[Insulin as an anabolic: hypoglycemia in the bodybuilding world]

Anasthesiol Intensivmed Notfallmed Schmerzther. 1998 Jul;33(7):461-3. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-994284.
[Article in German]


Excessive body building may be dangerous. To promote athletic performance and to improve physical appearance many of the body builders abuse anabolic-androgenic steroids and other drugs. The abuse of insulin as an anabolic medication in this athletic community was followed by a case of severe hypoglycaemia in a body builder. A 30-year old male presented with cerebral symptoms of hypoglycaemia. Directly before an international competition he tried to stimulate muscle growth by using the hypoglycaemic stimulus to the growth hormone. To achieve this he injected 70 IE of a short-acting insulin subcutaneously, resulting in severe hypoglycaemia. After the initial administration of intravenous glucose by the paramedics, he lost consciousness and showed signs of convulsions. After orotracheal intubation by an emergency physician, despite of ongoing infusion of glucose the blood glucose concentration remained low as measured in the out-of-hospital setting. Finally administration of additional glucose and glucagon in the intensive care unit was able to stabilize the metabolic system. In any case of severe hypoglycaemia, repetitive measurements of blood glucose even in the prehospital setting should be performed to detect the hypoglycaemia especially if athletes are concerned.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose
  • Diabetic Coma / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Insulin / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Weight Lifting*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin