When you think of a celeb who’s stayed seriously fit into his golden years, two probably come to mind: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. We know that Arnold’s secret is relentlessly working out (and probably a good deal of dietary supplements, too). As for Sly Stallone? His weapon of choice is Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
But HGH isn’t just for your “over the hill” years. Whether it’s a 20-something looking for more energy or an executive warding off burnout, more people than ever are turning to this controversial hormone—especially in Hollywood.
While Tinsel town’s tryst with HGH might turn ordinary people away from this supplement, there’s no denying the benefits it provides those who really need it. There’s a reason gym rats and bodybuilders use HGH, albeit in small doses. If you’ve been considering an HGH boost, here’s what you need to know.
What is HGH?
The pebble-sized pituitary gland in the brain secretes HGH naturally in spurts to help with muscle growth, bone density and overall cellular rejuvenation. In a normal scenario, HGH is usually released while you sleep. But research has shown that HGH levels hit an all-time high during puberty and slowly decline with age.
That’s where HGH supplements come into play. In small doses, HGH has been known to help with general good health and recovery. Bodybuilders and regular gym-goers inject HGH for a testosterone boost that helps increase muscle mass and energy. When used correctly and in tandem with proper nutrition and workout schedules, HGH injections can deliver a variety of benefits.
- Overall muscle growth: One study found that older men experienced better leg press responsive muscles after six months of HGH therapy. HGH improves collagen synthesis, thus boosting muscle strength and overall workout capacity.
- Weight-loss wonder: Free fatty acids (FFAs) are a crucial energy source. HGH boosts lipolysis, the process through which lipids are broken down in your body and triglycerides are converted into FFAs. A restricted diet coupled with HGH supplementation can reduce visceral fat and improve your metabolism. It’s no wonder HGH has been marketed for its weight-loss properties.
- Better bone health: Your overall skeletal health gets a boost when HGH is released into the bloodstream. This, in turn, activates a vital hormone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), that keeps your bone density at a high level and facilitates bone reabsorption. This is vital if you have an intense daily workout regime (and as you age and lose bone mass).
- Improved mood: It’s common knowledge that testosterone injections can bring about over-aggressive behavior and mood swings. HGH, on the other hand, has shown to improve cognition and overall mood. While helping you bulk up, HGH doesn’t usually induce unwanted aggression—to the relief of everyone working out nearby.
Keeping it natural
HGH deficiency signs range from depression to loss of muscle mass, sexual dysfunction and weight gain around the waist. But simply injecting yourself with HGH won’t have any long-term benefits; the idea is to keep a tab on your nutrition and workout as well.
Keep your sugar intake low and don’t eat too much at the end of the day. The former will help balance out your insulin levels, while the latter will ensure your natural HGH secretion is not affected by added carbs or proteins you chow down at dinner. Getting the recommended nine hours of sleep—we know, easier said than done—and intensifying your workout will also boost your HGH levels.
The side effects of HGH
Any supplement taken in excess will be saddled with a list of side effects. In the case of HGH, the downside kicks in when you start taking mega-doses in the hope of increasing its benefits. Resist the urge. Enlarged fingers and toes, fluid retention and a spike in blood sugar are symptoms that you’re overdoing it.
HGH brands put a lot of emphasis on the anti-aging properties of the supplement. There is research among older adults that showed HGH to increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat. However, there were also side effects like as carpal tunnel syndrome and joint pain. Once the HGH dosage was reduced, these symptoms began to fade away.
So let’s set one thing straight: HGH is not youth serum. HGH should be used carefully so that it helps you build muscle and boost your energy. These will help you stay and feel more youthful, but needless to say, HGH isn’t a cure-all—no matter what Hollywood’s obsession will have you believe.
How to pick an HGH supplement
Look for a supplement that contains these two key ingredients: glutamine, which pushes your body to secrete a slightly higher level of HGH, and arginine, which improves nitric oxide levels and, in turn, boosts your body’s nutrient absorption.
What’s the bottom line? HGH is controversial, but when taken in moderation (repeat after us: I will not mega-dose!) and under the guidance of your doctor, it can actually produce some pretty amazing results. Check out these reviews of HGH supplements to explore if this hormone is right for you.