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How to Increase Growth Hormone the Natural Way

GH biology letters

Growth hormone is a hormone secreted from the pituitary gland that stimulates cell reproduction. It is highly anabolic to muscle tissue and catabolic to fat mass. This is an amazing combination for fat loss. It builds muscle, but it also promotes fat loss. There are not many hormones that can do both.

Growth Hormone Declines With Age

So what are the factors that lower and increase growth hormone secretion? First, let’s take a look at one of the biggest problems of growth hormone levels. That problem is that it rapidly declines with age. See the following chart.

Chart Source

Ever wonder why it was so easy to stay in shape when you were younger? Well, this is one of the many reasons why. Being that growth hormone declines so rapidly with age, it is even more imperative that we aren’t inhibiting what little growth hormone we’re able to produce. Outside of taking exogenous GH, you can still optimize your own body’s GH release. Growth hormone raises in response to deep sleep, high-intensity exercise, and low insulin levels.

Growth Hormone and Sleep

Growth hormone is released during REM sleep. We hit REM sleep several times during the night, starting about 90 minutes or so after falling asleep. During each of the REM periods, bursts of GH are being released. Your body then uses this hormone in cell reproduction (building muscle) and fat lipolysis (fat loss) among other things. So make sure you are getting enough sleep and you are getting it at similar times everyday.

GH and High-Intensity Exercise

Growth hormone is also released in response to high-intensity exercise. The higher the intensity of the exercise, the higher the release of GH. GH is also at its highest during the first 30 minutes of exercise. After that, it starts to decline. Take a look at the following two charts. The first shows the relationship between exercise intensity and GH release. The second chart shows how much GH is released in relation to your workout length. As you can see, keeping your workouts short and intense is best for optimal GH release.

Read more about high-intensity interval training and also get a dozen sample workout ideas.

Chart Source

Now that we know ways to increase GH release, what can we do to make sure we aren’t inhibiting its release.

Growth Hormone and Insulin Levels

Growth hormone release is inhibited by high insulin levels. You want your insulin levels to remain low. Fat cannot be released in the presence of high insulin because insulin is a storage hormone. Insulin and growth hormone are inversely correlated. This means when one is high, the other is low, and vice versa.

This is why it’s so important to make sure you are eating the right carbohydrates. Carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index will be digested slowly, and will provide a slow and steady release of glucose in the body. High-glycemic carbohydrates on the other hand cause a rapid digestion of sugars and a sudden influx of glucose into the bloodstream. The body cannot handle such a high amount of glucose in the blood, and so insulin is released to shuttle that glucose into either muscle glycogen, or convert it into fat for energy later if glycogen stores are full.

Your body cannot have high blood sugar levels. Take a type 1 diabetic. This is exactly what their problem is. They eat, but they have problems removing glucose from the blood. Because of this, they have to take a shot of insulin in order to get their blood sugar under control. Luckily, your body probably has a functioning insulin hormone. Don’t lower your insulin sensitivity by bombarding your body with high glycemic carbohydrates. If you stick to whole foods, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. It’s the processed foods with sugar and flour that are the cause.

Here are 10 more ways you can increase your insulin sensitivity for better fat loss.

With everything that gets thrown at us to make it harder to lose weight, it is even more important that we are doing the right things to optimize what little muscle building/fat loss hormones we have left. Eat a good diet, exercise hard, and get enough rest. Diet, exercise, and recovery are the cornerstones to any good fitness program. Make sure you have all three right, and your body will start functioning like the machine that it is.

  • Lantana H.

    Well it’s no wonder I’m 50 pound over weight. I eat a lot of sugar and I don’t get a whole lot of sleep. I had heard sleep helps you lose weight and now I understand why. Thanks!

    • Coach Calorie

      Diet, exercise, and recovery (sleep is part of that) are all important for optimal fitness.

  • Edina

    Great chart references! I once read about how you burn more fat if the first 15 minutes of your workout are intense as opposed to later on in the workout. I always wondered about the science behind it but I noticed it working whenever I had an intense 15 minute warm-up. For me, I felt like it was probably partially caused because it’d be so motivating to kick butt during that first half that I’d end up continuing to kill it until the end of the workout. I’ll have to work on getting deeper sleep and kickin’ up the intensity again. Thanks for breaking down the info!

    • Coach Calorie

      Glad you found the charts useful Edina.

  • Wendy T

    It’s not likely to be an issue to anyone reading here….nonetheless I have to say this.

