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Ranking the best HGH supplements of 2021

Written by John Davis

Last updated: December 9, 2020

10 Best Supplements for Weight Loss
10 Best Supplements for Weight Loss

Human growth hormone, also known as HGH, is produced by your body to aid with gains in muscular strength and lean body mass.

It’s also very important for maintaining your youth and vitality as you get older—one of the surest signs of aging is a drop in HGH levels.

Taking human growth hormone in its natural form requires a prescription and careful intramuscular injections, but an HGH supplement can help boost your body’s production of human growth hormone naturally.

Do you want to feel younger, stronger, and more energetic? Like T boosters, HGH supplements can help you, gentlemen. 

We’ve looked at the scientific research to determine the best HGH supplements on the market.

Rankings

1. CrazyBulk HGH-X2

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HGH-X2 by Crazy Bulk has been formulated to provoke your body’s pituitary gland to release more human growth hormone into your bloodstream. It helps you experience faster fat loss, lean muscle gains, and noticeably quicker recovery times.

This supplement’s active ingredients include Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii), Hawthorn Berry Extract (Crataegus laevigata), Mucuna Pruriens Extract 4:1 (Velvet beans), and L-Arginine making it one of the most potent HGH supplements available online.

2. Genius Test

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When it comes to supplements to boost anabolic hormone levels, including HGH, Genius Test leads the pack.

It’s got the most cutting-edge herbal extracts to raise your anabolic hormone levels, leading to less body fat and more muscle mass.

Genius Test should only be your top choice if you’ve covered all of your amino acid bases, though—it doesn’t have L-arginine, one of the key amino acids for boosting HGH levels.

If you know your arginine intake is solid, Genius Test is a great next step for getting your growth hormone levels as high as naturally possible.

3. Modern Man V3

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Modern Man is an all-around male enhancement supplement that is intended to target HGH and testosterone at the same time.

This is advantageous for many men, because low levels of testosterone often go hand in hand with low levels of growth hormone, and both are important for strength, lean body mass, and sexual health.

This supplement is designed to get you lean, strong, and energized, and it accomplishes that with a combination of caffeine, forskolin, ashwagandha, and eurycoma longifolia. These supplements have potent weight loss effects, so it’s best suited for men with some excess body fat they need to lose.

4. Nugenix GH-Boost

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Nugenix GH-Boost is a powder-form growth hormone booster that’s intended to be taken before bed. For this reason, it’s one of the best recovery accelerators out there. While it doesn’t have the same cutting-edge herbal ingredients as some of the top contenders, its amino acid balance is strong, making it a good “back to basics” HGH supplement.

5. Universal Nutrition GH Max

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Universal Nutrition GH Max uses a combination of vitamin B6, ornithine, beta-sitosterol, and carnitine to fuel up muscles and upregulate your growth hormone production.

It doesn’t have all the key ingredients as some of the very best supplements, but because it helps with muscular performance (thanks to the carnitine and vitamin B6), it’s a solid choice if you are looking for gains in the gym.

6. Animal Stak

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Animal Stak is an athlete-focused blend that takes a “kitchen sink” approach to boosting androgens, including both testosterone and human growth hormone. The HGH-boosting ingredients are mainly focused on amino acids, so it’s a good option if the quality of your amino acid and protein intake isn’t as high as it should be.

7. NutraCell Labs Testo Extreme Anabolic

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NutraCell Labs is a little over the top with the packaging of this supplement—it comes in a liquid form, with an injector-like pipette supplied for measuring out dosage.

That aside, the ingredients are actually pretty solid if you are looking for herbal extracts that have a chance of boosting anabolic hormone levels, including HGH.

It’s got pretty much every herbal extract that you’ll find in an anabolic supplement; the only question is whether these ingredients are concentrated enough to be useful.

8. Vigor Muscle

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Vigor Muscle is one of the few HGH boosting supplements to include GABA, which has some scientific evidence supporting its use for boosting growth hormone levels.

Unfortunately, it’s missing some other key ingredients that are optimal for HGH production, like trace minerals and L-arginine.

It doesn’t quite have the front-line herbal extracts for anabolic hormones either, so while it’s worth a try for its GABA content, this supplement could be a whole lot better.

9. Novex Biotech GF-9

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Novex Biotech GF-9 is a blend of amino acids and their derivatives, plus an herbal extract from the schizonepeta plant.

These are all contained in a proprietary blend, which makes it hard to analyze for efficacy—you can’t tell how much of each ingredient is included.

