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Also known as growth hormone GH , it plays a key role in growth, body composition, cell repair and metabolism 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6. HGH also boosts muscle growth, strength and exercise performance, while helping you recover from injury and disease 4 , 7 , 8. Lower HGH levels may negatively impact your quality of life, increase your risk of disease and make you gain fat 9.
Having optimal levels is especially important during weight loss, for recovery from injury and when trying to boost athletic performance 10 , 11 , 12 , Interestingly, your diet and lifestyle choices can have a huge effect on your HGH levels 6 , The amount of body fat you carry is directly related to your HGH production 3. Those with higher body fat levels or more belly fat will likely have impaired HGH production and an increased risk of disease.
In one study, individuals with 3 times the amount of belly fat had less than half the amount of HGH as lean individuals As shown in the graph below, one study monitored the hour release of HGH and found a large decline in those with more abdominal fat.
Interestingly, research suggests that excess body fat affects HGH levels more in men. However, lowering body fat is still key for both genders 15 , After losing a significant amount of weight, their levels returned to normal Belly fat is the most dangerous type of stored fat and is linked to many diseases.
Losing belly fat will help optimize HGH levels and other aspects of your health. 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 hour fast. Another involves 2 days of eating only calories each week 18 , Intermittent fasting can help optimize HGH levels in several ways. First, it can help you drop body fat, which directly impacts HGH production 20 , 21 , 22 , Second, it'll keep 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 24 , Other studies have found similar effects, with double or triple growth hormone levels after just 2—3 days of fasting 27 , 28 , As shown in the graph below, one study found large differences in HGH levels on the fasting day compared to the feeding day Shorter 12—16 hour fasts likely help as well, although more research is needed to compare their effects against full-day fasts.
Although most people tend to use amino acids like arginine around exercise, one study shows this has little or no benefit for HGH levels Two other studies confirmed this, finding no difference between exercise only or exercise plus arginine.
However, when arginine was taken on its own and without any exercise, they did find a significant increase in HGH 32 , One study looked at the effects of taking either 45 or mg of arginine per pound or mg per kg of body weight, or around 6—10 or 15—20 grams per day. Refined carbs and sugar raise insulin levels the most, so reducing your intake may help optimize growth hormone levels 24 , One study found that healthy non-diabetic individuals had times higher HGH levels than diabetics, who have impaired carb tolerance and insulin function 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. Your body naturally releases significant amounts of growth hormone, especially at night 36 , Given that most meals will cause a rise in insulin levels, some experts suggest avoiding food before bedtime In particular, a high-carb or high-protein meal may spike your insulin and potentially block some of the HGH released at night Nevertheless, insulin levels normally decrease 2—3 hours after eating, so you may wish to avoid carb- or protein-based meals 2—3 hours before bedtime.
GABA is a non-protein amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter, sending signals around the brain. As a well-known calming agent for the brain and central nervous system, it's often used to aid sleep. Interestingly, it may also help increase your HGH levels GABA should also help increase HGH levels by improving your sleep, since your night-time growth hormone release is linked to sleep quality and depth 41 , However, most of these increases were short-lived and GABA's long-term benefits for growth hormone levels remain unclear 39 , Exercise is one of the most effective ways to significantly raise your HGH levels.
The increase depends on the type of exercise, intensity, food intake around the workout and the individual performing it 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 , As shown by the black bars in the graph below, very large increases in HGH were seen in a weight lifting session with limited rest periods 10 , Due to its metabolic nature and increase in lactic acid, high-intensity exercise increases HGH the most.
However, all forms of exercise are beneficial 43 , You can perform repeated sprints, interval training, weight training or circuit training to spike your HGH levels and maximize fat loss 46 , 50 , Yet over the long-term, exercise may help you optimize your hormone function in general and decrease body fat, both of which will benefit your HGH levels.
In one study, taking 4. It also doubled peak power and boosted HGH levels, compared to the non-supplement group During a workout session, a sugary sports drink increased HGH levels towards the end of the session. However, if you are trying to lose fat, the extra calories from the drink will negate any benefit from the short-term HGH spike Studies have shown that protein shakes , both with and without carbs, can boost human growth hormone levels around workouts 48 , The majority of HGH is released in "pulses" when you sleep.
It is based on your body's internal clock or circadian rhythm. As you can see from the graph below, the largest pulses occur before midnight with some smaller pulses in the early morning 36 , 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 37 , Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in sleep and blood pressure regulation Melatonin supplements have become a popular sleep aid that can increase both the quality and duration of your sleep 55 , 56 , 57 , 58 , 59 , 60 , While that alone may benefit HGH levels, further research has shown that a melatonin supplement can directly enhance growth hormone production 58 , 62 , 63 , Melatonin is also fairly safe and non-toxic.
However, it may alter brain chemistry in some ways, so you may want to check with a doctor before using it To maximize its effects, take 1—5 mg milligrams around 30 minutes before bed.
Start with a lower dose to assess your tolerance, then increase if needed. While all of these supplements may increase your HGH levels, they have only been shown to work in the short-term. As with other key hormones, like testosterone and estrogen, having healthy levels of growth hormone is important. An evidence-based nutrition article from our experts at Authority Nutrition. Before your child starts school, it's a good idea to meet with the staff to discuss what GHD is, and what your child's peers and teachers should know….
Early treatment of GHD has many important health benefits that go above and beyond reaching a desired height. A doctor will monitor and measure your child's development, but you can also keep track at home. Here's what to expect. Content created by Healthline and sponsored by our partners.
Try an Arginine Supplement. Don't Eat a Lot Before Bedtime. Exercise at a High Intensity. Take a Melatonin Supplement. Try These Other Natural Supplements.