The real 101 guide to insulin and Bodybuilding. Doses, Timing, Different insulin analogs effects on appetite, IGF-1, Hyperplasia, Health benefits and more.
This is going to be a big topic and hopefully, I don’t leave anything out. So without further ado… here we go.
Insulin, what does it do?
Let’s focus on the main function of Insulin here: taking glucose and amino acids to our lovely muscle cells for muscle growth. (Insulin has many other functions such as driving potassium and much more but let’s focus on the main aspect most want to hear in relation to Bodybuilding).
Why is insulin needed?
So insulin drives glucose and amino acids straight to our muscles, which is what we love so much about it, right? Of course! Because sometimes as a Bodybuilder you might not be able to adequately shuttle all the nutrients to your muscles (due to many different factors). One such factor is eating insanely high amounts of food. Eat all you want, but if you are not able to shuttle nutrients to your muscles optimally you will suffer health consequences and just urinate that extra glucose out.
Another factor: drugs Bodybuilders use, such as HGH. Every study ever done on HGH shows it worsens insulin sensitivity. Now add to this fact that generally higher doses of HGH cause even worse insulin sensitivity, and you can see how many can end up with a very severe state of insulin resistance. Like we hear time and time again from actual IFBB pro Bodybuilders, that they had felt HGH slowed and even prevented muscle gains for them while using it. They either only used it pre-contest or realized they needed to add in insulin because if HGH is causing insulin sensitivity to worsen and muscles are not getting nutrients then their muscles will not grow, on the contrary, they might even shrink. A side note: before insulin was discovered and with undiagnosed diabetics, it was known as the wasting disease because patients would waste away. They would urinate their glucose out while their muscles starved until they eventually died. Obviously, you are not going to die, you are just not getting all of the nutrients into your muscles like you once were when your insulin sensitivity was good.
Hyperplasia, hypertrophy, and HGH.
The difference between hyperplasia and hypertrophy is very basically: Hypertrophy is the growth of the cell which is not necessarily permanent. Hyperplasia is the cell splitting into 2 new cells and stays as permanent growth.
Here is something about insulin you might not know: Insulin is actually shown to cause hyperplasia of the muscle cells in a fetus. Something people rave about HGH doing, yet if you read my HGH article you will see that 40 years worth of studies have never once shown actual MUSCLE tissue growth via hypertrophy or hyperplasia so all the stuff you see online on HGH inducing hyperplasia simply makes no sense. If it was causing new muscle cells to be had via hyperplasia, then the huge 280lb Bodybuilder wouldn’t be able to shrink down to 150lbs again, they would stay at 280lbs. Yet funnily we see their permanent bone growth stick around yet their muscles shrivel away to 150lbs. So much for hyperplasia right? In those same 40 years of studies, they have shown HGH to cause bone and tendon growth which is something a lot harder to do than muscle growth. Yet they could not produce a single spec of muscle even at doses as high as 27iu a day. So, the only thing we have pointed towards hyperplasia of muscles is with insulin, although it is not amazing evidence, it is a lot stronger than the (lack of) evidence for muscle hyperplasia with HGH (The insulin studies were not done in adult humans but it is still something that requires further studies).
When to use insulin, optimally for growth.
At every meal.
The whole “pre workout/post workout utilization” has never made any sense for insulin use optimally. When you work out does that mean the only time you are growing is during those couple of hours? If so then why not only eat during your workout period and call the rest of the day done for? It is well known that we don’t grow during the workout but in the rest and recovery time outside of the gym. So we eat dinner after, we eat breakfast the next day, we eat lunch etc, and all of this is helping grow our muscles we damaged inside the gym. And what is happening every single time we eat? We are releasing insulin. And why? Because insulin is needed for the muscles to repair/grow, period. Without insulin you would not grow a single ounce of muscle, that is a full out 100% fact. You could say that insulin is the single most important hormone for muscle building. If you block insulin’s effect you fully block muscle growth. You can have basically no androgen or sex hormones and still grow muscle that’s also a fact, but insulin you cannot.
So with us eating multiple times during the day to repair our muscles, and us needing insulin to shuttle nutrients to repair our muscles, it goes without saying that we need insulin every single meal. Namely for those who are eating insane amounts to grow, and/or on drugs like HGH at bodybuilding doses, hurting your ability to grow as optimally as possible. With using insulin at every meal, besides optimizing the nutrients you are eating every single meal to optimize your growth, you also get the added benefit of insulins effect on keeping your blood sugar in a very healthy range, which it might not be as a bodybuilder due to the factors I’ve already stated.
You wouldn’t eat just once a day would you near your workout? You also wouldn’t just want your workout timing to optimally drive nutrients to the muscles, would you? I am sure you would like every meal you ate to be optimally used to its fullest for muscle growth and health. So, you need to use insulin at every meal not just once a day, just like your body doesn’t naturally make insulin for one meal a day either (elaborate/clarify??)
