Lose Body Fat
The amount of body fat you carry is directly related to your HGH production (3).
Those with higher body fat levels or more belly fat will likely have impaired HGH production and an increased risk of disease.
In one study, individuals with 3 times the amount of belly fat had less than half the amount of HGH as lean individuals (15).
As shown in the graph below, one study monitored the 24-hour release of HGH and found a large decline in those with more abdominal fat.
Growth Hormone Release Compared To Body Fat
Interestingly, research suggests that excess body fat affects HGH levels more in men. However, lowering body fat is still key for both genders (15, 16).
One study found that obese individuals had lower IGF-1 and HGH levels. After losing a significant amount of weight, their levels returned to normal
Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that limits eating to short time periods.
It can be done in many different ways. One common approach is a daily 8-hour eating window with a 16-hour fast. Another involves 2 days of eating only 500-600 calories each week (18, 19).
Intermittent fasting can help optimize HGH levels in several ways. First, it can help you drop body fat, which directly impacts HGH production (20, 21, 22, 23).
Second, it’ll keep your insulin levels low for most of the day, as insulin is released when you eat. This can also provide benefits, as research suggests that insulin spikes can disrupt your natural growth hormone production (24, 25).
One study found that 3 days into a fast, HGH levels increased by over 300%. After one week of fasting, they had increased by a massive 1,250% (26).
Other studies have found similar effects, with double or triple growth hormone levels after just 2–3 days of fasting (27, 28, 29).
As shown in the graph below, one study found large differences in HGH levels on the fasting day compared to the feeding day (30).
Try an Arginine Supplement
Although most people tend to use amino acids like arginine around exercise, one study shows this has little or no benefit for HGH levels (31).
Two other studies confirmed this, finding no difference between exercise only or exercise plus arginine. However, when arginine was taken on its own and without any exercise, they did find a significant increase in HGH (32, 33).
Other non-exercise studies also support the use of arginine.
One study looked at the effects of taking either 45 or 114 mg of arginine per pound (100 or 250 mg per kg) of body weight, or around 6–10 or 15–20 grams per day.
They found no effect for the lower dose, but participants taking the larger dose had around a 60% increase in HGH levels during sleep (34).
Reduce Sugar Intake
An increase in insulin can lower HGH production.
Refined carbs and sugar raise insulin levels the most, so reducing your intake may help optimize growth hormone levels (24, 25).
One study found that healthy non-diabetic individuals had 3-4 times higher HGH levels than diabetics, who have impaired carb tolerance and insulin function (35).
Along with directly affecting insulin levels, excess sugar intake is a key factor in weight gain and obesity, which also affect HGH levels.
That being said, the rare sugary treat on special occasions will not impact your growth hormone levels in the long-term.
Aim to achieve a healthy and balanced diet. What you eat 90% of the time will have the most profound effects on your health, hormones and body composition.