Basic Insulin guide for beginners
If you are a seasoned insulin user, this post is going to be WAY too basic to
be of value to you. The purpose of this post is to answer the very basic
questions for those completely unfamiliar with insulin and its use in the body
and for bodybuilding purposes. -RedBaron
There are a lot of posts on message boards about insulin and how it is used for bodybuilding
purposes. But more basic than this, I am frequently asked....what exactly is
insulin and what is it really doing for my body. Here is just a REALLY basic
overview of what insulin is in the most basic of terms.
What is Insulin for?
Your body's main source of fuel is a form of sugar called glucose. It gives us
energy. After we eat, glucose enters the bloodstream and signals a gland near
the stomach, the pancreas, to make insulin.
Insulin is a chemical that helps cells in your body use glucose. Insulin is
the storage hormone, glucose disposal chemical, and the main shuttle of
glucose into our muscles and other cells. As cells use glucose for energy, the
level of glucose in the bloodstream drops. If there is no insulin or the
insulin isn't doing its job too much glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
This is the condition (hyperglycemia) you find when you have diabetes.
Basic Types of Insulin
There are many different types of prescription insulin. Some are designed to
work right away and don't last very long. Other types act more slowly over
longer periods of time. Doctors routinely prescribe the type of insulin that
matches your body's needs for diabetics. Each case of diabetes is slightly
different, and depending on the length of time and severity of the condition,
the individual need for insulin and its active window varies greatly. This is
why you see so many different brands and types on the market. Depending on the
symptoms and condition of the diabetic, the insulin type is tailored to their
Bodybuilding use of Insulin
Now let's cut forward to all of us that are NOT diabetic. Our reason for using
insulin is to use its inherent shuttling ability to shuttle nutrients to the
muscles. For our purpose we are not trying to achieve long term control of
glucose buildup in the bloodstream. We are trying to transport
supraphysiological amounts of protein and sugars to the muscles for fuel,
repair, and growth. For our purposes, we want to use a quick acting, short
lasting insulin. Longer lasting insulin will most likely just equate to added
fat ... and not provide any additional positive function. We are using this
ONLY as a nutrient shuttle ... which is only needed after we have worked out
our muscles and torn them down .... this is when they are screaming out for
glycogen and protein.
As we learned above, insulin's purpose is to pull glucose out of the
bloodstream and ship it out ... helping cells use it. The problem with this is
the brain has a really, really small limited range of blood sugar levels that
it will function within. If we put too much sugar into our system uncontrolled
by insulin, we check out for good. If we have too much insulin and our blood
sugar drops too low, same result....we check out. This is the danger that is
inherent in manipulating insulin for our bodybuilding purposes. This is also
why the timing of carbs immediately after insulin injections is critical.
What, When, and How?
For the purpose of bodybuilding, we want to use a short acting insulin (such
as Humalog, or if not available next best Humulin-R). Either of these should
be very inexpensive to purchase (under $40). The dose required will end up
being between 4-10 IU's, and even in the most advanced users under 15 IU's
should get the job done. For beginners, stay in the 8-10 IU range. The most
advantageous time to use this is immediately post workout, when our muscles
are screaming out for nutrients and are in a catabolic state. We use a U-100
insulin syringe with 1/2" needle to inject IM immediately post workout.
Alternatively, you can inject sub-q if desired. When starting out using
insulin, begin with a dose of 2IU's or so, and increase the dose each workout
day until you reach your desired maximum.
Immediately following your injection, you will want to do the following
injection + 5 minutes � drink shake with 10g glutamine / 10g creatine / 55g
dextrose (based on 7-8 IU's - 7-8 grams per IU more precisely)
Injection + 15 minutes � drink shake with 80g of whey protein in water
Injection + 60 � 75 minutes � eat a protein / carb meal with 40-50g of
protein, 40-50g of carbs, NO FATS
Avoid fats for 2-3 hours for Humalog IM, 3-4 hours for Humalog sub-q, 4-5
hours for Humulin-R.
Things to Watch for
Insulin's most commons side effect is HYPOGLYCEMIA (low blood glucose). It is
important that you know the signs of hypoglycemia they may occur quickly!
- Fast heart beat
- Blurred vision
If any of these symptoms occur, you should eat some form of quick acting sugar
to prevent the symptoms from getting worse (e.g., two or three glucose
tablets, one tube of glucose gel, one-half cup of fruit juice or regular soft
drink, one tablespoon of honey, or one tablespoon of sugar dissolved in water)
Always have something like the above on hand when using insulin. Hypo symptoms
can and will hit hard and fast, and you will have a very small window of time
to react. Be ready!!
Well, hopefully you now have a basic understanding of insulin. There are many
other in-depth articles and studies available that I would encourage you to
read and study, especially before venturing into insulin use. While it is
extremely useful for bodybuilding, it is also dangerous enough to not be taken
lightly.....know what you are doing and have a plan BEFORE you begin to
consider using insulin. As in anything we do, research, research, research!!!
Hopefully this post will whet your appetite to look into insulin.....used
properly it is definitely one of modern bodybuilding's great tools.
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