Do Pro Bodybuilders Use IVs? Is It Safe?

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Do Pro Bodybuilders Use IVs?

I heard through the grapevine that Ronnie Coleman and other top name bodybuilders were using IVs the night before big contests. What is the reasoning for this? Is it safe?

This may or may not be true, but I have read literature stating that bodybuilders use Mannitol Intra-Venous Solutions, (IVs) which is a sugar that pulls water into the vascular system. Others may be running diuretics in this fashion as well. This use of Mannitol would in turn draw water into the veins pulling water out of the space between the cells and skin. This is very dangerous because if you screw up and put a high osmolality formula into your veins you could be in big trouble. The veins cannot take more than about 900-1000 milliosmoles before rupture occurs. Additionally, this type of treatment (for nutrition purposes) is used in hospitals, but trained professionals are monitoring the patients not a bodybuilding guru. This practice is known as either peripheral parenteral nutrition (PPN-goes through smaller veins) or total peripheral nutrition (TPN-goes through a central line or a big vein). TPN can handle a higher osmolality but it is not safe and will leave you scarred for life. Below is some current literature preaching about the dangers and non-beneficial associations with TPN. PPN is what bodybuilders use but the risks are similar. Much experience should be in presence before doing this type of doping procedure. Be careful!

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is utilized for providing nutrients to critically ill and post surgery patients. Controversially, there are only a few studies revealing that TPN actually improves recovery rate of post surgery patients. A statistical analysis utilizing the data of 11 studies, which tested the effectiveness of TPN, was taken. The analysis indicated that TPN provided slight benefits in concerns of the recovery time in post surgery patients. Another study revealed that TPN puts patients at an increased risk of infection through systemic bacteria. Further findings reported that 5% of patients suffering from severe malnutrition benefited from TPN following surgery. Further problems may arise via TPN catheter placement to include sepsis (bacteria in the system) and metabolic disorders. These complications occur in about 5-10% of patients receiving TPN.

Some TPN formulas utilize lipids instead of glucose as a concentrated source of energy. Lipids are used in attempt to avoid the metabolic problems associated with glucose metabolism in TPN. However, lipids increase the risks associated with bacteremia (bacteria in the blood). When lipid formulas are used in treating infants they can suppress immune function. Furthermore, fat may accumulate in the blood vessels and lungs. TPN promotes translocation of bacteria in the intestine to the blood. Additionally, there are other studies, which have reported enteral feedings containing glutamine and fiber may reduce risks associated with sepsis in patients that are recovering from surgery. Enteral feedings (using the gut through a tube not veins) are not as expensive as TPN and if possible, enteral feedings should be considered for use alternatively to TPN.

Enteral feedings are not the solution for bodybuilders because we can eat food and do not require a tube. Besides this would not have the water pulling effect that running Mannitol would. Once again I stress the risk associated with this method. I would seek other ways of aesthetical beauty, like dieting correctly for the proper length of time. Good luck!


1. Bihari DJ, Maynard ND. Postoperative feeding: time to rehabilitate the gut. British Medical Journal, 1991; 303: 1007-1009.

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