What are the negatives of high blood sugar related to bodybuilding? Well, one of the biggest issues that should scare most people is nerve damage. High blood sugar will destroy your nerves. It’s very commonly seen in uncontrolled diabetics with constant high blood sugar levels. What comes with this? Shrunken limb muscles are the most commonly seen symptom (the weird looking bicep/triceps that seem to just keep shrinking). Another common area that nerves get damaged is in the intestines causing severe digestive issues. The intestines start losing their ability to contract properly, bringing the waste moving through your bowels to a grinding halt. This is one of the biggest issues with what is known as the “GH” gut. Someone being so backed up with slow motility (slow moving bowels) and allowing bacteria to back up into the small intestine which lets them have a hayday on your carbs causing bloat/AKA GH gut due to the bacteria producing gas. (Contrary to popular belief, GH gut is actually not organ overgrowth but gas causing your abdomen to distend due to gas production caused by an overgrowth of bacteria feeding on all the carbs in the small intestine. Carbohydrates should be nearly fully digested in the small intestine without this bacteria feasting on them. The small intestine is a near-sterile environment, unlike the large intestine where only fiber should make it down to.
Insulin use makes you a diabetic?
Since its synthetic creation in 1912, insulin has never once, EVER shown to cause diabetes. Insulin has been used in patients for decades long at hundreds to thousands of iu doses and patients have ALWAYS been able to come off regardless of the time used. There is zero evidence or proof that insulin has ever caused diabetes, on the contrary, there is only evidence to support its use and having zero negative effects on your natural insulin production. Just like with the type 2 diabetic studies where every single participant was able to fully reverse their diabetes with diet alone (actually, these studies happened to be repeated TWICE because even the medical community was shocked that every single participant was able to do so). The huge point is that in over 100 years there has never been a case of diabetes caused from using insulin, which would not even make any sense in the slightest to begin with.
“All insulin is the same in every single way”
Wrong… Every single insulin has a myriad of different effects, and like many of the things I’ve mentioned already, I can guarantee you have not heard some of these different effects via the different analogs ever touted anywhere.
Firstly, and basically, there are 3 different types of insulin analogs (insulin types). Short-acting, medium/intermediate-acting and long-acting and they have different effects on weight loss/weight gain and appetite lowering or increasing (likely the weight gain was due to the increased appetite of course and vice versa.) Examples, Lantus was shown to increase appetite and weight gain in studies while Levemir was shown to cause weight loss and decrease appetite. So depending on what you are doing… should have an effect on the insulin you choose to use. Trying to gain weight? I am sure you would not pick the insulin that lowers your appetite especially if you have a hard time eating as is. All insulins have a different amino acid sequences, they are not all the same in many ways.
Secondly, different insulin analogs have different binding affinity for the insulin receptor. Some are stronger than others while some are even weaker than the natural insulin you make.
Thirdly, different insulin analogs have different effects on IGF-1 production. Some near doubling your IGF-1 production on a very minor dose. Lantus is our specialty here.
How to time insulin use/when to use.
Long-acting insulins like Lantus should be done once a day, in the morning. Anyone telling you to use Lantus twice a day does not understand bodybuilding or the human body in this area at all. Long-acting insulin use dosed twice a day or before bed is for insulin resistant diabetics who cannot control their blood sugar levels and have constant high levels even when they are not eating and when they are sleeping. So, they need this at that time so they are not asleep 8 hours letting high blood sugar levels destroy their bodies.
Bodybuilders, on the other hand, are usually not this messed up even on very high doses of HGH. So, while Lantus’ main peak hours are the first 16 hours (with a minor level during the rest of the 8 hours), once per day in the morning is the perfect bodybuilding dosing schedule. It is at its highest when we need it and want it, during our 16 hours awake when we are eating, so we can get more nutrients into the muscle and handle any possible high blood sugar levels in between meals if we have such an issue (namely due to GH use or unhealthy eating.)
Also, creating a second peak during sleep when we are not eating lessens the effects of our insulin needs during daytime during our feeding window since we split the dose ruining our optimal growth here, can also hurt your gains due to the fact when your insulin levels are high, and you are not eating, and blood sugar dips a little low, you have actually just gone catabolic.
Studies show insulin use being a strong anti-catabolic drug in nature, once we reach the point of not having enough glucose for our insulin levels, glucagon raises which then starts breaking down our muscle tissue for glucose to balance the even slightly high insulin level to glucose in your blood. So yes, even insulin’s strong anti-catabolic nature could not stop the amino acid dumping of glucagon. So if you use long-acting insulin twice a day, you will have lower levels in the daytime when you need it the most to optimally drive nutrients into muscle, and create a nice catabolic scenario during your non-feeding (sleeping) hours.
