Insulin Sensitivity, Important But Overlooked Usually


Active Member
Hey, I know this forum is not as busy as it was in the hay days, but it's the only place I thought info. like this might be appreciated.

Over the years, I let myself go, got fat, didn't train, then last fall found out I was getting insulin resistant/glucose intolerant. For the last 10 months I did heavy research on just about everything related to glucose processing. I also dropped almost all the fat (just a bit to go, lost 30's some pounds in 6 months) and really improved my insulin sensitivity. In all the reading I did, I ran across some info. that I never paid attention to, or pursued in the past. When I started understanding how it all related, it made sense to me about how many pro bodybuilders have dabbled with insulin injections to gain more muscle (dumb dumb dumb!)

I thought I'd share with you guys a few interesting things about it. We know insulin shuttle glucose into our cells, and it also shuttles in amino acids. But what I didn't know / or really think about, was that...
* The more insulin resistant your muscles are, the less glucose and amino's they will take it, that means less or more growth
* Increasing their sensitivity will help muscle growth
* I'm sure it's no coincidence, but for 24 hours after a workout (about the same time course as hypertrophy) insulin sensitivity is much better in the muscles, they pull in way more glucose and proteins.
* Also, during a workout, a contracting muscle pulls in glucose AND aminos independent of insulin, their receptors open and it just goes in.

To me it made me realize something, programs with a higher frequency of training, have a huge advantage, the muscles are getting that 24 hour super insulin sensitive period a lot more often. In other words, they can suck in way more proteins if training and recovery are setup for a higher training frequency.

If anyone is serious enough to get a rough idea of their status, you can grab a really cheap glucose meter at Walmart for under 10 bucks and a small box of glucose strips for it for another 10, and a box of those pokey lancets for like 3 bucks. So for <25 bucks, you can test your glucose on waking and an hour after first bite of a high carb meal, and just see roughly how your body's insulin processing is working.
Totally anecdotal, but I've been lifting 4-5 times a week hitting the same muscle groups every workout and found I'm making progress better than previously when I lifted 3 times a week. Granted that 3 times a week is still considered higher frequency when you're hitting full body. I was given a deal on some amino acid supplements and have been taking 10 grams preworkout, as well as sipping gatorade throughout the workout. Not sure if that has made a difference or if it's the higher frequency that is doing it.

Any guidelines on what sort of numbers you're looking for when testing your glucose levels to gauge your sensitivity?
Man, each muscle 5x a week? Don't you lose strength doing that? If not, that's very cool!

Yes, if you want to find out, here are some quick guidelines.

To check your glucose, first wash your hands really good and rinse super good, then dry them with paper towels. Any contaminants can alter the reading. Dry em really good.
Poke your finger kinda by the side of the finger print pad, rather than on it, that way you wont' jump and holler OW lol

Waking in the morning, before any food or drink
reading should be under 99. Most people are in the 80's to low 90's.

Then, have some breakfast, something with carbs, maybe 2-3 pieces of toast and jam,
check 1 hour after start of eating. Should be under 150, but lower means better
Then check, 2 hours after start of meal, should be under 125, but lower is better.

Last winter, when I was out of shape and overweight, I would hit 180 at 1 hour, yikes, but that's improving a lot after losing weight, eating right and getting back in shape.
I wish someone would have had me do this 10 years ago, could have easily and quickly got a handle on my bodyfat and diet back then and avoided 7 months of dieting and fixing things to get 'almost' back to normal numbers so far.
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Totentanz - I think it is great that you seem to have hit your second wind with making gains and training. Awesome! Funny how the body goes through stages like that. Feel free to take this for what it is worth, but I was where you are now and ended up crashing and burning from the higher frequency. I trained this way for a period of time and believe the gains were good, but man was it taxing on my body. Sleep and diet must be really good in order to sustain this way of training. I am not saying that you are destined for doom here or anything, so please do not take this as a negative. All I am trying to say is that I recommend you really listen to your body. - Here is an interesting read...
Well with the higher frequency, I'm keeping volume a little lower. I aim for about 15-20 reps total for each lift. The only muscle group that has multiple lifts hitting it in one session is back. I'm probably working with loads mostly around 8-12 RM. I think the fact that I now work a desk job and previously was on my feet all day makes a difference. I worked on my feet for about 20 years, where I was standing and walking/running around for around 9-15 hours a day. So despite lifting almost every day now, I'm actually getting less overall activity than I used to simply due to the job change.

Once I start up my HST cycle, I'll probably reduce frequency as the loads get heavier, to 3 times a week and just fill in the other days with cardio. We'll see. Right now, I actually feel crappy on days I skip the workout. I think after decades of working hard all day, my body needs some degree of physical activity. Of course, I'm still making up ground in strength in many of my lifts to get back to where I was some years ago, so that's worth considering.
Sounds like a plan!

I am always happy to share my mistakes :). I have also taken a few tips from O&G over the years and his opinions have been very insightful.
Just a comment, it's odd to read 'Reduce to 3x a week' , usually, it's 'increase to 3x a week' I see in posts :)
True point!
So we can't expect 20lbs of muscle in 10 days like a webpage I read? I just have to send them 19.99 and I'm sure to gain that lol
Ha, ha, ha... Those websites and magazines.....

In my opinion, gaining 20lbs of solid muscle would take more like 2-3 years to gain in my opinion (depending on good diet, sleep, health, consistency of training and being natural or not).
Ha, ha, ha... Those websites and magazines.....

In my opinion, gaining 20lbs of solid muscle would take more like 2-3 years to gain in my opinion (depending on good diet, sleep, health, consistency of training and being natural or not).

wow missed your reply like... over a year ago! lol Ooops!

yes, except for beginners, (and still not 20 of course) but my first summer of working out for real, I gained about 8 lbs of muscle (11 total weight) in a couple months. But I was SUPER scrawny to start (5'8 117 lbs at the start) so even after that I was still way under weight. Ah the life of a skeletal ectomorph lol