Insulin Review. Forms and action of the drug. Dosage, Side Effects, Cycles

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Insulin in bodybuilding[edit]

Insulin (from Latin insula - Island) is a peptide hormone, produced in the beta cells of the Langerhans islets of the pancreas. It has a multifaceted effect on the exchange of almost all tissues. The main effect is to reduce the concentration of glucose in blood. In bodybuilding, insulin is used due to its pronounced anabolic effect. An alternative are oral hypoglycemic agents such as Diabeton.

Insulin increases the permeability of plasma membrane for glucose, activates key enzymes of glycolysis, stimulates formation in the liver and muscle glycogen from glucose, increases the synthesis of fats and proteins. In addition, insulin suppresses the activity of enzymes that break down glycogen and fat. So it also has anti-catabolic effect:

Insulin realize glucose transport in the two types of tissues: muscle tissue and fat tissue - is the so-called insulin-dependent tissues.


Metabolic insulin effects

  • Increased uptake by glucose cells and other substances;
  • Activation of key enzymes of glycolysis;
  • Increased intensity of glycogen synthesis - insulin forces the storage of glucose by the liver cells and muscle by polymerizing it into glycogen;
  • Decreased intensity of gluconeogenesis - decreases the formation of glucose in the liver from non-carbohydrate nature of various substances (proteins and fats).

Anabolic action of insulin

  • Enhanced cell absorption of amino acids (especially leucine and valine);
  • Enhanced transport of potassium ions in the cell, as well as magnesium, and phosphate;
  • Amplified DNA replication and protein biosynthesis;
  • Promoted synthesis of fatty acids and subsequent esterification - in adipose tissue and in the liver, insulin promotes the conversion of glucose into *Triglycerides; with a lack of insulin the opposite happens - the mobilization of fats.

Anti-catabolic action of insulin

  • It inhibits the hydrolysis of proteins - reduces the degradation of proteins;
  • Reduces lipolysis - reduces the intake of fatty acids in the blood.

The risk of insulin - a lethal dose[edit]

Perhaps the main factor in the bad reputation of insulin is the risk of hypoglycemia. On any forum you can find warning posts that say that even a slight excess dose of insulin can be fatal. However, scientific and practical data tells a different story: Dr. G Kernbach-Wighton and his colleagues found that lowest lethal dose of insulin - 100 units, that is, the full insulin syringe. Many people are still alive even after doses of 3000 IU! Even in case of a serious overdose of insulin there is time to call an ambulance in clear consciousness. The development of coma takes several hours, so even fatal dose of insulin does not cause death, if there is a receipt of glucose in the blood.

Which insulin is used in bodybuilding[edit]

In bodybuilding, you should use short-acting and ultra-short-acting insulin:

Short-acting Insulin

Short insulin takes effect when administered subcutaneously within 30 minutes (so it is administered 30-40 minutes before a meal), the peak of the action occurs in 2 hours, it disappears from the body within 5-6 hours.

The best choice:

  • Humulin Regular
  • HM Actrapid

Ultra-short-acting Insulin

Ultra-short-acting insulin starts to work in 15 minutes, peak is in 2 hours, disappears from the body within 3-4 hours. It is more physiological and can be directly administered before meals (for 5-10 minutes) or immediately after a meal.

The best choice:

  • Insulin aspart (NovoRapid Penfill, NovoRapid FlexPen).
  • Insulin lispro (Humalog) - a semi-synthetic analogue of human insulin.
  • Insulin glulisine (Humalog)

Advantages and disadvantages of insulin[edit]


  • A low cycle cost
  • Accessibility - the drug can be freely bought at the pharmacy
  • Quality – fakes are very rare, unlike steroids
  • The lack of toxicity, low incidence of side effects, the almost complete absence rate effects
  • Slight rollback phenomenon
  • Pronounced anabolic effect
  • Possibility to combine with anabolic steroids and other agents
  • The absence of androgenic effects
  • Insulin has no toxic effect on the liver or kidneys, and does not cause sexual dysfunction.


  • Difficult scheme of use
  • A significant increase of fat
  • Hypoglycemia

Side effects[edit]

  • Hypoglycemia or decrease in blood glucose concentration, which entails all the other manifestations. Hypoglycemia can be easily prevented.
  • Itching in the area of injection
  • Allergies - extremely rare
  • Reduction of endogenous insulin secretion - is found only during very long cycles with high doses of insulin