woman running hardThink of human growth hormone (HGH) as little messengers in our body that tell our cells when to grow an reproduce. Through the age of about 20, human growth hormone is released in relatively high quantities in our body. After the growth phase of our life is over, HGH does a swan dive, decreasing rapidly from the age of roughly 20 to 30. The descent continues, albeit less rapid, from 30 to 40 – then sort of plateaus off after that.

Needless to say, the use of prescription supplements for HGH is a big hit among those of us who want to stay strong, look lean and be younger. I’ve learned to never say never, but I consider myself a natural kinda gal.  And I also have a lot of faith in what the human body can do for us if we treat it right. I don’t see the use of prescription HGH in my future, but I do intend to do the best I can to leverage my body’s own HGH when it’s available.

Does HGH offer a sort of  fountain of youth? HGH helps to build muscle, keep bones strong and improve the health of vital organs – especially the heart. Since HGH helps cells reproduce, and our bodies are merely a mass of cells – then yes – HGH does have a very youthful effect on the body.  The slower our cells reproduce, the slower our body regenerates. The faster our cells reproduce, the quicker dead cells get pushed out of the way and new ones move into their place.

Despite the fact that most adults don’t produce HGH the way they did when they were 18, the body still produces and releases it…just in lesser quantities. Here are a few tips for your to follow to leverage your own growth hormone when its available:

1) Intense Workouts: If you read my blog regularly, you know I’m a big fan of short, fast workouts. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, HGH increases by 771% during short, intense bursts of exercise. In terms of growth of our body through exercise, think of long, slow workouts as catabolic. We eat ourselves.  Our body eats away at muscle after extended periods of time in this  mode. Short, intense intervals put release HGH, making our body anabolic. We release hormones that allow our muscles to grow.

Anyone can do shorter, faster workouts. Push your body to a point of perceived exertion  that is very, very strenuous. Here is a sample workout that can be done doing any type of cardio (treadmill, elliptical, stair climber, rower, the sidewalk or road outside your house):

Warm Up

  • 5 to 10 minutes (walk, stretch, jog easy, get blood flowing through the muscles)

Work Hard. Here is my Hard Push workout. Especially great to do on a day when you’ve got a limited amount of time to workout.
Push yourself to the point of exhaustion through each of the intervals. If you have more left in the tank, you probably need to work harder)

  • 2 Minute Hard Push 
  • 1 to 2 Minutes Recovery (easy to no effort…but keep moving)
  • 90 Seconds Hard Push
  • 1 Minute Recovery
  • 1 Minute Hard Push
  • 1 Minute Recovery
  • 30 Second Hard Push
  • 1 Minute Recovery
  • 30 Second Hard Push
  • 1 Minute recovery
  • 1 Minute Hard Push
  • 1 Minute Recovery
  • 90 Second Hard Push
  • 1 Minute Recovery
  • 2 Minute Hard Push
  • Cool Down

2) Proper Post-Workout Nutrition: A case for protein

A lot of people will reach for a sports drink or energy bar after a hard workout. Don’t make that mistake. I’m not saying that carbohydrates are bad, but right after a hard workout – and to really take advantage of all the HGH floating around in your blood – eat or drink protein within 15 to 30 minutes of finishing.

If you just went for an easy jog that was, let’s say, 45-minutes long, you don’t need to be as concerned with making sure your eating much of anything after you’re done. The levels of HGH aren’t nearly as high after an easy moderate-length workout, and your liver probably still has plenty of sugar for your body to use…so there is no need to reload on carbs either.

A few examples of good post-workout protein sources include:

  • Protein Powder: I prefer whey-based protein powder (preferably concentrate, not isolate). If  you don’t tolerate whey very well, there are egg-based powders on the market. If you’re vegan, I prefer hemp or pea-based powder. I recently bought a really expensive container of rice-based protein powder and regret it. Even in massive amounts of water it’s insanely chalky and I can barely choke it down. But maybe that’s just me. Soy? I’m not a fan and don’t recommend it…ever.
  • Eggs: Yolk included, or you’ll miss out on all the great choline.
  • Yogurt with Flax Seed (ground): Try your best to grind the flax seed as close as possible to the time you eat. A lot of the good stuff in flax seed goes bad after it’s been exposed to light and air.
  • Nut Butter on Sprouted Grain Toast: I’m not a huge fan of “wheaty” foods, but if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll get all your amino acids by combining toast and nut butter.

3) Sleep

Sleep is when your body has a chance to rebuild and really work with the HGH in your body. If you don’t sleep, you’ll likely be much less lean (fatter) than your better-sleeping counterparts. It’s really important to try to get somewhere between 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Ideally, you want your body to go through three REM cycles. Anything less than that and you’re selling your body short.

Traci is a nationally recognized health and fitness expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and wellness coaching, as well as private training. Contact Traci here

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