For years, growth hormone (GH) was known as the body builder additive, and then we discovered its anti-aging and muscle-promoting secrets, proving that the hormone can provide many natural benefits on our quest for health and wellness.
Now, a new study coming out of the University of São Paulo in Brazil shows that that same hormone can actually fight back against our own active weight loss pursuit by activating our metabolic responses and energy conservation.
“GH receptors are found in large quantities in muscle and tissue, in the liver, and in organs directly involved in growth metabolism, but we found that the brain is also full of GH receptors. This is entirely new,” says José Donato Junior, one of the study authors. “We also found that brain GH is not only involved in growth metabolism but above all influences the metabolic responses that conserve energy when we’re hungry or on a diet. This discovery, which is also new to science, has important implications in terms of understanding why it’s so hard to lose weight.”
By exploring the role that the growth hormone plays in our system, the researchers also considered another hormone — leptin — which las long been tied to weight loss and gaining weight back post-dieting. But what they were really able to determine is that while GH and leptin work similarly on the brain, weight loss causes GH levels to rise (the opposite happens in leptin).
And when that happens, the GH receptors in the brain are activated and actually cause your appetite to increase and your energy metabolism and expenditure fall. It in turn makes losing weight more difficult and heightens your hunger senses. And while leptin and GH serve similar functions in your system — they both conserve energy — targeting one as the single key to weight loss won’t work. If you’re looking to lose weight by solely targeting your leptin levels (many weight loss plans have done exactly that), success will be difficult unless you adapt the plan to also factor in GH.
It might be then — when we consider both hormones — that the weight will come, and stay, off.