Reports from users are mediocre, with some complaining of side effects and many finding the effects lackluster.

10. SeroVital

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SeroVital uses a similar formulation as Novex Biotech GF-9. The ingredients are similar, but the proprietary blend makes it difficult to determine whether the proportions of each ingredient have been adjusted at all.

While this supplement is designed for both men and women who want to keep growth hormone levels high as they get older, there are better options out there for high growth hormone levels.

Category winners

Best HGH supplement overall: CrazyBulk HGH-X2

CrazyBulk has the perfect combination of potent biologically active compounds and herbal extracts to accelerate your body’s natural production of human growth hormone. Whether your goals are boosting muscle growth or improving energy levels, CrazyBulk is the best overall pick.

Best HGH and testosterone combo: Genius Test

Genius Test uses cutting edge ingredients like ashwagandha, fenugreek, DIM, and shilajit extract to support your product of both testosterone and growth hormone. If you want to take advantage of the synergistic interactions between both of these androgens, Genius Test is the way to go.

Best HGH supplement for bulking: CrazyBulk HGH-X2

As the name suggests, when it comes to adding muscle mass as fast as possible, CrazyBulk can’t be beat. With ingredients like maca root, hawthorn berry, and mucuna pruriens, it goes the extra mile to max out your mass gains.

Best HGH supplement for sexual wellness: Modern Man V3

Modern Man V3 does a great job boosting your energy levels, arousal, and stamina in the bedroom. With longjack, forskolin, and theacrine, it’s the best way to harness HGH for sexual performance.  

Best HGH supplement for older men: Genius Test

Older men benefit from the dual-focus approach of Genius Test, which boosts testosterone as well as human growth hormone. Men over 40 are often lacking in both of these key androgens, and deficiencies can lead to fatigue, weight gain, and mood disturbances. 

Best HGH supplement for athletes: CrazyBulk HGH-X2

For increasing strength, power, and speed, CrazyBulk’s aggressive HGH-boosting strategy is the way to go. It’s formulated to do just one job, and it’s specifically designed to integrate well with your other supplements, making it our pick for performance-oriented athletes.

Who should buy HGH?

An HGH supplement is made to target your body’s natural production of human growth hormone, often abbreviated as HGH. Supplements that aim to boost HGH levels are popular among athletes of all sorts, as HGH is strongly linked to increases in strength and augmented athletic performance.

However, sports performance is not the only area where higher HGH levels are useful. For older adults, and especially older men, maintaining high HGH levels is a key part of maintaining a youthful vigor as you age.

Low HGH is often linked to low testosterone, and can contribute to many of the same health problems associated with low T, such as a poor libido, erectile dysfunction, low energy levels, gains in body fat, and loss of muscle mass.

Whether you are a high performance athlete or just an older male looking to stay healthy and young, an HGH supplement can help. Like natural steroid alternatives, an HGH supplement is a legal way to get some of the same benefits of increasing your human growth hormone levels, but naturally and without a prescription.

Compounds that are intended to boost HGH levels are often found in male enhancement pills and several of the top supplements for men. That’s because HGH plays such a key role in regulating strength, endurance, energy levels, and muscle mass. 

How we ranked

When it comes to supplement ingredients to boost HGH levels, there’s a wide variety of options, from simple but effective mineral supplements like zinc and magnesium to advanced herbal extracts like maca root and saw palmetto, and amino acid compounds like L-arginine.

We combed through the scientific literature to come up with a master list of HGH-boosting compounds. We used this list to evaluate HGH supplements on the market. If a product didn’t have any of the ingredients that have been linked to boosted HGH levels in scientific research, we dropped it from consideration.

We put priority on HGH supplements that had multiple ingredients that could increase human growth hormone levels, especially if they stimulated different mechanisms for increasing HGH levels. For example, supplements that provided trace minerals (like zinc, copper, and magnesium) alongside L-arginine scored better than products that merely provided a few amino acids. 

We then considered the dosage. While not all of the compounds on our list of ingredients linked to higher HGH levels are characterized well enough to have a good understanding of optimal dosage, a few of the better-known compounds do have this information readily available.

When available, we used dosage to screen for more effective supplemental blends. We had a strong preference for products that listed out the precise amount of each ingredient included—HGH supplements that hid their specific composition behind a “proprietary blend” fared poorly compared to products with more transparent ingredient lists. 

