6 Ways You Can Boost Human Growth Hormone Without Drugs
Here’s some expert advice on how you can boost human growth hormone (HGH) without drugs. Why would you want to? Because HGH is the ticket to a long, youthful life. Getting old ain’t the problem — it’s being old that sucks.
AN INTERVIEW with Buck Institute CEO Dr. Eric Verdin was widely disseminated this past week on the Interwebs, perhaps because this anti-aging expert shared his views about some basic things we can do to slow down the aging process and get healthier to boot.
The Buck Institute on Research and Aging sits all pretty-like on a hill in Novato, California, about a 20-minute drive from my home in Sausalito. It’s mission:
Extending healthspan, the healthy years of life.
(Which, incidentally, is my very own mission in life; and in fact, I believe as does Ray Kuzweil that if you do all that’s possible to extend healthspan, there’s a mighty fine possibility that you’ll be well positioned to extend your lifespan as well. After all, who doesn’t want to see that future colony on Mars?)
Many of the scientists employed by the Buck Institute are the best in the business, as is its leader, Dr. Verdin. What caught my eye in that interview with Verdin was what he said about the best natural way to boost Human Growth Hormone, or HGH, perhaps the most important hormone that influences our capacity to be physiologically young:
So, what’s this magical HGH-booster?
Yes, as mundane as it might appear, the safest and certainly least expensive way – given the big bucks that bioidentical HGH cost – to boost Human Growth Hormone is through exercise.
Dr. Verdin says:
“Exercise is an incredible anti-aging medicine”.
“People who exercise regularly live healthier and longer than people who don’t.”
And, further, that adopting anti-aging protocols is a worthwhile pursuit, because:
“Aging is the major risk factor for all of these [chronic] diseases”.
I’ll say more about exercise in a bit, as well as five other actions that can naturally boost your HGH. But first…
In this article, you’ll discover:
- What a car can tell us about aging
- Why its important to boost Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
- What HFG can’t accomplish
- What suppresses HGH
- Six ways you can boost HGH
Let’s dig in…
To give us a sense about the aging process and what can be done to stall it, Dr. Verdin uses the oft-used analogy of a vehicle, in this case a truck. In the book I’m writing, I do the very same thing, but use these two 1966 Chevy Impalas; incidentally, the make and model of my very first car (mine was red):
Here’s how Verdin explains the aging analogy in the interview presented on the website Nautilus:
“[At my talks], I show a picture of two Ford pickup trucks from 1940. Just picture on the left that truck has been in the back of some farmer’s field. It’s all rusted and lost its wheel and already sort of gone. [That corresponds to the Chevy above on the right.] Picture the same truck on the right but in someone’s protection. The truck has been completely maintained and renewed. It actually looks exactly like the new one. The difference between these two trucks is not their age. They’re exactly the same age; they were built in 1940. That’s what we call the chronological age. The difference is their true age. In biology, it’s called the biological age, how old your body is, really. Not how many years have you lived, but how well maintained you are. If that’s the issue, if you take the truck analogy you can understand the difference between the two trucks”.
This is an important distinction, because one of the best ways to tread upon this anti-aging path is to take steps to enhance what the body is already designed to do automatically. A really good example of this how intermittent fasting enhances cellular autophagy, which I wrote about in How Intermittent Fasting Ignites Cellular Autophagy and A Longer, Healthier Life.
What Dr. Verdin doesn’t address in the interview is the kind of exercise that optimizes the body’s own natural production of HGH, or what other things you can do to help keep this curve from falling into oblivion:
Eye-balling that curve tells me that by 35 years of age, our HGH is less than half what it was at 20. Let’s see what we can do to improve that dismal situation.
A Quick Primer On Human Growth Hormone
Of all the places to get a good overview on HGH, who would’ve thought of a website called Information Nigeria? I’m a bit partial to Africa, given that it’s from where we humans spawned and where (in Ethiopia) I spent part of my youth.
I’ll summarize what Olayinka, the author, wrote about this “anti-aging hormone”.
First, know that HGH is released by your anterior pituitary gland located at the base of your brain:
When we’re knee high to a grasshopper, our bodies make HGH abundantly and use it for growth, cell reproduction and cell regeneration. But as we age, HGH production declines precipitously.
The costs/beneifts of low/high HGH
Notice from the above graph what happens to HGH after childhood. If you’re past 35, remember that it’s in the years that follow this demarcation point that a host of aging signs appear, such as:
- Sagging skin
- Thinner hair
- More body fat
- Less lean muscle
- Weaker bones
- Less energy
- Diminished sex drive
- Chronic diseases of various kinds
Boosting your HGH level can reverse or slow down some of those aging signs; particularly it can:
- Give you more muscle mass and less fat
- Lower your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Strengthen your bones
- Thicken skin, reduce wrinkles and age spots
- Re-grow certain internal organs that have atrophied with age
- Strengthen your immune system
- Enhance your memory
- Lower your cholesterol
- Improve insulin sensitivity
- Stimulate production of the bone marrow cells that produce red blood cells.
