IGF, also known as insulin-like growth factor, is a peptide that occurs naturally in humans, as well as other mammals. The levels of this hormone are highest during the puberty stage of life as the body gears up to mature into its adult form. This includes an increase in the both the size of the muscles and the number of cells devoted to them. This peptide stimulates the proteins and other components of muscle cells. Both the synthesis of protein and the absorption of amino acids is increased. Fat is mobilized for use as an energy source while its effect on lean tissue is manifested a bit differently. Glucose is prevented from being transported by insulin across the membranes of the cells. This action prompts the body to turn to burning fat as a source of energy. Since the number of muscle cells is set during puberty, it is typically only possible to maximize their size after that period of time. Because IGF causes cells to split, a process also known as hyperplasia, it can actually increase the number of muscle cells. While this is usually most noticeable during puberty, it can also occur at other stages of life as well.
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