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If you’re a bodybuilder, you might have come across people who use insulin in combination with anabolic steroids and might be wondering if insulin is a steroid too.
Unlike anabolic steroids that share similar molecular profiles to testosterone and cholesterol, insulin is not a steroid.
That being said, it is sometimes used by bodybuilders alongside anabolic steroids to bolster their effects.
Is Insulin a Steroid?
Insulin is not a steroid, but a non-steroid hormone
Technically, insulin and steroids are both hormones, but different kinds—at the chemical level, insulin is a peptide hormone, not a steroid hormone.
Knowing that insulin is a peptide, not a steroid can help you clear up confusion about other compounds.
For example, is glucagon a steroid? No, glucagon is also a peptide hormone, not a steroid.
Is cholic acid a steroid? Nope, peptide hormone again.
Other non-steroid peptide hormones include:
GHRP-2 and GHRP-6
Peptide Hormones VS Steroid Hormones
The biggest difference between peptide and steroid hormones is the way that they induce their effects on the body.
Peptide hormones are not lipid-soluble and thus must bind to the receptors located on target cells, creating a cascade effect, in order to affect them.
Conversely, steroid hormones are lipid-soluble, meaning they are able to pass through cell membranes and enter the nucleus, where they have significant effects on cellular functioning.
Like steroids, insulin is naturally created by the body and plays an important role in bodily functioning, including the regulation of protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas and exerts its effects on the liver, where it promotes the creation of glucose from glycogen. Afterwards, insulin kick-starts the spread of glucose into cells, which can lead to the growth of muscle tissue.
Despite not being a steroid, insulin has effects that many bodybuilders seek in steroids, including the ability to bolster protein synthesis and bone density.
It also leads to an increase in the creation of Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), which is an anabolic hormone.
Insulin Benefits for Bodybuilding
When obtained through a legal prescription, insulin is used help restore its levels to normal in those living with diabetes.
But just like anabolic steroids, insulin is also administered exogenously to create bodybuilding benefits, specifically the growth of lean tissue. That’s why steroid users take insulin.
In addition to bolstering protein synthesis and IGF-1 creation to promote an anabolic environment great for bodybuilding, insulin also helps increase levels of luteinizing hormone, which stimulates Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone.
Increased muscle protein and testosterone synthesis are two of the primary characteristics of anabolic steroids that make them so popular in bodybuilding.
It’s easy to see why people engineer hybrid insulin steroid cycles that combine the power of steroids with the testosterone-generating capability of this popular hormonal supplement.
Insulin with Anabolic Steroids
Insulin’s effects on anabolism give it the potential to develop lots of lean muscle mass in short periods of time, and many bodybuilders use it alongside anabolic steroids to promote muscle growth.
This combination also offsets body fat gains, which we discuss later.
Anabolic steroids are taken during bodybuilding cycles to help consolidate muscle tissue.
With boosted testosterone levels, your body is much more adept at going through the process of tearing and repairing muscle, giving you increased gains in the gym.
That’s where insulin comes in — it prevents muscle from being broken down. Combined insulin and steroid results include an efficient process whereby steroids create new muscle and insulin prevents their breakdown, further increasing your muscle gains.
Body Fat Gains
Insulin provides many benefits that bodybuilders view as ideal for combining with anabolic steroids.
But it can also lead to the production of a significant amount of body fat—definitely not ideal for optimizing your gains!
High insulin levels diminish the body’s ability to burn the fat stored in your body.
Bearing this in mind, it is important to craft a diet that combats these negative impacts on metabolism with low glycemic index (GI) carbs. Some examples of food with low GI carbs include:
Beans, such as black, kidney, or pinto
Wholegrain pumpernickel bread
Keeping watch over the amount of fat and calories that you consume is essential when taking insulin along with anabolic steroids.
Without doing so, you will risk the glucose and protein in your foods beings stored in fat tissue as opposed to muscle tissue.
For best results, it is recommended to take insulin following weight training and with food high in simple carbohydrates and protein.
The primary side effects of insulin stem from its ability to induce low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
Glucose tablets or hard candy seem to be easy ways to combat these symptoms, as they spike your blood sugar back up quickly. But you may just see another crash after that.
Although hypoglycemia can be dealt with, it can also be fatal if it’s severe enough.
Symptoms of hyperglycemia include increased thirst, headaches, blurred vision, frequent urination, weight loss, and fatigue.
If you are a diabetic or have insulin resistance, you’re blood glucose levels are often too high.
Also be aware that mixing Insulin with Growth Hormones such as GHRP-6 can lead to palumboism.
You might be wondering how much insulin to take for bodybuilding.
If you’re going to supplement your routine with insulin, taking 3 to 4 iu’s of a fast-acting form like Humulin R following your workout, combined with a protein shake (40 g of protein and 150 g of carbohydrates is ideal), is a great start.
About 30 minutes later, eat a meal properly balanced with protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates.
After consistent use, you can slowly start to up your post-workout dosage.
Is It Worth It?
Regardless of the potential muscle gains that insulin can bolster when used along with anabolic steroids, the potentially fatal side effects make it a risky choice, especially when natural alternatives can give you similar results.
For example, using CrazyBulk’s D-Bal, designed for muscle gains, in combination with Testo-Max, created as a natural testosterone alternative, you can create a safe, legal stack that can keep your testosterone high and maintain your muscle gains.
There’s also the option of Clenbutrol, which was specifically designed for cutting and gaining lean muscle.
Ultimately, although insulin is not a steroid, it has many of the same benefits and downsides as the synthetic steroids used by bodybuilders.
While some decide to accept its risks in exchange for the potential benefits, natural alternatives are still the best way to get the gains you need.
Steroid-induced diabetes mellitus (also called steroid diabetes) can occur from the use of corticosteroids used to reduce inflammation.