The Science of Shredded Striated Muscle (Part I)

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

Insulin Efficiency Leads to Faster, Bigger, Leaner Gains

Original post: February 11, 2011



One of the major underlying forces that drives lean mass anabolism and thermogenic elimination of unwanted body fat is insulin. Optimally functioning insulin activity can contribute to optimal protein synthesis, anabolic drive and lean muscle production. On the other hand, insulin inefficiency or resistance can make your lean gains proportionally difficult to attain.


In addition, lack of insulin efficiency is a huge factor contributing to calorie mismanagement and body fat accumulation. Not only does insulin inefficiency contribute directly to the stuffing of the adipose fat cell (white fat under the skin); it literally turns down the thermogenic fat furnace fire by snuffing out brown fat cells (thermogenically active to burn fat) with the overproduction of autocrine (specifically prostaglandin – PGE-2).


Insulin is a central metabolic gear and once its activity slows down, general metabolism slows down and even a minute downward shift translates into slower lean gains, harder and longer hours on the cardio program and a need to drop calories. Even anabolic agents, natural or otherwise, will work at less optimal effectiveness with this subpar metabolism.


What’s the status of your biological insulin activity? If you want to build lean massive muscle that’s shown off through a thin ‘onion’ skin you’ll want to get serious about your fat-burning supplement and back off on the overtraining. The way to get to your shredded goal is to make certain every molecule of your secreted insulin is working at or above baseline potency.


More training to compensate for this metabolic sluggishness is not necessarily going to get you shredded; it might just backfire by depleting glycogen, and cellular hydration and catabolising the very muscle you’re trying to build. Glycogen depletion and turgor loss within the cells associated with lysis and water loss caused by overtraining will make you look flat and take away the force that pushes lean striated muscle through an onion skin surface. Don’t compensate for metabolic insufficiency with more catabolic training.


In this series of articles I plan to address the role of insulin in sports nutrition and how controlling ENDOGENOUS insulin can help achieve faster, bigger, and leaner gains with less work and more time to recover.


Keep in mind that in the gym you’re tearing down tissue and USING UP glycogen and other energy sources. Regeneration of lean tissue, mass building, glycogen restoration, nitric oxide elevation and nitrogen improvement occur when you are out of the gym resting. More time spent in the gym means more tissue catabolism, fewer nutritional resources and less time for recovery and mass building. The end result of this overtraining is less than maximum muscle and increased risk for injury and illness.


An understanding of this basic principle highlights the importance of planning training sessions so they are intense but short in duration to save energy, nutrients and time for recovery and rebuilding. If this balance is thrown off, results are simply less than maximum. This fundamental principle applies to those of us who are starting up in the bodybuilding culture just like it does for a Mr O, who has fine tuned it over time to fit his metabolism.


authored by Prof Franco Cavaleri BSc NB; Mr IFBB North America


go to part II

go to part III

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