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve your mental well-being
- Increase your sex drive
I’d like to touch on how HGH can reduce the chances of getting some form of chronic disease.
There is increasing evidence over the past year or two that maintaining healthy growth hormone levels results in a stronger heart. HGH slows the progression of cardiovascular disease and reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in individuals with natural growth hormone levels that are below average for the age of the individual.
HGH can also slow the progression of cardiovascular disease by improving one’s cholesterol profile.
HGH is not a miracle maker
Alas, there are some things that HGH cannot do:
- It cannot eliminate the effects of oxidation damage, although it may alleviate some of it.
- HGH cannot eliminate the effects of the reduction of other hormones. In fact, a deficiency of certain other hormones will decrease the beneficial effects of HGH.
- It cannot significantly reverse the damage to human proteins caused by glucose, although it may reverse a little of this damage.
- Although it helps skin to look younger, it cannot eliminate all of the damage cause by sunlight and other ultraviolet sources.
- It cannot increase maximum lifespan. For many people with HGH or IGF-1 genetic defects, however, it can significantly extend life expectancy.
Electrical engineer and anti-aging maverick Jerry Emanuelson warns us that in order for your body to naturally boost human growth hormone, or to produce HGH in response to certain amino acids, the following things must NOT be present:
- Anti-cholinergic medicines, including most medicines that make you drowsy or dehydrated. The most common of these medicines are the antihistamines that make you drowsy, including Benadryl (or any other brand of diphenhydramine), Sominex, Nytol, Tylenol-PM, and Zyrtec. (Claritin, Clarinex and Allegra probably do not affect the HGH-releasing effect of amino acids or natural HGH release.)
- Alcohol, in any appreciable quantity, blunts the HGH-releasing effect of amino acids and also suppresses natural HGH release. An ounce or less of alcohol two or three hours before taking a HGH releaser will have little effect on HGH release, but using alcohol to get to sleep can dramatically suppress your natural HGH release during sleep.
- Eating protein or carbohydrate within three hours before (or one hour after) taking an amino-acid HGH releaser will significantly blunt the growth hormone release induced by these amino acids.
The amino acids Mr. Emanuelson describes that promote HGH secretion are addressed below.
6 Ways To Boost Human Growth Hormone Without Drugs
(1) Deflate the spare tire
As I wrote in Will Your Belly Fat Cause Cancer?:
“Not all fat has the same damage potential. The fat on your thighs is not as harmful as that hanging around your belly.”
Fat concentrated centrally around the organs of the abdominal region impairs HGH secretion. Fortunately, research indicates that declining HGH due to body fat gain is partially reversible with weight loss. Unfortunately, visceral adiposity (fat in and around the abdominal cavity) is often an indicator of both insulin and leptin resistance and, as a result, can be very difficult to shed permanently.
Alas, all is not lost. Recent work has led to the discovery of effective, natural methods for combating leptin resistance. A good resource for this is an informative article (.pdf file) published by The Life Extension Foundation that shows you how to overcome leptin resistance and trim away belly fat.
I’ve also written some articles aimed at helping you trim belly fat:
- 22 Belly Fat Tips From 3 Experts
- The Pleasure Camp Way To Flatten Your Tummy
- How Extreme Makeover’s Chris Powell Makes You Lose Fat
- 8 Sure-fire Ways to Trim Body Fat and Keep It Off Forever
(2) Avoid high-glycemic-load carbohydrates
Insulin is a powerful, direct inhibitor of HGH secretion. To prevent the ultimately unhealthy surges of insulin or (“insulin spikes”) that decrease endogenous GH levels and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, avoid highly processed carbohydrates like refined white bread and sugary cereal, as well as high-glycemic-load foods such as white rice, potato chips, cookies, soda, and commercially processed fruit juices (high in fructose and devoid of fiber). Instead, emphasize nutrient and fiber-rich whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes (beans).
Note: If you’ve heard that the lectins and phylates found in legumes are harmful (a Paleo Diet presumption), simply simply soak them in water overnight, drain the water and rinse a couple of times over a couple of days till they begin to sprout before cooking them. Not only does this sprouting process substantially reduces the lectins and phytates, but it makes the nutrition more bioavailable.
(3) Get a good night’s sleep
The majority of HGH secretion occurs at night during slow-wave, deep sleep. Inadequate sleep, irregular sleeping patterns, and poor quality sleep can substantially inhibit HGH secretion. To optimize sleep, maintain good sleep hygiene habits, which include:
- Go to bed and awaken on a regular schedule;
- Don’t consume alcohol or caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime;
- Make sure your bedroom is very dark; and
- Keep excess light and noise out of the bedroom.
(4) Plan your last meal of the day carefully
With some reluctance, I’ll inform you that your last meal of the day is the most important for maintaining a robust HGH/IGF-1 axis. This is basically a tightly regulated feedback loop involving Human Growth Hormone (HGH) secreted by the pituitary, and HGH production and secretion controlled by Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) at the hypothalamus in the brain.
A high-protein, low-carbohydrate snack before bedtime serves a dual purpose:
- It helps minimize insulin release and allows for maximum endogenous HGH secretion;
- It supplies important essential and conditionally essential amino acids found in protein that assist endogenous HGH secretion.
