To answer this question, we must first look at the body's production of anabolic ( anabolic means characterized by or promoting constructive metabolism) hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that are released in one tissue and transported in the bloodstream to alter the activities of specific cells in other tissues. Each hormone has target cells, which are specific cells that have the receptors needed to bind and read the hormonal message. Also, hormones alter the operations of target cells by changing the types, quantities or activities of important enzymes and structural proteins.
- Amino acid derivatives - this group of hormones are synthesized from the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan.
- Peptide hormones - this class includes some of the hormones of interest to bodybuilders, such as GH and insulin.
- Steroid hormones - this class includes testosterone. They are structurally similar to cholesterol and are released by the male and female reproductive organs.
It should be noted that hormones must first bind to a receptor to have an affect on the target cell, these receptors are actually a protein molecule. Each cell has receptors for responding to several different hormones.
Testosterone, Insulin and Growth hormone (or somatropin). Growth Hormone is an amino acid produced in the anterior pituitary gland of the brain. GH stimulates cell growth by accelerating the rate of protein synthesis. Although every cell responds to GH to a point, muscle cells are particularly responsive to GH. The main stimulation of growth by GH is indirect: liver cells respond to the presence of GH by synthesizing and releasing somatomedins, also more commonly known as insulin-like growth factor which is a peptide hormone that binds to receptor sites. In muscle fibers IGF-1 increases the rate of the uptake of amino acids and their incorporation to new proteins. These effects happen quickly, and are important after a meal. GH is also involved in fat burning, this takes effect some time after meals when blood glucose levels return to normal. Generally, growth hormone release is highest during the first part of the night, which is why getting to bed at a decent time is so important. When we cut our sleep short, we blunt the effect of growth hormone, which will also limit our recovery and muscle growth ability.
So with all that said, GH boosters are a category of supplements that help increase your body's natural production of growth hormone. Actually, the concept of tying in all three anabolic hormones to your training and nutrition/supplementation plan makes a lot of sense and will allow you to increase your results significantly. While insulin is more diet controlled, GH is increased by the use of extending your sets to get that burning sensation in the muscles. GH tends to be released along with testosterone in your training so the use of compound exercises – these are the ones that promote testosterone release - is the way to go. Along with that, adding in a GH booster will further enhance your natural production of GH. Beyond the impact GH has on muscle growth, it has become popular as a “anti-aging” supplement, with many of the current group of products in that category.
- Increased muscle mass.
- Increased fat burning.
- Involved in the regulation of the metabolism.
- Claims of anti aging is a big part of this category.
For the most part, these are functions of the hormone itself, not results arrived at solely because you take a supplement. However, the anti aging aspects are more supplement related then the other three. When it comes to hormonal manipulation, the thing with supplements, just like with training, is that you are trying to take a natural occurrence and maximize the results. The combination of natural supplements, diet manipulation and proper training techniques allow for faster results and give those “natural” athletes something to work with. Anti aging is a somewhat newer category, with the drug GH getting a lot of press as a “fountain of youth”. There are several natural supplements available now that take advantage of this popularity.
There are two main categories of GH supplements: those involved with muscle mass gains and those involved with anti aging. They come in powders, effervescent packets, capsules and tablets. There are several nutrients included in most formulas: arginine, ornithine - these two were among the very first GH boosters to hit the market as a bodybuilding supplement way back in the late 80's – lysine, sometimes gaba, to name a few. Timing of most products is typically before bed on an empty stomach. As always, refer to the product label for dosing guidelines.