This is a follow on from yesterday’s post so i’d have a read of that first for full context, I hope it helps 😀
INSULIN HAS ONLY ONE REAL JOB:
Similar to the handy man who can fix everything around the house but still has his regular 9-5 ‘real job’, insulin is similar in that it has loads of secondary jobs but only one main job. Its main job is to maintain safe and steady blood glucose levels around 80-100mg/dl. When glucose levels rise above 100, insulin is secreted by the pancreas and takes the extra glucose out of the blood and takes it storage.
There are three types of storage depots for extra glucose:
1) Muscle glycogen
2) Liver glycogen
3) Fat cells
Insulin doesn’t care where it gets stored so if you have a spill over of muscle and liver glycogen (i.e. too much glucose), its gets added to fat cells. That’s how insulin levels affects fat accumulation on the body i.e. this is how it makes you fat!
THREE BENEFITS OF INSULIN!
1) BUILDS MUSCLE: As you can see above, glucose gets stored in muscle glycogen; which can allow you to workout harder for longer but insulin also stimulate protein synthesis by directing ribosomes to make more protein (protein is manufactured by ribosomes). This means that insulin is required to build muscle.
2) PRESERVES MUSCLE: Insulin also stops the breakdown of muscle. On top of being very anabolic (it helps to build muscle), it can also stop you losing any muscle you have. This same principle applies to keeping metabolism elevated.
It gives your body this amazingly feedback loop of ‘the more lean muscle your body has, the faster your metabolism, which gives you more energy, which means you don’t need ‘pick me up’ foods, which allows you to train at a higher intensity, facilitating more lean muscle, thereby further increasing metabolism’ and so on.
3) WORKS AS A TRANSPORTER: Insulin is also an incredible transporter for amino acids into muscle cells. Amino acids and supplements such as BCAA’s are escorted into muscle cells by insulin. This is crucial if you want to build muscle.
THREE NEGATIVES OF INSULIN!
1) INHIBITS FAT BURING HORMONES: Insulin inhibits an enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase, which is responsible for breaking down fat. If you cant break down stored fat (triglycerides) and turn it into a form that can be burned (free fatty acids), you’re not going to get leaner.
2) PROMOTES CARBS FOR ENERGY AND PRESERVES FAT: Insulin decreases utilisation of fat for energy, and instead promotes the burning of carbohydrates for energy. Basically insulin makes your body ‘spare’ fat. Insulin’s main function is to get rid of extra glucose in the blood and it will accomplish this by storing and burning more carbs. If you’re always burning through glucose and glycogen, you will never get into your fat stores.
3) INCREASES FATTY ACID SYNTHESIS: Insulin increases fatty acid synthesis in the liver, which is the first step in the process of gaining body fat. This is dependent of the availability of excess carbs (glucose or glycogen). Since the livers capacity is limited, an over intake of carbohydrate makes the liver expand. When the liver is filled to its maxim capacity, the excess glycogen is returned to the blood in the form of fatty acids. These fatty acids are then taken to every part of the body and stored-as fat- in the most inactive areas normally: your belly, glutes and thighs.
USING INSULIN TO GAIN MUSCLE AND LOSE FAT!
Insulin is simply an anabolic transport hormone that does its job. All it really cares about is keeping blood sugar in normal range. I’m not a big fan of spiking insulin with processed foods, refined sugars or sports supplements at any time in the day; I think these do more harm than good.
I prefer to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the entire day (by using healthy quality fats and protein) and then using carbohydrates at insulin sensitive times (post workout and/or first thing in the morning) to maximise benefit. I’ve talked in another chapter on how to determine if your body works better off carbohydrates or fats i.e. are you a ‘fat’ person or a ‘carb person?
If you have 100% determined you are a ‘carb person’, I would keep complex and quality carbohydrates in all of your main meals except your pre workout meal (for IGF 1 release, see part 1).
If you are a fat person, try just having carbohydrates in your post workout meal. Some ‘fat’ people will feel great with carbs in their breakfast meal too (especially on a tension style training program) so trial it and see how your energy levels and mental focus are.
Every person’s genetic makeup and metabolism are very different so trial different variations of carb and fat timings and see what makes you ‘feel’ the best and gives you the best energy.
The most important thing is that you are choose quality foods that your body recognises, that you are spacing your meals every 3 hours (to keep blood sugars stable) and avoiding processed food and refined sugars.
I guarantee if you choose good quality, nutritious foods, spaced every three hours with quality supplements that allow you to feel better, give you more energy and think clearer alongside a tension style training program with a high intensity cardio focus, you will get into amazing shape as a by-product of the way you are living your life. And you will probably never have to count a calorie again.