Sunday, July 5, 2009
The GI’s importance relates to blood sugar’s e ects on the hormone insulin,
the primary hormonal mediator of fat storage. Among its hundreds of dif-
ferent functions, the body uses the hormone insulin to control the amount
of sugar (glucose) in the blood, help pull amino acids into the cells, turn on
protein synthesis in lean tissues and regulate body fat storage.
Problems with the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose appear if insulin
does not properly bind to its receptors on the membranes of the cells or if
the cells do not readily accept blood sugar.
As already indicated, the general name for the failure of normal amounts
of insulin to maintain blood sugar (i.e., glucose) within acceptable levels
is insulin resistance. When insulin does not bring blood sugar down after
meals, the body secretes higher amounts of insulin until serum glucose
levels eventually fall.
Not surprisingly, diets and nutrients, which reduce the amount of insulin
required by the body, also appear to reduce the tendency toward excessive
weight gain, especially in insulin insensitive people.
Controlling the GI of meals allows a person to keep a steady and predict-
able blood sugar level, which can lead to possible improvements in body
fat levels, energy levels, etc. For the diabetic (the original reason the GI was
invented), it can mean the di erence between life and death.
Since the hormone insulin is well known for its ability to store glucose in
muscle, increase protein synthesis and possibly increase muscle mass, it
has predictably gotten the attention of bodybuilders and other athletes.
In fact, it is sometimes said that insulin is a primary anabolic hormone pro-
duced by the body.
Some researchers feel that insulin is almost as important to lean muscle
tissue as the anabolic hormones testosterone and growth hormone ( GH).
Insulin has direct e ects on IGF-1 binding proteins (IGFBPs) and directly
mediates some of the e ects of IGF-1.
Unfortunately, insulin certainly has its downside. Of course, most people
know that insulin metabolism out of control will make a person rather fat,
since insulin is a primary hormonal mediator of fat storage.
Insulin resistance increases the number of calories stored as fat and in-
creases the amount of fat produced by the liver from carbohydrates. It
gets worse: it turns out that insulin plays a big role in whether we produce
our own fat from carbohydrates. And if we are making even a little fat, we
turn o our ability to burn fat because the body does not make new fat and
burn already stored fat at the same time.
Of course, the concept of “ insulin management” for adding new muscle
to the hard-training athlete’s frame is all the rage with various bodybuild-
ing magazines, supplement companies and nutritional guru types. If you
can manage insulin via the GI correctly, you can add new muscle without
adding a great deal of body fat. This is the goal of proper insulin manage-
It’s obvious that athletes and bodybuilders are far more aware than the
general public of the importance of insulin, hence the popularity of insulin
potentiating compounds such as chromium and vanadyl sulfate.
Some bodybuilders have chosen to go the Kamikaze route by injecting in-
sulin directly, but it does not take a rocket scientist to realize how danger-
ous this practice is.
Can you say “coma?”
Also, many bodybuilders who play with insulin injections end up looking
more like the Michelin Man than a bodybuilder.
One thing should be clear by now: proper insulin management is of para-
mount importance whether for athletes looking to add new muscle with-
out adding body fat, as well as for non-athletes trying to avoid a host of
Athletes want to improve their insulin/blood sugar metabolism because
they know it can lead to increases in lean mass, glycogen storage in mus-
cle, and decreases in body fat. The avoidance of future medical problems
is certainly not a bad motivator, either