Need a boost?
HGH is an important hormone produced in the pituitary gland. It’s a good predictor of overall health. Low HGH levels point to an increased risk of disease and unhealthy weight gain (1).
Because this Growth Hormone is naturally synthesized in the body, it’s possible to influence its production. Let’s look at a few strategies for boosting HGH naturally and the science behind why they work.
To get the best out of these cycles, you need to be sound asleep before midnight. Go to bed about two hours, no less than an hour, before midnight.
Human sleep cycles occur in two main phases: NREM and REM.
NREM precedes REM (12). The interesting bit is that NREM cycles shorten as the night progresses (13). This is why it’s so important to sleep a few hours before midnight. You want to have as many long NREM cycles as possible.
Let’s look at the three stages therein:
So, how do you optimize your sleep for maximum growth hormone production?
Structure your sleeping habits to make the most of SWS. Research shows that poor sleeping habits negatively affect your Human Growth Hormone levels (14). Ensuring you get adequate sleep is a proven strategy for continued high HGH production (9).
Here are a few tips:
Sugar and refined carbs—like white bread, white rice, and pasta—are documented to spike your insulin levels (16). Reduced intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar has shown great potential in optimizing HGH production (8,9).
A study compared HGH levels between healthy people, and four other groups with insulin problems (diabetes, impaired carbohydrate tolerance, impaired insulin function). Growth hormone production was 3–4 times higher in healthy people (17). Clearly showing the link between insulin and HGH.
You end up taking more liquids than in solids form because you don’t feel as full—independent of caloric intake (20). Avoid sweet drinks like sodas and sweetened yogurt before bedtime.
Insulin levels spike immediately after a meal and stabilize after 2–3 hours (21). Eat all your meals at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Some research suggests that a high-protein meal before bed could potentially inhibit HGH activity (22). Even though the research on that isn’t conclusive, we know for sure that all late-night snacks will trigger insulin production (23).
Excessive fat is strongly linked to low HGH production (24). This is another reason why you should avoid sugary meals, especially before going to sleep. The consumption of high-sugar meals at night is closely associated with weight gain (25). Avoiding sweet treats at night regulates your insulin, and also keeps your weight in check.
One study found that losing fat around the abdominal area leads to a significant boost in growth hormone levels (26).
In another study, participants who had 3x the amount of body fat as the control group were found to have half their growth hormones (27). It’s well-documented that obese people return to normal HGH levels after losing weight. (28).
Interestingly, the impact of body fat on HGH production is strongest in men. Both sexes experience an increase in growth hormone levels after shedding off some weight, though (27,29). This is probably because fat distribution in men favors the belly, where it’s most harmful (30,31).
Healthy eating is beneficial to your overall well-being. Every balanced diet optimizes HGH production by keeping your insulin and body fat levels in check. That said, some special foods are directly linked to enhanced Growth Hormone secretion.
Let’s look at a few of the best documented H G H-boosting foods.
This hormone is released as you sleep. It regulates your sleep cycles and helps you get longer and deeper sleep associated with enhanced HGH production (9). A melatonin-rich breakfast increases melatonin secretion in the night. Melatonin-Rich Foods :
Another study found that a tryptophan-rich breakfast coupled with exposure to bright light in the day significantly boosted HGH levels (32). Tryptophan-dense foods include eggs, milk, grains, beans, and meat. Work these foods into your breakfast and take a short stroll in the bright of day for a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin supplements happen to be very popular sleeping aids in the US. It’s one of the most commonly used supplements (33).
Being a naturally-occurring hormone, it’s non-toxic. However, these supplements have been shown to affect brain chemistry, so you should only take them under medical supervision (37).
You should also contact a medical professional before taking these supplements if you are pregnant. One animal study found that melatonin lowers birth weight and increases baby mortality (38).
Many people take arginine supplements to complement their exercises. That’s a mistake. When taken alongside exercise, there’s no significant increase in HGH production. You are better off taking the supplement alone (38,39,40).
Per recent research, higher doses, 15–20 grams of Arginine per day boosts nighttime HGH production by up by about 60 percent. That’s the equivalent of taking 114 mg per pound of body weight. Lower doses, 6–10 grams per day, about 45 mg for every pound in body-weight, didn’t show any significant impact on growth hormone production (41).
If you are looking for something to boost your HGH levels alongside exercise, take sport drinks. They are rich in beta-alanine, which boosts growth hormone levels, and it’s been documented to double your peak workout power (42).
Protein shakes are also an option if you want an HGH-friendly supplement to complement exercise. These shakes boost the secretion of Growth Hormones around workouts (43).
Glutamine is a potent amino acid that has been shown to increase HGH production even at small doses, significantly. A 2 mg dose has been documented to boost GH secretion by up to 78 percent (44).
Glutamine-rich foods include:
Ornithine is one of the amino acids responsible for protein synthesis and muscle mass (45). Research has shown that people who take ornithine about half an hour after working out experience increased HGH synthesis (46).
Foods rich in ornithine include:
All forms of exercise will increase your levels of Human Growth Hormone, but high-intensity activity produces the most significant boosts (46,47). There’s no universal session duration, but workouts typically last about an hour. Weight training, sprinting, and interval training have shown a lot of promise increasing HGH levels (48,49,50).
HGH levels increase by about 300 percent when you fast for 3 days. After fasting for a week, HGH secretion is at 1,250 percent (51). These results have been replicated in other studies with researchers observing a doubling or tripling of HGH levels just 2–3 days into a fast (52,53,54).
The trick is to find the right balance between when to eat and when to fast.
Intermittent fasting impacts HGH secretion both in the short-term and in the long-term. In the short-term, fasting keeps your insulin low. Since this hormone is associated with low GH levels, keeping it low boosts HGH production (23,55).
HGH, a hormone produced in the pituitary gland, is vital for cell repair and other essential metabolic functions. It’s production typically peaks when we are deep asleep (SWS).
Like other hormones, it’s greatly influenced by body fat. Mind your lifestyle and diet.
By following the outlined tips, you can increase GH production to optimal levels with very little effort. The endocrine system—the system that regulates growth hormones—performs at its peak when you eat and live healthily.