Our bodies naturally produce human growth hormone, but our ability to produce ideal amounts of this anabolic hormone diminish as we age. After all, we’re no longer “growing.” The primary biological purpose of hGH is to stimulate boosts in height during childhood, which it does by increasing cartilage chondrocytes, the healthy cells found in this connective tissue. In addition, hGH spurs cell regeneration. “Levels peak in our mid 20s, but begin to decline thereafter,” says Amy L. Heaton, Ph.D., chief science officer of Sierra Research Group, LLC.
Today, many adults have realized that boosting their hGH to ideal levels may help them turn back the clock, providing a more youthful appearance and increasing energy levels for better athletic performance and other aspects of daily routines. Perhaps most important for adults, hGH also supports increased lean body mass (muscle tissue) while burning body fat. “Once [hGH] is released into the bloodstream by the pituitary, it travels throughout the body and influences many cell types,” Heaton says. “For example, it passes into adipose [fat] tissue and can trigger the release of fatty acids, causing the fat cells to shrink.” Heaton adds that this hormone also enters muscle cells, “Where it can stimulate lean muscle growth, supporting muscle tone and strength.”
Although many people turn to doctors for injectable treatments of this crucial hormone, you may be better served by naturally increasing your hGH. You can boost your levels of this hormone, secreted by the pituitary gland, through a variety of lifestyle modifications that include training, nutrition, supplementation and even rest. In fact, doing so naturally may be far healthier in the long run. “When you introduce synthetic hGH into the body, you can risk increasing your hGH to supra-physiological levels,” Heaton says, explaining that this may negatively affect your pituitary axis, possibly interfering with your body’s production of this crucial hormone.
A better strategy for the average person is to boost the body’s production of hGH through natural means. It should come as no surprise that this is also far less expensive than the medical option, which is rarely covered by insurance for healthy adults.
NINE STRATEGIES FOR GROWTH
Here are some of the best ways to naturally increase your levels of hGH for increased muscle mass, lower amounts of body fat and improved energy throughout your day.
1) Consume plenty of meats, fruits and vegetables.
These foods provide the raw materials you need for growth, including amino acids, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. In addition, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, the indigestible form of carbohydrates that helps your body regulate insulin release. Although insulin is also an anabolic hormone, it’s better known for increasing stored body fat. Building your diet around these foods will help you prevent unwanted spikes in insulin release that also undercut production of hGH. Some experts tout an intermittent-fast diet for those who want to optimize their hGH levels. “This can help by reducing body fat and keeping your insulin levels low, both of which have been linked to higher hGH output,” Heaton says.
2) Avoid refined sugars and take in a moderate amount of other carbs.
Table sugar and other forms of fast-digesting carbs cause an immediate insulin release. Around your workouts, this insulin spike helps re-feed muscle tissue for growth, so it’s OK to get in sugar and protein before and after workouts. At other times of day, however, fast-digesting carbs are far more likely to be driven by insulin to fat storage. In other words, you’re simultaneously increasing body fat while reducing the benefits of hGH. In fact, you should keep total carbs consumption to no more than 50 percent of total calories you consume every day. Emphasize fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes as primary carb sources. You can also include yams, brown rice and complex grains such as quinoa, and you can consume moderate amounts of starchy carbs such as whole-grain breads, pastas and potatoes.
3) Emphasize heavier weights and compound movements.
Building your weight-training workouts around compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses and barbell rows causes greater muscle stimulation. In addition, it supports greater release of growth hormone. “Healthy training, especially resistance training, can encourage your body to produce hGH,” Heaton says. And performing these moves with heavier weights may further support production of hGH.
4) Keep cardio moderate.
Cardiovascular exercise is ideal for supporting health and helping to reduce body fat, but performing intense, long sessions may reduce your levels of hGH. For higher levels of this hormone, consider keeping cardio sessions to no more than 20-30 minutes. You can also include high-intensity interval training comprising three or four full-capacity sets lasting 60-90 seconds, taking as long as needed to recover between each set before you perform the next.
5) Get a good night’s sleep.
Your hormones have their own circadian rhythm, rising and falling throughout the day due to various influences. “Most people experience a surge of hGH production during deep sleep,” Heaton says. That means getting plenty of sleep not only helps you recover from intense training, but also promotes production of hGH. Seek to get eight hours of sleep every night to promote hGH production. In addition, Heaton says, “Trying to stick to a regular sleep schedule can help.”
6) Take arginine to boost nitric oxide production.
Nitric oxide is a very small gas molecule that encourages your blood vessels to relax, allowing more blood and nutrients, including oxygen, to flow to the muscles you’re training. Arginine not only fuels exercise, but also supports growth and recovery while boosting hGH levels. Get in this amino acid before workouts to support training, but take it at other times of day on an empty stomach to support hGH production.
7) Supplement with N-acetyl L-cysteine to support circulation.
N-acetyl L-cysteine is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine, and it helps improve your body’s blood supply. It does so by boosting erythropoietin, a hormone that helps increase hematocrit, hemoglobin and the size of your red blood cells. Ultimately, this leads to increased levels of hGH, better workouts and increased muscle-cell volume.
8) Get in glutamine for improved immunity.
Glutamine is the most prevalent amino acid in the human body. As such, it performs many functions, including supporting muscle growth, enhancing digestion and boosting immunity and recovery from intense workouts. In addition, it helps increase hGH levels. Glutamine can be taken several times a day to promote these benefits.
9) Take lysine for workout energy.
Lysine is an essential amino acid that encourages fat cells to release stored fat. It does so by helping your body produce carnitine, an amino acid compound. When you have more circulating fatty acids in your system, you’re better able to perform intense workouts for improved hGH production.
Go harder, take charge, and feel more alive! Learn more about Growth Factor-9, here.