Why is Insulin Considered to be a Steroid? (5 Side Effects)

Last Updated on June 16, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Insulin is not a steroid. However, insulin can often be considered a steroid because steroids are chemically made to resemble hormones produced in the body, similar to how artificial insulin is made and injected.

Steroids, however, fall under the lipid group of compounds. On the other hand, insulin is a peptide hormone that is formed of amino acids. This makes it different from the other hormones that can be made into steroids for the body.

The primary reason why insulin is said to fall under the steroid category is that it helps maintain the muscles in the body. Although insulin is not an anabolic hormone, it still allows some similar hormones/ anabolic steroids to carry out their functions.

Insulin works alongside other anabolic steroids, such as – human growth hormone or testosterone, to help with muscle retention. These common steroids help to spawn new muscles in the body.

Veggie causing Diabetes

Insulin is often exploited along with these steroids as insulin assists in the retention of these muscles by preventing their breakdown.

This is why bodybuilders and athletes often use insulin as a steroid to help build lean muscles within short periods. However, this is inadvisable as it can drastically affect the body and harm one’s health.

Too much insulin in unmonitored amounts can lower the body’s blood sugar levels beyond limits. This can be very harmful and, in extreme cases, even fatal for individuals. Therefore, the use of insulin must be carried out on a doctor’s advice only.

Insulin is not similar to how asteroid works as it is not a steroid hormone but a peptide hormone. Therefore, combining insulin with your regular steroid for muscle mass and bodybuilding should also be done with care and proper guidance.


⭐ Check out this Flipbook with 30-Day Diabetic Meal Plan based on Foods from Each Indian State ⭐
(click on the ▶ arrow below to scroll the pages and 🔍 button to enlarge)


What are the side effects of insulin injection?

What are the side effects of insulin injection

Insulin is used to correct the improper production of insulin and the resistant response of the body towards this hormone. It is supposed to substitute the insulin the body naturally produces in the pancreas.

Diabetic patients can benefit by using insulin injections before and after meals, as advised by the doctors. The doctors also prescribe doses as per your diabetic blood sugar levels.

It is essential to take all prescriptions carefully and remember all the rules to benefit from the suggested dosage. In addition, with proper diets and exercise, your insulin can function even better and have a healthier effect.

However, there are specific side effects of this as well. Let us have a look at the side effects of taking insulin injections:

  1. Some common skin side effects due to injections include dimpling, redness, irritation, itching, thickening of the skin at the injection site, soreness, etc.
  2. If improper amounts of insulin are administered, it can lead to low blood sugar levels. This, in turn, gives rise to other symptoms such as – drowsiness, increased hunger, and thirst, dizziness, nausea, paleness, headaches, increased palpitations, fatigue, slurring in speech, blurred vision, anxiety, seizures, unconsciousness, loss of balance, irritability, fluctuations in the mood, tingling or numbing, etc. These are often among the severe symptoms that are experienced. If you notice such effects, you must immediately consult your doctors.
  3. In some cases, insulin can also have effects like weight gain or swelling of arms and legs.
  4. Insulin can also give rise to rashes on the skin or allergies in some patients.
  5. It can also hamper the potassium levels in the blood, leading to constipation, muscle cramps, shortness of breath, weakness, etc.

Due to all these possible negative symptoms, you must be sure to keep all precautions in mind. It is essential to keep monitoring your blood sugar levels and also contact your doctors for any emergencies.

What do bodybuilders use insulin for?

Bodybuilding is a task that needs a lot of maintenance and effort. Starting from heavy workouts, weight and strength training, and strict diets, to taking medicines and steroids, bodybuilding is quite a task.

Bodybuilders are always searching for building and maintaining their muscles, and insulin is an agent that helps with this.

Just because insulin resembles the functions of other anabolic hormones, it is also said to fall under that category. However, insulin is not a steroid.

Anabolic hormones play a major role in keeping the body muscled and tough. That is why steroids often have a crucial part to play for bodybuilders.

Apart from anabolic growth and other hormones that help build muscles, bodybuilders also resort to insulin to keep the muscles maintained and avoid breakdown.

Insulin is a natural hormone produced by the body that helps absorb nutrients from the body. This is prescribed to diabetes patients who have trouble with either insulin production or functioning which causes improper digestion of carbohydrates in the body, raising sugar levels.

Insulin is given as a medical routine to diabetic patients to ensure that the sugars in the body are absorbed well.

Bodybuilders make use of this insulin for other reasons. It helps them to improve the absorption of nutrients in the muscles faster after workouts. This is primarily why bodybuilders use insulin.

As a peptide hormone, it assists in the quicker absorption of nutrients such as fats and proteins in the body. These are necessary nutrients, especially for fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders.

In addition to this, insulin also prevents or delays the breakdown of protein, fats, and glycogen in the body. This helps in the retention of mass in the muscles. In addition, this helps in muscle protein synthesis.

