*Anabolic Research Update*

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    Anabolic Research Update (Bill L)


    Anabolic Research Update By William Llewellyn Muscular Development November 2002

    Recombinant Human Growth-Hormone (rHGH) is without question the most expensive drug in ready use for athletes today. The financial investment necessary for this drug which can exceed $1000 for even a halfway decent cycle, dwarfs the costs associated with anabolic steroids. Consequently, an air of misunderstanding has come to surround this drug. To many bodybuilders personally unfamiliar, the high cost of GH is an indicator of its potency. To them, it's thought of as the ultimate anabolic- far superior to steroids in its abilities to help one pack on muscle mass and a must for any serious bodybuilder. To others, it's a terribly overrated bodybuilding drug- useless for building muscle and barely passable as a fat loss agent. As with most things in life, of course, we can assume the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the solid medical studies conducted with human growth hormone, detailing when possible the actual effectiveness of this drug as an anabolic, anticatabolic and lipolytic agent.

    Anabolic Potency
    Studies looking at the true anabolic effectiveness of GH on trained athletes are few and far between. Only one study looking at muscle strength gains is o be found on Medline (an online database of medical studies) that meets the criteria of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted with trained young adults. In this paper, 22 powerlifting athletes were reportedly recruited from a local health club to participate in a study on the effects of GH in trained athletes. These men all exercised for 8-14 hours per week, and had been consistent in keeping up with their routines for at least the prior six months. Of the 22 subjects, half were given a reasonable dose of RHGH(several IU's, according t body weight) every night for six weeks, while the remaining 11 were given placebo injections. All subjects remained on a controlled low -fat/high protein diet consisting of 1.5-2.5 grams per kilogram body weight (g/kg) of protein each day. The investigators also monitored urine samples to be sure anabolic steroids were not taken at the same time. A few people discontinued because of side effect or other unrelated reasons, so a total of 8 subjects completed the six week course with rHGH and 10 with placebo.
    Contrary to what some of the strong proponents of this drug might have suggested, the results in this study did not demonstrate GH to have a noticeable anabolic effect at all. Quadriceps and biceps strength did increase significantly for the men, but this occurred comparably for those in both the rHGH and placebo groups. As such, none of the gains could rightly be attributed to the use of growth hormone.

    In a second, admittedly less ideally structured study, seven competitive adult weight-trained male athletes were given a high dose of rHGH for two weeks. The amount used measured .04mg/kg/day, which would equate to 10IU or more for the average man weighing above 85 kilograms (187 pounds). This is quite a formidable dose, in fact, as most athletes will usually limit themselves to four to eight IU per day of the drug due to its high cost and common side effects at higher doses. In this study, subjects had their levels of IGF-1 measured, which did sharply increase with the use of GH. What did not increase, however, was the measure of muscle protein synthesis. Total body protein breakdown did not change either, indicating that the drug had no significant effect at all as an anabolic agent. This study was admittedly limited in duration, however it is still telling given the high dose and nature of the subjects using it.

    Lipolytic Potency

    We do have a lot more positive data supporting the effectiveness of growth hormone as a lipolytic (fat loss) agent. One study, for example, looked at the effect of GH on fat loss in a group of obese subjects. Twenty-four subjects between the ages of 22 and 46 participated. Half were given placebo injections, while the remaining individuals were given a relatively low dose of GH, which measured only 18IU/kg/week, or about two IU per day for the average man. This dose was, however, significant enough to cause a 1.6 fold increase in circulating IGF-1 concentrations on average. All subjects were kept on a controlled diet, as well, to be sure any losses in body fat could be attributable to the drug itself and not the level of calorie restriction.

    The results here were quite impressive, with GH use causing a 1.6 fold increase in the amount of actual fat lost during the study. There was also a noticeably greater loss of visceral fat when GH was given, as well as an increase in lean body weight. This was in notable contrast to the placebo group, which as a whole lost not only fat, but lean muscle, during the study. For the group of overweight subjects, GH not only served to dramatically increase fat loss, but it also preserved, and even built, lean muscle tissue in the process.

    Anti-Catabolic Potency

    Another study of notable interest perhaps was one published in 2001, which looked at the anti-catabolic effects of GH on men put in a state of testosterone deficiency. In this investigation, a group of healthy young men (21-23 years of age) were made selectively hypogonadotropic with the use of a GnRh analog. This suppressed testosterone levels rapidly and almost completely, putting the men in a physiological state in which maintaining normal muscle mass would be extremely difficult. This is clearly supported by previous studies in which male subjects to GnRH without the benefit of another anabolic drug, and noted a strong catabolic response to the newly diminished androgen concentrations.
    However, with the use of GH, the normal catabolic response was avoided, and subjects had retained muscle tissue as if they had maintained normal levels of testosterone. The relevance to the steroid user who is faced with selectively hypogonadotropic states all the time with the use of these agents is obvious. Perhaps we have missed a very important use of GH- as a vital post-cycle anti-catabolic drug. Certainly, this study suggest some strong possibilities.

    The Big Picture

    When we look closely at the above studies, I think we find solid support for making certain conclusions about human growth hormone. To begin with, the studies presented illustrate well that the anabolic activity of this drug just does not seem to be at a level that would justify calling it any type of "super anabolic". There are other studies on different groups, such as GH deficient adults or HIV infected patients, that can still be used to support an anabolic action of this drug, and I believe this is still present regardless of the offered data. However, we do need to push aside the unrealistic notions in this regard.
    When we do, we still find a drug of undeniable usefulness to the bodybuilder. We see that it can be a potent fat loss drug and we can understand why some profess it to be an irreplaceable cutting agent. And just as many probably find it equally irreplaceable during bulking phases, during which the strong lipolytic activity of GH might allow one to maintain, or even increase, daily caloric intake without having to struggle as hard to keep body fat levels down.
    One of the presented studies even suggests we might want to start looking closely at this drug during the post cycle window. Perhaps we will come to find it can play an even more important role here than a classic testosterone recovery stack of HCG and Nolvadex. This article therefore closes not with a call to abandon this expensive drug, just simply to abandon some of the misinformation that can at times surround discussions about it anabolic potency.

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    Questionable anabolic potency in trained males, no increase in protein synthesis in another study, can burn fat in obese people (like that's hard to attain), high price, yet people swear by it. strange.

    i think that the effects are somewhere inbetween what the extremes are, but all these pros taking who knows how many IU per day are also on enough steroids to make 5 race horses into clydesdales. maybe the effects are overstated, maybe not.

    whatever the truth is, too much GH is not good, just look through an endocrinology text. can it work at lower levels as a fat burning aid, yes, but so can a little intestinal fortitude and other less potentially harmful sustances (ephedra!!!) assuming healthy weight training males with no other complications.

    and for the anti-aging crowd, ever notice that the people who make it to old age in good shape are the ones who are always working hard (remember, earlier generations actually had to work physically for a living) and made it through heart disease and cancer free (you usually get these by late middle age). so maybe you don't need this. get off your ass and do something. i could be wrong, but ...

    my point is that even though these studies would actually make one question GH's abilities, perhaps there are other questions that need to be addressed before. maybe i should just make it in the basement. hey anyone know where to get a cheap fermenter (i'm only half joking)

    cheers, pete

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