Look back through picture archives of bodybuilding and you will be struck by a startling fact. In the last half-decade bodybuilders have been getting much larger much quicker. Certain professionals have added twenty pounds to their contest weight in one season, after having seemingly reached a plateau. The bodybuilding audience loves to hear that this weight gain is due to some secret drug or some newly discovered gene therapy. Elaborate theories are developed to explain these rapid weight gains and the professionals themselves are not helpful; they claim that it's the new X-brand supplement that's doing it and leave it at that.
The truth is that bodybuilders have discovered the most anabolic hormone produced by the body, insulin. Additionally, insulin has the benefit of being not only legal and over the counter in most states, but it is very cheap. A bottle costs less then thirty dollars and there is no need to worry about counterfeits. By correctly using insulin, in conjunction with human growth hormone and anabolic steroids, modern professionals have added pounds of mass onto seemingly stagnant physiques.
This chapter will give a brief overview of insulin and the methods by which its anabolic action is exerted. We will outline how to correctly and safely use insulin both to gain size and to prepare for a contest (or simply diet).
Insulin: The Overview
Insulin is a peptide hormone, secreted by the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Insulin promotes glucose utilization, protein synthesis, and regulates the metabolism of sugar. Insulin travels until it reaches receptor sites on cells. At these sites insulin facilitates the transport of glucose and amino acids across the cell membrane to be used inside the cell for energy and protein synthesis. This is insulin's anabolic effect, not only in super-saturating the cells with nutrients, but also helping to volumize the cell.
There are significant risks that accompany the use of insulin. The greatest risk is an over-dose of insulin, which leads to hypoglycemic shock. This is not an overdose in the typical sense of the word; in this case it means that too much insulin was administered for the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. To this end, it is important to choose the correct type of insulin and to know when it peaks and the effective period of action of the drug in your body. This information is provided later in this chapter.
The symptoms of insulin shock are easy to recognize.
Distress is relatively rapid, usually in a matter of minutes.
Cold, clammy feeling.
Feeling of weakness or faintness.
Irritability and change in mood or personality.
Loss of consciousness.
Feed the person a source of quickly absorbed sugar. If the person is conscious, table sugar, fruit juice, honey, a non-diet soft drink, or any other available sugar source will do. If the person is unconscious, do not try to force sugar or liquid down his throat. Honey, granulated sugar, or a special capsule (such as D-glucose) containing concentrated sugars, which some diabetics carry, can be carefully placed under the tongue where it is absorbed into the body. However, this may be difficult to do.
There is another rapid form of intervention that anyone using insulin should know about; a glucagon pen. Injectable glucagon is a hormone, normally produced in the pancreas, which has effects opposite to those of insulin. It is commonly used to treat hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. It may also be used to relax parts of the gastrointestinal tract for certain examinations. It is not a controlled substance. In the event of the onset of hypoglycemia, this emergency injection will pull your blood sugar back up. If you are using insulin, you should have one of these pens with you at all times.
Take the person to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible. Severe insulin reactions can be fatal. Do not be afraid of getting into "trouble", the use of insulin is legal. You will certainly get a lecture about how crazy it is to use insulin, but you will not be arrested or detained in anyway.
It is extremely important to have someone who you can trust monitor you when you are using insulin. They should be aware of the signs of insulin shock as well as the course of action to follow in the event that you do slip into a hypoglycemic state. Some insulin users will go so far as to purchase a medic alert bracelet that indicates them as a diabetic in the even that they pass out in public.
During a bulking phase, when calorie intake is deliberately high, insulin shock is not likely to be a problem assuming that post injection nutrition is precise (as outlined later in the chapter). In the even that you begin to feel any of the above symptoms immediately begin to consume the most simple sugars you can find, particularly look for glucose polymers and dextrose. Avoid fructose, as it is ineffective at raising blood sugar levels rapidly.
In the even that you are using insulin in dieting, do not be afraid to "blow your diet" by eating candy if you feel your blood sugar getting dangerously low. Your diet is not worth your life.
Types of Insulin:
There are three important characteristics that differentiate the available types of modern insulin. To properly use insulin in bodybuilding it is important to know the following characteristics:
the time it takes the injected insulin to reach the blood stream and begin to work.
the time period in which the insulin is working it's hardest to lower the blood sugar.
the length of time the insulin will be working in the bloodstream. It is important to remember that insulin is an indiscriminate storage hormone. It doesn't care if its storing fat or glucose. Therefore fat intake should be as low as possible during the effective period of the insulin in the body. This will help prevent excessive fat gain.
For bodybuilding purposes we will only be concerned with three types of insulin; Humalin "R", Humalin "N" and Humalog are the most useful types of insulin. The other varieties are mixes of the above types in set ratios.