Short-acting insulin use for a bodybuilder is the other choice. No intermediate (medium acting) here unless you are a diabetic having trouble controlling your blood sugar levels in between meals. Otherwise, you are going to miss the peak hour for your meal of insulin levels and then go hypo when you have nothing in your body and possibly catabolic due to glucagon that I already talked about above. Short-acting insulin is not too tricky, but you must also factor in your gastric emptying rate. Some are slower and some are faster than others.
As an example, even a doctor (a good one) will advise your needs might be 15 minutes before a meal or 15 minutes after a meal. This is something you have to figure out on your own by feel and/or BG readings. If you notice you start feeling hypo during a meal, your gastric empty rate might be slow, and/or you took your insulin too early before the meal. Or if you notice you are going hypo long after a meal. You took your insulin too late for your meal and or your gastric emptying rate is fast. I personally find on average most do best with 10-15mins before a meal with items like Humalog (a short-acting insulin)
Insulin dosing needs.
Anyone who ever gives you a recommendation of insulin dosing is purely just playing a game of chance and hoping you are using the optimal amount and not to low and not too high. Everyone’s insulin needs will vary and even medically the standard rule for new diabetics varies largely from 4 to 18g carbs per IU. Do you need 4 or 18g? Even more? even less? Who knows. Do you want to use less than optimal dosing where you are barely benefiting? Example using 5iu and your sensitivity is not the best while eating 150g carbs a meal, and your body actually requires 25iu? For one, you are setting yourself up for negative health effects when you require such a high dose and just hoping 5iu gets the job done, leaving your body with high BG for hours on end. And two, you are not getting anywhere near the optimal amount of your nutrients into your muscles for optimal growth.
When you want to find out the dose you require you simply start low. Say majority of your meals are 100g carbs, you pick a safe number that you are comfortable with, 2-5iu. You check your BG levels and notice that you’re a little bit high still a few hours later. (I prefer to check before meals, 1 hour after, 2 hours, 3 hours and 4 hours when first figuring out exact needs as everyone’s digestion rate varies like I already said.) So if you are a little bit high, go ahead and up it comfortably depending on how high at the next meal, say you’re a little high, up it by 2. say you’re very high, up it by 5. And continue like so.
I am not preaching anyone to use insulin here, or to know how to read a BG meter and fully understand what dose is putting their level where and how much to increase it by as well. Although at the same time people work up insulin’s dangers to be way overblown. As a bodybuilder using insulin and eating large amounts of foods, and using a dose you know is in your range, it’s basically impossible to have a complication. Studies on attempted suicides with insulin using extremely high doses have only resulted in 2.7 percent actually achieving their death. While also factoring in these people were not eating like a Bodybuilder. These people knowingly took an insanely high dose of insulin much over their needs without eating to commit suicide while a bodybuilding is consuming food to counteract the blood sugar drop and using a dose that he knows is in a safe range for his body’s needs. Again, if only 2.7 percent of people taking insanely high doses without eating food WITH the intention of killing themselves died, then a bodybuilder taking a small dose and eating 100-200g carbs a meal has pretty damn good odds.
Also to put some more things into perspective: An average male on a 3000 calorie per day diet would produce 70iu insulin, post hepatic levels so total more than this actually. This figure is for post hepatic insulin released into circulation. The pancreas actually produces about twice as much and half is exacted in the liver before it’s released into circulation via the portal vein. So when guys think their 5iu is a big dose, generally for most it will barely budge them. Also, the highest insulin dose ever recorded was 35,000iu… just some food for thought. This is the reason we have u500, which many also don’t know about. 1ml u500 is 500iu vs u100 which we all use is 100iu per ml.
My personal experience and experiences on other’s insulin needs.
On average, I find most men trying to grow, and again this is a very general average, because one guy might be eating 5k calories and the next guy 6k and so on, so take it as a very rough average. I find most men will be somewhere between 15-20iu a meal on a heavy bulk of a fast-acting insulin. And long-acting like Lantus to be around 50-70iu on a heavy bulk again for a decent sized male. Lower ranges less common is 5iu a meal and 30iu Lantus a day. Higher ranges, 100iu Lantus, and 20-30iu Humalog a meal.
All depending on their sensitivity, food intake, and if GH is used and how much. There have been times when my sensitivity was amazing and some meals/food intake 10iu was optimal for me, and there has been a time where 100iu Lantus morning and 65iu Humalog a meal was still not cutting it for me due to a GH analog. So realize this is how much sensitivity and individual needs can vary. Take no one’s suggestions of doses and start low and find what you need safely.
Does insulin make you fat?
