Of all the anabolic hormones in the body, testosterone is without a doubt considered to be one of the strongest. It comes as no surprise then that the hormone has been linked to a wide variety of bodily functions such as increases in muscle mass, memory, libido and concentration.
That being said, for athletes, the main aspect of concern about testosterone are its anabolic properties. Without this particular hormone, all of the sweat, blood, and hard work in the gym would be for nothing.
One could literally do all the work in the weight room for hours on end, every day and not gain one pound of muscle without this necessary hormone. Of course this goes both ways though, meaning that an excess of testosterone will translate to greater output in the gym.
If a person’s body is not producing an adequate amount of the hormone, their gains will most certainly suffer because of it. Keeping this in mind, athletes have to do everything in their power to regulate their testosterone levels, and keep them high.
Improved levels of testosterone
Lacking in just one area, whether it be micro nutrients or macro nutrients intake and especially sleep, your gains will suffer from it! That also goes for testosterone levels and growth hormone as well. There are two minerals that should you should be focused on, particularly because they both have such an immense impact on the body’s ability to recover and grow from training.
If you have a deficiency with this mineral then you are effectively sabotaging all of the effort you put in at the gym! Being deficient in this mineral means that your muscle strength and endurance will decrease.
In addition to all of this, the enzymes that prohibit the buildup of lactic acid (aka the fatigue acids) require zinc in order to properly function. Sound like something not to be messed with? Exactly, this is why it is such an important mineral. Here is a list of some foods high in Zinc.
Having a magnesium deficiency decreases the delivery of oxygen to the body’s muscle tissue. Magnesium is of course known for promoting endurance and strength, but it has also been confirmed to encourage relaxation as well.
Another reason why you don’t want to find yourself lacking this mineral is that it stimulates enzyme activity that is required for the body to metabolize amino acids and carbs.
The facts about these two minerals
It has been revealed by numerous studies that the majority of people who eat “self-selected” diets are only getting lower than two thirds of what the recommended daily intake for zinc is.
The same goes for magnesium, with even less people getting the appropriate levels. Those studies were primarily conducted on non-active people, and it is a fact that athletes and people who lead active lives deplete their mineral stores much faster than others. Several studies have shown that zinc and magnesium stores are depleted within a few days after strenuous activity.
What is ZMA ?
ZMA is a supplement that combines these two essential minerals (Zinc and Magnesium) with Vitamin B6. Some studies claim that it can optimize testosterone levels, however other studies claim that ZMA will not raise testosterone in individuals with normal and healthy levels of this hormone.
Other benefits of ZMA supplementation
It can improve sleep and recovery
Studies indicate that taking zinc supplements could enhance the quality of your sleep (3), while magnesium can activate your parasympathetic nervous system (4), aiding in relaxation before bedtime. Additionally, studies show that magnesium helps with melatonin (a hormone responsible for normal sleep cycles) regulation.
It can boost immunity
Studies suggest that adding zinc supplements to your diet can, lower the risk of infections, boost the immune system, and aid in fighting colds and the flu (5, 6). Additionally, magnesium can lower inflammation (7) while vitamin B6 is needed for the production of antibodies that fight infections (8,9).
Other solutions for low Mineral Intake and Depletion
The obvious solution to this problem is to supplement your diet with both zinc and magnesium. The following guidelines should be adhered to however.
– Take this at least 30 minutes before heading off to bed, and be sure you take it on an empty stomach too. It is recommended to wait about an hour or two after eating before taking the supplement.
Zinc’s effect on the body is maximized during the sleep cycle, which makes sense because the body does go into repair mode when the mind sleeps. In fact, the biggest surge of growth hormones occurs during the time right after going to bed (approximately 1.5 hours into sleep).
Now, because testosterone, insulin, magnesium and zinc all increase the effects of growth hormones, it makes sense to take the supplement around bedtime for maximum absorption.
– The dosage should be as followed: 450mg of Magnesium and 20-30mg of Zinc
– Do not take any form of calcium supplement coupled with zinc and magnesium! Mainly because calcium competes for maximum absorption, so it is best to stick with one or the other.
Understanding Supplementation and its Benefits
1. Increases in both muscular endurance and strength
2. Decreases in length and timing of muscle pulls and cramps
3. Heightened level of healing ability and injury recovery
4. Higher levels of alertness and overall concentration
5. Lowered retention of water
6. Improved level of relaxation when sleeping
The only way to train is to go all out in the gym, period! Having that attitude of course comes with the added responsibility of managing your body’s recovery abilities. Pay special attention to lacking areas in your diet, and today we went over one of the main aspects many overlook. An aspect that if left alone, will certainly slow gains and wreak havoc on the body which for any self-respecting athlete is enough reason to take mineral intake seriously!