Glycogen is a carbohydrate stored in the muscles. Retaining this helps to keep the muscles fuller. This is why insulin is taken after workouts to promote glycogen storage.

In addition to this, when insulin is combined with other anabolic steroids and growth hormones, it can enhance their overall performance.

Although muscle gaining by insulin is not a much-recommended process, it can have significant harm on the body if not done with precautions.

Insulin is a pharmaceutical drug that aims to control and lower rising blood sugars in the body. However, over-exploitation or unfamiliar usage of this hormone can lead to lower blood sugar levels that can cause other health risks.

Hypoglycemia is a common effect of insulin abuse where one can commonly experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Hunger
  • Trembling

And so on.

Therefore, insulin must be used in control when aimed at muscle gain. Otherwise, it can be dangerous or even fatal.

Does insulin make you gain weight?

As we already saw in the previous section, one side effect of insulin is that it can result in weight gain.

This is commonly seen among diabetic individuals who take insulin. Moreover, this is also a serious issue as keeping the body weight under control is a major necessity for diabetic patients.

But how does insulin make you gain weight?

Insulin works to regulate the blood glucose levels in the body properly. The function of insulin is to absorb glucose in the cells of the body. However, the extra presence of glucose in the body’s cells can turn it into fat.

Too much presence of glucose gradually converts into fat and gives rise to weight gain. But keeping track of your calories and blood sugars can help to reduce these side effects.

Regular activity and exercises not only help to maintain your diabetes but also help with tackling weight gain due to insulin.

The dosages must be done correctly to avoid more such symptoms and promote healthier overall body management. Your healthcare team can assist you with added methods of keeping your body weight stable and under normal margins.

It is all about a careful routine and a healthy lifestyle.

Does injecting insulin build muscle?

Insulin injections in the body are often used for muscle gain. This is said to work and is also thus considered a supplement for muscle growth.

Injecting insulin into the body assists in the synthesis of muscle proteins. This is what leads to adding more volume to the muscles. Hence, insulin injections are often used by bodybuilders.

On top of this, insulin injections also help retain muscle gains as they prevent the breakdown of these proteins. Therefore, the muscles can be maintained and preserved.

As discussed in the previous sections, insulin helps in the faster absorption of nutrients that help build muscles, such as fats and proteins.

These effects of insulin have been proven by studies as well. However, to include these gains, it is necessary to take all precautions and avoid any potential risks.

Injecting insulin into muscles is a tricky practice and must be done with care and limitations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does insulin influence metabolism and body composition?

Insulin plays a significant role in metabolism and body composition. It helps regulate glucose uptake by cells, promotes glycogen synthesis, and inhibits fat breakdown. By facilitating the storage of glucose and promoting protein synthesis, insulin influences body composition.

Can insulin abuse lead to steroid-like effects on the body?

No, insulin abuse cannot lead to steroid-like effects on the body. While excessive use of insulin can have serious health consequences, it does not result in the same effects as anabolic steroid use. Misusing insulin can lead to hypoglycemia and other complications.

Can insulin therapy lead to the development of steroid-related side effects?

Insulin therapy, when used as prescribed for diabetes management, does not cause steroid-related side effects. It helps maintain normal blood sugar levels and prevent complications associated with diabetes. Steroid-related side effects are typically associated with the misuse of anabolic steroids.

Can insulin usage mimic the anabolic effects of steroids on muscle development?

No, insulin usage cannot mimic the anabolic effects of steroids on muscle development. Insulin primarily regulates glucose metabolism and does not directly stimulate muscle protein synthesis or muscle hypertrophy like anabolic steroids.

How does insulin contribute to the regulation of fat metabolism compared to steroids?

Insulin plays a crucial role in fat metabolism by promoting the storage of excess glucose as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Steroids, on the other hand, may have variable effects on fat metabolism, depending on the specific steroid compound and its interactions with hormone receptors.


  1. https://portlandpress.com/clinsci/article-abstract/102/2/151/67223/Sex-steroids-and-insulin-resistance
  2. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/87/10/4522/2846440?login=true
  3. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/111141
  4. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/energy-balance-and-cancer-the-role-of-insulin-and-insulinlike-growth-factori/578F439AF3359EF5F8ECDA37D7E7B7E3
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002604950041783X
  6. https://jasn.asnjournals.org/content/15/12/3233.short
  7. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/92/11/4254/2598399?login=true
  8. https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/48/5/1343.short
  9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2265.2003.01753.x
  10. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gerhard-Jahreis/publication/21312552_Influence_of_intensive_exercise_on_insulin-like_growth_factor_I_thyroid_and_steroid_hormones_in_female_gymnasts/links/550eff520cf2ac2905adfb9d/Influence-of-intensive-exercise-on-insulin-like-growth-factor-I-thyroid-and-steroid-hormones-in-female-gymnasts.pdf

Leave a Comment