Whether you’re trying to gain 10lbs of muscle or lose 10lbs of fat, one key hormone can make or break your success: insulin. Insulin is a protein made up of 110 amino acids, and is secreted from the beta cells in the pancreas upon the intake of carbohydrates. Being a storage hormone, many consider insulin a double-edged sword. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the body as it’s responsible for the uptake of glucose and amino acids to from glycogen and skeletal muscle tissue. Bodybuilders have put on slabs of lean muscle tissue by manipulating insulin, and it’s speculated to be the reason why bodybuilders can compete heavier than ever before. But insulin also has a dark side- it can cause to the body to store large amounts of body fat, as well.
Macronutrients are of the utmost importance when it comes to building muscle and burning fat, however if your body isn’t utilizing them properly and efficiently you will fail at both. Inefficient nutrient partitioning normally results from the body not using insulin effectively. Here are some of the actions for which insulin is responsible:
The following is a mini crash course in how insulin works in the body:
All dietary carbohydrates are broken down into the monomer glucose in the small intestine, which then is absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the blood, glucose signals the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin will then bind to the insulin receptor (IR), where it triggers a series of reactions that ultimately
leads to uptake of glucose and amino acids into the cell, glycogen synthesis, increased muscle protein synthesis, and glucose disposal (glycolysis), usually through the insulin receptor substrate/phosphoinositide 3-kinase (IRS/PI3K) pathway. GLUT4, a transporter needed to allow glucose to enter the cell, is translocated to the cell membrane via activation of the IR, and IRS pathway. Different pathways lead to different actions elicited by insulin, and herein lies how one can maximize the use of endogenous insulin to increase lean body mass or lose body fat.
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