The Effects of Fasting On Human Growth Hormones.

Human growth hormone (HGH) is made by the pituitary gland.

As the name implies, it plays a huge role in the normal development of children and adolescents.

Levels peak during puberty and gradually decrease with age.

Excessively low growth hormone levels in adults lead to more body fat, less muscle mass, and decreased bone density (osteopenia).

Growth hormone, along with cortisol and adrenaline, is a counterregulatory hormone.

These hormones signal the body to increase the availability of glucose countering the effect of insulin and producing higher blood sugar levels.

Levels of counterregulatory hormones peak just before waking, at approximately 4:00 a.m. or so, increasing blood sugar levels, which fall during the night.

The increase prepares the body for the upcoming day by making more glucose available for energy.

Growth hormone also increases the availability of fats for fuel by raising levels of key enzymes, such as lipoprotein lipase and hepatic lipase.

Since burning fat reduces the need for glucose, this helps maintain stable blood sugar.

Many of the effects of aging may result from low growth hormone levels.

Replacing growth hormone in older people with low levels has significant anti-aging benefits.

A randomized controlled study found that in men, six months of growth hormone replacement increased lean mass (bone and muscle) by an astounding 3.7 kilograms (8.2 pounds), even as fat mass decreased by 2.4 kilograms (5.3 pounds).

Similar results were found in women.

However, exogenous growth hormone that is, growth hormone that isn’t made by your own body carries the risk of unwanted side effects.

Blood sugar levels can increase to pre-diabetic levels.

Blood pressure also goes up, and there is a theoretical increased risk of increased prostate cancer and heart problems.

For these reasons, injections of artificial growth hormone are used rarely.

But what if we could boost growth hormone naturally?

Meals very effectively suppress the secretion of growth hormone, so if we’re eating three meals per day, we get effectively no growth hormone during the day.

Worse, overeating suppresses growth hormone levels by as much as 80 percent.

The most potent natural stimulus to growth hormone secretion is fasting.

In one study, over a five-day fasting period, growth hormone secretion more than doubled.

During fasting, in addition to the usual early-morning spike of growth hormone (pulsatile), there is also regular secretion throughout the day (non-pulsatile).

Both pulsatile and non-pulsatile release of growth hormone is increased during fasting.

Interestingly, very low-calorie diets are not able to provoke the same growth hormone response.

A study of a religious forty-day fast found that baseline growth hormone levels increased from 0.73 ng/mL to a peak at 9.86 ng/mL.

That is a 1250 percent increase in growth hormone, all done without drugs.

And a 1992 study showed a fivefold increase in growth hormone in response to a two-day fast.


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