ZMA is a combination of zinc monomethionine/asparate, magnesium asparate and vitamin B6. It is strongly backed up by clinical research to be a great supplement for aiding muscle recovery, boosting muscle strength and size and aiding weight loss.
As ZMA is just a mineral supplement and other supplements such as creatine and NO-boosters promise more, people tend to largely ignore ZMA. After reading below you may change your mind about how effective supplement it can be.
It is not a testosterone booster although it can help athletes maintain testosterone levels during intense training periods, though it is not designed with the muscle-building hormone in mind, it is however a very effective way to supplement with two critical minerals, zinc and magnesium.
Zinc is an essential mineral with antioxidant properties that stimulates the activity of enzymes in the body, the enzymes are critical for numerous biochemical reactions. Zinc has been studied and found to be critical for protein synthesis, this molecular mechanism leads to muscle growth and recovery.
Magnesium is also an essential mineral which comes into play in various body functions. This is important for your cardiovascular system, metabolic rate as well as bone health. Zinc and magnesium together a wide range of health, performance and physique benefits.
ZMA has been proven to have definitive anabolic effects. A study was performed at Western Washington University (Bellingham) which had NCAA football players take ZMA or a placebo every night fro an 8-week spring training program. Athletes taking ZMA had more than a 30% increase in testosterone levels and a 5% increase in insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1), whilst those on the placebo had a 10% decrease in testosterone and a greater than 20% decrease in IGF-1.
As well as these improvements, the athletes on ZMA saw greater gains in strength and power as achieving better sleep quality. Better sleep quality also helps to aid muscle recovery after intense workouts. Even though the ZMA group were taking well over their recommended zinc allowance. Other studies have concluded that a mix of zinc and magnesium also offers potent anabolic properties.
In 2007 a study was conducted at Selcuk university in Konya, Turkey and it was reported that 4 weeks of zinc supplementation in men increased testosterone levels at rest and after exercise, researchers got similar results from wrestlers taking zinc supplementation.
The USDA has reported that zinc depletion can cause decreased muscle endurance in certain subjects, maintaining zinc levels is therefore critical to getting the max reps on any exercise.
Another study by the Western Washington University that subjects supplemented with a magnesium supplement whilst on a 7-week leg training program saw their leg strength increase by 205 more than those just on a placebo.
Zinc and magnesium are also suggested to blunt cortisol which is a catabolic hormone. German researchers have also found that triathletes who took a magnesium supplement for four weeks maintained a healthy cortisol level at rest and after a triathlon, this is compared to athletes on just a placebo. Brazilian researchers also found those taking zinc supplements maintained a healthy cortisol balance.
Zma may also boost growth hormone levels although indirectly. ZMA enhances sleep quality due to magnesium’s ability to normalize and extend stage 3 and 4 slow-wave sleep. A deeper sleep can actually help raise GH levels which tend to peak at night.
Zinc is also important for maintaining a healthy thyroid hormone production, this helps keep your metabolic rate and fat-burning potential up. Being low in zinc can actually limit thyroid hormone production and a compromised thyroid hormone production results in a lower metabolic rate and this makes it harder to drop body fat. Research has already confirmed that when your diet is low in zinc, thyroid hormone levels drop off and your resting metabolic rate suffers as a result.
A study at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that subjects on a low-zinc diet had lower metabolic rates. When subjects then started taking 25mg of zinc a day for 20 days, their metabolic rate actually got higher than when before the low-zinc diet.
Zinc is not only important for thyroid function but also to maintain the hormone leptin. This hormone is responsible for keeping hunger down and your metabolic rate high. Deficiency in zinc decreases leptin levels.
It is widely known that zinc is essential for proper immune function. Zinc takes part in multiple aspects of immune system function. Supplementing with zinc helps support a strong immune system.
It is also a powerful antioxidant, this great little mineral activates an enzyme which promotes good overall health and a strong immune system, this can also enhance your post-workout recovery as well, so it not only helps your health but also in the gym.
Research has shown many times over that athletes are both deficient in zinc and magnesium, this is because of several reasons, zinc is lost in sweat during exercise, the increased requirement of zinc by the body after training for recovery and protein synthesis and a lot is lost with urine, sometimes dietary factors are involved too.
Refined sugars and white flour products like white bread can lower your blood of zinc and magnesium. Foods rich in calcium like dairy products, inhibit the absorption of zinc and magnesium in the small intestine. Copper and foods rich in phytates (phospherous compounds found in cereals, whole-grain breads and legumes) also hinder the absorption of zinc into the small intestine. Alcohol also inhibits this as drinking a lot can get rid of it through urine.
You are most likely not taking in adequate zinc from whole foods and losing what you do take in, it is highly worth considering taking a ZMA supplement to maximise muscle mass and growth as well as to support immune systems and lower body fat.
This helps reduce the inteference to the absorbtion of both these minerals, this also provide both zinc and magnesium aspartate in the correct dosage, it also gives you a decent amount of vitamn B6, this aids magnesium uptake and utilization by the body.
Using ZMA supplements correctly alongside your diet and workouts can really help you achieve not only better workouts and muscle growth, but better sleep, fat burning and overall health.
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