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Insulin is a highly anabolic and powerful hormone produced by all human beings and is essential to a well-functioning individual. Although produced naturally by the human body, insulin is often administered exogenously to those suffering from diabetes. Some performance athletes also use it in an effort to grow lean tissue. However, off-label use can be potentially fatal; extreme caution is advised.
Although all human beings naturally produce insulin, exogenous insulin first appeared in the 1920’s. This was not a synthetic model, but rather extracted from the pancreas of dogs and latter cattle and pigs. While purity was a major issue of concern, the use of exogenous insulin was highly praised as it would save the lives of numerous individuals. Diabetes without insulin treatment can easily be fatal, and while animal extract isn’t pure any impurity issues were considered worth the risk when death was the alternative. However, by the 1970’s purity issues had been greatly resolved, and in 1975 Ciba would introduce the first batches of synthetic insulin to the market. A few years later in 1982, the synthetic version would be perfected even more with the introduction of Humulin-R, which is a perfect copy of human insulin and approved by the FDA.
Insulin Functions & Traits:
Insulin is produced by the pancreas and is officially classified as a peptide hormone. On its functional basis, insulin is responsible for the utilization and regulation of glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. It is also responsible for preventing the metabolic breakdown of glycogen, fat and protein.
For the diabetic patient, there are two types of diabetes that can make insulin necessary. Type I diabetes patients, normally a condition that occurs naturally, do not produce enough insulin on their own to meet their body’s needs. Type II diabetes patients do naturally produce insulin, but the body does not recognize it at the cell site, or at least not at a suitable level. Type II diabetes is most commonly brought on by obesity.
As a peptide hormone secreted by the pancreas, insulin in a positive fashion acts on the liver in order to stimulate the formation of glycogen to glucose. This action further inhibits the formation of non-carbohydrates to glucose. From here, insulin actively promotes the facilitated diffusion of glucose through cells, which has the ability to promote muscle tissue growth. High levels of insulin have been directly linked to enhanced protein synthesis. High levels of insulin have also shown to significantly promote increased bone density as well as increasing the production of Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF), a highly anabolic hormone in its own right and structurally similar to insulin.
The functions and traits of insulin do not end there; this hormone has been shown to facilitate an increase in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). With this increase in LH and FSH, this can potentially increase the production of testosterone in the body. Although the LH and FSH promotion is not notably strong, it is notable enough to mention.
Effects of Insulin:
Regardless of the type of diabetes an individual may suffer from, regulating the control of blood sugar can largely sum up the effects of insulin. Due to its strong anabolic and anti-catabolic properties, insulin can also be beneficial to various athletes. Unfortunately, the use of exogenous insulin for off-label use, those who do not suffer from diabetes, has the potential to promote significant body fat gain. It can also lead to an untimely death if the proper steps of use are not followed.
Regardless of the risk, due to the anabolic and anti-catabolic effects of insulin, some athletes find the hormone worthwhile. However, it can only be worthwhile if body fat is controlled. While perhaps a bit simplified, when insulin levels are high the body’s ability to burn stored body fat is greatly decreased. Due to the potential negative effects of insulin on the metabolism, those supplementing for performance purposes will need to hold to a strict diet that is well planned and thought out. The individual will want to be careful with his calories and fat intake. This will help to ensure glucose and protein is stored in the muscle tissue rather than adipose tissue. Due to the need to control the metabolic effects and maximize the anabolic effects of insulin, the individual will find the best time to take insulin is immediately following an intense weight training session. When administered, this should be accompanied by food; we’ll go over this in the administration section.
Due to the effects of insulin on anabolism, large amounts of lean muscle mass can be built in a relatively short period of time. It is hard for many men to control the potential body fat gain, but it can be done under the right circumstances. The use of anabolic steroids along with insulin as well as Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is normally advised in a performance setting. This will not only promote more growth, but the addition of anabolic steroids and HGH will help the individual tremendously as it pertains to controlling body fat.
Side Effects of Insulin:
There are possible side effects of insulin, and primarily they will surround hypoglycemia. For the diabetic patient, this is generally not a major issue with proper dosing; however, it is a risk in a performance setting. On its surface, hypoglycemia may not sound all that bad, but this can carry with it many possible effects. Due to a hypoglycemic reaction, the side effects of insulin can be quite extensive and even lead to death.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which blood glucose levels fall to low and is the primary side effect of insulin. There are many symptoms associated with hypoglycemia, the primary symptoms include:
- Blurred Vision
- Heart Palpitations
- Tingling of the Hands, Feet, Lips or Face
- Loss of Focus
- Slurred Speech
- Personality Changes
- Unsteady Movements
If the primary symptoms of hypoglycemia occur, which are the primary side effects of insulin, the individual should immediately consume fast acting or simple carbohydrates. Candy, a sugary drink or juice or related combinations are always good choices. Regardless of such symptoms occurring or not, the individual should not go to sleep after administering insulin. If you begin to feel drowsy, this is a good indicator that you need more carbohydrates. If you ignore this warning and go to sleep after administering insulin, you may reach a hypoglycemic state in your sleep, which if not remedied (you can’t remedy it if you’re asleep) could be fatal. If for any reason severe hypoglycemia sets in, you should immediately seek out medical attention. For this reason, due to the potential side effects of insulin you should not administer the hormone when you are alone. You should always have someone present just to be on the safe side.
