How To Gain 10 Pounds of Lean Mass With Proper Insulin Management

How to use insulin to gain lean mass

Let’s talk about insulin.

Insulin is a powerful double-edged sword for the bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast. While most people are familiar with the term, they don’t really know much about it, or why it’s critical to be strategic with it. Today is the day to remedy that and get you familiar with the basics.

Let’s start at the beginning…

What is Insulin

Insulin is a hormone which is structurally related to another one called growth hormone, and is basically a protein. It is not the kind of protein that you can ingest and cause muscle growth, but the kind that signals changes in metabolism and chemistry within the body (also known as a signaling protein). It is produced by a normal functioning pancreas via specialized cells called Beta cells which are found in an area known as the Islets of Langerhans. Most cells throughout the body possess insulin receptors which allow floating insulin to “dock” on to them and facilitate the uptake of nutrients into the cells.

Functions of Insulin

While this may be interesting, the real question is “what does it do for me”?

Insulin has several functions.  It:

  • Controls uptake of certain macronutrients into cells, especially carbohydrates in muscle and fat cells
  • Increases protein synthesis and uptake of amino acids (American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Endocrinology, 1998)
  • Exerts a controlling effect on the activity of various enzymes
  • Promotes storage of carbohydrates as glycogen in the liver and muscle cells
  • Increases synthesis (creation) of adipose tissue (fat) via effect of causing fat cells to uptake free floating blood lipids
  • Decreases the breakdown of protein (Journal of Applied Physiology, 2005)
  • Increases the secretion of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid)

As you can see, the range of insulin’s effects is substantial; however, as bodybuilders the main emphasis is on two conditions:

  1. Using insulin to maximize muscle growth
  2. Knowing when/how to control insulin to limit the storage of fat

Insulin is known to be one of the most anabolic hormones in the body because of its ability to promote muscle growth. But how does it do it? Let’s look…

How And When Insulin Is Released

Insulin is released in response to an increase in blood glucose levels, such as after consuming a high carbohydrate meal. It facilitates either the use or storage of glucose in the blood. While it is highly anabolic in nature, it does promote fat storage every time its levels are spiked, and this can result in an increase in muscle AND fat volume (not good). Since insulin can promote the storage of fat, carbohydrates, and the uptake of amino acids, the key is to know how to optimize the ‘spike’ so we build muscle without storing fat.

How To Time Your Insulin Spike For Maximum Muscle

The most crucial time for taking in carbohydrates and amino acids is right after your workout. Assuming you just worked out with enough intensity to break down muscle, the next phase involves reconstruction of all that damaged tissue. This is where spiking insulin comes into play. Like we discussed, insulin is known to signal the uptake of both carbohydrates and amino acids into the muscle cells. Therefore, a fast digesting carbohydrate (such as dextrose powder) and protein shake (such as hydrolyzed whey or whey protein isolate) immediately after the workout will effectively stop muscle breakdown, and restart growth. At this point in the anabolic window the body increases the uptake of these vital nutrients. This allows the muscles to repair/grow in a manner that better handles the load next time they are challenged (a process called hypertrophy).

Another time that’s prime for insulin spiking is immediately upon waking, following a 6-8 hour fast. During this period, muscle glycogen stores become depleted, with catabolism a likely outcome if amino acids and carbohydrates are not quickly supplied. The same approach is found to work here – a small dose of fast digesting carbs and protein does the job.

Insulin and Fat loss

Insulin and fat loss do not share a positive association since insulin release does not in any way improve breakdown of fat (lipolysis). As we already discussed, it is shown to increase the storage of fat. So the key to leveraging insulin’s power for muscle gain, without storing fat, is the timing and content (of food) that drives the spike. We already touched on timing so let’s look more closely at how to monitor the content of your food.

Glycemic Index

Outside of the post-workout and post-fast times, limiting carbohydrate intake throughout the day is a very good approach. One way to accomplish this is to become intricately familiar with the glycemic index (GI) of foods. The higher the GI of a food, the faster it is digested and absorbed, and the higher the insulin spike it causes. Consuming low GI foods (that digest slowly) will cause a much weaker insulin response and is a better strategy for those who find it difficult to go with a low carb approach to their diet. This of course assumes you DON’T want to store more fat.

While knowing the GI of foods is crucial, it is also important to know the exceptions that exist. For example, fruits possess high levels of fructose, which are known to be high GI foods. However, they also possess fiber, which significantly slows digestion. Secondly, fructose cannot be directly shuttled into fat or muscle cells; it must first be sent to the liver, turned into glucose, and then be sent back into circulation. This process does not occur very fast, but rather over a longer period of time. Let’s look at some specific examples of high and low GI foods…

What to Eat

Again, this info should be combined with what we already discussed in regards to timing.

