What Is IGF-1

What Is IGF-1, It’s Benefits, and Possible Side Effects

8 min read


20 May 2019

Technology is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, and with that, so are our understandings of things like biology, medicine, and fitness. One of the things that have emerged out of this growth is an understanding of IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor 1.

This complicated hormone has made its way into the mainstream, but people are unsure as to whether or not it’s safe to mess around with. IGF-1 is known to cause benefits when it’s present in certain levels in the body, but also to cause a number of health issues if there’s too much of it.

What is IGF-1?

IGF-1, which is properly better known as insulin-like growth factor 1, is a unique hormone that’s found in the human body. As a growth factor, IGF-1 is an important aspect of hormones that are involved in the growth of things like cells and the tissues that these cells comprise of.

IGF-1 is, specifically, an anabolic peptide hormone. It’s involved in growth, as well as helping to manage and maintain blood sugar levels. It is named as such because it has similar functions to insulin, though it’s not as strong in respect to its ability to influence blood sugar.

IGF has been used to help people reverse or inhibit the effects of aging, such as wrinkles and fatigue, as well as to enhance energy. Conversely, however, excessive amounts of the hormone can increase the risk of getting cancer and decrease lifespan.

IGF-1 is also understood to interact with and mediate the influence of human growth hormone, or HGH. As such, many people refer to these two separate hormones as if they were one.

You could look at it as sort of a ‘life-reserve,’ and though this may not be scientifically correct, the analogy helps to understand what IGF-1 is. Increasing levels may help reduce signs of aging in the short-term, but actually, long-term, you might end up seeing your aging process accelerated quite quickly. Boosting it in the short-term might help prevent you from succumbing to fatigue and illness for now, but doing this too much or too often could sap your life reserves and lead you toward disease.

What should be noted is that IGF-1 is a hormone that is probably best left alone unless you’re intending to treat a specific issue. As you’ll see in the next section, IGF-1 is great for helping to prevent certain problems – especially those that come with age – but if you’re already healthy, using it to improve your health might prove dangerous.

Furthermore, IGF-1 is currently an illegal supplement and is not supported by professional sports. Due to the health and legal consequences, one might steer clear of IGF-1.

Benefits of IGF-1

There are a number of reasons that people choose to use IGF-1. Many people use it as a performance-enhancing substance because of some of the benefits attributed to it, and while it may enhance performance in the short term it’s not necessarily wise to do this because of some of the potential side effects that we’ll discuss in a moment.

Regardless, here are some of the most well-understood benefits of IGF-1.

  • Helps build muscles. The main reason that most people are interested in using IGF-1 is that it helps to build muscle by enhancing hypertrophy (muscle growth). IGF-1 helps the body activate a number of processes that also encourage other growth factor hormones to flourish. IGF-1 also helps to prevent the natural loss of muscle with aging – using it for this purpose is likely safer than using it in an effort to stack on the pounds.

  • Prevents mental health decline. Another problem that IGF-1 can help prevent is the natural decline in mental abilities that people experience as they grow older. One IGF-1 test shows that it slows down the rate at which neurons (brain cells) die and can therefore protect against cognitive impairment.

  • Helps fight diabetes. As mentioned earlier, IGF-1 has similar functions to insulin, the hormone that’s mostly responsible for blood sugar regulation, along with glucagon. One IGF-1 test showed that diabetic patients who are given a treatment of IGF-1 often experience improved insulin sensitivity and find that blood glucose decreases.

  • Helps build and maintain bones. IGF-1 is believed to help manage the growth of bones and can help to prevent the natural age-related decline in bone health.

  • Boosts growth and development. IGF-1 is highly involved in the growth and development of young individuals. Fetuses that were seen to have more IGF-1 generally grew to be larger; conversely, those born with a lack of IGF-1 often developed mental health or nervous problems.

IGF-1 Side Effects and Dangers

The benefits of IGF-1 may be impressive, but there are a number of risks associated with high levels of the substance. Taking into consideration how many other substances can help with the benefits listed above, it may be unwise to use IGF-1. These are some of the risks you run by using it.

