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Knowing Your Bloodwork Terms - A Layman's Guide Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by Knowing Your Bloodwork Terms - A Layman's Guide

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If you use steroids you know the importance of blood tests, but do you know what they mean when you get the results?


Regular bloodwork being done by the AS using bodybuilder is an indispensable part of our routine.

It is not wise to leave these type of things to chance and just hoping that "everything will return to normal for me". Even if you continue to cycle after seeing some problem areas in your bloodtest results, you will at least be able to work on clearing these up before you do so.

Also, as I have mentioned before, High Cholesterol can be the silent killer that catches up with us later when we don't keep an eye on it. Most guys worry a lot about their nads coming back, or proper testosterone levels, or even their sperm count if they want children someday.

We don't see nearly as much concern for our cholesterol levels though.

Below is a brief discussion of the components of a blood profile and what the indicators reveal in terms of bodily functions.

Such information may help you to see at a glance what is going on in your body when you get a copy of your results. At the least you will be able to more intelligently discuss your situation with your doctor.

I am not a Physician but this information is generic in nature regarding the functions of the liver and kidneys as seen in bloodwork profiles.

It is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis and is only for personal interest.

Too many factors come in to play with bodybuilding to attribute elevated levels to impaired function of a particular organ without precise and qualified investigation by a Physician

> Blood Glucose (with 12 hour fast)

Steroids can change our sensitivity to insuline and especially certain ones such as Human Growth Hormone, the direct use of Insuline, as well as others. Checking this level will help monitor your insuline sensitivity.

> Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)

This reading will help a physician to determine the function of the kidneys in terms of urea filtration in the kidneys. Steroids have the potential of damaging the filtration system of your kidneys.

> Creatinine

This again checks the function of the kidney's by way of its ability to clear the by-product creatinine from the system. These levels could also be high due to creatine usage as the by-product of creatine usage is creatinine. It is important to have a doctor who you trust and whom you can reveal all the particulars to.

> BUN/Creatinine Ratio

Again, this is a predictor of kidney problems whether they be temporary or permanent.

> Total Protein

Blood excesses MAY indicate kidney damage. It is important to note that in some of these areas of indicators bodybuilders may have levels that are higher in a transient way rather than a permanent way. Also, whenever I have used creatine, my levels of creatinine were higher but their was no indication otherwise of kidney damage. It was just a by- product of the creatine usage. This is one reason that I advocate that bodybuilders use Physicians that are familiar with Sports Medicine and the various peculiarities that go with supplementation but which may only be fleeting changes in blood chemistry.

> Albumin

Can indicate Kidney damage.

> Globulin

Again can indicate the possibility of Kidney damage.

> Albumin/Globulin Ratio

Aspects pertinent to kidney function.

> Total Bilirubin

Liver damage is sometimes indicated by high levels of bilirubin.

> Alkaline Phosphatase

High levels of this can be a marker for liver damage.


This is the most reliable and specific marker for liver damage and can be stubborn in bringing down if total recovery is even possible. In some cases such as chemical induced hepatitis and other instances of damage it may remain elevated indefinitely. The liver is a very resilient organ but it does have its limitations.


A marker for muscle/liver damage.


Also a marker for liver damage.


An indicator for muscle/liver/coronary problems. I keep a close eye on this one as I think that it is more indicative of real problems than the changing nature of my cholesterol levels which are only temporary.

> Cholesterol

This helps your doctor to decide if you are in the realm of coronary risk. The elevation of cholesterol even if temporary is a pretty inescapable aspect of AS usage. I eat very clean with respect to saturated fats at all times. Also, I do a lot of cardio off cycle and on cycle, unless gains are crucial. Additionally, I use a niacin supplement, guggul, and Chinese rice yeast to spike my healthy cholesterol which in turn "fights" the unhealthy cholesterol.

> HDL and LDL Cholesterol Levels

It is important to have a proper balance of these two. The HDL(good cholesterol) helps keep the LDL in balance but the HDL is often driven down with AS usage. HDL less than 35 is not good and can have serious implications in terms of health consequences.

> Cholesterol/High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

The HDL level is looked at here to assess the risk of coronary artery damage in conjunction with any other relevant findings that would confirm that.

> Triglycerides

If these levels are high it could also be an indicator of coronary damage. Other factors such as high sugar consumption and alcohol could also be the culprit.

> Total Testosterone

Helps to assess the function of our natural testosterone production and depending on how long one has been off the cycle it may indicate whether your levels are functioning normally again or not. Long term usage without proper cycling or long durations of excessively high dosages of AS can permanently alter these levels in a negative way.

> Cortisol

Much can be said about how cortisol levels change in the athlete as he/she trains, but generically these levels are watched to look for adrenal problems or to indicate over- training.

Again remember that diet, heavy training and subsequent muscle breakdown, deep tissue massage, prolonged levels of mental stress, overtraining, creatine usage, recent antibiotic usage, tylenol, and other factors can also temporarily alter blood levels of various these indicators.

It is important that your doctor know everything that you have been using...even recreational drugs if pertinent. Physicians are not there to turn you in and are bound by the law in terms of confidentiality.

When I was using illegal drugs in my addiction I spoke freely to doctors about it. They are there to help and are not policeman.

One should not hesitate to find a reliable Sports Medicine Physician with whom he/she can openly discuss their steroid usage with.

It is also true that not all doctors are adamantly opposed to steroid usage and they may be willing to guide you in productive ways.

Good Luck in your bodybuilding and make your Health Number One!!!


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