The reason that I’m reluctant to tell you this is that new research by scientists like Drs. Valter Longo and Satchidananda Panda have pretty much proven that reducing your feeding window – the hours during which you eat – is one of the most healthiest things you can do, even surpassing the importance of the quality of the macronutrients consumed (proteins, fats, carbs).
They emphasize the importance of not eating past 8 PM. This has to do with a host of factors, including insulin-sensitivity, circadian rhythms and liver enzymes.
Click here to watch their video interviews with Dr. Rhonda Patrick
My suggestion, then, is this:
If you are unhealthy or overweight, forget about adding a late night snack to your HGH boosting regimen, because you’ll be better off by restricting your feeding window, plus you have other ways to increase your HGH.
If you exercise a lot, particularly do resistance training (like lift weights) that break down muscle tissue, consider eating a pre-bed snack, but make it a shake of pure water and a slow-digesting protein, such as casein protein powder mixed with water. If you don’t like powders, then try organic, full fat cottage cheese.
(5) Consume the right amino acids
According to Livestrong and many other publications, the amino acid Arginine stimulates the release of HGH. Many nuts, seeds and beans are good sources of Arginine, and of course you use it in supplement form.
A supplement called InnerPower Plus™ combines different amino acids along with Arginine that supposedly enhances HGH secretion.
A 2012 study published in Growth Hormone and IGF Research found that specific nutrients — including vitamin C and dietary fiber — promote the release of HGH. Foods that are high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli, bell peppers, leafy green vegetables and tomatoes. All plant-based foods provide dietary fiber, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Dried beans, peas and lentils are especially rich in fiber.
(6) HIIT it!
Finally we come full loop to where we began with exercise.
Dr. Verdin from the Buck Institute honed in on exercise as being the most importing way to boost Human Growth Hormone, but he didn’t say that it has to be a very specific kind of exercise to do the most boosting.
Exercise is a significant, natural optimizer of HGH — but not just any kind of exercise. A stroll in the park ain’t gonna cut it.
The type of exercise you do, as well the intensity and duration of your workouts, all play an important role in determining to what degree your training regimen contributes to HGH secretion.
A number of studies have suggested that the intensity necessary to trigger exercise-induced HGH release corresponds to the lactate threshold — the exercise intensity at which lactic acid accumulates in the blood. Exercise training above the lactate threshold appears to amplify the pulsatile release of endogenous GH at rest, increasing total secretion for at least 24 hours.
So, what type of exercise floods your body with lactate?
High Intensity Interval Training — “HIIT” — is a lactate-overload producer and it’s the type of exercise that you need to do to boost your HGH. As I wrote in HIIT It Hard for Your HGH Boost:
“HIIT promotes longevity in at least two ways:
- It activates the enzyme telomerase which in turn keeps telomeres long (more on telomeres here); and
- It boosts HGH and IGF-1 which reduce or reverse age-related degenerative processes. (Source.)”
And in Get Biologically Younger With A Fast HIIT Feast-Famine Program, I wrote:
“High Intensity Interval Training” has been around at least as long as the Greeks first created the Olympics. Conceptually, it’s simple… all you do is a physical activity that will nearly exhaust you within, say, 10 to 60 seconds, followed by a rest period that is insufficient for you to recover entirely.”
So, the pertinent question is: “Just what HIIT activity will exhaust you?”
For an exercise beginner, your HIIT program might simply be to walk up a flight of stairs, pause to catch your breath, then walk up another flight. Use your common sense to determine how many flights to walk, but in no event should your HIIT workout exceed 20 minutes, including the rest periods.
Here’s a self-described beginners HIIT sequence demonstrated by fitness guru Joe Wicks that might have a few moves too difficult for true beginners, but feel free to experiment:
Next up is a more advanced HIIT exercise and one I favor — stair sprinting.
In this case, the fellow demonstrating the stair sprinting is not sufficiently resting between sets. As I wrote in Boost Your Human Growth Hormone in 20 Minutes! featuring Dr. Joe Mercola and Dr. Phil Campbell:
“… my newly named BYA8 protocol (the same as “Peak Performance” and “Sprint 8”) has been tested to maximize the body’s own production of HGH. This exercise protocol can boots HGH by 771% in just twenty minutes.“
As applied to sprinting stairs, do this:
- Choose a set of stairs that takes you approximately 3o seconds to sprint up
- Warm up by walking up and down them
- For the first set of eight, jog up the stairs, walk down them, taking 90 seconds before the next set
- For the second set of eight, run briskly up the stairs, walk down/rest for 90 seconds
- For the third through eighth set, run as hard as you can up, 90 second rest
Depending on your fitness level, by the fifth set or so, you’ll be slowing down and heavily gasping. That eight set will look more like your first than your third set for sure, and that’s OK. Not only are you getting in great shape, and burning fat right then and for hours afterwards, but you’re also giving a big boost to your Human Growth Hormone.
All right then, you now know what to do to boost human growth hormone, so get at it!