When it comes to losing weight and getting in shape, we keep recycling the same diet plan every few years.
Right now, in 2024, it’s super cool to be doing intermittent fasting and also a ketogenic diet. Both of which I did over 25 years ago. Trust me, there’s nothing new going on.
But today, I’m going to focus on intermittent fasting and the increase in Growth Hormone.
A subscriber asked me:
“Dr. Sam – what’s the best way to do intermittent fasting to really increase my growth hormone levels? I’ve heard that fasting is awesome for boosting GH. I want to increase muscle mass and really get super lean and ripped and I know GH is the secret.”
Umm… okay, first of all – there are NO “secrets” to losing weight.
There are better strategies based on YOUR body type, genetics, food preferences, lifestyle, goals, and so forth.
But trust me, NO secrets other than the fact that genetics aside, it’s ALL about optimizing and balancing out key hormone levels that allow maximum fat burning, appetite suppression, and preserving muscle mass.
And I’ll talk about these hormones in a minute.
A Study on Intermittent Fasting
Now, in regards to GH and intermittent fasting … There’s a study that many people who promote intermittent fasting, reference, which shows how fasting can increase your growth hormone levels by a massive 1,250%.1 This is really impressive, right?
But they leave out the part that the study involved people who fasted for over ONE WEEK!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to stop eating for an entire week, so I can brag about how much my GH levels shot up … while I’m starving to death and all my muscle mass is dissolving.
The Truth About Intermittent Fasting and GH
The truth is that STRESS causes an increase in growth hormone. Thus, not eating, low blood sugar and physical stress will all increase GH.2-3
However, this does not mean you’re losing fat and gaining muscle.
This is very different than the GH released with a growing baby and teenagers, which is NOT stress-related. Or the growth hormone released with deep sleep.
These are all positive, non-stress-mediated growth hormone releases.
Just know that there are many hormones involved and looking at ONLY the growth hormone during fasting is elementary and idiotic. Nobody takes into account other hormones during times of stress – such as an increase in stress hormones, a decrease in testosterone, an increase in insulin levels, and dozens of other hormonal imbalances.
Additionally, other intermittent fasting promoters who fast for 18+ hours daily say it’s this increase in GH that’s causing the fat loss.
NO, IT’S NOT people – it’s the fact that most people who do intermittent fasting and not eating for 18+ hours are eating fewer total calories. This is the primary reason for weight loss.
It’s also due to less insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity.
But trust me, the higher HGH levels are NOT the primary cause – not even close.
I deal with lots of athletes and also older people that take high doses of exogenous GH daily and trust me, they are not burning fat like crazy and walking around at 5% body fat, eating anything they want.
How Long Should a Fast Be?
Also, if your goal is to build or preserve muscle and lose fat AND if you are exercising with weights – please don’t fast for 18+ hours.
That’s way too many hours to go without eating anything, especially protein.
Your body can use stored glucose and fat from your body – but the only “stored” protein is from your MUSCLES, which need to be replenished often.
If you go too many hours without consuming some protein, your body will slowly catabolize and eat away your muscles for the amino acids to help repair the body.
You may not notice it right away, but over the next few months, you will most certainly start to lose muscle mass if you’re not eating for 18 hours daily.
The MOST I tell people to fast is maybe 12 hours daily. That’s it.
Also, don’t go to the gym fast and lift weights – your performance will be poor and you’ll again eat away at the muscle cells. Make sure you eat at least once before exercise.
How Can I Optimize Weight Loss?
If you’re interested in the optimal way to fast, while still building muscle and/or losing fat, I’ll do an article about this.
In the meantime, if you want to burn fat long-term and help preserve or even gain muscle at the same time, then your goal is to optimize specific hormones that control fat burning, such as
- Increasing Adiponectin, Leptin, and Thyroid
- Decreasing Cortisol, Ghrelin, and Insulin
As you can see, GH is not on this list. Not because it doesn’t work or it’s not important, but because it’s lower on the priority list.
Now, I’ve got two important links I want you to take a look at.
The first is a list of natural ingredients that help improve these 6 fat-burning hormones and a couple of other ones.
The second is a proven, 20-year formula that causes these hormones to be optimized together, at the same time for maximum fat burning.
Take a look at both and let me know how it works for you.