There are several limitations of this study. First, the attrition rate was high, as it typically is in studies of long-term weight loss. The analyses included only those participants who completed the study, since our intention was to assess the duration of physiological responses to substantial weight loss. However, the possibility that changes in hormone levels and appetite differed in patients who discontinued the study cannot be ruled out. Second, the use of a multiplex assay inevitably results in measurements of individual hormones that are less accurate and precise than those obtained with an optimized assay. However, these factors are likely to minimize the detection of changes occurring after weight loss. Finally, the possibility that weight loss may alter central sensitivity to circulating hormones was not examined.
Synonymously with the hard work the players do outside of athletic contests comes the world-wide notorious dilemma of whether Performance Enhancing Drugs (also known as PED's) should or should not be involved in sports.
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Radhika V. Seimon, Jessica A. Roekenes, Jessica Zibellini, Benjamin Zhu, Alice A. Gibson, Andrew P. Hills, Rachel E. Wood, Neil A. King, Nuala M. Byrne, Amanda Sainsbury. . (2015) Do intermittent diets provide physiological benefits over continuous diets for weight loss? A systematic review of clinical trials. 418, 153-172.
In the new research paper I read, the doctors gave a LOT of credence to the huge body mass - even lean body mass - as a contributing factor along with long term steroid use.
A quote from BFS, "[Out of all the people who take steroids, the fact is, x amount will suffer the harsh side effects]" It is a risk taken, knowingly, by those of us who choose to participate. Nobody is sticking anything in ourselves, but ourselves. I am sure if the % rate started to climb, the more people would rethink, but the fact remains is its that x % that suffer and the majority are fine. Now this doesn't mean that we should ignore this percentage, after all they are people, just like you and I and they share the same passion we all do and certainly we must not sit back and say "sorry bro, its gotta happen to someone." I really believe this "pushing the limit," in bodybuilding will eventually be its downfall. I was happy to see an earlier article on the return of "Classic Bodybuilding," guys weighing 200 and less, still big, still jacked, but not looking like the new hollywood Hulk. It was "is" about symmetry, proportion, muscularity. Not overall how big you are! A lot of changes need to taken and precautions to reverse this trend in BB that I believe can really help lower some of these tragic articles of our fellow brethren that we continue to get fed by the news. May bodybuilding and steroids live on! but only if we take a step back and look at what were really creating.
On a separate note, there were arguments in some of the articles that you linked to that suggested steroids may not be the (sole) cause of the kidney damage seen in pro body builders. Other factors may be the high muscle mass, low body fat, high protein diet, use of creatine, and dehydration for competition. If this is the case wouldn't we have seen similar conditions among the natural competitors such as yourself, notwithstanding the (generally) lower muscle mass?
Although short-term weight loss is readily achieved through dietary restriction, only a small minority of obese people maintain diet-induced weight loss in the long term. A multitude of hormones, peptides, and nutrients are involved in the homeostatic regulation of body weight, many of which are perturbed after weight loss. Whether these changes represent a transient compensatory response to an energy deficit is unknown, but an important finding of this study is that many of these alterations persist for 12 months after weight loss, even after the onset of weight regain, suggesting that the high rate of relapse among obese people who have lost weight has a strong physiological basis and is not simply the result of the voluntary resumption of old habits.
Taken together, these findings indicate that in obese persons who have lost weight, multiple compensatory mechanisms encouraging weight gain, which persist for at least 1 year, must be overcome in order to maintain weight loss. These mechanisms would be advantageous for a lean person in an environment where food was scarce, but in an environment in which energy-dense food is abundant and physical activity is largely unnecessary, the high rate of relapse after weight loss is not surprising. Furthermore, the activation of this coordinated response in people who remain obese after weight loss supports the view that there is an elevated body-weight set point in obese persons and that efforts to reduce weight below this point are vigorously resisted. In keeping with this theory, studies have shown that after adjustment for body composition, people whose weight is normal and those who are obese have similar energy requirements for weight maintenance and equivalent reductions in energy expenditure after weight loss. If this is the case, successful management of obesity will require the development of safe, effective, long-term treatments to counteract these compensatory mechanisms and reduce appetite. Given the number of alterations in appetite-regulating mechanisms that have been described so far, a combination of medications will probably be required. Several such combinations are undergoing evaluation, but none have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Bariatric surgery has well-documented favorable effects on appetite-mediating hormones, hunger, body weight, hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, and mortality. However, because of the attendant costs and long waiting periods, bariatric surgery is not readily accessible to most people.
I'm also with you when you say that standards will continue to rise and mass levels will continue to increase, among natural body builders as well as non-natural. Just as world records continue to be broken in athletics and similar sports, standards will rise where the sport is judged.