All About Growth Hormone |

What is Growth Hormone? Growth Hormone (HGH) is a naturally-occurring hormone found in the human body. It is our bodies’ main source of energy, allowing us to function at our best. Growth Hormone also has a strong impact on our metabolism, and is often called an “insulin like growth factor”. Growth Hormone levels decline as we age, leading to a variety of health problems including: Metabolic Syndrome, Left for Growth Hormone Deficiency, and Low Testosterone. In order to maintain higher levels of Growth Hormone, you should be taking supplements.

You’ve heard of it, you’ve probably read about it. The question is, do you know it? Growth hormone (GH) is a very important hormone that is produced naturally in the pituitary gland, where it helps regulate cell growth and metabolism. More importantly, GH is also released by the brain in a similar way to many other hormones, such as insulin and adrenaline. GH is often referred to as the “master hormone” because it regulates the function of other hormones, including testosterone, and is responsible for the effects of growth and sexual development.

What is growth hormone?

Growth hormone (GH), also called somatotropin, is an anabolic hormone produced and secreted by the pituitary gland.

GH is a large polypeptide believed to indirectly stimulate growth by stimulating the release of growth factors from the liver and muscles (e.g. IGF-1).

These growth factors initiate a cascade of events normally associated with an increase in GH concentration. GH is released in response to growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) produced by the hypothalamus.

Why is growth hormone so important?

GH promotes the growth of bones, muscles and other tissues.

In the muscles, GH stimulates both protein synthesis and fat metabolism. GH draws fatty acids from reserves and instructs the body to use the fatty acids as an energy source.

It is interesting to note that blood sugar levels rise at the same time that GH limits fat storage and mobilizes it for energy. In this way GH prevents the body from breaking down carbohydrates and raises blood sugar levels. Thus, prolonged GH substitution may predispose to insulin resistance.

The effect of GH on fat mobilization can begin 20 minutes after release and last up to 3 hours.

You may be wondering why vigorous exercise is so effective for losing fat, even though it may seem that a few sets of weighted squats won’t burn you many calories. Many researchers attribute the simultaneous occurrence of high plasma concentrations of fatty acids and GH after intense exercise.

GH too:

  • Reduces the amount of sugar in the blood
  • Reduces glycogen synthesis
  • Increases the transport of amino acids in the cells and the synthesis of proteins
  • Increases the breakdown and use of fats
  • Increases collagen synthesis and cartilage growth
  • Increases the retention of nitrogen, sodium, potassium and phosphorus
  • Increases blood flow and kidney filtration
  • Strengthens the immune function

What you should know

The reference range for healthy GH levels is 0.06 to 8.0 ng/ml.

In cases of GH deficiency, GH substitution appears to be safe and may even be beneficial to health – at least under long-term medical supervision. There seems to be a small risk of developing insulin resistance.

Sleep and GH

Sleep is associated with the release of hormones such as GH. Perhaps this is why sleep helps us recover and heal. Sleep-related GH secretion has also been associated with nocturnal increases in fatty acid secretion.

Sleep duration and GH secretion decrease with age. Sleep deprivation in adolescents reduces GH secretion and may contribute to the early development of metabolic syndrome. As shown in the diagram below, GH secretion peaks in the late evening.

Movement and GH

GH secretion during and after exercise is proportional to intensity. The harder and more intense the exercise, the more GH is released. Think sprints, not long, slow runs.

The increase in GH secretion is accompanied by an increase in acidity, which is a by-product of very intensive exercise. In addition, catecholamines can stimulate GH secretion. Rest periods of 60 seconds or less can help stimulate the release of greenhouse gases.

GH increases slowly during intense exercise, but reaches a peak after exercise. Thus, the peak of GH release coincides with the maximum release of fatty acids from adipose tissue. Physical activity also increases the amplitude and number of GH pulses throughout the day.

Reducing caloric intake does not appear to cause GH deficiency. The data shows that a 25% reduction in calorie intake does not result in a significant drop in GH levels, but in people who exercise with the right kind of training, GH levels can rise.

Summary and recommendations

To ensure healthy levels of growth hormone:

  • Train powerful, use many muscle groups
  • Train in multiple sets, with a short rest period (<60 seconds) and heavy weights (~10 reps max).
  • Ensure adequate intake of carbohydrates and protein before and after training.
  • Avoiding/restricting alcohol consumption
  • Sleep 7 to 9 hours per night
  • Maintain a lean/healthy body composition

For additional credit

GH and insulin act as antagonists – GH is hyperglycemic and insulin is hypoglycemic.

Psychological stress that causes anxiety, fear or anger can cause GH secretion.

Neutrophil concentrations increase for several hours after exercise, probably in response to a delayed increase in GH; this may improve immune function.

The menstrual cycle has virtually no effect on GH secretion during exercise, but higher GH levels may be observed at rest. One of the reasons why women mobilize more fatty acids during exercise is the higher concentration of GH in the blood.

Excessive GH secretion during the growth period leads to irregular skeletal growth. This is called gigantism. Excessive secretion of GH after years of growth can lead to acromegaly. An abnormally low GH secretion during the growth period can lead to dwarfism.

GH is structurally similar to the placental hormone human chorionic somatomammotropin (also known as human placentalactogen).

Excess body fat can reduce GH production.

Alcohol consumption can reduce GH secretion.

Eating carbs and protein before and after exercise can increase the GH response.

A reduction in GH secretion occurs in the case of overtraining. This seems to be due to a disturbed function of the hypothalamus.

GH increases the formation of hydroxyproline from proline and stimulates the synthesis of cartilage.


Click here to see the sources of information referenced in this article.

Borer K.T. Exercise endocrinology. Human Kinetics. Champaign, Illinois. 2003.

Harvey RA, Champe PC eds. Pharmacology 2. ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2000.

de Salles BF, et al. Rest between sets during strength training. Sports Med 2009;29:765-777.

Redman LM, et al. Effect of caloric restriction interventions on growth hormone secretion in non-obese men and women. Aging Cell 2009;Oct 30 Epub.

Svensson J & Bengtsson BA. Safety aspects of replacing a WE. Eur J Endocrinol 2009;161 Suppl 1:S65-S74.

DP Cobbler. Changes in physiology as body fat increases. Semin Pediatr Surg 2009;18:126-135.

Kraemer WJ & Ratamess NA. Hormonal responses and adaptation to exercise and resistance training. Sports Med 2005;35:339-361.

Godfrey RJ, et al. Exercise-induced growth hormone response in athletes. Sports Med 2003;33:599-613.

Goto K, et al. Pre-exercise endurance training attenuates growth hormone response to subsequent resistance training. Eur J Appl Physiol 2005;94:333-338.


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To read the free courses, click on one of the links below.{“@context”:””,”@type”:”FAQPage”,”mainEntity”:[{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”What is the main function of the growth hormone?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:” The main function of the growth hormone is to stimulate cell division and tissue growth.”}},{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”What is growth hormone in human body?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:” Growth hormone is a protein hormone that stimulates growth and cell reproduction in humans.”}},{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”How can I increase my growth hormone?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:” There are a few ways to increase your growth hormone. One way is to exercise, which increases the production of growth hormone. Another way is to eat foods that contain protein, such as eggs and meat.”}}]}

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main function of the growth hormone?

The main function of the growth hormone is to stimulate cell division and tissue growth.

What is growth hormone in human body?

Growth hormone is a protein hormone that stimulates growth and cell reproduction in humans.

How can I increase my growth hormone?

There are a few ways to increase your growth hormone. One way is to exercise, which increases the production of growth hormone. Another way is to eat foods that contain protein, such as eggs and meat.

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