The Art Of War: The Battle Against Homeostasis - Part 2 - Hormonal Regulation: Insulin.

For our second part of the battle we will look to recruit the benefits of optimizing hormones for the purposes of creating superior nitrogen retention and protein synthesis and priming the anabolic drive for LBM gains.

Part 1 | Part 2

For our second part of the battle we will look to recruit the benefits of optimizing hormones for the purposes of creating superior nitrogen retention and protein synthesis and priming the anabolic drive for LBM gains.


The most anabolic of all hormones is insulin. This is the "storage" hormone and can work for you and against you being that it will assist in storage of ALL macronutrients: including protein, carbohydrates, and fats (unfortunately, LOL).

One way to take maximal advantage of this hormone's benefits for LBM/protein synthesis and glycogen storage (the form in which the body stores carbs in the muscle, a good thing) and lessen the fat storing potential is via the post-workout meal.

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This is one of the most crucial meals to 'nail' for any athlete looking to pack on LBM and keep fat gain in check. Following a bout of intense resistance exercise the body is primed for protein and glycogen synthesis. This window of opportunity lasts for only about 2 hours and it is optimal to take in the meal, usually in the form of a liquid shake for rapid digestion, ASAP following training.

In order to elicit a surge in insulin to take advantage of this special environment where muscle is sensitized to protein and glycogen storage and fat storage is desensitized a fast acting carbohydrate source is needed.

This can be in the form of sugars or sugar polymers such as sucrose or maltodextrin or simply a bowl of refined cereal with a high glycemic index… and sugar cereals are more than fine so if ya like 'em this is the time to indulge.

Now you have all that insulin charging and the carbs ready to fill back up glycogen stores, but of course we need a quality, easily digestible protein to have material for the body to synthesize new muscle.

Basically there is one and only one sound option to maximally satisfy this and that is a solid whey protein. Some may think isolates are best and they may be marginally so, but a good WPC80 will more than do and perhaps a little boost from a digestive aid specific for protein can not hurt as well.

Obviously in this environment we want minimal fat intake as we are gunning the insulin levels up to maximum and while this period may be more forgiving why risk fat accrual. Now as to the specific ratio of protein to carbs there is some conjecture that a 2:1 balance is optimal and this is perhaps sound, although I feel 3:2 or even 4:3 is better. Carbs are best at about 0.8-1.0 gram/KG BW and protein at 0.6-0.8 grams/KG BW (use the calculator below).

Determine Your Daily Protein & Carb Needs!

Body Weight:
Daily Grams Of Protein:
Daily Grams Of Carbs:

In regards to the rest of the days eating how you approach insulin will be determined by your metabolism, genetics, and body type. For those who fat gain is an arch nemesis than by and large it may be best to keep insulin low throughout most of the rest of the day and particularly after late afternoon hours.

For classic ectomorphic body types who struggle to put on weight and seems to remain lean no matter what they eat insulin can be your friend to enhanced protein synthesis with larger meals and higher carb content.

Also it is best to separate periods of increasing bodyweight classically termed bulking although I do not like that term (it is NOT a license to get fat!) and cutting as then each period insulin can be specifically regulated for maximally producing the desired effect.

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Only the very few genetically gifted seem to be able to put on any significant level of LBM and strip fat at the same time. For the rest of us using insulin management to its full advantage is best whereas adding LBM (with a little but not too much fat) and stripping body fat are best done in separate cycles. Remember insulin can be friend or foe and it is all up to you to make the most of this hormone.

About The Author

Dave Douglas is considered by many in the know to be one of the top go to guys for information in relation to physique and performance enhancement from the 'basics' to the extreme cutting edge. His expertise runs the gamut from the sciences of training and nutrition to supplementation from both a nutraceutical and pharmaceutical perspective. Relying on a bent toward both research and real world experience, he is known on many boards for his passion to constantly search out the truth within the layers of art and science in this arena.

Part 1 | Part 2