Optimizing Insulin Sensitivity for Muscle Gain and Fat Loss

Optimize Antioxidant Timing

Antioxidants are important for reducing inflammation, boosting immunity and contributing to bigger muscle gains. But if you simply throw down a cocktail of antioxidant vitamin pills after your workout, you’re might be obstructing the insulin-sensitizing effects of the exercise. This especially applies to vitamins C and E. To make the most from your antioxidant intake, it’s best to take your vitamins in the morning or more than an hour before hitting the gym.

Increase Cardio

Regardless of bodybuilders’ irrational fear of cardiovascular exercise, they should be doing more of it because among other things, it can help jack up insulin sensitivity, even more so when combined with weightlifting. Studies have shown that high-intensity cardio sessions that last more than 30 minutes are the most effective at increasing the uptake of glucose into cells. The greater the levels of carbs and amino acids being taken up into the muscle, the greater growth and muscle fullness.

While resistance training also increases insulin sensitivity, cardio does it through a completely different pathway, which you shouldn’t neglect if you want best gains. The combination of cardio and resistance training will help you reach an optimal level of insulin sensitivity. Dedicated bodybuilders who wish to preserve their muscle mass while burning off unwanted fat should add at least 3 cardio workouts in their weekly programming.

Rearrange Your Carbs

All the nutrients required for life are eight essential amino acids and eight essential fatty acids. Compared to them, carbs have a very limited role in the body – they are to be stored in the liver and muscles, both of which can’t store as much as most people think. The liver can hold 80-100 grams of carbs and the muscles can only hold 1-2% of carbs by volume.



Many of our most prominent health problems are due to our diets becoming increasingly abundant with carbs – they are literally in every food item available on store shelves. Still, carbs are vital for fueling physical exercise and bodybuilders need an adequate intake of carbs to keep training hard and making gains. The only trick is knowing which carbs are good for you, which are not, and how much carbs your body actually needs, and then focus on getting them from the cleanest (unrefined) sources possible.

The first thing to have in mind is that overindulging in simple, refined carbs can easily result in excess blood sugar and eventually decrease insulin sensitivity, which is why nutritionists often recommend replacing them with complex, or slow-digesting carbs which cause a much steadier insulin release. Cut out high fructose corn syrup, fructose sweeteners, table sugar, fruit juice and even dried fruit, and opt for fast-digesting carbs only for the post-workout meal when you want to refill your glycogen reserves as fast as possible.

Still, even the cleanest, complex carb choices can harm insulin sensitivity if consumed too often and in large quantities. One way to fix this is to slightly reduce your intake of complex carbs as well. The other, much smarter solution, is to add insulin-sensitizing foods such as vinegar, cinnamon, turmeric, green tea and pickled foods to your high-carb meals. When eaten with carb-loaded foods, they can increase insulin sensitivity and prevent excess fat storage.

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