    Growth hormone has also been shown to speed up the growth of cancer. For those who are survivors, I’d suggest researching that part of it too so you can make a decision with all the info.

  • Matt

    Intermittent fasting is a great way to raise GH naturally. When I am on IF (16hrs fast, 8hrs to eat), my blood labs for IGF-1 is always top of the range. When I eat more “normally” where I eat all day long, but smaller meals, my IGF-1 is about 1/2 the range. I know IGF-1 is not a direct GH measurement, but most consider it a sort of historical marker for GH.

    It sounds crazy to fast right? You’ll wilt away and waste away right? Actually no, I am fitter now then I ever was as a “grazer”. I train combat sports and I feel I am not injured as often, and I recover faster from both workouts and injuries. I also have more drive and focus at work, and I know I get full faster and stay full longer as a whole as well (I can still eat just as much, BUT, I know I am overeating grossly now I think due to hormone response being better). It just makes sense to me, if you have trouble with food (I love to eat) its silly to try to eat 6 small meals a day because your thinking about food every few hours. It is like your an alcoholic working at a bar, why put yourself in that situation?

    Anyway I have been off and on IF for the past 2 years – every time I went off it I felt worse then I did on it (even with some 3 month runs off IF in there). It is definitively worth trying if your looking for better methods of dealing with food, and at least in my situation I seem to have very high GH from it.

    • Coach Calorie

      Hey Matt, I’ve looked into intermittent fasting before. The idea is promising and makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • Matt

        Trickiest part is figuring out workout schedules as I still believe in nutrient timing. But even this is not so hard, I fast between ~8pm and noon most days, but when I workout late at night I eat post workout so sometimes the fast may only be 12,14, or sometimes on non workout days I might even ending up going up to 20hrs because sometimes I am just not hungry. I am flexible with it, but routine helps hold things together also.

        I have even experimented with fasted training (both cardio and strength), although its debatable whether I was actually fasting during this because I would take BCAA supplements before and then have my post workout meal afterwards. I actually had great results this way both in fitness and fat loss, but my training has since moved more to the late evening then early AM.

        My end goal diet is a modern Paleo most of the time (no processed foods – mostly meat, veggies, fruit, and so forth but maybe some things not strictly Paleo), eating IF style, with post workout nutrition always in check. I am mostly there, but eliminating processed foods is hard when you also like to go out with friends and end up eating (how do you know what is “processed” or not in the meals from restaturants etc..).

        I have struggled with weight for many years, but upon trying many things this is where I am getting the best results. I have lost about 45lbs in about 4 months (even with two holiday cheat spurts intermingled), but I know I have also gained significant muscle so the true fat loss value is hard to know. I still think I have 20-30lbs left to go, but so far I have not had any significant issues working within these diet or eating methods – and adding in caloric restriction isn’t nearly as difficult with this method as it was before when I was a “grazer”.

        Hardest part of my process was breaking the processed carb addiction initially (especially soda), now I don’t really crave those things physically – mentally/emotionally sometimes I do but before I had a very real “addict” type withdrawal from them. I also had a hard time breaking artificial sweeteners out of my diet at first also, it used to be my crutch for when I got rid of carbs. After reading Excitotoxins, I never want artificial sweeteners in my diet again – so that helped. And after breaking those things control over me, the weight loss is much easier and my health seems to be flourishing.

        • Coach Calorie

          You’ve motivated me to give it a shot Matt. Intermittent fasting starts after grocery shopping this weekend. I’ll be logging everything. Congrats on your success!

          • Matt

            Awesome, give it at least two weeks and I am guessing you will like the results, just be sure to eat what you need during the feeding periods (similar calories etc..). The first 3-5 days you might have less energy as the body adapts, somewhat like when you go low carb for the first time (at least for me it was this way). For me, prior to real diet control, I lost 11lbs without having any limitations on my diet except for the time window.

            Also you’ll be hungry for a little while during the fast if you have been eating often before, but the body seems to adapt to this as well given some time. I typically don’t get hungry until about a hour before my normal eating schedule, granted there are some times I do get hungry (especially heavy workout weeks), but that is also how I picked up another healthy habit of drinking 100oz of water/liquid per day and up to ~150oz on heavy workout days (I can shed 6-8lbs of water weight in 2hrs of Jujitsu grappling). Some people like to eat casein protein or cottage cheese or other slower digestion based foods at the end of their feeding periods to make it easier – personally I don’t really have a need to do this but thought I would share as it might be good for transition periods.