Using the listed ingredients, we also evaluated products for the presence of undesirable ingredients. Chief among these were potentially risky stimulants like synephrine—an ephedra analog that’s been linked to heart arrythmias that is sometimes found in fat-burning supplements, which share some common ground with HGH boosters (since boosting HGH levels is a fairly effective way to decrease your body fat).

We tossed any product that had these kinds of stimulants. We also lowered the rating of products that had unnecessary additives, fillers, and binders. These kinds of ingredients clog up a product and might hinder its efficacy, which is why you won’t find them in the top supplements with the cleanest supplement design.

Finally, we sorted the final remaining products according to their overall score, leaving us with our list of the best HGH supplements on the market. If you are looking to naturally boost your human growth hormone levels without a prescription, this list is the place to start. 

Benefits

Human growth hormone, or HGH for short, is one of the most important hormones in your body when it comes to maintaining or building your strength, lean body mass, and energy levels. HGH levels are closely linked to youth and vigor, so much so that decreasing growth hormone levels are cited as one of the biggest causes of the major problems associated with getting older—loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, lack of energy, and worse musculoskeletal recovery.

Short of getting a prescription for recombinant human growth hormone, the best way to make sure your body keeps producing the optimal amount of human growth hormone is to take a high quality HGH supplement.

We’ll look at some of the science on how supplements can support your body’s HGH production and what some of the causes and consequences of low levels of human growth hormone.

An HGH supplement with L-arginine can boost your resting growth hormone levels. One of the best-documented supplements for increasing human growth hormone levels is L-arginine, an amino acid that can be delivered in supplement form.

A number of studies have demonstrated the HGH-boosting effects of arginine. One such study was published in 2005 in the journal Growth Hormone and IGF Research (1).

The study tested the effects of different doses of oral L-arginine on growth hormone response. They found that a five gram dosage of arginine was enough to substantially boost HGH levels within 30 minutes of ingestion.

Growth hormone levels peaked about an hour after taking the supplement, after which they declined. This suggests that HGH supplements are likely most effective when spread out over the day versus taken in one large dosage.

HGH supplements work best if you don’t take them prior to exercise. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to boost HGH production, with an intense strength circuit workout increasing circulating levels of human growth hormone by up to five-fold in some cases (2).

Given the beneficial effects of taking an HGH supplement containing arginine, you might think that taking an HGH supplement right before exercise would be even better when it comes to promoting HGH production.

This was what researchers at Syracuse University thought, and they reviewed the scientific literature to test this hypothesis (3).

According to the review article, published in 2008 in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, taking arginine in conjunction with exercise actually diminishes the HGH response. It still goes up, but only by about 200% versus the 300-500% increase typically seen in exercise-only studies.

It’s not clear why this is—maybe arginine has a limit on how much HGH it can release, and blocks the additional effects of exercise.

Regardless of the reason, this suggests that HGH supplements are likely more effective when taken not immediately prior to or following exercise. It’s better to take an HGH supplement at night or prior to a long period where you’ll be sedentary for optimal effects.

HGH supplements may not work as well if you are overweight or obese. The HGH-boosting effects of supplements based on arginine seems to be more effective in people who don’t have much body fat.

A study by researchers at the University of California Medical Center found that the expected boost in growth hormone levels following administration of arginine was substantially blunted in obese subjects compared to healthy subjects (4).

The most interesting finding of this research is that both the obese and the healthy subjects had a similar rise in blood levels of the metabolized form of arginine, indicating that the body was indeed absorbing it.

Something about having large amounts of body fat seems to blunt the body’s response to arginine, however—to combat this, if you are overweight or obese, you might want to take an HGH supplement that has some ingredients for weight loss.

If you can attack the metabolic effects of obesity, you might have a better chance of getting the desired boost in growth hormone from an HGH supplement.

Trace elements like zinc and magnesium are important for maintaining healthy HGH levels. Research in rats suggest that deficiencies in both of these trace elements can lead to detriments growth, both due to decreases in growth hormone and a related compound, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1 for short).

Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 1991 demonstrated a marked decrease in IGF-1 levels and a concomitant decrease in physical growth rates in rats that were fed either a magnesium or a zinc deficient diet for a period of 14 days (5).

While it’s a bit of a leap to connect this to hormone levels in humans, similar observations have been observed between low zinc levels and low levels of another anabolic hormone: testosterone.

A 1996 research paper in the journal Nutrition demonstrated a strong correlation between blood levels of zinc and blood levels of testosterone, so a connection between this micronutrient and levels of anabolic hormones in the body would not be surprising (6).