No insulin does not make you fat. If this was the case then every diabetic out there who continues to eat shit would be growing at insanely rapid rates and we would all be able to tell the diabetics apart by them all being 800lbs. Considering the fact that a common diabetic will use insulin in the hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of IU a day. Most of us can’t tell a diabetic from a non-diabetic, well simply you can’t actually. And if it were also true, there would be no such thing as type 1 diabetic bodybuilders who have insulin in them 24/7 and able to compete at stage ready bodyfat levels.
Diet makes you fat, plain and simple. You eat you make insulin, you don’t eat, you still make insulin. Yet we can all get lean. Yes, insulin does drive nutrients into the cells, but what is insulin resistance, diabetes? It is a decrease in insulin sensitivity to the muscles. Fat and muscle have DIFFERENT sensitivities believe it or not. So no insulin isn’t going to have the same effect on everyone’s fat and muscle naturally or synthetically. And you can use specific items/supplements to increase insulin sensitivity to the muscles and decrease it to the fat cells (glutamine is one such item). So you are driving more nutrients to the muscle then fat, which again if you were resistant in the first place, your natural production would be making you fat anyways. As an example with made-up figures: let’s say naturally if you are put on 20lbs of muscle and 2lbs of fat over 6 months, with insulin it would be 40lbs muscle and 4lbs of fat 4lbs fat (remember these are arbitrary figures for an example). So what did you just do? You doubled your muscle and fat gain. Is the ratio ANY different then what you would have achieved naturally? No not at all. Sure you gained double the fat, but double the muscle, something you would have done anyway at the 1-year mark, you just attained it sooner. (Again, to restate this before anyone gets the idea that I am saying this is what will happen, I am not. I am showing a point in how insulin sensitivity at the different sites and diet play a role and insulin is doing the same job it would have done anyways.)
Diet on insulin.
Tied into the last topic above, keep your saturated fats low. If you read my macros post on dieting it goes a little more into detail. Saturated fats are one of the worst at decreasing insulin sensitivity and adding fat gain in a surplus vs fats like PUFA fats. Which were shown to add almost all muscle gain. PUFA fats also have the benefit of increasing insulin sensitivity and helping prevent white fat gain and decreasing skin fat thickness. Never go zero fats on insulin, it will hurt your muscle growth severely and it is not optimal for keeping fat off as well.
How to eat while taking insulin
I’m not going to go into crazy detail on this because it is way too big of a topic to cover. You can read my other post about diet in general and why I dislike any junk food and empty-nutrient foods. Nutrients build muscle and are needed to utilize your protein carbs and fats, and higher nutrients of many micronutrients were shown to enhance muscle growth without adding calories and help fat loss without reducing calories. A calorie is simply not a calorie, read my phosphorus article and see how adding phosphorus to the diet can have an effect (phosphorous is mainly in protein food sources, example: 100g of one meat may contain 200mg phosphorous while the next may contain 600mg, x3 the amount).
So food choices DO matter. It’s the same with carbs, eat all the carbs you want but it requires a specific amount of potassium per gram to be stored as glycogen. Like many have seen my guys who increase potassium without altering diet somehow have their weight shoot up and look much thicker due to properly holding an optimal amount of glycogen than before, which is a much more anabolic muscle. So again, nutrients matter, don’t go eating empty sugar calories on insulin use. Eat your normal meals, and add inuslin to your meals, don’t work your meals around insulin, insulin works around your meals. 100g carbs potato, 250g meat some veggies good fats, work your insulin dose around this. Don’t go adding some random crappy empty calorie dextrose or sugar drink that doesn’t support nutrient utilization of protein, carbs or fats and doesn’t aid the very complex muscle repair process. Again, read my other articles on macro dieting and why it’s bad.
Carb sources on insulin.
Fructose inhibits vasodilation and does not replace glycogen as good as glucose, But glucose solo also does not restore glycogen as well as glucose-fructose combo. But only a little fructose is needed to fulfill this job. So keeping glucose as the majority of your carb intake with a little fructose is the best scenario. We want this if we want our veins to look extra big.
– Basically, there are 3 types of insulin: short acting, medium acting, and fast acting.
– For normal people ideally you want to take a slow acting once in the morning AND a fast acting with every meal. The slow acting provides a low-level dose in the background keeping you anabolic all day and the fast-acting is needed for high spikes during meals. However, if you can only take one then either can be used, both have their ups and downs.
– Dosages vary. Trial and error depending on feel and BG levels.
That about sums it up. Putting to rest a lot of misconceptions, such as the dangers of our insulin use compared to what the reality is. Why using once a day is not optimal and doesn’t make sense from an optimal growth perspective. The bogus claims on how all insulins are the same and their effects. I hope I didn’t forget anything but I am sure I did since I just threw this together on a whim. But I will update if any more facts pop in my head on each topic here.
Also, the display picture is a good example here of insulin used optimally in just one cycle. The time length I won’t even mention as it will likely just cause a huge fight if it is true or not.