  • Cancer. The fact that IGF-1 can contribute to cancer should be a turn-off, especially when the link is clear. Scientists are unsure as to how exactly IGF-1 increases the risk of developing cancer, but IGF-1 promotes growth of cells – and it doesn’t seem to be exclusive in which cells it helps grow. It can speed up the growth of even unhealthy, cancerous cells.In fact, adults with lower levels of the hormone are believed to be less likely to develop cancer. For these reasons, it’s generally believed to be unsafe to use IGF-1 without the strict supervision of a doctor.

  • Decreased longevity. While some people may use IGF-1 hoping to reverse signs of aging, some evidence shows that it can actually decrease lifespan. While lower levels of the hormone have been linked to an increase in lifespan (at least in some animal studies), increasing levels of IGF-1 can actually decrease lifespan – by as much as half!

Due to the confusing nature of this substance and the fact that it seems to cause conflicting benefits and health problems, it’s clear that more research is required before a solid conclusion can be reached.

Related: Glucomannan Weight Loss Supplement

How to increase IGF-1 and IGF-1 foods

If you’ve been assessed by a doctor and have come to the conclusion that you have a deficiency of IGF-1, then you’re probably interested in learning how to increase it. IGF-1 levels should be highest during puberty and adolescence, with lower levels required during adulthood.

One of the ways to go about naturally increasing the hormone is to eat IGF-1 foods. For many, this will be no problem – a standard healthy diet including good sources of protein will help the body receive enough IGF-1. Unfortunately, not everyone eats a well-balanced diet, and this can lead to a deficiency.

Avoid processed foods and sugars entirely. This will help manage your insulin sensitivity and thus your IGF-1 levels will be more balanced.

High levels of protein and dairy are believed to be some of the best IGF-1 foods. Eating lots of cheese, eggs, and other protein-rich foods can help. Vegans and vegetarians may not be able to significantly increase their blood levels of the hormone through diet alone, so supplements may be required in this case.

Extremely intense workouts, be they weight-lifting or cardio, can help to increase the amount of growth hormone that’s released in the body. This is particularly true for people who are just beginning to start a new, intense exercise routine.

Some evidence also suggests that taking time in a sauna can help to increase levels of growth hormone. This will also lead to relaxation and a reduction of stress or anxiety.

How to inhibit IGF-1

If you have been told by your doctor that your IGF-1 levels are too high, then you may want to learn how you can naturally reduce these levels. Conversely, these are things that you will want to avoid if you want to maximize your IGF-1 levels.

  • Try not to eat too many calories or too much sugar. Extremely low-calorie diets, as well as diets low in protein, are known to reduce levels of IGF-1.
  • Excessive amounts of insulin will likely decrease the amount of IGF-1 your body produces.
  • Neglecting to exercise.
  • Depriving yourself of sleep.
  • Excessive estrogen, which can occur as a result of eating too many phytoestrogen-rich foods like soy, can decrease levels of IGF-1.
  • Drinking alcohol.
  • Chronic stress.

Can you buy IGF-1 supplements?

If you are interested in buying IGF-1 supplements regardless of the legal status and dangers associated with the substance, it is possible to acquire the stuff online. You will likely have to search through a research chemical website, where you can find substances like IGF-1 LR3.

Research chemical websites sell substances that are in a legal grey area, or that have not yet been scheduled. They are sold ‘for research use only,’ and in the case of IGF-1 LR3, hopefully that will remain the case. We would never recommend you purchase this kind of substance online for safety reasons, and would always encourage you to manage your IGF-1 levels naturally through diet and exercise instead.

Check also: Glucomannan Weight Loss Supplement


IGF-1 is a hormone produced naturally by the body. It’s responsible for a number of bodily functions. In addition to regulating our growth, it can also help us manage our blood sugar.

Many folks have undertaken the dangerous task of artificially increasing levels of IGF-1 in their body. This can cause immediate short-term improvements, but only at the cost of their long-term health. Hopefully you now understand the dangers associated with the use of this hormone and will stick to natural methods to influence your levels in the direction you want them to head.