TIMING: This is a critical component in the ZMA equation. Taking it about an hour before bed will maximize its uptake and utilization, as confirmed by clinical research. Taking ZMA at night will also enhance sleep quality since magnesium can normalize and extend stage 3 and 4 slow-wave sleep. As we've stressed before, deep sleep is critical in helping your body recover from training.
GOING IT ALONE: ZMA must be taken without food or other supplements; both zinc and magnesium are poorly absorbed otherwise. The one thing you want to take with zinc and magnesium is vitamin B6, which helps magnesium get into cells. It's included in the patented ZMA supplement. To get the most out of ZMA, take it about 1-2 hours after your second-to-last meal and an hour before your final meal of the day, right before going to bed.
DOSE: The proper dose of ZMA is 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium aspartate and mg of B6, no more, no less. Unlike most other supplements, with which a little extra here and there is okay, you want to make sure you take zinc and magnesium in this specific dose. Not only were these ratios found in clinical research to produce positive effects on athletes' hormone and strength levels, but taking too much zinc (upward of 50 mg of absorbed zinc) can affect the immune system, compromise your metabolism, reduce levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and interfere with optimal sleep - all of which can impact your health and your ability to grow muscle.
FORM: Don't skip ZMA supplementation by opting for stand-alone zinc and magnesium products. The form of zinc and magnesium used in ZMA is a chelate known as zinc and magnesium aspartate, which helps to minimize interference in the absorption of these minerals. Furthermore, the patented form of ZMA provides the zinc, magnesium aspartate and B6 in the amounts known to be most effective for stimulating muscle growth. It's one of the few ready-to-use supplement stacks we recommend over buying individual products.
In addition to the improvements in their anabolic hormone levels, the ZMA-supplemented athletes made significantly greater gains in strength and power, and achieved better sleep quality , than a placebo group. Better sleep quality also helps to aid muscle recovery from tough workouts. These benefits occurred in the ZMA group despite the fact that the analyses of their diets found that the athletes were all consuming well over the recommended intake for zinc. In addition to the study performed by the Western Washington University researcher, several other studies have also found that zinc and magnesium offer potent anabolic properties.*
In patients suffering from chronic renal failure (a condition linked to significantly depleted zinc levels) mega-dosing with 250mg/day of zinc was – as to be expected – able to significantly increase serum zinc, testosterone, and LH levels . Another study consisting of 37 infertile-subjects had the men take an undisclosed amount of zinc for 6-months and noted that the men who had testosterone levels on the lower end (less than 480 ng/dL) noticed significant improvements in testosterone and DHT levels, whereas the men on the higher levels of testosterone (more than 480 ng/dL) noted no increases in testosterone, but still significant increases in DHT levels. On an even more positive note, Nine of the subjects were able to conceive a child during the study period.