Humalin "N" is the longest acting insulin; it is active in the body for 24 hours. Additionally, it peaks several times throughout the day. Humalin "N' is useful in the high calorie off-season when there will always be an abundant supply of glucose. However, even the most dedicated bodybuilder who is eating many small meals may run into serious trouble in the insulin peak corresponds to a period of low blood sugar. Also, the long duration of Humalin "N' means that the bodybuilder must adhere to a low fat diet throughout the day, which is incongruously with the eating necessary to achieve brutal size.
Humalin "R" is known as the rapid insulin. The manufacturers claim that this type of insulin is active in the body for up to six hours; in reality it's closer to four and a half hours. The onset time of "R" is roughly thirty minutes and the drug peaks in one and a half to two and a half hours after injection.
Humalog is the fastest acting insulin. It has duration of about 2 hours, peaks in fifteen minutes, and is ideal for bodybuilding purposes because it is out of the body quickly. The speed at which Humalog works is beneficial because it allows us more precise control and lets us know exactly when food needs to be consumed.
Insulin Injection Procedure:
Insulin can be injected intravenously, intramuscularly, or subcutaneously. Injection insulin into the veins is creepy, but safe. However, it is not necessary to do this, as injection insulin into muscle or under the skin is just as effective.
The injection site, exercise, and the accuracy of the dosage measurement, the depth of injection and by environmental temperatures, can affect insulin absorption. To obtain consistency in daily insulin absorption and action, you should vary injection sites within the same anatomical region. The abdomen provides an excellent area for consistent absorption of insulin, whereas the leg and arm areas are often affected more by exercise. Repeated injection in the same area may cause a delay in absorption whereas massaging the site of injection may lead to an increased rate of absorption. Insulin should be injected at a 90-degree angle using an insulin syringe (25 unit, 30 unit, 50 unit, or 100 unit size) or with an insulin pen. If redness, pain, or lumps are noted at the injection site, this area should be avoided until the problem goes away.
Be sure to follow proper sterilization procedures. Wipe down the injection area with alcohol. The insulin needle is very thin so bleeding should be minimal. However, press a swab of cotton soaked in alcohol over the injection site after you withdraw the needle. This will protect almost entirely against infection.
An increase in blood flow to an injection site will increase the rate that insulin is absorbed. So, exercise will cause insulin to be absorbed more rapidly, because blood flow has increased to the exerted muscle groups. You will need to either inject less insulin or eat more carbohydrates after exercise. Rubbing the injected area increases blood flow, and hence, absorption.
Post Injection Meals and Supplements:
Depending on the onset time of the insulin type you are using you have varying lengths of time in which to ingest the post-insulin meal. Generally your post insulin meals should follow these guidelines.
60-80 grams of a good quality protein powder. Whey protein is ideal. This is taken immediately after the injection.
7 grams of simple carbohydrates (not fructose as it does not raise blood sugar quickly enough) per IU of insulin injected. Every 15-20 minutes after the first shot, take a few glucose tablets. This is will increase the amount of glucose available to your body for storage.
200 mg of chromium picolinate (this is optional).
200 mg of lipoic acid (this is optional).
30 mg vanadyl sulfate (this is optional).
2000 mg of hydroxy citric acid (this is optional).
5-7 grams of creatine monohydrate. This is crucial.
5-7 grams of glutamine powder. This is also crucial.
The total amount of insulin that you will be using daily is roughly 15-45 IUs depending on how many carbohydrates you can eat that day. During dieting periods, the total amount of insulin will be greatly reduced.
Typically, three injections of insulin are used daily. The first is taken immediately upon awaking; this is an appropriate time to use the Humalin "R". The second shot is taken mid-day and Humalog is recommended. The last injection is taken immediately after the workout of the day. If you are doing a double split training program, then take one shot after each workout and adjust your other injection accordingly. Do not take an injection too late at night; you want to be able to stay awake through the entire period of action so you can monitor yourself for signs of low blood sugar.
Anyone who is going to use insulin should take some time to familiarize him or herself with the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a ranking of foods based on how they effect the body's blood sugar levels. There are many resources that provide elaborate listing of many types of foods including fast foods. For our purposes it is merely important to identify the foods with high glycemic index scores to consume with the insulin injection. Below is a list of foods (or sugars) that scored very highly on the glycemic index.
Whole Foods or Candies
(in ascending order; Maltose elevates blood sugar the most)
High fructose corn syrup
For many, insulin may seem like the perfect bodybuilding drug. It's legal, cheap, effective, and easy to obtain. However, the decision to use insulin is not one that can be made lightly. At worst, the misuse or abuse of anabolic steroids will probably result in no more than elevated liver enzymes and a host of undesirable cosmetic side effects. Improper use of insulin will result in much more serious consequences, including death. Bodybuilders must first ask themselves if they possess the necessary maturity and intelligence to responsibly use this hormone. Look before you leap my friends.