by Dr. David Minkoff July 02, 2023 6 min read
Many people think of bodybuilding as just trying to build the biggest muscles we can. And that’s not quite true.
Bodybuilding is about building one’s ideal physique. And, while that includes achieving bigger muscles, it also means achieving balance, symmetry and aesthetics.
But there are those who do try for building the biggest muscles they can, which there is nothing wrong with.
Unfortunately, many of them employ substances which, while helping to achieve their goals faster, and in some cases achieve more than they could naturally, also result in serious health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, something which is becoming more and more prevalent amongst bodybuilders today.
In this article we’re going to cover the use of steroids and insulin injections, why they're used, how they work, and how these significantly increase the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes down the road.
We’ll also cover how to naturally build the physique you want, and how to maintain excellent health while doing so.
Here we go.
More and more, bodybuilders are using insulin injections to help them grow larger muscles, faster.
And, while it does help to a degree, especially when used with anabolic steroids, its lasting effect is quite dangerous to their health.
So let’s take a look at the main hormones that help increase protein synthesis for muscle building, and what the affects of insulin injections are over time and why.
Insulin, growth hormone, and testosterone all play important roles in regulating protein synthesis in the body, but how they do this, and what their ultimate effects are, differ.
Insulin: Insulin is mainly responsible for regulating blood sugar levels and facilitating the uptake of glucose (sugar) into cells. The cells then mix this with oxygen to produce ATP, the energy form our cells use. Quite vital.
But as far as directly activating protein synthesis, it’s actually pretty limited.
One could say it helps protein synthesis in that it increases the availability of nutrients, such as amino acids and glucose, which are essential for protein synthesis, which is true.
But, while it’s essential for glucose uptake, growth hormone and testosterone are each much more effective when it comes to amino acid uptake.
Growth Hormone (GH): Growth hormone is a hormone involved in many physiological processes, including protein synthesis and cellular recovery. It stimulates protein synthesis by increasing the production of another hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which plays a crucial role in tissue growth and repair. IGF-1 directly promotes protein synthesis and muscle growth.
Testosterone: Testosterone is a "male" sex hormone (also present and necessary in women) that is crucial to protein synthesis. It binds to receptors in muscle tissue, triggering a series of cellular events that promote protein synthesis. And it also increases IGF-1 levels, further increasing muscle growth.
Testosterone has more of a direct effect on protein synthesis than either insulin or growth hormone.
So why do they use insulin?
Where insulin really helps in this is with anabolic steroids, where a person needs faster uptake of glucose to power them through their workouts.
You see, with heavy use of steroids, the body still needs nutrients to build the muscle the steroids are working to build. Steroids just put everything on overdrive.
So the amount of sugars needed to get into the cells, and amino acids needed for protein synthesis, is greatly increased, and normal levels of insulin just won’t cut it. They need more.
Insulin lets sugar into the cells. But cells will only take in so much sugar. If we want to force them to take in more, which we need to do when using steroids, then we need to increase the amount of insulin in the blood stream to force the cells to take in the sugar.
But this can lead to type 2 diabetes, as we’ll see.
But let’s jump into anabolic steroids first, and then will circle back to this.
Steroids are synthetic derivatives of testosterone. They mimic the effects of testosterone.
Steroids stimulate faster muscle growth several ways:
They stimulate protein synthesis, the process by which cells build proteins, resulting in increased muscle tissue growth and repair, and accelerated muscle development.
They reduce muscle breakdown by inhibiting cortisol, a hormone responsible for breaking down muscle tissue and preventing protein synthesis, thus helping to preserve muscle mass.
They increase red blood cell production, the cells that transport oxygen to muscles. This can improve endurance and overall performance during workouts, allowing for longer and more intense training sessions.
And they can accelerate the recovery process by reducing inflammation and promoting tissue repair, allowing someone to train more frequently and with greater intensity, leading to faster muscle growth.
Obviously all of this demands increased sugars and amino acids, as well as fats, for the creation of this muscle.
So they take insulin injections to help push the over-sized amount of sugar (carbohydrates) they’re consuming into the cells which normally wouldn’t take that much.
And that leads to insulin resistance and can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes…
You see, when sugar comes in, insulin tells the cells to take it in to make more energy and the cells do. That’s normal. It’s called insulin sensitivity — the cells are sensitive (respond to) insulin’s request.
But when too much sugar comes in too continually for too long, the cells don’t like this. They’re already overloaded with sugar. They start saying no. They’re resisting.
This is insulin resistance.
So the body releases more insulin to tell them to take the sugar in and they finally do. Some. The rest, which the cells wouldn’t take in, is converted to body fat, insulin’s other job.
But as time goes on the cells resist more and more, until it takes an incredible amount of insulin to get the cells to take in sugar. So much that… the body starts going into a sort of apathy about getting the cells to take in sugar and… lessens its production of insulin... and lessens it, and lessens it.
This is Type 2 Diabetes.
Now we have a problem. This sugar needs to get out of the blood stream or it causes inflammation in the blood vessels, which can lead to heart trouble later on.
But the body isn’t producing the insulin needed to shove it into very resistant cells.
So we give the person insulin injections so they have insulin to get the sugar into the cells.
That, in a very small nutshell, is how type 2 diabetes comes about.
But now look at how this affects someone taking steroids and insulin injections.
They’re taking an outsize amount of sugar as part of their macros as they’re cells would need that much to support the muscle growth steroids are pushing for.
But the cells can’t take it all in, they aren’t used to this amount, and the normal amount of insulin the body produces isn’t enough to get them to take it in. So they take insulin injections to get extra insulin.
But look now. We have the cells resisting this much sugar coming in, resisting insulin’s request. The cells become insulin resistant. So the bodybuilder now has to inject more insulin to overcome this.
Then the cells resist more and the body builder has to increase injections again.
And the cells resist more...
But also, the body is getting used to this extra insulin coming in. And other hormones and processes that normally run one way are now mixed up.
The body starts producing less insulin on its own.
Now the body builder needs the insulin just to carry on. Why? They’re type 2 diabetic.
Now, this is extreme, but unfortunately more and more common.
And, beyond this, steroids can cause other significant conditions: liver damage, cardiovascular problems, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, and decreased fertility. The list is actually quite long.
They are not good for your health in the long term.
What is good?
Getting your body the exact nutrients it needs, all of the nutrients it needs, and in the quantities that it needs them in, paired with full workouts that stimulate maximal muscle growth without causing burn out.
That’s what will get you both the best natural results and the healthiest, highest energy, longest life-span body.
No, it won’t give you the hulking body that steroids can give. But it will give you a great one and, even more, it will give you more time to enjoy it and use it.
If you’re interested in building lean, toned muscle naturally, while maintaining high levels of health and longevity, check out the Lean Bulk Program.
It’s easy to do, and more importantly, it’s effective.
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by Dr. David Minkoff
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