WHAT IS ZMA?
ZMA is a unique patented blend of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6, which are essential vitamins and minerals that play an important role in overall health and well-being. ZMA was designed by athletes, for athletes to provide an all-in-one supplement to improve both performance and recovery. The effectiveness of ZMA is strongly supported by clinical research for enhancing muscle recovery, boosting muscle size and strength, and even aiding fat loss.
WHAT DOES ZMA DO?
First, let’s clear up one misleading statement: ZMA is not a testosterone booster. Any pro-hormone statements about ZMA are unfounded and under-researched. There is research out there that claims ZMA helps you maintain a higher level of testosterone during longer bouts of exercise or more intense training cycles, but ZMA alone will not boost your level of testosterone. Rather, ZMA supplements stores of zinc and magnesium, which contribute to maintaining testosterone levels.
USDA studies have found that less than 70% of Americans get enough zinc and less than 40% get enough magnesium. Research has confirmed that athletes are often deficient in both zinc and magnesium. This is most likely due to several factors, such as zinc lost through sweat during training, increased use of zinc by the body for recovery and protein synthesis following training, and an increased loss of zinc through urine. There may also be dietary factors involved.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ZMA?
The roles of zinc and magnesium in the body are connected to the overall effectiveness of ZMA supplements. Zinc, for one, plays a role in protein synthesis, muscular recovery, and anabolism. It is also a powerful antioxidant that wards off free-radicals and head colds. On the other hand, magnesium supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular system, supports a fast metabolism, and maintains bones.
The benefits of ZMA are, therefore:
- Muscular strength and power gains
- Better sleep quality
- Increased metabolism
- Stabilised cortisol levels
- Maintained or heightened levels of testosterone
- Immune support.
Magnesium plays a role in normalising and extending periods of deep REM sleep, where the brain waves slow and the body begins to heal. Deep sleep also contributes to raising growth hormone levels and muscle recovery.
Enhanced deep sleep, stabilised cortisol levels, and the appropriate levels of zinc and magnesium are also interlaced with your metabolism. To begin, zinc is integral in thyroid hormone production. The hormones secreted by the thyroid play an important role in your metabolism and the amount of calories you burn throughout the day. In the event that zinc is low, then your thyroid will limit hormone production, dampening the fires of your metabolism and leading to a less than ideal caloric burn—even if you do an intense workout.
A study from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that when a test group was place on a low-zinc diet, their basal metabolic rates plummeted. The subjects then took a 25 mg supplement of zinc for the next 20 days. Their metabolic rates experienced a jump that was higher than their original metabolic rate prior to their low-zinc diet. Selcuk University backed up this finding by stating how four weeks of zinc supplementation increased the levels of thyroid hormones in sedentary and athletic men alike.
The timing of ZMA isn’t a huge concern, as the individual ingredients are likely to absorb slowly. What you need to avoid is taking ZMA with any high-calcium foods or drink. Calcium can reduce the intake of zinc, which is going to be a problem since you struggle to absorb zinc effectively already. Avoid taking ZMA with a dairy protein or milk.
THE BEST ZMA SUPPLEMENTS
The best ZMA supplements provide a healthy dose of zinc in a form that is absorbed effectively – such as chelate, gluconate, or citrate. A supplement using aspartate or monomethionine is going to be less effective. This is key since zinc is the key ingredient in ZMA and impacts how effective B vitamins are.