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We're all looking for ways to get to the top of our game in the gym and build muscle mass. It becomes even more challenging as we get older, and we have to really up our game.
We know the importance of working out and choosing the correct nutritional diet, but how many of us consider how significant our hormones are in muscle growth?
Human growth hormone (HGH) supplementation is becoming increasingly popular in bodybuilding and enhances athletic performance, so what's the fuss about?
Let's have a closer look at the role human growth hormone plays in our overall health.
What is HGH?
HGH, also known as Human Growth Hormone, helps to regulate muscle growth and to strengthen muscles. It also helps to support our metabolism.
A low HGH level can affect your overall health in many ways, such as increased body fat, changing body composition, and being at risk of serious diseases.
HGH deficiency can often be due to your genetic makeup, and if you're at particular risk, you can get growth hormone replacement therapy treatment from a doctor.
Why is Human Growth Hormone essential for muscle growth?
HGH affects our muscles by stimulating the production of IGF-1, which provides an anabolic stimulus to our tissues. Without HGH, muscle growth can't occur as it's responsible for cell growth and regeneration within the body.
Not just for muscles either; it also maintains the health of our brain and major organs. In the short time that HGH is active, it can convert to IGF-1 and start working on our system immediately. Put simply- no HGH, no muscle growth.
The use of HGH in bodybuilding…
Let's get straight to the point- the World Anti-Doping Agency and most sports organizations have banned athletes from taking HGH. You can be prosecuted in the US or UK if you possess or distribute HGH unless it's been approved by a physician.
Though rumors are that it's being used to "cheat" in competitions, it's frowned upon. If pro bodybuilders take such a big risk, it seems evident that it works. Indeed, the science is there- if used correctly, it will help stimulate muscle growth by diverting calories in food to protein synthesis rather than fat synthesis. It's been shown to be as potent as testosterone when stimulating muscle growth.
However, there are potential side effects if too much is used, such as heart disease, blood clots and diabetes.
So with all the risks involved in taking HGH, what are the natural ways to increase levels of HGH in the body?
5 ways to naturally increase your HGH levels…
Your priority should always be your health, and no matter how keen you are to get the body shape you dream of, your well-being should not be sacrificed to get there. The good news is that there are several ways in which you can help to increase HGH levels in your system.
1. Lose Weight.
Studies have shown that your HGH production is directly linked to the amount of body fat you have. Those with high levels of body fat may have lower HGH production. Those with abdominal fat were found to have a lower amount of HGH in their system and were at risk of symptoms caused by low HGH.
Losing body fat is a great way to increase your chances of improving your HGH levels and overall health. Try to reduce your sugar intake and eat a balanced diet to reduce your body fat.
Supplements for improving HGH production are rare but not difficult to locate if you know where to look. Those containing natural ingredients are best as they are unlikely to cause any side effects. Look for those containing Maca, a root vegetable grown in Peru, known for its libido-enhancing performances and stimulating growth hormone production. Athletes use it to create a higher quality muscle mass and rapid recovery from workouts. Velvet bean (mucuna pruriens ) has also been shown to stimulate growth hormones in the body.
A 2011 study by the National Library of Medicine showed that consuming velvet beans increased growth hormone production in men exercising. Another ingredient to look out for is Hawthorn Berry, which contains flavonoids with antioxidant effects that improve circulation and heart health.
How much of an increase you can expect in your HGH levels depends on the types of exercise you're doing. Moderate exercise can help HGH levels, but high-intensity exercise (HIIT), in particular, has been shown in studies to help to increase growth hormone levels.
Keeping yourself active, alongside a healthy diet, and ensuring you're burning enough calories to reduce your body fat levels will also assist in optimizing your hormone levels.
A recent study found that HGH levels in 47 people increased significantly after a 24-hour fasting session. Not eating for a day is not for everyone and not sustainable over a long period of time, but in short bursts, fasting helps increase HGH levels by some margin.
Studies show that fasting leads to a significant increase in HGH levels. The best method is the 8-hour window approach, where you have an 8-hour period to eat and then 16 hours where you fast. Another method is to significantly reduce the calories you take in for a couple of days each week. It's recommended that you consult with a doctor before taking on this kind of diet. Fasting will assist in reducing your body fat and reduce your insulin levels.
5. Get a better quality of sleep.
A decent sleep has numerous health benefits. It helps improve our mood, is excellent for heart health and your immune system, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. HSH is also released into your system when you sleep as part of the body's circadian rhythm, so less HGH will be produced if you don't get enough sleep. To assist with a decent night's sleep, ensure your room is dark at night, avoid caffeine after midday, and keep your bedroom cool but not too cold. You should seek at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
Healthy levels of HGH are essential for muscle strength and our overall general health. Low levels can be problematic as we age, but taking HGH is not recommended. Aside from it being illegal to sell or possess without a prescription, it can be highly damaging to our health if taken in incorrect doses. Reducing our body fat, exercising more often, getting better sleep quality, and taking the right supplements can help increase levels.
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