High GI foods (to be consumed immediately after workout / upon waking)

  • Dextrose
  • Watermelon
  • Glucose based sports drinks
  • Cantaloupe
  • Maltodextrin (post workout)

Low GI foods (to be consumed at all times other than post-workout and upon waking)

  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain bread
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Fruits (various kinds except watermelon and cantaloupe)

Don’t Forget Your Protein

If you’re trying to gain lean mass, like most readers of this blog are, then proper manipulation of insulin is a very important factor in your overall success.  The one thing to keep in mind is when you’re eating to spike your insulin levels, make sure you’re also consuming 30-40g of fast-acting protein and as little fat as possible.  This does a couple of things.

First, by including protein you ensure your body has an adequate level of aminos to repair and rebuild the muscle tissue that was damaged during high-intensity exercise.

Second, by making sure your high GI meal doesn’t include fats, you’re minimizing the amount of fat that can be stored as unsightly “body fat”.

Which leads to a general rule for lean-mass development, which is:

  • Eat protein at every meal
  • Mix proteins and carbs or proteins and fats, but don’t mix carbs and fat if at all possible – it only leads to fat storage

How To Supercharge Your Insulin Spike

If you’ve followed along this far, hopefully you understand the main point of spiking insulin immediately post-workout is to increase the uptake of essential muscle-building nutrients and put your body in an anabolic state as quickly as possible.

But what if there was a way to put that process into over drive, making it an even MORE effective process?

If you’ll allow me to brag for just a minute, that’s exactly what I was able to do when I formulated GDA Elite.  It actually uses 3 highly-studied and tested compounds (one of which is even used in the treating of Diabetes in Europe) to supercharge your nutrient uptake by mimicking insulin in your body without the negative fat-storing side effects.

GDA Elite has a nutrient-partitioning effect that makes it more likely that carbs ingested during your post-workout meal will be used as fuel instead of being stored as fat!

(this doesn’t mean you should break the rule of thumb above, it’s just a nice added bonus)

With the proper manipulation of insulin it’s possible to add in the range of 10 lbs of lean mass in only 8 weeks provided you’re doing everything else you’re supposed to (diet, workout intensity, etc), and GDA Elite allows you to manipulate your insulin release to the maximum extent possible.

So if you’re ready to take your post-workout nutrition to the next level and get even more out of your anabolic window, check out GDA Elite.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Train Hard,


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Leave A Reply (39 comments so far)

  1. john
    6 years ago

    Thanks for the post – very helpful. I am 44 and was injured about 10 years ago which (so I thought) impeded training; 40 days ago I decided to not let my injuries control me and I started training. The results have been amazing. I also changed my "diet" and have not looked back. Ok, so I share this to set up a question: Am I eating too much fruits and veggies? I have cut all "shit" good out of my eating, but think (based on the above essay) I may be consuming too much "good" food, thus spiking my insulin too much. How can I know? Can you recommend a "food guide book" that might assist me. Thanks for your time.


  2. Rick Gray
    6 years ago

    Hey John, glad to hear you're back at it! To answer your question, in terms of fat loss/not trying to gain fat, yes – you can eat too many fruits. What happens is the fructose goes through the liver to be processed and turned into glycogen that the gets stored in the liver. If the liver stores fill up, it passes it along to the body for use or storage.

    So like the article says, most fruits don't cause the insulin spike we normally think of when we consume simple sugars, but they can lead to fat gain over time if you eat too much fruit because like anything your body doesn't use as fuel, it stores. And all that sugar in your system can lead to insulin-insensitivity which can also cause fat gain.

    There is a recipe/guidebook I recommend – it's awesome and has a ton of great stuff in it. You can check it out here:…. I actually printed and bound the PDF so it's like a real cookbook sitting in the kitchen!

    Keep up the good work.

  3. RichFar
    6 years ago

    Hi Rick,

    I have been using GDA Elite along with other Great ASR Supplements.

    The method I have followed over the last seven weeks is… immediately post workout I take 1 – 2 tablespoons of Rice malt Syrup + 1 medium just over-ripe banana + 2 x GDA Elite & 2 x Athlete Multi-Vite. I follow this 20 minutes later with a Protein shake + FSDS.

    Coupled with intense training I have decreased body weight by 13 pounds while actually increasing muscle size and definition…any Bodybuilders dream result, I expect!

    Thankyou Rick.


    • Rick Gray
      6 years ago

      That's awesome Rich, good work! Always love to hear success stories :)

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