Mark Sisson has an excellent post on how to maximize human growth hormone (HGH) levels. The basic steps are:
1. Do intense resistance training (i.e. Power Law workouts)
2. Have a high-protein post-workout snack (no carbs)
3. Every once in a while, fast after your workout
4. Get lots of sleep every evening
It’s a pretty simple regimen, but I find it quite ironic how the fitness and endurance sports communities have eschewed this in favor of high levels of cardio training at both ends of the day coupled with glucose-fueled diets.
And the reality is that you actually negate the health benefits of all this training if you do not allow your HGH levels to peak as nature intended.
As possible proof of this, we can cite a recent study by the National Cancer Institute that indicated that physically active women who averaged less than 7 hours of sleep each night had a 47% higher risk of developing cancer than physically active women who were not sleep deprived. And while it was not completely clear exactly how getting too little sleep may make one more susceptible to cancer, the researchers cited the “effects of exercise on the body’s hormone levels, immune function and body weight” as potential factors. (Note: although this study was limited to women, I’ll wager that this applies to men as well)
Bottom line: Hit it hard, hit the sack, and go to bed hungry every once in a while. Because that’s exactly what your ancestors did for thousands of years.