Our expert says:
THese products are very popular among people trying to build muscle, and there's no doubt that they do work if used correctly. I do feel that in many cases, people use them unnecessarily, without reason, and also that they don't train to maximize the results they will get. I think that in most cases, it's possible to achieve results without their use, and so my general opinion is that they are only really a good idea (and probably necessary) in those people who are trying to build huge muscle, and have reached a near-maximum using diet and training alone. So, the first thing that I would caution against is the need for these products, and would suggest that rather than wasting money right away, you first exhaust your other options.
Now, in terms of risks, it depends a lot on what it is you take. All the major brands (USA, EAS etc) have various products, all which claim to either build muscle, or reduce fat, and some have more side effects than others. THe one that I would be most confident suggesting is the protein supplements (usually whey protein), because these are probably least risky - protein is found in all diets, and so unless you are taking mega-doses, you don't have too much risk.
Now, there are other substances which may contain substances like HGH, IGF, which should be banned, but unfortunately are often still available. These products and any others which might contain steroids should be avoided because they have many side effects. There's also a risk of contamination with these products and so that's why if you do buy, make sure you buy a reputable brand, don't go for the cheap option, because there's more chance of contamination.
Lastly, the training is the most important thing, not the supplements. you can take a dozen supplements, but without training, you will only get fatter, not more muscular. Once you stop taking the supplements, then it's essential that you don't stop the training, because that's how you suddenly pick up weight again. So, as long as you keep training, eating really well, and don't make radical changes to any of them, then you should see progress. The most important thing however is to do regular weight training and do train very well.
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