By continuing use this site, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and our use of cookies.
Insulin and bodybuilding

Insulin and bodybuilding


What is insulin? What exactly is its role and mode of action? Is it necessary to manipulate insulin levels to promote muscle growth? And why do top-level bodybuilders take insulin ?


What is insulin ?

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Its main task is to control blood glucose levels by reducing the amount of sugar in the blood. It regulates and prevents blood sugar levels from becoming too high or too low.

In fact, sugar doesn't have the capacity to penetrate most of our cells. When we eat and our blood sugar rises, the cells of the pancreas receive a signal to release insulin. Insulin then unlocks the cell, allowing sugar to pass through.

When you have too much sugar in the blood, insulin stores the excess in the liver and releases it when blood sugar levels are too low.

If your body can't produce enough insulin, or if you're insulin-resistant, you risk high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). This can lead to long-term complications.

Insulin use for diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when our body misuses it. Insulin acts as a key that allows glucose to pass from the blood to the body's cells to produce energy. All foods containing carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. And insulin helps glucose enter the cells.

Not being able to produce insulin or use it efficiently leads to elevated blood glucose levels, known as hyperglycemia. In the long term, high glucose levels damage the body, organs and tissues.

There are 2 main types of diabetes:

- Type 1 diabetes

If you have type 1 diabetes, this means that your body cannot produce insulin. This happens because the cells of the pancreas have been damaged. You'll need insulin injections for your body to process glucose.

- Type 2 diabetes

With type 2 diabetes, your body has developed insulin resistance. You may need injections to help your body process sugar. However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, a more favorable approach is to combine a healthy diet with exercise to prevent long-term complications.

Can insulin strengthen muscles ?

Insulin is often referred to as the "storage hormone", because it promotes the storage of carbohydrates and fats. But what effect does insulin have on muscle protein metabolism? Does insulin increase muscle growth ?

The impact of insulin on muscle protein synthesis appears to be highly context-dependent. It has been found that insulin does not stimulate muscle protein synthesis under normal conditions, either fasting or after a meal. On the other hand, with high doses, well in excess of what the body can produce, muscle protein synthesis increases. This partly explains why it is so popular with professional bodybuilders.

While it doesn't stimulate protein synthesis at normal doses, it has been shown to reduce muscle protein breakdown. However, you only need a little insulin to maximize this effect.

How to use insulin naturally to gain muscle ?

The best way to increase your insulin levels is to use high-glycemic index carbohydrates that stimulate insulin secretion.

Knowing which foods affect your glycemic index, and therefore your blood sugar levels, is an excellent way of controlling your insulin levels. Foods like white rice, white bread, bananas or sweet jam increase your insulin levels for shorter periods of time due to their high glycemic index. Whereas foods like brown rice, sweet potatoes and oats release insulin slowly over a longer period of time.

"Take simple sugars after exercise!" This was the advice bodybuilders were given to optimize their nutrition: take "fast" sugars after exercise and/or around training to stimulate insulin. At other times, low-glycemic carbohydrates should be favored.

But as we saw above, manipulating carbohydrate intake during training is not very effective in accelerating protein synthesis, even if it does minimize the catabolic effect of training.

While you shouldn't gorge yourself on sugar after exercise, there's nothing wrong with taking carbohydrates after your session to replenish muscle glycogen quickly. However, science has shown that this doesn't make much difference to the speed at which you gain muscle, and that glycogen levels return to normal - albeit more slowly - if you consume enough carbohydrates in your diet.

So it's a false belief that you need carbohydrates after exercise to "boost" insulin levels and gain muscle. In fact, proteins - such as whey - increase insulin levels just as much.

In short, in practice, for bodybuilding, where you generally don't train several times a day, there's no need to take carbohydrates after exercise if you've consumed enough during the day.

Why do bodybuilders take insulin ?

For most people, insulin is associated with diabetes. For some competitive bodybuilders, it's a compound used to make them more muscular. As well as transporting glucose out of the blood and into cells for energy, insulin is also an anabolic hormone.

Insulin was first used by endurance athletes such as marathon runners to get more glucose into the muscles. Then, it became popular with bodybuilders who realized they could also use it to gain muscle. As we saw earlier, in addition to transporting glucose into the cell, high-dose insulin accelerates protein synthesis.

Bodybuilding pros started using insulin in addition to steroids andgrowth hormone. Why? Because these three major anabolic boosters work synergistically to increase muscle mass.

So how does insulin help you achieve more massive muscles ?

1 - First and foremost, it promotes protein synthesis, the process by which amino acids are converted into protein to repair and build muscle. In a 2006 study (1), 19 healthy young men given an intermediate dose of insulin experienced a marked increase in protein synthesis, with a corresponding decrease in muscle breakdown.

2 - Taking insulin with a post-workout carbohydrate meal also accelerates muscle glycogen supply.

Is it dangerous to take insulin for bodybuilding?

Yes, injecting insulin into the body to produce an anabolic effect is not without risk. The greatest danger is that blood glucose levels become dangerously low. Hypoglycemia is guaranteed.

Unlike diabetics, those who take insulin recreationally are already producing a normal level of insulin. Taking more insulin into the body can easily lead to hypoglycemia.

Severe hypoglycemia can be very dangerous, putting a person into a coma within minutes. Some bodybuilding pros, such as Ghent Wakefield.

Be careful when using this hormone.


AuthorAlexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his bodybuilding experience with MegaGear blog readers

Posted in: Steroid profile