The use of insulin by bodybuilders and other athletes is gaining popularity. According to some reports between five to 10 percent of
steroid-using bodybuilders may be using this drug. The insulin is usually taken in conjunction with anabolic steroids and growth
hormone (GH) for added muscle building effect.
Insulin is a natural anabolic hormone that regulates blood sugar. After a carbohydrate meal glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream. This rise in blood sugar stimulates a surge of insulin from the pancreas gland. The primary action of insulin is to lower the blood sugar and drive glucose from the bloodstream into cells to be used for energy and tissue repair. Because insulin promotes tissue repair, insulin is in fact an anabolic hormone. However, no scientific proof is yet available to show that insulin increases muscle size or strength.
People who suffer with diabetes have to inject insulin. Diabetics are unable to produce their own insulin, and without daily injections of the insulin drug, their blood sugar level escalates out of control, causing long-term damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves and blood vessels. If insulin (alone) makes muscle grow, you d expect diabetics to sport slabs of muscle -unfortunately this is not the case.
Anecdotally insulin may boost the body-building action of anabolic steroids and GH so that in combination the latter elicit a more potent anabolic effect on muscle. However, the big problem with pharmaceutical insulin is an accidental overdose can be instantaneously lethal, causing the blood sugar to drop to a dangerously low level. The victim of an insulin overdose may faint, lose consciousness and end up in a hypoglycemic coma (a medical emergency). Reports of unconscious musclemen being red-lighted into emergency rooms after experimenting with insulin is a big concern. Bodybuilders must be aware insulin can have immediate and potentially lethal side effects. For this reason, the unsupervised use of insulin poses a potentially greater health risk than anabolic steroids or GH.