Insulin Manifesto Series
When most people hear about insulin, they immediately think about diabetes. Duly noted! Insulin is not only something that diabetics need to monitor and / or inject to stay alive. Insulin is something every single human being needs to have in check! What is insulin? Easy – insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas, and this hormone allows glucose to enter muscle cells and in turn, be used for energy. Insulin is one of the most important hormones that your body produces. Think about it – every time you eat a carbohydrate, your body immediately releases insulin to stabilize your blood sugar. The insulin is released so that your body’s blood sugar does not drop too low, or raise too high. By definition, the main purpose of insulin is to allow glucose to travel to, and arrive to, your muscle cells properly. When the insulin gets to the cells, it used for muscular energy and function.
Did you know that insulin is anabolic? Well, a better question would be “Did you know that insulin causes an anabolic environment within?” Our new best friend, insulin, accelerates protein synthesis, and allows for amino acids to be utilized much faster and much more efficiently when the process begins. Attaining an insulin spike post-workout should be a necessary staple of post-workout nutrition. When you are done working out, and you drink your whey protein and what-have-you, you are going to want to cause that insulin spike, so that all those precious amino acids get absorbed quick and utilized to their fullest!
So, when do we want an insulin spike? We want an insulin spike immediately post-workout. When you are ingesting that protein to rebuild those muscle fibers you annihilated in the gym, you are not gonna wanna waste ANY inter-body processes, so get that insulin spiked, and feel those amino’s absorb. Rrraawwwrr!!
When are we most sensitive to insulin? Well, obviously, our insulin sensitivity is highest post-workout, but it is also pretty high when we first wake up. The reason for this is because after sleep, you are fully re-charged and ready to receive nutrients at an enhanced sensitivity – good to know!
Causing The Spike
Insulin is released from the pancreas whenever you eat carbohydrates, so to speak. More insulin is released the simpler the carb is. As we are all familiar with the glycemic index of foods, it is useful to know that the higher the glycemic index is, the faster the sugars enter your bloodstream, and the necessary amount of insulin is then released to regulate and stabilize the blood sugar in your body. Low glycemic foods provide a slow, steady release of sugar into the blood (a good thing) and high glycemic foods release sugar into the blood instantly and quickly, causing insulin to be released at a faster pace in order to regulate blood sugar levels (99% of the time, a not so good thing).
In case you didn’t already know, insulin plays various important roles. Firstly, insulin replenishes the glycogen stores in your liver. On top of that, insulin also happens to prevent protein breakdown after a workout, and of course, the biggest point – insulin increases the overall efficiency of amino acid absorption in the body. In a nutshell, what this means is that immediately following your workout, you are going to want to consume the simplest sugars possible along with your post-workout protein shake, to cause a high insulin spike, allowing proten synthesis to begin faster, and to allow a high uptake of amino acids into the muscles. There’s various simple sugars you can use to cause that insulin spike, but we at Gone Liftin’ prefer to utilize good old fashioned, and simple, Dextrose Sugar. Adding Dextrose Sugar to your protein shake not only makes it taste better, but it also provides the essential simple sugar to cause your insulin to spike high and reap the benefits!
The Insulin Spike Wrap-Up
- Add Dextrose (or other simple sugar) into your post-workout drink
- Reap the effects of the anabolic environment
Insulin spikes truly are as simple as that to understand!
Be Cautious, Young Padawan
Folks, unfortunately, there IS a downside to playing with insulin. Shit! Yea, yea, but nothing this good comes with no consequences.
Insulin also plays a large role in storing fat. As we mentioned above, when insulin is released into the bloodstream, glucose stores are stored as glycogen in the liver (for energy use). When your glycogen stores are depleted after a workout, this is an excellent trait of insulin. However, if your glycogen stores are full, and insulin is released, that extra glucose will be transported into your fat cells. Uh oh!! This basic concept is also why eating simple sugars on a regular basis is a bad thing. When you are not using energy for something meaningful, but ingest simple sugars on a regular basis, those simple sugars get stored as fat. Easy peasy!
Sing it one more time: consuming simple sugars post-workout will bring glucose to your muscle cells and increase the uptake of amino acids into the muscles! Other than Dextrose Sugar, other simple sugars to include post-workout are: chocolate milk, cane sugar, grapes, raisins, dates, honey, Gatorade, Powerade, etc.
Consuming these simple sugars post-workout will allow for better absorption of protein versus not consuming simple sugars post-workout. All other times of day, it’s slow-releasing, complex, low glycemic index carbs for sustained energy! Jeez… time to stop sounding like a broken record – you get the idea…
Now it’s time to move on to The Insulin Manifesto – Sensitivity, to further commence on being the best athlete you can be.