Elevating Insulin Response toCreate the Perfect CellularEnvironment for Growth
When people think of anabolic hormones, most of the time their minds jump to the big dogs in the endocrinology world. Testosterone and growth hormone are often the hormones that get the most attention in the media. What most people don’t realize is that insulin is also classified as an anabolic hormone, as it promotes the uptake and building of larger molecules and tissues.
People outside the bodybuilding field sometimes associate insulin with weight gain and excess body fat accumulation. (In fact, for people who don’t engage in intense exercise, elevated insulin levels may hinder the utilization of fat as fuel at times.) This article is not intended for the sedentary, however. The Cellular Mechanicsof Insulin Potentiation
If planned properly, an elevation in insulin at the right time is essential for promoting muscle growth, and can therefore be a valuable hormone for the strength and power athlete. When we consume carbohydrates, they are digested and absorbed primarily through the stomach and small intestine. Most carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and ultimately enter the bloodstream. As blood glucose levels rise, the kidneys detect the elevated levels and release insulin to promote glucose uptake into tissues, particularly skeletal muscle and the liver.
In addition to insulin’s glucose-related functions, insulin appears to also play a role in skeletal muscle protein synthesis by a variety of different mechanisms (1). Researchers found that when insulin was infused into leg muscle, the fractional synthesis rate of muscle protein was increased by an average of 40-65%. It appears as though several of the translation-initiation and protein-synthesis-transduction pathways are influenced by the presence of insulin. Specifically, insulin appears to activate ribosomal activity and growth initiation factors within skeletal muscle that promote the activity of a guanine-nucleotide-exchange protein eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF2B) which in turn then increases protein synthesis through a series of subsequent steps (2). Therefore by consuming foods higher in carbohydrates following exercise, one can take advantage of this anabolic effect as insulin essentially appears to “turn on” a lot of the protein synthesis-dependent pathways.
Elevated insulin levels also appear to prevent muscle protein breakdown, which contributes to the overall anabolic effect of not only insulin but insulin-like growth factors as well. Higher insulin levels will help keep skeletal muscle in a state of positive protein balance before and after a training session if carbohydrates are ingested (3). Choose the Right Carbohydrate
Most people are aware that a max-effort high-intensity training day can ramp up protein breakdown, which is why consuming the right carbohydrates at the right time can prevent this catabolic activity from occurring. Carbohydrates come in all different shapes, forms, levels of digestibility and absorption potential. One class of carbohydrates in particular, known as waxy starches, are a type of carbohydrate derived from various plant sources which may offer additional benefits compared to other traditional sugars.
Corn or waxy maize starch is a popular variation of these starches and is known for its relatively high molecular weight as a result of the higher amylopectin content. BioQuest’s Muscle Maize
contains a high amount of waxy maize starch and can serve as an excellent source of post-workout carbohydrates. Consider Muscle Maize’s added benefits, which include 20 grams of ultra-fast-acting whey isolate, hydrolyzed casein and leucine, as well as a potent matrix of energy-support compounds, and you’ve got an unbeatable one-stop-shop for all your post-workout needs. (In addition to waxy maize starch, Muscle Maize also contains the insulin transport support nutrients taurine and alpha lipoic acid.)
We haven’t mentioned amino acids yet, but obviously amino acids alone can help stimulate protein synthesis. However, when carbohydrates are added to the mix they can really help to enhance the anabolic response by promoting the up-regulation of insulin if carbohydrates are ingested following a workout. Together these nutrients can help prevent muscle catabolism creating an overall environment conducive to promoting muscle growth over time. Insulin Response, Amino Acids and Glycogen Stores
If the explanations provided above weren’t enough to sell you on the benefits of insulin, research has shown that higher insulin levels also appear to assist with the shuttling of amino acids into skeletal muscle (4). Insulin helps to recruit transmembrane transporters by calling them into action and helping promote the uptake of essential nutrients into skeletal muscle cells. Again, this is why consuming carbohydrates and proteins, more specifically essential amino acids, post-workout can help maximize the muscle growth response. The amino acids provide the building blocks for muscle growth by initiating protein synthesis and the added carbohydrates lead to elevated insulin levels which can help shuttle the growth-promoting amino acids into the muscle cell.
An added benefit of including carbohydrates in your post-workout routine is that they can help replenish muscle glycogen stores, which research has shown can be severely depleted following an intense training session. This is where an all-in-one product like BioQuest’s flagship mass builder MyoZene
can really benefit the strength and power athlete. MyoZene contains a high amount of fast-digesting carbohydrates and quality amino acids, as well as a super-rapid-action whey hydrolysate that has been processed to yield easily absorbed protein peptides. MyoZene’s capacity for strength (and subsequent muscle mass increase) was underlined in a recent brand-specific study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s National Conference, which found that test subjects consuming MyoZene
in conjunction with a 6-day training split for one month experienced a 24% to 32% improvement in muscular endurance (5). The MyoZene group also experienced favorable changes in body composition in just four weeks! Conclusion
Again, it should be noted that this overview of insulin response is intended for hardcore bodybuilders undergoing an extensive regimen of exercise over the long term. Obviously someone with health issues should be more cognizant of their fluctuating insulin levels and should seek a physician for further medical advice. (It should also go without saying that the practice of self-injecting insulin could lead to severe health complications.) Naturally potentiated support of insulin levels resulting from post-workout nutrients such as the ones mentioned above, however, can make powerful weapons in the physique-enhancement of experienced bodybuilders, and are more than capable of creating the anabolic environment you may be searching for. So to recap, insulin can be a valuable tool for building muscle if utilized at the right time and shouldn’t be feared as is sometimes the case. Higher insulin levels can help to improve muscle growth through the following ways: 1. Higher insulin levels can help augment protein synthesis within skeletal muscle by turning “on” the cellular mechanisms required to initiate protein synthesis
2. Higher insulin levels help prevent the breakdown of proteins during strenuous exercise which result in a greater overall protein balance within skeletal muscle
3. Higher insulin levels appear to help shuttle amino acids into the muscle which help provide amino acids to skeletal muscle at an essential time
4. For a bonus benefit, higher insulin levels help promote the uptake and storage of glucose. This will help facilitate glycogen re-synthesis and ensure that you are fully re-fueled for your next training sessionRead more about MyoZene here.Read more about Muscle Maize here.
1. Fryburg, D. A., Jahn, L. A., Hill, S. A., Oliveras, D. M., & Barrett, E. J. (1995). Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I enhance human skeletal muscle protein anabolism during hyperaminoacidemia by different mechanisms. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 96(4), 1722.
2. Kimball, S. R., Farrell, P. A., & Jefferson, L. S. (2002). Invited Review: Role of insulin in translational control of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle by amino acids or exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 93(3), 1168-1180.
3. Gelfand, R. A., & Barrett, E. J. (1987). Effect of physiologic hyperinsulinemia on skeletal muscle protein synthesis and breakdown in man. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 80(1).
4. Biolo, G., Fleming, R. D., & Wolfe, R. R. (1995). Physiologic hyperinsulinemia stimulates protein synthesis and enhances transport of selected amino acids in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 95(2), 811.
5. Lou L, Kalman D, Feldman S, Krieger DR. An Open Label Clinical Trial Evaluating the Effects of MyoZene with Resistance Training on Changes in Body Composition and Muscle Strength. 55th American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference. Med Sci Sports Exer 2008; 40(5): S98; 939.
Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.