Growth hormone (HGH), like testosterone, is an anabolic hormone. Among other things, its function is to repair muscle and collagen tissue. It also promotes the secretion of Insulin-Like Growth Hormone or IGF-1 for short.
We release less HGH when we get older, and a lot of our lifestyle choices affect how much growth hormone we release.
Here are a few ways to increase your HGH levels:
- Growth hormone is released in your sleep, so make sure you get plenty of high-quality sleep.
- Don't eat anything at least 2 hours before sleeping because our blood glucose levels need to be low for HGH release during sleep.
- Exercise releases HGH and IGF-1, especially high-intensity weight lifting. In addition, you can release these hormones locally by using a method called occlusion training, also known as blood flow restriction.
- As funny as it might sound, sauna and meditation also increase our HGH levels. You obviously don't have to do these two things simultaneously, but 20 minutes of each have shown increases in HGH and IGF-1 levels.
Another anabolic hormone, but people usually don't think it has any effects on hypertrophy.
Although its primary function is to regulate blood glucose levels, insulin also increases muscle protein synthesis, stimulates the cellular pathway responsible for muscle growth, and increases blood flow into the muscle.
When our glycogen stores are full, we are helping maximize protein synthesis. This is why bodybuilders inject insulin.
Working out can increase our insulin sensitivity, which decreases our risk of developing diabetes.
There are a few things you can do to optimize your insulin.
- Remove processed sugar from your diet.
- Get enough high-quality sleep.
- Lose a bit of weight. An increase in fat decreases our insulin sensitivity, increasing our risk of developing diabetes and insulin resistance.
- Try to minimize the stress in your life.
- Eat more soluble fibers; they increase your insulin sensitivity.
Contrary to all of the hormones mentioned above, cortisol is a catabolic hormone. In the context of this article, that means that it breaks down our muscle cells.
Although we can't escape its effects, and it's absolutely necessary to release cortisol after a workout, too much cortisol is bad.
It’s triggered by stressful situations, from hard workouts to cursing out a bad driver on the highway. The effects of too much cortisol are noticeable in the quality of your life, not just when it comes to optimizing gains.
This is what you can do to optimize cortisol levels:
- Get a pet. No, seriously. A ton of data shows that having a pet reduces cortisol levels.
- Once again, get high-quality sleep and clean up your diet!
- Try to recognize the stress in your life and do your best to take it easy.
- Start meditating. Deliberate breathing and mindfulness are great tools for stress management and, therefore, cortisol management.