You should know the truth about human growth hormone and how it affects your weight loss. Before you run off to get expensive growth hormone therapy, check out the following by my friend Rehan:
by Rehan Jalali
Growth hormone (GH) is considered by many as the Holy Grail of anti-aging, and among bodybuilders as the Holy Grail of muscle building and fat loss. This is very evident with all the so-called GH boosting concoctions on the market today. But are there really ways to boost GH levels in the body without injections? Before I get into that, I think some background info is in order!
Growth Hormone Defined
GH is a peptide hormone that is produced in, and secreted from, the acidophilic cells of the anterior pituitary gland, which contain five to 10 mg of growth hormone at any one time in humans. GH is the most abundant hormone in the pituitary gland. It is secreted in a pulsative fashion, is regulated by growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) and is inhibited by the hormone somatostatin. Secretion decreases with age, and it’s mainly released in pulses during sleep.
Most of growth hormone’s powerful effects are due to it’s conversion in the liver to IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor). IGF-1 is the key to the effects of GH. It is actually what’s measured in a blood test to determine GH levels in the body.
GH has been shown to increase lean body mass, reduce body fat, increase energy, enhance immune function, and even enhance sexual function. Obesity diminishes the release of GH, and fasting actually helps increase it. Many studies clearly show that weight training is a potent stimulus for GH release.
GH and insulin have an antagonistic relationship; they act against each other, so they both need to be increased at the same time. What’s interesting to note is that a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in March 2004 showed that testosterone can actually boost GH levels by attenuating auto-negative feedback. In other words, it seems to prevent the shutdown of GH production in response to too much GH release.
The human body likes to maintain homeostasis. So when GH levels get too high, the body self regulates and causes a downgrade of GH release. One way it does this is by releasing somatostatin, which inhibits GH release. It may also lower GHRH, so a smaller amount of GH is released.
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The Role of Sleep
90% of GH secretion occurs at night. The circadian rhythms help determine the regulation of hormone released in the body. GH levels need to be maximized during sleep to help rebuild muscle tissue and increase lean body mass. In resistance trained individuals, GH release was lower during the first half of sleep and higher in the second half, whereas it was opposite in non-training individuals.
It’s very important to get deep sleep, according to one detailed study; because if you don’t, it could mean a major decline in GH output, which is bad news for muscle building. The same study showed that GH secretion was majorly associated with slow wave sleep and that when REM sleep declined, evening cortisol levels increased. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that can break down muscle tissue.
Many of the muscle building/fat loss effects of GH are directly related to its conversion into IGF-1 (a fancy word that means a chain of amino acids – 70 in this case). As mentioned earlier, the circulatory form of IGF-I is made in the liver.
The metabolic activity of IGF-I is regulated by several IGF binding proteins; the most important being IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3). IGF-1 has its own receptor site. It has been demonstrated in research that the effects of GH on protein metabolism (including growth and the effects on nervous and renal tissue) are mediated by IGF-1, whereas both of these hormones are antagonistic in their effects on insulin, and some aspects of fat metabolism.
IGF-1 increases growth, boosts muscle and bone mass, and has important effects on carbohydrate, protein and bone metabolism. It stimulates cell replication, cell differentiation and the synthesis of cellular products (proteins, etc.). IGF-1 has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity as well.
Swiss Scientists in a study published in 2000 concluded that “Administration of IGF I in vivo causes a broad spectrum of effects: it increases insulin sensitivity, improves the lipid profile, supports protein anabolism, enhances kidney function and bone turnover, and exerts beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.” IGF-1 causes growth independent of GH, but they do work together synergistically.
Growth Hormone Releasing Peptides (GHRP’s)
The GHRP’s are a family of small peptides acting at the pituitary and the hypothalamus level to release GH. The exact mechanism of action of these peptides has not been conclusively proven, but they seem to act in conjunction with GHRH. Although, a Brazilian study published in 2001 concluded that “GHRP-2 has a GHRH-independent effect on pituitary somatotroph cells.” This means that GHRP-2 may directly release pituitary GH.
GH secretagogues have been clinically proven in numerous studies to boost GH levels. GHRP’s are not just for the hardcore crowd looking to increase muscle mass though. In fact, GH secretion is blunted significantly in obese individuals; even in individuals who are overweight. What’s more interesting is that greater abdominal fat particularly decreases GH release. Boosting GH levels in obese adults decreases total body fat and especially abdominal fat, making GHRP’s potentially beneficial to anyone trying to get rid of that pot belly.
GH-releasing peptides (GHRP’s) stimulate the release of GH through their specific receptors on somatotropes (GH producing cells). A study in exercising individuals showed that high dose supplementation with the amino acid L-Arginine and GHRP-2 had positive effects on GH release and somatostatin inhibition.
Basically, these two compounds heightened the stimulatory release of GH from exercise to a greater extent. The study mentioned that the L-arginine was responsible for somatostatin inhibition (remember somatostatin shuts down GH production so inhibiting it could have powerful GH boosting effects). Another study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2000 showed that GHRP-2 is a powerful GH booster in exercising individuals.
If you are one of the many people looking to lose fat, GHRP’s may help through a very unique mechanism, namely; increased utilization of fat for fuel and protein sparing. GHRP’s have also been shown to boost IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 levels. Even though some studies used injectable or intravenous administration of GHRP-2, other studies clearly show it is orally active and absorbed well. Oral delivery technology has also advanced over the years and GHRP-2 can be ingested orally and produce good results in terms of increasing GH levels!
Intense Weight Training and GH
One of the best ways to release GH naturally is through intense weight training. A study entitled “Blood hormone and metabolite levels during graded cycle ergometer exercise” published in 1985 showed that there was an increase in adrenaline, noradrenaline, growth hormone, cyclic AMP, and lactate after increasing exercise workload.
As the amount of resistance increased, there was a greater anabolic hormone response. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that after only 10 minutes of high intensity exercise, GH levels were elevated in the training men.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology also confirmed the results of the previous study mentioned. What was interesting about this study was that shorter rest periods between sets (one minute vs. three minutes) caused a raise in GH levels.
Again, lactic acid levels were elevated in these subjects. The study concluded that the more “glycolytic” type intense exercise may increase GH levels. Furthermore, in a study conducted at Penn State University led by top exercise scientist William Kraemer concluded that “higher volumes of total work produce significantly greater increases in circulating anabolic hormones during the recovery phase following exercise.” It showed increases in both testosterone levels and GH levels secondary to that higher volume weight training.
I hope you realize the powerful benefits of boosting GH and IGF-1 levels when it comes to promoting muscle mass and fat loss. By understanding how these hormones work and what supplements you can use to boost them, you will be on your way to a phenomenal physique!
Tips for Maximizing GH Levels
Try not to eat one hour before bed to maximize GH’s release during sleep.
Get at least seven to nine hours of deep sleep per night, without interruption.
Take GHRP’s before sleep on an empty stomach to maximize GH release.
Avoid carbohydrates before bed time.
Weight train regularly and intensely using compound movements.
Take L-Arginine, which has equivocal evidence that it can boost GH levels. High doses seem to work better; upwards of five to 10 grams before bed time. (note: may cause stomach discomfort in some people).
Take Alpha GPC, which is short for L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine; an acetylcholine precursor derived from soy. This is a new supplement that has been shown in preliminary research to boost GH levels and increase neurological function. Smaller amounts (150-400 mg) seem to boost GH levels, which makes it more cost effective.
Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist Your Fitness University
Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut and Your Fitness University. Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.