A better way to increase growth hormone levels in conjunction with exercise is to take a supplement with protein and carbohydrates soon after your workout. While we’ve seen that HGH boosting supplements that deliver high doses of L-arginine aren’t effective at boosting HGH if you take them right after a workout, but other research suggests there’s an easier way to augment the increase in HGH that exercise produces.

According to a scientific research paper published by a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, a simple combination of carbohydrates and protein, in approximately a 2:1 ratio, is a great way to increase the production of anabolic hormones in your body after a lifting workout (7).

Their paper describes an experiment where experienced weightlifters were given a water, carbohydrate, or carbohydrate and protein supplement after a lifting workout. The researchers then tracked the hormone levels in the lifters and compared them to their hormone levels when they took the other supplements.

The researchers found that the most effective way to increase anabolic hormone levels (the ones responsible for increasing muscle mass and strength) is to take a carb and protein supplement soon after finishing your workout, and again two hours after the workout.

You can get these kinds of carb to protein ratios in many protein shakes, protein powders, and post-workout supplements. Increasing your HGH levels is just one of the many benefits you can achieve by refueling with protein and carbs after a lifting workout—don’t discount a simple protein shake as a useful tool for increasing HGH, even though more sophisticated supplements can help too.

Since doing a high intensity workout is a well-known way to boost HGH, especially if the workout involves both your upper and lower body, pairining intense workouts with post-workout protein and carbs is a great way to amplify the effects of post-workout HGH release. 

Side effects

The specific side effects of an HGH supplement will depend on its particular ingredients, but a few key ingredients found in many HGH supplements do appear to have some side effects.

L-arginine is known to cause gastrointestinal problems when taken in high doses—anything above about nine grams in a single serving appears to cause acute gastrointestinal distress, and doses lower than this could cause problems in some people.

Fortunately, following dosage guidelines in a high quality HGH supplement should keep you well below this limit. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, which researches high-dose vitamins and minerals, the tolerable upper limit for long-term zinc usage is 40 mg per day for adults—any higher than this, and zinc will out-compete copper in your diet for absorption, which could lead to a copper deficiency (8).

Stick below this level even if you know you need to up your zinc intake to keep your HGH levels high, because a copper deficiency isn’t going to do you any good either.

Recommended dose

Arginine appears effective at doses even below five grams at a time, and any zinc level below 40 mg per day is going to be effective without causing adverse effects. Any high-quality HGH supplement should meet these requirements when taken at the recommended dose.

As for dosing, as noted earlier, HGH supplements appear most effective when not taken right before or right after exercise.

To optimize your growth hormone profile throughout the day, you should parse out your supplement into two equal doses, taken at least a few hours before or after you workout, and before bed—assuming your HGH supplement doesn’t have any caffeine or other stimulates (some do!).

The HGH boost following ingesting of an HGH supplement is pretty short-lived, so two doses during the day, plus a high-intensity workout, should give you several spikes in human growth hormone to keep your energy levels high and your muscles in an anabolic state.

FAQ

Q: What is an HGH supplement?

A: An HGH supplement is an over the counter product that is designed to increase your body’s synthesis of human growth hormone, or HGH for short.

Contrary to popular opinion, you can’t actually take supplements that contain human growth hormone, since (1) it’s a prescription-only compound, and (2) even if you did take pills that had HGH in them, your stomach acid would destroy the HGH molecules before your body could absorb them.

That’s why real HGH has to be injected directly. This does not mean that supplements can’t help you raise your HGH levels, though. Since HGH is synthesized naturally by your body, certain compounds that you can take in a supplement can help provide your body with the building blocks it needs to make more HGH. 

Q: Are HGH supplements only for men?

A: HGH supplements are definitely the most popular among men, because they tend to be overrepresented among the groups that want the benefits that HGH offers—stronger muscles, more energy, and lower body fat. Men can also take better advantage of the synergy between HGH and testosterone when it comes to boosting athletic performance.

Still, a select number of female athletes take HGH supplements, and recombinant HGH has a long history of being used as a doping agent in women’s sports, so there’s no doubt that HGH exerts a performance enhancing effect in women as well as in men. 

Q: What do HGH pills do? 

A: HGH pills deliver supplemental ingredients that help boost your body’s rate of HGH synthesis. Importantly, they don’t deliver actual human growth hormone, which is why they’re available over the counter. That doesn’t mean they can’t be effective at boosting HGH levels, though.

