Use of amino acids as growth hormone-releasing agents by athletes

Nutrition. Jul-Aug 2002;18(7-8):657-61. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(02)00807-9.

Abstract

Specific amino acids, such as arginine, lysine and ornithine, can stimulate growth hormone (GH) release when infused intravenously or administered orally. Many individuals consume amino acids before strength training workouts, believing this practice accentuates the exercise-induced GH release, thereby promoting greater gains in muscle mass and strength. The GH response to amino acid administration has a high degree of interindividual variability and may be altered by training status, sex, age, and diet. Although parenteral administration consistently leads to increased circulating GH concentration, oral doses that are great enough to induce significant GH release are likely to cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea. During exercise, intensity is a major determinant of GH release. Although one study showed that arginine infusion can heighten the GH response to exercise, no studies found that pre-exercise oral amino acid supplementation augments GH release. Further, no appropriately conducted scientific studies found that oral supplementation with amino acids, which are capable of inducing GH release, before strength training increases muscle mass and strength to a greater extent than strength training alone. The use of specific amino acids to stimulate GH release by athletes is not recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Sports*

Substances

  • Amino Acids
  • Human Growth Hormone