Insulin: Can it boost athletic performance?

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Insulin: Can it boost athletic performance?

Question

Can insulin injections improve athletic performance for an athlete who doesn't have diabetes?

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Answer

Athletes who have diabetes may use insulin as part of a diabetes treatment plan. Insulin has been banned from use by other amateur and professional athletes, however.

For athletes, misuse of insulin may potentially improve endurance, promote the development of muscle mass and speed muscle recovery — but that's not the whole story. In addition to the legal and ethical issues surrounding performance-enhancing drugs, misusing insulin poses serious health risks.

For example, athletes who misuse insulin may experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Left untreated, low blood sugar can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness. In severe cases, low blood sugar can be fatal. Misusing insulin may also lead to insulin resistance, insulin allergy and other potentially serious problems.

If you're hoping to gain a competitive edge, don't look to insulin or other performance-enhancing drugs. Instead, adjust your training program to safely increase your strength and stamina.

Last Updated: 2008-08-26
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