Insulin has only been looked at in detail over the years in relation to Diabetes. However more recently it has been studied to find out its importance in relation to muscle growth and also fat loss.
Insulin is a hormone. It is created to remove glucose (sugar) from the blood and move it into cells within the body. Insulin is highly anabolic, which means that it is important in creating muscle. The other side to Insulin is it can also be used to increase fat stores. Insulin is released when you eats carbs, protein or even both.
It is important to learn how to control your insulin to optimise muscle growth and minimise the growth of fat stores. So how is can this be done?
Insulin Vs. Muscle
This hormone is used as a signalling tool. When Insulin is put into the bloodstream from the pancreas. It then travels in the blood to different parts of the body and included is muscle tissue. Insulin signals the tissues to allow carbs (glucose), protein (amino acids) and creatine into the tissue. It is like traffic signals and insulin allows it to change to green. When you have opened this gates to allow these proteins and carbs into your muscles it will help to lead to muscle growth. There are some other ways that insulin improves muscle development.
- Insulin also causes your blood vessels to relax and dilate this allows greater amounts of blood into your muscles. This will lead to almost all your protein and carbohydrates being put into your muscle cells so that they can be used for energy and for building muscle.
- You should stimulate insulin to instigate a biochemical reaction in your muscles that will increase protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process that causes your muscles to grow using amino acids that have entered into your muscles this can only happen with the help of insulin.
(Tip of Contest Days: Putting simple carbohydrates into the body this will push them into the muscle to make them look full and it will increase vascularity too.)
Insulin Vs. Fat
The body is always trying to spare energy. So when you eat your body will stop breaking down your fat stores. So when you eat your body will release insulin like with muscle cells insulin can open up fat stores.
When you intake glucose and fats into the body, insulin is released and these glucoses and fats will be stored in these fat pockets. The more often you spike your insulin the greater the amount of fats and sugars will be stored and the less the body will turn to the slower process of burning fat stores to create energy.
When these insulin receptors work then a large amount of the glucose within you blood will move into your muscle and fat stores. If you have just consumed lots of simple carbs and sugars then your body will crash this is known as hypoglycaemia.
A crash feels like you have no energy as if it has been zapped out of you. This is not great for either your well-being or physique. A side effect of this is that your body will feel hunger and this can cause your body to over eat. If you get really hungry and eat again you may go for those simple carbs again and cause another crash.
You can see how easy it is to put on weight with simple carbs.
How to master and manage you Insulin Levels?
Insulin as we know has both a good side and a bad one. We want to know how to use this hormone to increase muscle mass not fat. If you follow these rules then you will start seeing the results you want.
Rule 1 – Know the GI
All Carbohydrates can be put into two different categories. High glycemic index and Low glycemic index. This index is used to inform you how fast or slow the carbs you are eating are broken down into glucose and is put into you blood for use.
High GI foods will quickly drive up your blood glucose levels. This causes insulin to spike so that this glucose can be used by the body and muscles. Low GI foods pass more slowly through the digestive system and enter the blood more consistently causing the insulin levels to remain steady.
Simple Carbs (High GI) and complex carbs (Low GI) are generally easily to identify. However, there are many exceptions to the rule. For example, fruit is high in sugar, yet most have a low GI.
Another is white potatoes, white breads and white rice these are complex carbs, but are digested quickly so this puts them into the high GI category.
Rule 2 – Go Low Most of the Time
At most of your meals you want to focus on low GI carbs. This will help to keep your insulin levels low. This is to help to maintain your energy levels and will help you to burn fat. When you are having your pre workout meal you would think this is a great time to have some simple carbs with a high GI because you want to get a lot of energy quickly. However, it has been shown that taking low GI carbs before a workout helps to maintain intensity levels throughout your workout sessions.
(General Health advice – studies have shown maintaining a low insulin level increases life in animals by about 50%)
Rule 3 – Know When to Get High
There are a few times throughout the day that give you the opportunity to increase you insulin levels. The quickest way to get high is to have to high GI foods. Sweets, watermelon, white bread and honey are just some examples.
The first time to have some high GI food is at breakfast. Your body has been in a state of fasting, this causes muscle and liver glycogen to drop. (glycogen is stored carbs in the body) This will cause the body to start breaking down muscle tissue to be used as fuel.
By taking in 20-40 grams of high GI carbs in the morning when you get out of bed will help to boost insulin levels and restock muscles with glycogen and stop the breakdown of muscle cells.
I recommend fruit for this in the morning. It offers many advantages for the body, antioxidants and fibre, plus restocks the liver with glycogen before the muscles. I would also recommend getting 30-40grams of fast acting protein with fruit to restock your body. This protein will also create a positive synthesis within the muscles. This is a great way to start the day when you are trying to maintain or gain muscle mass.
If you are looking to loss some fat then missing out on carbs in the morning and just ingesting protein would help with with maintaining muscle, but would lead to you remaining a catabolic state from your sleep. Therefore your body would still be breaking down your fat stores to create energy.
The other time to take advantage of high Gi foods is during or just after your workout. Having high GI foods with a protein shake will cause the insulin to open up your gates to you muscles allowing your amino acids to enter into your muscles to kickstart your growth plus insulin itself within the muscles will promote growth too.
Rule 4 – Get Help from Protein
When you look at protein you have to look at the different forms that you can ingest protein. You have the option of foods like chicken breast and eggs or you can look at the supplements that can help you reach your protein intake. There are three types of proteins that I am going to tell you about, how they can effect your insulin and lastly the best times for you to use them.
Whey is a fast ingesting protein so will be transferred into blood quickly and will help to increase the insulin released. With this insulin release the body will absorb the proteins and also allow the glycogen into the muscles too. The best time for you too use Whey is in the morning as part of your breakfast and also as part of your post-workout shake.
Casein or Miscellar Casein is a milk protein like whey however it does not effect your insulin the same way that Whey protein does. As Casein does not cause insulin to spike, it is great to have in between meals and before sleep to help maintain muscle synthesis (muscle growth) overnight.
branched-chain amino acids are great to have throughout the day to maintain muscle synthesis and to also help you keep hydrated (if you use water-soluble). Having these during your workout and between meals is a great way of getting those extra grams of protein to reach your protein intake.
Rule 5 – Use Insulin Mimetics
Lastly using a supplement to mimetic insulin’s effects is a way for you to increase the effects of insulin at the muscle cells. You can use these as part of your post-workout shake. There are two ways to increase your insulin. Alpha lipoid acid (ALA) and Cinnulin-PF.
ALA is a potent antioxidant that enhances insulin’s actions at the muscle cell. Cinnulin-PF is a trademarked product that is water-soluble cinnamon extract that mimics the effects of insulin at the muscle cell.
If you want to use either of these products then to help with muscle gain then take about 350mg ALA or 175mg of Cinnulin-PF.