Bodybuilders are always striving to be the largest man in the room. To achieve this feat, they often abuse the largest organ in their body- the liver. With the extreme steps (food, vitamins, supplements, and steroids) that come with bodybuilding success, the liver is often exposed to extreme work. Taking a few extra steps to protect the liver is a wise move for any bodybuilder.
First and foremost, for bodybuilders, a healthy liver is required to build muscle and burn fat. Among its functions, the liver processes toxins and handles protein and fat synthesis. A healthy liver will burn fat and allow proteins to function in the muscle building process. A weak liver – or one, which is overwhelmed with toxins – will not be able to complete these tasks efficiently.
Oral steroids are very hard on the liver. NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Tylenol or Ibuprofen) are somewhat hard on the liver. And supplements, vitamins and minerals do require the liver to do some additional work. Some athletes will consume dozens of pills each day; oblivious to the work their largest internal organ is facing each day. This is not a good long-term plan. Steroids should be cycled and blood work monitored. No athlete should consume NSAIDs seven days per week.
There are a few things that everyone can do to keep the liver strong and functioning well. Avoid alcohol and tobacco – the liver metabolizes both of these foreign substances. Get adequate sleep – a strong immune system works with the liver to create a synergistic effect. Watch the protein take – this is especially important for bodybuilders and powerlifters. Anything over 400-500 grams of protein daily is excessive, and should be avoided for most people. Also, commonly overlooked by 2/3 of Americans (but not by most bodybuilders), exercise is very important for proper function.
Some supplements are very useful for helping the liver recover as well. American Cellular Labs has a product called LIVR Xtreme – probably the most effective supplement out there for improved liver function. Milk Thistle by Silymarian, Nature's Secret's Ultimate Liver Cleanse, Kyolic, Sam-e Liv 52 by Himalaya, and Nu-tek's "detox" are also popular choices for liver strength and vitality.
The liver is a remarkable organ, and it does repair itself from most reversible damage within five years. Bodybuilders, while adhering to strict diet and exercise regimens, often cause their liver damage without even knowing it. Steroid users should be especially mindful of the liver, and consult a doctor each year to have liver enzymes checked. A few extra steps, a careful eye on the sheer number of pills ingested, and a liver supplement can keep the body building muscle and losing fat efficiently – and keep the body running smoothly for years to come!