Does Insulin Make You Fat?
No. A diet with too many calories makes you fat.
The problem with insulin use in bodybuilding is that the protocols given out typically don’t make any logical sense.
The problem boils down to bodybuilders eating excessive amounts to match their arbitrary insulin dosages, as opposed to how a diabetic would use inuslin (the correct way) where the insulin dosage matches the diet.
The diet isn’t meant to be changed to match an arbitrary dosage of insulin
Misinformation In The Bodybuilding Community
Insulin protocols are something that I saw extremely frequently when I was first getting into hardcore bodybuilding.
They were typically centered around periworkout nutrition and focused on how to shove the maximum amount of nutrients possible into the muscle.
The goal was to achieve a level of nutrient uptake above and beyond what you would normally be able to do without exogenous insulin.
One thing I started to notice a lot (and is even more prevalent today) is poor advice on insulin usage.
This is the reason why 90% of bodybuilders who try insulin just get fatter and don't get much out of it.
The reason is, there are so many coaches who give their clients an arbitrary amount of insulin to use, and then concoct a dextrose, maltodextrin, highly branched cyclic dextrin, or other fast digesting carbohydrate shake with some EAA’s or Hydrolyzed Whey mixed in and tell them to drink it with the insulin shot to “shuttle the nutrients” and build huge amounts of muscle.
Reverse Engineering The Purpose Of Insulin Use
If you actually reverse engineer how insulin works in the body you will see that when you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar goes up accordingly, and your pancreas responds by releasing insulin in order to bring your blood sugar down.
This is why diabetics who have burnt out beta cells and don't have a functioning regulator of insulin secretion have to manually inject insulin to complete that same function that non-diabetics endogenously have naturally.
The purpose of the insulin is to bring your blood sugar down in accordance with your current diet.
Insulin Protocols In Bodybuilding
A very common scenario is a bodybuilder eating a calorie surplus trying to grow, and then their coach telling them something like, “Here, use 8 iu’s of Humalog and then drink this pre-workout”.
Does that actually make logical sense when you think about it?
The whole point of insulin is to bring your blood sugar back to homeostasis, not to add calories that are just above and beyond what your body needs to be glycogen loaded.
If you're in a caloric surplus because you're trying to gain muscle, the chances of you being glycogen depleted totally to zero from your workout are slim to none unless you're a hardcore endurance athlete doing cycling, competing in Ironman Triathlons, or something similar.
Diabetics use insulin around their diet.
For example – How would a diabetic individual who eats three meals a day that have 75 grams of carbs in each use insulin?
Their insulin would be used in accordance with those 75 grams of carbs per meal at a dosage that would bring their blood sugar down to healthy levels.
The dosage used would be entirely dependent on what dosage of insulin is necessary to bring their blood sugar back to healthy levels, and not based on some arbitrary amount of insulin in a predetermined protocol.
Diabetics use their insulin based on what they consume, and how much insulin they will need to regulate their blood sugar in response to that food intake.
You will often find bodybuilders framing their insulin usage on the complete opposite.
Believe it or not, it’s actually common for misinformed bodybuilders to end up eating more than they need to, often literally slamming straight sugar or other liquid based carbs with a fast gastric emptying time with EAA’s, and then injecting random amounts of insulin for no reason whatsoever to “shuttle the nutrients” to the muscle, and then being puzzled when they just end up gaining fat.
What A Smarter Insulin Protocol Would Look Like In A Bodybuilding Context
Practical application of insulin would be dosed accordingly around your carbohydrate intake that you currently eat in order to gain muscle.
NOT your diet plus a bunch of arbitrary amounts of sugar to prevent you from going hypoglycemic from a predetermined insulin dosage
Here are 2 examples, one being a logical insulin protocol, and one being an illogical one (the illogical one is actually more common among bodybuilders).
Logical Insulin Use: For breakfast (or any other meal), whatever amount of carbs is in the breakfast would then determine the appropriate insulin dosage to offset the blood sugar increase from that meal.
The insulin dosage would also be dependent on the type of insulin used, and the individual’s insulin sensitivity/blood sugar.
The 10 grams of carbs per IU of insulin rule commonly found on forums is not something to adhere to, and is about as logical as time on = time off for steroid cycles.
You might need a lot more, or you might need a lot less, it all depends on your body.
This would all be regulated and determined by strictly monitoring your blood sugar levels throughout the day with a glucose monitor.
Illogical Insulin Use: Randomly injecting 7 iu’s of Humalog for no reason pre-workout and then drinking 70 grams of Vitargo with EAA’s to “shuttle nutrients” in the middle of your workout.
Bodybuilding Coach/Guru Red Flags
I'm not a coach and I'm not trying to give advice here necessarily, I'm just trying to tell you what to red flags to steer clear of if you see it in a coaching plan.
If your diet already has you taking in a surplus of calories to gain muscle every day and your coach tells you to add a random predetermined insulin shot with a predetermined shake on top of that diet, inquire as to what it's going to accomplish when you're already in the surplus of calories and the carbohydrates in all of your other meals are being unaccounted for.
Why is the insulin not being worked around the diet that's comprised of more than enough carbs than you already need to grow?
Why are there shakes being added on top of your calorie surplus? They are unnecessary and will just spill over into unnecessary fat gain.
Keep in mind how diabetics use insulin and relate it to your personal needs if you're using it for bodybuilding purposes.
To clarify, I’m not a coach or a doctor, and I have no official credentials whatsoever to tell anyone about how to use insulin properly.
I'm just speaking from experience and years of research, and trying to steer you clear of what not to do when it comes to insulin.
The goal of this article is to avert a potential scenario where you just gain fat trying to get jacked using some predetermined insulin protocol your coach made for you, or you found online on a forum that doesn’t take into account your macronutrient intake or insulin sensitivity whatsoever.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.