For example, many HGH supplements use L-arginine, which is a key building block for synthesizing HGH. Indeed, scientific research has demonstrated that supplementing with L-arginine in certain circumstances can increase HGH levels. Other ingredients like saw palmetto or magnesium function similarly, up-regulating some component of HGH production or HGH metabolism. 

Q: Is HGH harmful? 

A: HGH can be harmful when injected into your body, because you are overriding your body’s natural regulatory mechanisms that control your growth hormone levels.

Putting these grossly out of balance is associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve pain, joint pain, edema and swelling, and high levels of cholesterol, to name a few possible side effects.

However, HGH supplements are less likely to cause these problems because they aren’t completely overriding your body’s natural HGH production; instead, they are providing it with the right building blocks to synthesize the optimal HGH level that you need.

That does not mean that HGH supplements are without side effects, though; like any supplement, the ingredients in an HGH supplement have the possibility to offer both benefits and side effects, which you should carefully consider before choosing a supplement. 

Q: Are HGH supplements legal?

A: Yes. There is a lot of confusion surrounding HGH supplements (much like with testosterone boosters) because the target molecule—growth hormone or testosterone—requires a prescription, and needs to be injected directly (or, in the case of testosterone, used topically as a cream).

In other words, even if you could get your hands on a pill that had pure HGH or pure testosterone in it, you wouldn’t get any benefit from it. However, supplements that increase HGH or increase testosterone work through an alternative mechanism—they provide the building blocks you need, like DHEA or L-arginine, which your body needs to synthesize the hormone in question.

Alternatively, they can also correct vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can contribute to low levels of growth hormone or testosterone, such as a lack of zinc or a lack of magnesium. 

Q: How can you boost HGH naturally? 

A: There are several ways to boost HGH naturally, and many of them are quite simple. First, are you getting enough sleep? Chronic sleep deprivation is thought to decrease growth hormone production, and is a well-known inhibitor of improvements in athletic performance.

Another easy way to increase HGH is to make sure your workouts are long enough and intense enough. Research shows that post-workout increases in growth hormone are greatest after workouts that involve both upper and lower body muscles, last at least ten minutes, and take place at a high intensity (as opposed to a low or moderate intensity).

Finally, addressing the quality of your diet is an important part of keeping your HGH levels high.

A poor quality diet will limit your body’s access to the nutrients it needs to build HGH, meaning your levels of growth hormone will be lower. This is where better nutrition and dietary supplements, like an HGH booster, can help. 

Q: Do you need a prescription for HGH?

A: To get injectable recombinant human growth hormone, yes, you do need a prescription. However, you do not need a prescription to get HGH boosting supplements, because these do not contain HGH itself.

Instead, HGH boosters contain compounds that are either building blocks that your body needs to synthesize HGH naturally (such as L-arginine), or compounds that help boost HGH production.

These supplements can be bought over the counter and are not known to have the same side effect profile as HGH injections. 

Q: Does exercise boost your HGH levels?

A: Yes, exercise is one of the easiest ways to increase HGH levels. However, not just any exercise will do. You need high intensity exercise (generally defined as an effort that’s above your lactate threshold), and your workout should accumulate at least 10 minutes total of exercise at that high intensity.

Moreover, you also want to engage as many different muscles in your body as possible to get a maximal HGH boost. The amount of HGH (and testosterone, for that matter) released after a workout appears to be linked to the total volume of muscles recruited, so a circuit workout that involves upper body, lower body, and core muscles will generate a better post-workout HGH boost compared to just lifting upper body. 

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Recap

An HGH supplement, in conjunction with working out at a high intensity, is the best thing you can do to keep your human growth hormone levels high.

Some of the key ingredients you should look for in an HGH supplement are L-arginine, zinc, and magnesium. Keep the arginine dose around five to nine grams per day, and your zinc dosage below 40 milligrams per day, otherwise you’ll risk copper deficiency.

Spread out your HGH supplement dosage into two equal doses, and don’t take either of them within a few hours of doing a workout. If you are already overweight or obese, try an HGH supplement with some weight loss ingredients in it as well.

These steps will ensure you’re capitalizing on the HGH boost you get, both from working out and from your HGH supplement. This will lead to more energy, more strength, more lean body mass, and less fat.

For Alpha XR’s #1 HGH recommendation, click here.

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John Davis

John Davis is a Minneapolis-based health and fitness writer with over 7 years of experience researching the science of high performance athletics, long-term health, nutrition, and wellness. As a trained scientist, he digs deep into the medical, nutritional, and epidemiological literature to uncover the keys to healthy living through better nutrition.
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