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GH Gut In Bodybuilding – What Causes It?

There is a belief that is widespread in the bodybuilding community that using HGH, MK-677, or other GH releasing peptides will cause your intestines to grow, start protruding outwards, consequently giving a very unaesthetic distended look of the abdominals known as GH gut.

Let me put this to rest for you guys.

Increased GH Levels Will Not Push Organs Against The Stomach

While increased GH levels can cause parts of your body to get bigger (mostly your bones), the amount of GH that it would take to cause your intestines to grow so much that they would be literally pushing your stomach wall outwards is immeasurable.

Bones and tendons in the body may grow fairly substantially with extreme dosages of GH, but intestines growing to the point of nearly exploding out of the abdominal wall will not happen.

The True Cause Of GH Gut

The cause of GH gut is typically the overconsumption of food, with carbohydrates in particular being the main macronutrient responsible.

GH abuse can also indirectly cause GH gut, but the mechanism by which it causes it is much different than what most believe.

It isn’t uncommon for a large bodybuilder to be taking in upwards of 1000 grams of carbs per day.

Especially when a bodybuilder is trying to gain more size, they need to increase their caloric intake accordingly, which means eating more carbs even after they've already been eating significantly more than the body needs.

Keep in mind, caloric needs for the average guy vs caloric needs for a bodybuilder trying to get past 300 pounds lean are significantly different, but the kidneys limits are exactly the same.

If you are constantly cranking blood sugar through the roof day in and day out, the kidney will be stressed in order to produce the amount of insulin necessary to bring blood sugar back to homeostasis, and this is where insulin resistance and pre-diabetic symptoms start to rear their ugly head.

When the intestines are backed up with an overabundance of carbohydrates, a backlog of bacteria in the small intestine can develop, and gut health is destroyed while your body attempts to remedy the situation.

An overabundance of bacteria in the small intestine leads to significant bloating and gas, and leads to very obvious abdominal distension.

Unlike the large intestine (colon), the small intestine does not have a large number of bacteria most of the time.

Also, when a bodybuilder over-consumes carbohydrates, they can start becoming insulin resistant, and GH abuse just contributes to this as it will also severely raise blood sugar levels.

As insulin resistance sets in and the body has chronically high blood sugar levels, gastric emptying becomes delayed and the intestines start to lose their ability to contract as effectively.

Intestinal transit is severely impaired as a result of this.

GH Gut Cause - Intestinal Transit With Insulin Resistance

 

The gut flora normally would protect the intestine from bacteria.

However, if the speed of intestinal transit is negatively affected by chronically high blood sugar levels then backflow from the colon into the small intestine can occur where it becomes colonized with colonic bacteria.

This results in bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, and ultimately very obvious “GH Gut”.

As insulin resistance becomes worse, intestinal motility is hindered in parallel, just compounding the issue.

Why Did Bodybuilders From The 70's and 80's Not Have GH Gut?

The reason why bodybuilders from the golden era did not have GH guts comes down to the fact that they didn't have access to GH, and the mass monster era hadn't started yet, so there was no chemical warfare arms race to get as big as humanly possible.

As soon as mass monsters started being rewarded circa the Dorian era, there was an obvious need to get bigger.

To get bigger you need to eat even more than you already were, meaning you are stressing your kidneys even more than you had to previously to keep your blood sugar in check.

The inevitable result that will occur at some stage no matter who the individual is would be abdominal distension once the amount of food overconsumption reaches a point that the digestive system can no longer support, and a backlog of bacteria starts to seep into the intestine where it shouldn't be, which causes bloating/GH gut.

We see this time and time again in the modern bodybuilding era as bodybuilders constantly chase size and have to push the boundaries of their digestive health in order to do so.

GH Gut Is Reversible

Another thing many individuals who preach this myth seem to not take into account is that there have been many successful pro bodybuilders who had a bad showing on stage with gut distension/GH Gut.

But then the next time they stepped on stage suddenly their waist was more streamlined, and their gut had magically vanished.

Did their organs suddenly shrink and rearrange themselves?

No.

Their stomach was never protruding from their innards being pushed to the outside, it was simply from their compromised intestinal health causing bloating and distension.

Ben Pakulski GH Gut Reversal

Ben Pakulski is a great example to use to debunk the intestinal growth theory attributed to GH guts.

As soon as he stopped chasing size and was able to get his gut health in check, he was able to completely reverse his GH gut.

If his organs had truly grown, he wouldn't have been able to get rid of it.

The truth of the matter is, when chasing extreme levels of size, you will inevitably have to overconsume food and at one point or another likely impair your intestinal health.

Ben Pakulski evidently loss some muscle size in between his previous showings where he prominently displayed a massive GH gut and his most recent showing where he had an awesome vacuum pose and no distension issues, and this can be solely attributed to him no longer trying to eat as much food as he would have needed if he wanted to keep gaining size.

This is what he was doing previously when he had horrible distension issues, as he was trying to play the size game to remain competitive with the the mass monsters.

Roelly Winklaar GH Gut Reversal

Roelly is another great example of someone who got their GH gut under control and was able to continue making progress.

Was it attributed to his use of a waist trainer?

Doubtful.

My guess is it had more to do with dietary changes than anything.

If you check out Roelly's old showings, you can clearly see he was one of the worst offenders for a prominent GH gut.

But now he can almost hit a vacuum on stage.

A bodybuilder can literally go from having a vacuum to having extreme amounts of distension/GH Gut overnight just by screwing up their carb up and compromising their intestinal health before stepping on stage.

This is why you will see bodybuilders show up on stage with huge GH guts, and then a week later show up to another show with the issue completely fixed.

Phil Heath GH Gut

There are many other cases of GH guts in the bodybuilding world, but Phil Heath's has garnered the most attention of all because of his Olympia wins many felt he didn't deserve.

I do not believe Phil Heath's hernia was the cause of his distension issues.

It likely played some role on his abdominal control, but the fact remains that his gut has been distended for a few years now, and I believe the root of the issue is compromised intestinal health.

I also believe Phil Heath is showing early signs of insulin resistance, also called “Palumboism”.

If you compare Phil Heath in 2012 to Phil Heath in 2018, the one glaring difference is his midsection.

Whether the result of that is GH abuse, overconsumption of food to chase size to stay on top of the division, or a combination of both, I can't say for certain, but my best guess is that it comes down to those 2 things.

In Conclusion

No, Growth Hormone, MK-677 and peptides will not cause intestinal growth that pushes against the abdominal wall.

Poor diet choices, insulin resistance (from GH, your diet, or other causes), and compromised gut health is what will give you extreme bloating and distension (GH gut).

6 thoughts on “GH Gut In Bodybuilding – What Causes It?”

  1. Good article. I always just assumed it the distended guy was a side effect of GH. Hey question for you. What happened to Good Looking Loser? Chris never updates anymore.

  2. I don’t know if you answer questions, but I will give it try. I heard that sarms lower your HDL, Have you heard anything about MK677 lowering HDL?

  3. Hey Derek,

    Thank you for the article, always great stuff.
    I just turned 28 and wanted to ask what you think about using Mk677 for HRT purposes all year round? I know that HGH levels begin to decline around age 30, so it seems like a good counter measure, similar to that of TRT for anti aging purposes.

    Cheers
    Dan

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