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What Is IGF-1, Its Benefits, and Possible Side Effects

What Is IGF-1 | Benefits, and Possible Side Effects

What Is IGF-1, Its Benefits, and Possible Side Effects

6 min read


21 Aug 2023

THINGS YOU’LL LEARN IN THIS BLOG:What is IGF-1Who uses IGF-1 supplementsSide effects and dangersHow to naturally increase IGF-1 through diet and exerciseHow to naturally inhibit IGF-1 through diet and exerciseCan I buy IGF-1 supplements?Should you take IGF-1 supplements?

Advances in scientific research hit us almost daily, with new research discovering possible cures for various medical issues. IGF-1 has come to the fore recently due to scientists gaining a greater knowledge of what it can do. 

IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) is a complicated hormone, and – as tends to be the norm- it’s being hailed by some as the next big ‘miracle cure’. 

But is it all good news? 

There’s enough evidence to suggest that there are benefits to the body, but do they outweigh the side effects? 

Let’s look deeper and see exactly what it does and doesn’t do according to science rather than hype.


IGF-1 is essential for the normal growth and development of cells and tissues in your body and promotes bone growth. 

IGF-1, or Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1, is a hormone that manages the effects of growth hormone (GH) in your body.It also helps to manage blood sugar levels, though less powerfully than insulin, and it can interact with and influence human growth hormones.

IGF-1 tests diagnose growth hormone disorders, including growth hormone deficiency. A lack of a growth hormone in adults can lead to a loss of muscle mass and bone density. 

On the other hand, excess growth hormone can cause thicker bones and larger-than-average hands and feet. It can also cause a deeper voice, coarse oily skin and erectile dysfunction.

It has made the news recently due to its use in helping to “reverse” the aging process and its growth-promoting effects. By this, we mean it can help with wrinkles and fatigue. 

But this needs to be weighed up against the negatives (more on this later).

You might look and feel good initially, but your health could deteriorate soon after, leading to further complications. In other words, if you’re already in good health, using IGF-1 might have quite the reverse effect to the one you were hoping for.

There is some evidence to suggest that IGF-1 can help to prevent the decline in mental abilities as it slows down the rate at which brain cells die. It can also help with diabetes as it can help to improve insulin sensitivity.


Athletes have used IGF-1 supplementation to enhance their performance due to the short-term positive effects. 

It can help to build stronger muscles as it can help to accelerate muscle growth in the body and also helps to prevent muscle loss, which naturally occurs when we get older.

But as already mentioned, supplementing with IGF-1 can lead to serious long-term health issues. 

Who uses IGF-1 supplementation?

You can also add to the mix that professional sporting organizations do not approve of IGF-1, and it’s an illegal supplement due to potentially adverse health issues.  


Understandably, the hype of IGF-1 supplementation is bound to have engaged so much interest. When these “quick fix” ideas are promoted, human nature suggests that we only tend to hear about the positive effects. 

This is most likely because, when looking for a solution to a problem, we tend only to want to hear the good news. The bad news can wait until later. 

But one thing you must take away from this blog is understanding the adverse effects of IGF-1. We can’t decide for you, but balancing the positives and negatives is crucial. Here are some of the risks-

Okay, let’s start with the big one- cancer. This should be at the forefront of your mind when considering the effects of IGF-1 supplementation. Science has shown an increased risk of developing cancer, though the reason is still to be explained. 

What we do know is that it accelerates the growth of cancerous cells. The lower the IGF-1 hormone levels in your body, the less likely you are to develop cancer. Scientific research is clear and a significant factor to consider.

As already mentioned, supplementing with IGF-1 could decrease your lifespan. The research is not yet conclusive, but in this case, it’s probably not to hope for the best and, instead, wait for conclusive facts. However, the scientific evidence indeed points towards a shorter life expectancy for those with a lower hormone level.

Then there is the issue of growth abnormalities, and not just standard body growth produced by the human growth hormone. Larger hands, feet and facial features are likely to be side effects as your cell metabolism is disrupted and growth velocity is increased.


It’s important to note that if you’ve decided to increase your IGF levels, remember that you won’t need as much as you get older. 

Over-compensating could lead to health complications, so you must be careful and mindful of how much you absorb.

IGF-1 foods can increase the amount of the hormone in your body naturally. If you already have a healthy diet, this will be straightforward. You may have a deficiency if you aren’t eating a well-balanced diet.

How to naturally increase IGF-1

Your insulin sensitivity will be more balanced if you avoid sugary and processed foods. This will help keep the IGF-1 levels in check. If you are not vegan or lactose intolerant, you should also concentrate on dairy products, eggs, and protein-rich food. 

Protein supplements may be required for vegans as it will be difficult to enhance IGF-1 levels through food alone. In this case, we suggest working out, as this is an effective way to increase your hormone levels, as is any form of cardio. 


It’s important to keep your IGF-1 levels in check if you want to prevent cell overgrowth and its adverse effects on the body. 

One of the most effective ways to do this is to replace your animal protein intake and replace with a plant variation. Lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds and replacing dairy milk with oat milk, for example, will go a long way towards achieving this. ​​Even those eating a calorie-restrictive diet generally have a higher IGF level than plant-based eaters. 

When it comes to issues such as the risk of developing cancer, the lower the IGF-1, the better. IGF-1 is lowest in those who eat a low-fat, whole food plant-based diet, so it’s not how many calories you consume but more the type of calories which seem to determine cancer risk. 

Exercise is important too. When it comes to exercising, low intensity is best for keeping your IGF-1 levels in check. While fast-paced cardio and overtraining will raise the levels, a lower level of slower-paced movement is necessary to keep it balanced.


The short answer is “Yes.” 

They are available online if you look hard enough. The sensible answer is “Yes, but…”. Don’t forget there are legal issues regarding the purchase and use of these supplements, so it’s not something we recommend. 

Perhaps more importantly, there are significant health dangers associated with it, too, and you will be taking a considerable risk if you think of going this route. We would highly recommend that you don’t!


We know that the IGF-1 hormone is produced naturally by the body and is essential for maintaining general health and bodily functions, such as regulating cell growth and blood sugar.

And IGF-1 supplementation can indeed make short-term differences in your body, such as reducing the appearance of wrinkles and boosting your energy levels. However, your long-term health is likely to decline rapidly after this short-term boost. 

If you want to increase the muscle growth you should instead look at taking natural, and legal.

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