Human growth hormone (HGH) promotes growth and fat metabolism and is especially important for growth in children and teenagers. People can try to increase their HGH naturally by changing their diet and lifestyle choices.

HGH, which is also known as somatotropin or growth hormone (GH), plays a vital role in body composition. The body does not release HGH continuously but in short bursts, every 3 to 5 hours. The hypothalamus in the brain emits two other hormones, the growth hormone-releasing hormone and the somatostatin, which affects the release of HGH.

The body regulates the production of HGH in response to stress, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and low sugar levels in the blood.

Natural HGH is important in growing children and teenagers. A lack of HGH production can lead to a condition known as growth hormone deficiency (GHD). This can lead to a slow growth rate and reduced facial bone development.

Similarly, excess HGH production can lead to a condition known as acromegaly. This condition can result in a number of signs and symptoms, the most well-known being large hands and feet.

This article will explore the benefits of HGH and its risks. It will also look at some of the ways to boost HGH within the body naturally.

The pituitary gland produces HGH in the body and releases it in bursts. The levels of HGH rise and fall regularly, and people may be able to increase them naturally by managing:

  • nutrition
  • exercise
  • body composition
  • the onset of deep sleep

Reducing body fat

A 2020 article notes that obesity can lower GH secretion but that weight loss can help restore it.

This is consistent with a 2016 review, which states that increased visceral fat has links to lower levels of GH.

This suggests that by reducing body fat, a person could increase the natural secretion of GH.

Frequent exercise

Exercise is a powerful stimulator of GH release. A 2021 study found that regular resistance and aerobic exercise increased HGH secretion.

Athletes may try to abuse this hormone due to its anabolic properties that may help enhance physical ability.

Intermittent fasting

A study from 2021 notes that fasting for 37.5 hours increased basal GH concentrations by ten times. This may be due to the role HGH plays in breaking down fat, which the body may use for energy while fasting.

Reducing sugar intake

A reduction in a person’s sugar intake may also lead to an increase in HGH levels.

The pancreas releases insulin in response to consuming food that breaks down into blood sugar, which enters the bloodstream. Research suggests that insulin may influence the secretion of GH. A consistent increase in insulin may inhibit the release of HGH, reducing the level of HGH in the body.

A 2020 study also notes that insulin and GH oppose the action of one another in terms of glucose and fat metabolism. In cases of obesity, when insulin is high and GH is low, the hormonal imbalance promotes further fat buildup, which may further reduce HGH.

This suggests that a reduction in sugar intake, which will lower the need for insulin, may help increase levels of HGH.


Some supplements have undergone investigation and could increase the level of HGH in the body. Before taking supplements, a person needs to talk with their doctor to determine whether it would be right for their body.

The amino acids arginine and glutamine have links with the release of HGH. One small study showed an increase in HGH 2 hours after taking an amino acid supplement. Therefore, arginine and glutamine supplements may help boost HGH.

Other supplements that can encourage HGH production include:

However, it is advisable for a person to speak with a doctor before taking supplements or significantly changing their diet.


Research notes that HGH levels increase during sleep due to the influence of melatonin. A regular sleep cycle is vital to naturally increase the level of HGH in the body.

Evidence also indicates that sleep disturbances, particularly deprivation, have associations with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and insulin insensitivity, which may lower levels of HGH.

Among other tips, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends exercising during the day to facilitate sleep at night. As both may help naturally increase HGH, people can try to include regular exercise and adequate sleep in their routines to increase HGH levels.

Share on Pinterest
Grace Cary/Getty Images

HGH has links to potential benefits such as the below.

Weight loss

HGH stimulates lipolysis, which is the breakdown of fatty acids in fat tissue. This can help with weight loss.

An older study suggests that GH treatment may help decrease body fat in obesity and growth hormone deficiency. Some studies have seen reductions in body fat with GH treatment, but additional research is necessary to fully understand their effects and possible side effects.

Increased muscle mass

Research notes that GH can enhance sprinting ability but seemingly has no effect on strengthening muscle performance, muscle function, or the rate of oxygen consumption in sports for older adults. It does not appear to benefit sports based on strength and endurance. GH may help increase muscle mass and strength through anabolic effects, in a similar way to anabolic steroids.

However, it is worth noting that the World Anti-Doping Agency views HGH as a doping agent. The agency prohibits its use due to its enhancements to athletic performance.

Learning and memory

Evidence suggests that HGH may play a role in improving cognitive function. Research shows that GH can have a positive effect on memory, behavior, mood, sensory and motor function, and quality of life.

Improved wound healing

An older study suggests GHRH may have a clinical use for treating skin wounds resulting from trauma, surgery, or disease. In particular, research suggests that HGH may help heal burn wounds and may have a use in the rehabilitation process.

Improved bone health

A 2023 study found that growth hormone deficiency causes low bone turnover rate, leading to reduced bone mineral density and increased bone fragility. However, an older 10-year study that involved 80 women between the ages of 50 and 70 showed that GH treatment was beneficial for bone health and fracture healing in postmenopausal women.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved the use of GH treatment for specific conditions, such as GHD. It is only available on prescription.

Some athletes have used HGH on a nonprescription basis to improve performance, but this carries risks relating to excessive use or incorrect dosing. Additionally, professional, collegiate, and international sports leagues have banned HGH to protect athlete health, safety, and fair play.

Long-term use of HGH can result in acromegaly. This can lead to a number of complications such as:

In addition to the above, some complications of GH replacement therapy due to excessive HGH may include:

As a person must administer HGH by injection, there is a risk of blood clots, dose error, or even complications such as heart disease and diabetes. Long-term use can cause irreversible acromegaly. People need to only use HGH under the supervision of a doctor.

HGH is a naturally occurring hormone that the body produces via the pituitary gland. It has important functions in growth, metabolism, and muscle mass. Additional benefits may include improved memory, bone health, and wound healing.

People may be able to naturally increase HGH levels through adequate sleep, exercise, and diet. However, a person needs to consult their doctor before making significant changes to their physical or dietary habits.

Additionally, illicit use of HGH has links to risks. It is advisable that people only use prescription HGH to treat certain conditions and not for other means.