary nutrients that promote muscle growth and help our muscle tissues in recovering after the break following a workout. Unlike steroids, dietary supplements do not have any medical significance and their sole purpose is to suffice our daily nutrient requirements. Supplements also contain amino acids that synthetically boost both testosterone and HGH. They do not require any medical supervision and have almost no side effects. 

There are multiple firms that sell supplements that not only improve our performance but also promote muscle growth.


Steroids are illegal to be used by athletes and if you are a professional athlete, the use of steroids might leave you in trouble. These steroids can also have a negative impact on your health. It is advisable to keep yourself away from these steroids. In case of any medical complication, seek a doctor’s advice before using any steroid.

As far as supplements are concerned, you can take them regularly after or before your workout. Supplements fulfil the daily nutrient requirements of your body. In case you encounter any complication after taking supplements, you may seek an expert’s health. However, this is very rare. Also, supplements can be used by any gender.