When it comes to building muscle and athletic performance, hormones in the body can play key roles in both. When it comes to building muscle, generally speaking, there are two hormones, both naturally created inside the body, that are especially anabolic.
They are testosterone, and insulin.
Now, insulin is secreted by the pancreas, in order to help to control and regulate sugar levels within our blood.
Studies have shown that meals high in carbohydrates, either simple or complex, and meals high in protein, or even both for that matter, have been found to cause an increase in insulin secretion within the body.
So, what does all that have to do with building muscle?
You may be wondering what all this has to do with building muscle, well, the answer is relatively simple, once you understand the basic science behind it all of course.
You see, insulin is designed to act upon cells within the body, allowing them to increase the amounts of muscle building nutrients that they’re able to absorb.
For instance, insulin is able to increase the amounts of glucose and amino acids that each cell within our muscles is able to absorb.
This increase in insulin is absolutely ideal for building muscle, as it creates an ideal anabolic environment and anabolic surroundings which are perfect for building optimal levels of muscle.
It’s all about pre and post-workout nutrition
Still not quite following? No problem. Basically, it’s all about pre and post-workout nutrition.
For example, before we train, we need energy to get us through each workout right? Well, to get that energy, we eat foods rich in protein and carbohydrates, as this prevents the body from eating away at proteins and amino acids contained within our muscles, in order to provide it with energy.
When the body eats away at the muscle tissue, this is when the body falls into a catabolic state, as opposed to an anabolic state.
However, it is actually post-workout, immediately following your workout, that is the most important.
When we exercise and break down our muscles, due to the fact that they’re so heavily trained and fatigued, the muscles are literally starved of nutrients, nutrients which are vital in order for them to repair themselves via protein synthesis. Ideally, amino acids from protein, and glucose have been found to be the most beneficial at giving the muscles what they want.
After a workout, your body is more likely to create new muscle tissue, as opposed to storing fat, even if large amounts of carbohydrates are consumed. People seem to think that consuming large quantities of carbohydrates immediately following a workout is wrong, when in actual fact, it’s proven to be very beneficial indeed.
This is down to the fact that the muscles are so desperate for nutrients in order to synthesize new muscle proteins and tissues.
If you were to consume a vast amount of carbohydrates when the muscles are perfectly rested, they would be stored as fat, but immediately following a workout, the body has a more important use for them, to help repair the muscles.
This period of time immediately following a workout, is known as the “anabolic window” and it is the most vital time to get your nutrition on point. These carbohydrates immediately following your workout, put the muscles into a fantastic anabolic muscle building state, which means that this extra insulin released thanks to the carbohydrates you’ve consumed, can actually help to promote muscle mass.
What is the most effective method for using insulin to my advantage?
In order to truly reap the benefits associated with using insulin to our advantage, we need to know exactly what we’re doing. Without a shadow of a doubt, the time to get your nutrition right is immediately following your workout, I.E your post-workout shake/meal.
Studies have found that the most effective way of doing this is by combining a large amount of high glycemic carbohydrates, with a fast absorbing protein source, typically in the form of a whey protein powder.
Many bodybuilders will either eat a sugary fruit, an orange perhaps, with their whey protein shake, or they will even combine dextrose sugar powder, with their protein powder, to make the ultimate post-workout shake.
These carbohydrates and sugars result in a dramatic insulin spike in the body, which basically allows your muscles, or rather the cells within your muscles, to absorb as many muscle building nutrients as they possibly can, which can lead to muscles not only healing and repairing themselves quicker, but can even lead to the creation of new muscle tissue thanks to protein synthesis.
Remember, the time to use carbohydrates and insulin to your advantage is during the “anabolic window” which is generally around one hour following your training.
Don’t expect to be able to boost your carb and sugar intake on none training days, or several hours before or after training, and to still reap the same muscle building benefits, as the body doesn’t work like that, and all you will be doing is adding extra calories which will be stored as fat, or disrupting your blood sugar levels, which could even lead to diabetes.
Do your research, find out exactly how many grams of each nutrient you need, and try to consume them immediately following your workout. Within no time you should begin to notice a very significant difference in your physique.