We'd be the first to say there are many benefits to pumping a little iron at the gym — from burning calories to strengthening bones. But some men are taking this too far.
That's according to new research presented at the American Psychological Association, which found that many men are abusing legal bodybuilding supplements — think protein powders, bars and glutamine capsules — in their pursuit of beefed-up bodies.
In a survey of close to 200 males who regularly hit the gym, more than 40% said they’ve upped their use of these supplements over time. And 22% replace full meals with the products.
In fact, the excessive use of these supplements is now so significant that the researchers are calling it a new class of eating disorders.
“Body-conscious men who are driven by psychological factors to attain a level of physical or masculine ‘perfection’ are prone to use these supplements and drugs in a manner that is excessive and [is] a variant of disordered eating,” explained study author Dr. Richard Achiro in an APA statement.
Even more scary, close to 30% of these gym rats admitted they were concerned about how the products were harming their health. In fact, a full 3% have already landed in the hospital because of related kidney or liver problems.
So why, given the risks, are so many men sticking to supplements?
As the study notes, these widely available products are “marketed specifically toward men hoping to achieve an ideal ratio of fat to muscle.” The researchers add that self-esteem issues, gender roles and the media's ideal of a lean and muscular man also fuel this disordered eating.
In other words: It's not just women who might suffer from society's pressure to fit certain body standards.