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November 30, 2003

Exercise and Sports, Insulin

Question from :

My friend is healthy as a horse. He doesn't have diabetes. We both work out and have taken steroids before. No more though. I was wondering what the side effects if any would be of taking insulin while working out. Does it have any effect on making the body look better? Will it help the body in any aspect of working out?

Answer:

Insulin has attracted some attention as a body building device because abuse is difficult to detect. (See Insulin as a drug of abuse in body building.) It is however ill advised for two reasons. The first is that though insulin does indeed promote growth its primary role in an adult is to facilitate the entry of glucose into cells for conversion to energy. Added insulin can thus lead to hypoglycemia which in turn can cause unconsciousness, seizures and even permanent brain damage. In theory of course it is possible to cover excessive insulin action by an increased carbohydrate intake, something that happens occasionally in the management of diabetes; but the problem with this approach is that it is much more likely to produce obesity than to increase lean body mass. I hope this discourages you!

DOB