GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a supplement used by body builders to speed up anabolic and regenerative processes in the muscles. This compound has a number of properties that affect not only muscle building, but also the nervous system – including making it easier to fall asleep, relieves anxiety, relaxes and calms. For this reason, it should be used with caution and only during periods of increased physical activity. See how GABA works and how to safely dose this supplement.
GABA – action, effects and dosage of the supplement
GABA is a chemical compound from the group of amino acids, which, however, does not have proteins in its structure. It’s an important neurotransmitter limiting the activity of the entire nervous system – it reduces excitability, facilitates concentration, calms and relaxes. GABA is mainly used in the treatment of nervous diseases and disorders, for example epilepsy, anxiety, panic attacks, and ADHD. It has also been proven that in lower doses of 2-3 g GABA positively affects the growth of muscle tissue and accelerates the regeneration of the body after exercise. Hence, it’s readily used by athletes in periods of intense training, when they are particularly exposed to physical exhaustion.
GABA – action and effects of use
GABA affects the nervous system by raising the threshold of excitability of nerve cells and thereby limiting their sensitivity to stimuli. As a result, after taking the substance, you feel relaxed, calmer, and – due to the increased release of endorphins – a general improvement in well-being and a better mood.
A very important advantage of the GABA supplement is its hypnotic effect. When taken immediately before going to bed, it helps you fall asleep faster and deepens sleep. Because the body regenerates mainly at night, the use of GABA contributes to a faster and more effective recovery of muscle fibres damaged during exercise. This fact is of great importance for athletes who have to deal with high training loads on a daily basis and want to maximally speed up the regeneration processes taking place during the night of rest.
Another aspect of GABA’s activity, important from the point of view of bodybuilders, is the increase in the production of GH, or growth hormone. It plays a key role in building muscle mass, and also facilitates the burning of body fat. It’s worth noting that 70% of GH is produced during sleep, so deeper rest caused by taking GABA is translated into a higher concentration of growth hormone in the body.
GABA – dosage
At the beginning of the supplementation period, it’s best to take GABA in an amount of 1-2 g per day (women and people with a low body weight should take 1g, everyone else – 2g). If after 5 minutes you don’t notice the action of the substance (slight relaxation, silencing, falling asleep faster), next time you can increase the dose by 50% and observe the body’s reaction. Do not take more than 5 g of GABA per day due to the risk of side effects. The optimal dose we should aim for is 2-3 g without further increase. After a few days, the sensations associated with taking the same amount of substances should significantly decrease and eventually disappear. This is the effect of increased tolerance to the compound.
GABA should not be taken for more than a few weeks. The indication for its use in sportsmen is primarily a period of intense training, during which the body shows a greater demand for energy. Exceeding the daily dose of GABA (maximum 5 g), as well as prolonging supplementation creates the risk of addiction. It’s strictly forbidden to combine GABA with alcohol, which intensifies its action.
GABA – when to take?
GABA should be taken once a day about 30-60 minutes before going to sleep – only on an empty stomach. Thanks to this, the supplement will have a better effect on the quality of sleep and will make us have more energy on the second day. Some recommend taking an extra dose of GABA in the morning to further increase the level of growth hormone. However, there are no scientific studies that would confirm that the use of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the morning stimulates anabolic processes in the muscles.
It’s very important not to take GABA before training. This compound has a relaxing effect on skeletal muscles, which means that they will not be able to withstand the loads during intense exercise.
GABA – side effects
Like most dietary supplements, GABA can cause side effects. They usually occur at doses greater than 3-4 g. These include:
- ingling of the face, neck and limbs,
- shortness of breath (both of the above symptoms may be observed at the beginning of use even at low doses and then they are not a cause for concern),
- psychological or physical addiction (when taking very high doses or in combination with alcohol).