If you’re a regular to the workout scene, chances are you’ve probably heard of human growth hormone (HGH).
You may have heard of the benefits that HGH offers, including the ability to build and repair muscle, keeping the body fit and energetic, and its anti-aging abilities.
You may have also heard that HGH supplementation is illegal and potentially dangerous.
While many high profile athletes have made the news with their illegal use of HGH supplementation, there are natural ways to increase your body’s ability to produce HGH.
Before we get into how to do that, let’s first take a look at what HGH is and how it works.
What Is HGH and What Does It Do?
HGH is a protein that is made by the pituitary gland (small gland located at the base of the brain) and secreted into the bloodstream. The pituitary gland releases HGH throughout the day, but more so early on after you have fallen asleep. HGH works by getting more protein into your muscles and by reducing fat, which ultimately creates a stronger, leaner body.
Your body releases the most HGH during the teenage years when your body is still growing. By the time you reach your late 20’s, HGH levels begin to drop significantly.
Over time, as your HGH production drops off, muscles become weaker, your body begins to add fat easier, and your bones become more brittle.
The aging process is in full force!
How To Improve Your HGH Production
While artificially adding HGH to your body can be illegal and carry risks, there are plenty of ways to stimulate your body’s natural ability to produce more HGH.
Here are 5 ways you can increase your HGH levels naturally:
- Sleep More
The majority of human growth hormones are released in “pulses” when you sleep. It is based on your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm.
Studies have shown that poor sleep can reduce the amount of HGH your body produces.
In fact, getting an adequate amount of deep sleep is one of the best strategies to enhance your long-term HGH production.
Here are a few simple strategies to help optimize your sleep:
- Avoid blue light exposure before bedtime.
- Read a book in the evening.
- Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature.
- Don’t consume caffeine late in the day.
Bottom Line: Focus on optimizing sleep quality and aim for 7-10 hours of quality sleep per night.
- Add Intensity To Your Workouts
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to significantly raise your HGH levels.
Due to its metabolic nature and increase in lactic acid, high-intensity exercise increases HGH the most. However, all forms of exercise are beneficial.
You can perform repeated sprints, interval training (HIIT), weight training or circuit training to spike your HGH levels and maximize fat loss.
Over the long run, exercise may help you optimize your hormone function in general and decrease body fat, both of which will benefit your HGH levels.
Bottom Line: Exercise provides a large spike in HGH. High-intensity training is the best form of exercise to increase growth hormone levels.
- Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that limits eating to short time periods.
It can be done in many different ways. One common approach is a daily 8-hour eating window with a 16-hour fast. Another involves 2 days of eating only 500-600 calories each week.
Intermittent fasting can help optimize HGH levels in several ways. First, it can help you drop body fat, which directly impacts HGH production.
Second, it keeps your insulin levels low for most of the day, as insulin is released when you eat. This can also provide benefits, as research suggests that insulin spikes can disrupt your natural growth hormone production.
Bottom Line: A regular Intermittent Fasting program can significantly increase human growth hormone levels.
- Reduce Sugar Intake
As mentioned above, an increase in insulin can lower HGH production.
Refined carbs and sugar raise insulin levels the most, so reducing your intake may help optimize growth hormone levels.
Along with directly affecting insulin levels, excess sugar intake is a key factor in weight gain and obesity, which also affect HGH levels.
That being said, the rare sugary treat on special occasions will not impact your growth hormone levels in the long-term.
Aim to achieve a healthy and balanced diet. What you eat 90% of the time will have the most profound effects on your health, hormones and body composition.
Bottom Line: Elevated insulin may reduce human growth hormone production. Therefore, limit your intake of large amounts of sugar and refined carbs.
- Workout Recovery Nutrition
Some exercise supplements can optimize performance and boost your human growth hormone levels.
Studies have shown that protein shakes, both with and without carbs, can boost human growth hormone levels around workouts.
Protein shakes can be consumed before, during or immediately after a workout to help boost levels.
Bottom Line: Beta-alanine, carbs and protein may increase short-term growth hormone spikes during or after a workout.
It’s obvious that many of the natural ways to keep your levels up are also the same things you should be doing to maintain a fit, healthy lifestyle.
Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and focus on a well-balanced diet that includes a protein and carbohydrate-based recovery supplement.
About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.