When somebody mentions insulin, the first thought that pops up in our mind is an injectable medicine. It is no wonder, as insulin is most commonly used by people with diabetes. However, in the recent years, insulin gained a lot of popularity in the world of bodybuilders and professional athletes. Even if you are not a professional, you can order it online and use it when going to the gym. The reason why more and more healthy people opt for this type of substance is because of its highly anabolic effects. Apart from being crucial in treating some health conditions, insulin has the ability to speed up the muscle-building process, help us overcome the plateau in training, and recover from high-intensity workouts more quickly. Many bodybuilders claim that insulin is one of the most powerful substances they tried. So let’s find out what’s the fuss all about and why so many gym lovers choose insulin-based supplements.
What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone naturally produced in our organism. It is released by pancreas after we eat something. Its job is to maintain a normal level of blood sugar by pushing out glucose from our bloodstream. When we eat something, the level of sugar in our blood immediately rises, then pancreas receives the signal to release insulin. Insulin has to inform the cells to absorb sugar, and remove it from the blood flow. Insulin is also important at times when your sugar level is too low. It has the ability to store it in the liver. Once the levels drop, it is slowly released from the liver and into your organism, thus maintaining normal sugar level.
The reason why insulin is frequently associated with diabetes is the fact that having this condition means that you either cannot produce insulin or you are insulin-resistant. There are two basic types of diabetes. You have type 1 if your pancreas no longer produces this hormone, therefore you cannot properly process sugar which enters your bloodstream after you eat. The condition requires regular insulin shots in order to maintain good quality of life. Type 2 diabetes is the condition in which your organism becomes resistant to insulin. You would need shots and medications in order to process glucose. Additionally, you would have to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to slow down the progression of the disease. If not treated properly, diabetes can lead to having high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), and many other health complications. It is of paramount importance not to leave any type of diabetes untreated.
Insulin and Training
Man-made synthetic insulin is crucial for treating diabetes. However, it is now very popular among healthy people because of its anabolic effects. There are several ways in which insulin can improve our training routine and enhance the effects we get from it. Insulin is built of amino acids and it has the ability to send signals and stir sugar in the right direction. Once it enters our organism, insulin travels to different cells, including the muscle cells. They are locked and need something to tell them to allow certain substances to enter the cells. Muscle cells have insulin receptors, and once we take insulin, it gets attached to the receptors and signals the cells to open up and allow sugar, amino acids and other nutrients to enter the cells. Additionally, insulin attached to the insulin receptors leads to the chain reaction of muscle protein synthesis, which is the prerequisite for muscle growth. This is an important process in which muscle cells absorb amino acids needed for muscle development, which are allowed to enter because of the insulin activity, and build and enlarge muscles. Insulin also helps muscles relax and get more “food”. Taking insulin-based supplement increases the blood flow going to the muscle cells. Blood carries nutrients, so this process offers more nutrients to the muscles. Finally, insulin minimizes muscle breakdown and improves recovery time after a highly intense workout. Anybody who enjoys regular trainings knows how important it is to recover as quickly as possible and be at full speed at the gym again.
Another important advantage which contributes to professional athletes opting for this supplement is the fact that it has a very short half-life. It disappears for your system approximately 4 minutes after it was injected. This is why it is frequently used during competitions in bodybuilding. It is injected a few minutes before, and it quickly gets undetectable for the anti-doping testing.
Disadvantage of Insulin
One of the main disadvantages of takin insulin as a supplement is the fact that it can lead to the accumulation of fat and weight gain. The reason why this is happening is because insulin doesn’t target muscle cells in particular. Different types of cells have insulin receptors and it works for them too. What brings us greater muscles can also bring us fat around our belly. Insulin travels to fat cells and sends the signals to allow different substances to enter inside. This is how they end up taking more fat and sugar than they would if we didn’t take extra insulin. After we take this substance, our cells absorb more carbs and nutrients from blood. Apart from weight gain which will happen gradually, this can also lead to low blood sugar which can result in crash. People experience crash as a lack of energy, tiredness and exhaustion. This feeling can also make us eat more to compensate for the lack of energy which in turn leads to even greater weight gain.
High and Low GI Carbs
In order to get positive effects from insulin, and avoid the negative ones, you will need to learn what kind of food you should eat and when. In this endeavor it will help you to know the difference between low and high GI carbs. GI is the abbreviation from glycemic index and it is a measure of speed at which particular food, i.e. carbs in food become glucose in the bloodstream. Food containing high GI carbs pass quickly and more abruptly through our digestive system. They cause sudden spikes in insulin. Low GI carbs pass slowly through our digestive system causing a steady rise in insulin level and maintaining constant levels for some time.
Most of the time you should either avoid carbs or take food with low GI carbs. This way you will avoid weight gain and continue burning the fat. Contrary to the popular belief, you should take low GI food before the workout. You probably know many people who eat simple carbs just before the training with the explanation that it gives them more energy or makes the workout more effective. However, this causes a quick spike in insulin and energy, after which comes a drop in energy levels and exhaustion precisely at the time when your workout should be at its peak.
The time when you should take higher GI food is when you wake up. Not eating for several hours while sleeping causes drop in glycogen which in turn causes harm to your muscle tissue. If you take food high in GI carbs, you will prevent destruction of muscles. Another time when it is even more important to take high GI carbs is approximately half an hour after your workout. This will allow for taking more nutrients into the muscle cells and more effective muscle protein synthesis.
Some types of food with low GI carbs are: whole grain bread, brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruit juices, many types of fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, oatmeal, beans and quinoa.
Some types of food with high GI carbs are: sugar, pasta, white rice, white potatoes, white bread, corn flakes, different types of sweets and cereals.
Side Effects of Insulin
It is important to understand that insulin is no joke. The substance is not intended for healthy people whose organism produces enough insulin on its own. This is why using it as a supplement in bodybuilding can have side effects and abusing it for a continuous period of time can have very severe and dramatic outcomes. During workout, your muscle cells already use an increased amounts of sugar. This means that during high-intensity training you are already facing low blood sugar. Injecting insulin additional lowers blood sugar, which puts you at risk of hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia will manifest as dizziness, mood changes, nausea and increased appetite. It can lead to your organism crashing due to insufficient sugar level in your bloodstream. Ultimately, this condition can have a fatal outcome.
Insulin is the substance naturally produced in our organism for processing glucose and eliminating it from our bloodstream. There is also a synthetic version of insulin created for the purpose of treating diabetes. However, many professional athletes, especially bodybuilders started using it for its anabolic effects. It was discovered that apart from improving medical conditions, insulin can boost muscle growth and speed up the recovery process after workouts. Because of its very short half-life of only a couple of minutes, this substance became even more popular. However, you should always remember that insulin is not intended for a healthy person. While it can enhance your training routine, give you the advantage over your opponent or improve your body shape, this substance can have severe side effects, and it shouldn’t be taken without supervision and advice from your doctor.