A common question many have pertaining to the side effects of insulin is how serious is severe hypoglycemia? How concerned should you be about such a condition? Although it is easy to correct in most cases, it is possible to slip into a diabetic coma, and you may not wake up. There have been several deaths linked to performance based insulin use over the years, and it’s hard to get any more serious than death.
Beyond hypoglycemia, there are other possible side effects of insulin that surround an allergic reaction. Some individuals will note swelling, itching, irritation or tenderness at the injected site. While these effects are possible they are also rare. Even less common but still possible includes rash, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, wheezing or a drop in blood pressure. If such side effects of insulin occur, while rare, medical attention should be sought out immediately.
The final side effect of insulin is the localized enhancement of adipose tissue. When the hormone is injected into the same area repeatedly it appears to have the ability to promote fat storage in that area to a greater degree. For this reason, injections should be rotated rather than localized in the same spot repeatedly.
For the purpose of treating diabetes, Type I or Type II, the total dosing can vary greatly depending on patient need. There is no set standard doing we can give you due to random individual need.
Then we have performance enhancement, but before we get into insulin doses we must first recognize there are multiple forms of insulin available. There are multiple short and long acting insulin compounds, and depending on the one you choose will determine your total plan.
Standard or the most common insulin dose for the purpose of performance enhancement will be 1iu per 10lbs of bodyweight. However, the first time insulin user will want to start a little lower. In fact, a first time user will start with 1iu per day immediately following weight training and increase by 1-2iu’s per day until he finds a comfortable dosing range. If you find hypoglycemia symptoms start to show and have a difficult time reversing them even with large amounts of simple carbohydrates, this means you have taken your insulin dose too high. You may very well never be able to tolerate a 1iu per 10lbs of bodyweight dose and there’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, most men do not need that much despite many thinking they do.
Once you have settled on your precise insulin dose, the best time to administer the hormone is immediately following weight training. This is a small time frame but will prove to be the most advantageous. Once injected, most men will need at minimum 100g of carbohydrates. The hormone will be injected and the individual should begin consuming his solid and liquid carbohydrates approximately 15 minutes after the injection. Protein should also be consumed with your carbohydrates; approximately 40-50g should suffice.
While most men will need 100g of carbohydrates, keep in mind this is the minimum. You may find you need quite a bit more, especially as your insulin doses increase. However, you should also keep in mind it really doesn’t take a lot of insulin to get the job done, and it can be easy to overdo it. Start with low doses and progressively work your way up, but keep it moderate and only increase the dose as needed.
Once injected and the simple carbohydrates and protein are consumed, it is imperative you keep fast acting carbohydrates on hand in case hypoglycemia symptoms set in. A responsible insulin user will never inject this hormone without adequate amounts of carbohydrates on hand within arms reach. If the symptoms begin to show, simply consume carbohydrates until they go away. Depending on your insulin dose and genetic factors, this could at times mean a massive amount of carbohydrates. Regardless of hypoglycemia symptoms showing or not, once the post insulin injection meal is consumed the individual should plan on eating another meal very soon.
Insulin is a very important hormone in terms of our health and body’s proper function. As a performance tool it can really aid in building muscle quite unlike many hormones, but its use is risky. Even without the risk of death, many men will have a very difficult time controlling their body fat with this hormone. Most men will never need it for performance related goals and will be far happier with their physique in the long run if they avoid it. However, it still has an appeal for many men. It is very popular and commonplace in high level competitive bodybuilding circles, both amateur and professional. But keep in mind, such individuals are often genetic freaks who are also using massive amounts of other hormones that aid in the process. The standard every day gym rat that uses performance enhancing hormones will get fat with exogenous insulin use.
Insulin can also have an appeal to some athletes who are not physique minded. Insulin is not detectable in any drug test. Some athletes will use this hormone in conjunction with HGH and perhaps very low doses of testosterone and thyroid medications in order to avoid testing issues. Normally their total insulin dose will, however, be rather low.