In this short article, we will cover the expected side effects of SARMs and the various protocols you can employ to mitigate these compounds’ side effect profiles during your cycle and when running a post-cycle therapy (PCT).

Like with most anabolic compounds, SARMs don’t come without their side effects. All SARMs are suppressive to one degree or another and require bloodwork to ascertain whether a PCT is necessary. Of course, you can play it by ear, but if you don’t want to visit a doctor, we recommend you try one of these testosterone home testing kits.

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Protocols: SARMs Side Effects

sarms protocol
Elevated liver enzymes is a common side-effect

The side effect profiles of each SARM varies. Some are more suppressive than others, while some may induce hair loss (LGD-4033), blurred vision (Andarine), or a watery ejaculation consistency (RAD140).

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As we’ve previously noted on SARMs Side Effects:

It’s worth noting, first of all, that although SARMs may have side effects, they are generally far less than those of other androgenic agents like steroids and exogenous testosterone (testosterone replacement therapy).

SARMs bind to the androgen receptors and mimic the effects of testosterone, increasing protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth. This is also what steroids do, but SARMs generally have an advantage over steroids, because they only bind to receptors in skeletal muscle tissue; they are more ‘specific’, hence the ‘selective’ in the name (‘selective androgen receptor modulators’). 

Steroids, by contrast, work on other tissues in the body and have, as a result, been linked to all sorts of side effects, including prostate and heart problems. SARMs are also non-aromatising, meaning that they are not converted to estrogen by the body in an attempt to maintain the body’s testosterone-to-estrogen balance.

By contrast, aromatisation can occur when using steroids or testosterone injections, which upset that balance, leading to problems such as gynecomastia (formation of breast tissue), which in severe cases, such as that of the Rock Dwayne Johnson, may even require surgery.

A need to employ a protocol varies from person to person as some may not experience any side effects while others are hit with everything at once.

A PCT protocol, as we will later discuss, is often advisable.

Some studies have suggested that there may be changes to the user’s blood profile, especially to cholesterol levels, and that levels of liver enzymes may increase, a sign of increased strain on the liver. [R]

 It should be noted that there needs to be further investigation to understand the clinical significance of changes to HDL cholesterol levels in particular as a result of oral androgen administration. Whether or not this is associated with increased cardiovascular risk, for instance, remains unclear.

One study suggested that SARMs might cause not just elevated liver enzyme levels but actual liver damage. [R] Careful examination of that study suggests clear flaws that bring that conclusion into doubt. The first of the two subjects studied was a binge drinker, which is more likely to have caused the liver damage, and the second was on an antidepressant (Venlafaxine) associated with high liver toxicity. [R] [R]

The interaction of SARMs with other drugs, such as antidepressants, also awaits further investigation.

Please consult your physician if you are consuming SSRIs and wish to take performance enhancing drugs. SARMs side effects aside, SSRIs and certain supplements might not mix well. The goal is to train for longevity and health — even though you might look to take training to the next level.

Liver toxicity may require its own protocol. On my first cycle, I ran NAC to protect my liver throughout my cycle.

“Wet” compounds such as LGD-4033 may spike your blood pressure quite significantly. This, by itself, may elicit its own protocol to minimize the unpleasant — and dangerous — side effects.

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LGD-4033 can raise blood pressure and liver enzymes

Protocols For Raised Liver Enzymes

This is a fairly common side effect for SARMs and oral steroids.

We recommend any of the following:

Avoid medications that can raise your liver enzymes and alcohol/drugs while you are on cycle.

Protocols For High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can occur from “Wet” compounds such as LGD-4033. Increased bloating and water retention can raise blood pressure.

Aside from supplements, changes to a diet lower in sodium and increased cardio can both lower blood pressure.

Protocols For Potential Hair Loss

LGD-4033 can suppress your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). If you’re prone to male-pattern baldness, throwing in finasteride can counteract certain unwanted side-effects.

Protocols For Post Cycle Therapy

Depending on which compounds you decide to run, you may opt to choose Clomiphene or Tamoxifen to restore your testosterone levels after completing a cycle. There are other options out there according to your cycle — you are beholden to research proper PCT protocols following your cycle to avoid any nasty consequences.

Protocols For Poor Blood Work (Raised Cholesterol)

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be eating fast food/junk food on cycle — or at all, for that matter. Assuming you decide to take SARMs because you are wanting to train at a higher level, your diet and training should be on point. It is silly to eat like garbage and party like no tomorrow while on PEDs.

Cardarine (GW-501516) is often run alongside other SARMs such as MK-2886 or RAD-140 to help either mitigate potential weight gain from eating in a caloric surplus or facilitate fat loss in a cut. Cardarine can also, however, help mitigate reductions in high-density cholesterol (HDL) and increases in low-density cholesterol (LDL).

Other more traditional methods include adding more cardio into your diet, while reducing total fat intake, and a generic supplement — which actually contains many of the ingredients found in our protocols for lowering blood pressure.

Conclusion

All of the above is with the intention to target mild side effects. If you suffer from real debilitating side effects, either lower the dose or terminate the cycle completely — as your health comes first.

We have a lengthy master article on SARMs that we advise you to read before purchasing.

And just a friendly reminder: the higher the dose, the higher the side effect — and the potential gains follows a law of diminishing returns.

If you have any concerns about taking PEDs, you should thoroughly research the compounds you wish to run and read our article on how long you should wait before jumping head first.

Note: This publication does not condemn or condone the use of SARMS or any other performance enhancing drug. Please note, SARMS are yet to be formally approved for human consumption and the long-term side effects are still not fully ascertained.

Protocols: Greg Doucette Talks SARMS
Protocols: MPMD goes over all noted SARMs Side Effects