Insulin is one of the body’s most anabolic muscle-building hormones. More specifically, it’s a hormone released by the pancreas in response to nutrient availability. A meal high in carbohydrates, protein, or both causes a rise in circulating insulin.
Insulin acts on its target cells to increase uptake and storage of key muscle-building nutrients. Insulin increases nutrient transporters to shuttle glucose and amino acids into the muscle cell, while preventing the catabolism of those nutrients stored as carbohydrates, protein, or fat. As such, an increase in insulin levels creates an optimal anabolic environment favorable to muscle growth. Manipulating this natural metabolic response is all the more critical immediately after your workout.
Providing your muscles with protein and carbohydrates just before a workout prevents muscle protein from being used for energy. But the post-workout period is even more important when it comes to maximizing muscle growth. Intensely trained muscles are starving for nutrients to fuel muscle protein synthesis, otherwise known as muscle hypertrophy or growth, particularly in the form of amino acids from protein and glucose from simple carbohydrates.
What the studies tell us?
Research has shown that after an intense workout, your body is more likely to synthesize muscle instead of building up fat stores, even if you take in a large amount of simple carbohydrates. This is a very important point. The popular misconception is that a large serving of fast-absorbing carbohydrates causes fat stores to increase. Indeed, if you consumed those same types of calories in large amounts at a time when the muscle isn’t trying to recover from exercise, such as in the rested state, fat cells will more readily store those surplus calories through fatty acid synthesis. However, in the post-workout period, fatty acid synthesis is reduced and muscle protein synthesis is preferred even when a surplus of carbohydrates is available. In fact, a large post-workout serving of simple carbohydrates puts your muscles into a favorable anabolic state. This means that the body’s extra insulin release, when timed correctly, promotes muscle mass. A post-workout increase in plasma insulin levels sensitizes your muscle cells and increases nutrient uptake and storage, creating an optimal anabolic environment primed for rapid muscle gains.
What should we do?
To maximize muscle growth, be sure to take advantage of your muscles’ post-workout hypersensitivity to insulin and amino acid uptake. An optimal way to do this is by combining a large quantity of high-glycemic carbohydrates along with a fast-absorbing protein blend containing whey protein concentrates of di-, tri- and oligo-peptides.
The oncoming spike will cause your pancreas to release insulin, which hypersensitizes your muscle cells for maximum post-workout nutrient absorption, including amino acids from protein. In addition, adding leucine, a highly anabolic branched-chain amino acid, to your post-workout carbohydrate and protein meal results in a significant increase in the plasma insulin response, resulting in an increase in protein synthesis and thus lean body mass. Furthermore, other compounds, such as alpha lipoic acid (ALA), taurine, and D-pinitol also potentiate insulin’s action on the muscle cell. So a post-workout formula that also includes these potent nutrients will help build even more muscle.
University Of Texas Study
Researchers and scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center recently conducted further research into the effects of insulin on the anabolic transcription factor ATF-4. Researchers identified ATF-4 as playing a central role in the hormonal regulation of amino acid and protein anabolism by coupling amino acid uptake and synthesis. More particularly as it pertains to insulin response, researchers in the 2007 study identified insulin as a trigger for ATF-4 modulation, in turn promoting an optimal anabolic response.
To optimize your natural insulin response and take full advantage of the musclebuilding properties of your natural anabolic powerhouse, follow every workout with a big serving of high-glycemic carbohydrates. But to guarantee that you generate the maximal insulin response to truly take your muscle growth to the next level, take in a post-workout supplement complete with mega-dosed amounts of proven insulinotropic compounds such as dextrose monohydrate and maltodextrin.
1. Adams, M. Christopher (2007). Role of the Transcription Factor ATF4 in the Anabolic Actions of Insulin and the Anti-anabolic Actions of Glucocorticoids. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 282, No. 23, pp16744 -16753.