            And one final thing it all depends on the type of person you are, some can go straight to longer duration fasts and others need to work into it, such as starting with 10hrs, then 12hrs, then 14hrs, etc… For me I went straight to 16hrs, and it was tough but doable (mostly facing my hunger pangs), and after a few days it started to become normal routine and hunger pangs went away for a majority of the fast.

            One of the great things I have learned from all of this is what true hunger is versus emotional/mental hunger. Too often many of us think our stomachs rumble and we are immediately panicked because we are afraid our blood sugar is going to drop and our muscles are going to vaporize. It just doesn’t happen, at least not in normal healthy people. We are well adapted to fasting, and there are actually benefits such as the repair mode reaction (increased GH/IGF-1 etc..), the neurotransmitter enhancements (bo, and so forth that happen. I still would not suggest anyone doing fasting longer then 24hrs and I prefer the ~16hr (flexible) variant I am using for the best of all worlds. But it takes considerably longer then 24hrs before you really start to get detrimental in terms of health. For example everyone is afraid of metabolic slow down, part of the often touted starvation mode, studies have shown that this doesn’t really happen till after about 72hrs (and it may even increase in the period up to 72hrs). Of course we are all different and under different exercise workloads, stress, and so forth but basically I am saying 16hrs should be np at all for healthy humans.

            At any rate I will be eagerly awaiting your thoughts on IF so let us know how it goes!

            • Coach Calorie

              Hey Matt, if you are interested, you may submit a guest post on intermittent fasting and share the information and experience you’ve gained from it. I’m sure my readers would like to hear them.

            • John

              I had read elsewhere that intermittent fasting can naturally raise your HGH and help you lose weight, but I thought that when you fast your body thinks its starving so starts retaining as many calories as possible?

            • Joanne Tunnicliffe

              That’s interesting! I’ve always naturally only eaten between 11am and 7pm, I mostly eat very healthily (approx 1600 cals per day) and exercise cardio or weights for up to 2 hours in the mornings, 5x a week. I just can’t seem to lose the last few inches or shift the 8lbs to get to my goal weight though. Any tips?

  • issac abraham

    i m 19 yrs old……and i am 5 ft 6 inches…people say that the growth plates fuse after 20 years of age..i want to increase height uptil 5ft 11 inches… it possible nw…and i hv heard that homeopathy helps……plzzz help me …i need a correct diet,workouts,for height increasing…plz help me!!!!!

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Issac, unfortunately, I’m not an expert on increasing height, and I’m not sure there would be much of a difference without getting injections of growth hormone.

  • Aritra Bnaerjee

    HI. I do gym for 1hr. in this time i spend 20min on the tredmill, 10 min on pulling exercise, 5 min in dumbles and I do it in alternating way (5min dumbles then 5min pulling exercises) like this and i sleep 8t o 8and a half
    hr during the night and 2hr during holidays in the afternoon. I want to ask that is this workout will help in the release of growth hormone in my body. i am 15yr old and i am 5ft 3.

    • Coach Calorie

      Any kind of intense exercise is going to release growth hormone. As a 15 year old, I’m assuming you’re looking for GH levels up and above normal. This is not going to happen without seeing a Dr and getting injections.


    i m 23 years old(male), i want to reproduce my growth hormones. Please, tell me the tricks to reproduce my growth hormones by both mental and physical exercise methods.

  • Amie

    I went on the clean9, where u fast for two days, and then eat for the next 7, but with fewer cal than usual. It does really help. I try to have atleast 8hrs sleep and do exercise. Its made a lot of difference. i feel a lot fitter and i dont ache after intense training( i used to b4 intermittent fasting). my stomach is looking less bloated as well.

  • Dani

    Hi Tony! The other day on Dr. Oz (you must get this a lot–sorry!) he stated the following for building GH: resistance training (but only 10 minutes per day), deep sleep (8 hrs/night), and amino acids (GOAL stands for glutamine, ornithine, arginine, lysine). What do you think?

    • Coach Calorie

      I agree that resistance exercise, sleep, and protein (amino acids) can raise GH levels. As for whether 10 minutes of resistance training is optimal, I’d need to see studies. The important thing is that you’re strength training and recovering. The smaller details will make a small difference IMO.

  • Renee

    Hiya Tony
    Do you have an article on how being a insulin dependent diabetic effects the release of GH? Also,I would also like to learn more on insulin resistance, does this effect my insulin intake for my IDDM?

    • Coach Calorie

      I haven’t researched that particular situation, but if I were to, I’d start with Google Scholar and checking out research studies. You can search here –