Stomach Distension : Performance Enhancing Drugs Make You Grow… Pretty Much Everywhere!


You may have noticed the irony of bodybuilding, a bodybuilder can have the best abs on stage and yet when he’s not tensing, those abs transform into a bloated mess! So how on earth does a Greek God become what appears to be a regular beer drinker in a matter of seconds…steroids, that’s how. I have no issue with bodybuilders taking steroids if they don’t claim to be natural, but the problem with taking steroids to encourage muscle growth is that it’s indiscriminate, in other words, steroids make you grow in more areas than just your muscles (but sadly not there chaps, sorry).


Steroids are indiscriminate…they’ll make anything grow!

Steroids are anabolic for muscle, but also your internal organs. So a person that has taken steroids for several years at a time will usually have larger internal organs than someone that hasn't. You see that bloated look right there…it’s their internal organs being held in place by their transverse and rectus abdominis muscles… Oh dear! Now although it is widely accepted that performance enhancing drugs are one of the causes of distended abdomens, they are not necessarily the only cause.


Steroids are only part of the cause… enter Insulin, Growth Hormone and FOOD?

Barring adverse reactions to certain food groups and/ or gastrointestinal issues such as coeliac disease, lactose intolerance and the likes of, some of the main contributing factors to abdominal distension is performance enhancing drugs such as steroids. Although Insulin isn’t a steroid as such, this and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) are some of the main causes of visceral fat deposition around the major organs, almost certainly one of the reasons bodybuilders look bloated. There are some bodybuilders who argue that other causes of distension can often be due to the sheer volume of food they have to consume to meet their caloric requirements, and although this may be a viable contributor, I would strongly beg to differ. If large volumes of food was the cause then it would stand to reason that every morbidly obese person that has lost weight would end up with a significantly distended abdomen, and fact is they don’t.

It also stands to reason that if a bodybuilder can shift their body fat (sub- cutaneous fat) to single digits e.g. 4-5%, then although visceral fat is notoriously harder to shift than sub- cutaneous fat, the chances of there being enough visceral fat to cause noticeable abdominal distension in a person with 4-5% body fat is highly unlikely!


I am not a steroid expert…

Some might argue that in order to discuss a subject, you have to be an expert in it…but that doesn’t stop anyone right!? So although I am not an expert in steroids neither academically nor through active use (I have never taken one performance enhancing steroid), I can take info and disseminate it from an educated, impartial and informed stance. The abovementioned comments are evidence based with the main contributors of this abdominal distension mystery being performance enhancing drugs… it’s as simple, and as complex as that.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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