ZMA Supplements: What are They, and What Can They Do for You?
More and more bodybuilders are turning to ZMA supplements...but why? Find out exactly what ZMA supplements are, and what they can do for you.
ZMA Supplements Are a Useful Tool
Dietary supplements can be a bodybuilder’s best friend. Supplements can provide extra energy to help you get through a challenging workout or they can be a tool to aid in recovery. This article will explore ZMA supplements and tell you exactly how they can help you in your muscle building efforts.
What is ZMA?
ZMA supplements are comprised of zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. These minerals and vitamins combine to make an all-natural supplement that benefits bodybuilders in three specific ways. ZMA supplements improve sleep, increase testosterone levels and increase growth hormone levels.
Improving Your Sleep
One of the greatest benefits of ZMA supplementation is the ability to improve the quality of sleep. Quality sleep is extremely important for bodybuilders. During sleep, your body repairs the damage done to muscle fibers in the gym. When these slightly torn fibers are repaired, bodybuilders get stronger and gain more lean mass. A study conducted among patients with insomnia revealed some astonishing facts about ZMA supplementation.
Patients suffering from mild to moderate insomnia were given magnesium supplements and experienced an immediate improvement in their symptoms. Upon supplementing with ZMA, these patients were able to further improve their ability to sleep due to the higher bioavailability of magnesium aspartate found in ZMA supplements.
Increasing Testosterone Levels
The hormone testosterone is extremely important for men. It is responsible for regulating sex drive, body fat distribution, muscle mass, strength and sperm production. ZMA supplementation has been shown to increase testosterone levels. Lorrie Brilla, a researcher in the area of sports, conducted a study on ZMA. The study was conducted at Western Washington University and focused on 12 football players in the NCAA. These 12 football players took ZMA supplements over an eight-week period during a training program during the spring. The players experienced a 30% increase in both free and total testosterone levels during this eight-week period.
Increasing Growth Hormone Production
Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone that plays a key role in bodybuilding. The presence of this hormone helps bodybuilding athletes achieve greater strength and lean mass gains. ZMA supplements work in two ways to help the body increase growth hormone levels. The first way that ZMA works to increase growth hormone levels is by decreasing cortisol levels in the body.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that lowers the amount of growth hormone produced when it is elevated. Studies have shown that zinc supplementation lowers cortisol levels by 59% and magnesium supplementation lowers cortisol levels by 25%. ZMA supplementation also helps increase growth hormone levels directly. Zinc, magnesium, insulin and testosterone all work together to help increase growth hormones. So, supplementing with ZMA will naturally increase growth hormone while simultaneously lowering cortisol levels.
The effects of increased growth hormone were seen in another study conducted by Lorrie Brilla. This study further investigated the effects of ZMA supplementation on a group of football players. In addition to testing testosterone levels, Dr. Brilla tested the effects of ZMA supplementation on muscle strength. Leg strength and power measurements were taken before and after supplementation with ZMA. At the end of eight weeks, players who took the supplement had strength gains 2.5 times greater than the placebo group. These athletes also had functional power gains that were twice as great as those in the placebo group.
Choosing the Best Brands
The best brands of ZMA will have the minerals and vitamin in specific quantities. The supplement should contain 30 milligrams of zinc, 400-450 milligrams of magnesium and 11 milligrams of vitamin B6. This supplement is best taken before bedtime and on an empty stomach. Taking this supplement before is most appropriate for most people because it causes drowsiness.