Introduction to GABA
GABA is shorthand for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. Essentially, it is an amino acid that was first discovered in 1883 in a laboratory in Berlin. However, it is categorized as a neurotransmitter, meaning that it helps nerve impulses to cross the synapse, which enhances communication. Overall, this amino acid has multiple positive effects on the nervous system.
Additionally, it is touted to have surprising impacts on promoting fat loss. Apparently, this amino acid/neurotransmitter triggers the production of the Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Research findings indicate that HGH facilitates the metabolism of fats in the body.
Isn’t HGH known for its remarkable muscle building potential? Yes, it is. Consequently, increasing HGH levels is definitely a good thing, especially for bodybuilders. HGH tends to decrease naturally as one gets older, which makes it challenging to build muscle and to lose fat as well.
Other studies indicate that this neurotransmitter increases the sleeping cycle, and adds to the vividness of dreams. As you may know, getting quality sleep and getting more rest during the night can lead to more energy throughout the day. Furthermore, enhancing muscle growth and promoting fat loss may lead to an increase in energy. As a result, supplementing with GABA has been associated with additional energy feelings of vigor.
However, let’s take a closer look at the nitty gritty of how this amino acid functions, including its dosage, side effects, and other related aspects.
What is the Role of GABA?
As mentioned earlier, GABA is an amino acid and neurotransmitter. It is manufactured in the brain from glutamate. This process is stimulated by vitamin B6 in its active form and the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase (GAD).
The following are some of its uses and benefits.
Increases Levels of Growth Hormone
HGH is a hormone that is produced in the pituitary gland that is accompanied by benefits such as increased muscle strength, reduced risk of heart disease, enhanced body composition, and stronger bones.
A lack of this essential hormone may lead to symptoms such as late puberty, slow growth in children, sexual dysfunction, depression, and insulin resistance.
What’s more, athletes and bodybuilders supplement this vital hormone to help build and repair muscle.
Studies indicate that supplementation with GABA may increase the levels of Human Growth Hormone in the body. In a survey conducted in 2008, eleven men were supplemented with three grams of the amino acid or a placebo, after which they were subjected to resistance training or rest. Subsequently, the participants showed a 400% increase in Human Growth Hormone Levels.
Additional Effects for Athletes
GABA can be used for bodybuilding, given that it affects glucose synthesis and utilization. When ingested, this amino acid stimulates the pancreas to secrete extra insulin, which enhances the absorption of glucose into the cells.
Higher insulin levels can lead to an increase in athletic performance if it means that the utilization of glucose in the muscles is enhanced.
What’s more, a scientific study showed that taking the neurotransmitter before exercising creates an anabolic state, which is maintained even after the workout session is terminated. As a result, taking GABA supplementation enhances the growth of lean muscle and improves recovery time between workouts.
The primary function of GABA is to inhibit the activity of nerve cells in the brain. Mainly, it is to reduce nerve excitability, which is associated with feelings of fear and anxiety. This neurotransmitter has a calming effect and is widely used as a natural remedy for anxiety. What’s more various anxiety disorders have been linked to reduced levels of the amino acid.
Research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry indicated that those with panic disorder (a form of anxiety illness) experienced an impaired GABA response. Moreover, another study linked panic disorders and other anxiety disorders to decreased levels of the neurotransmitter in their brain.
Insomnia, a condition which is characterized by difficulty falling asleep affects 30 percent of adults worldwide. GABA has a sedative, calming effect and has the potential to induce sleep naturally by reducing nerve excitability.
One study conducted in 2017 demonstrated that taking the supplement helped participants to fall asleep faster, while complementary research found that those with insomnia also have lower levels of this amino acid.
Did you know that a good night’s sleep leads to a better hormone balance in the body? Ever wonder why men wake up with a hard shaft after a good night’s sleep? Quality sleep increases testosterone production.
Relieves Symptoms of PMS
Postmenstrual syndrome, aka PMS, is a term that refers to symptoms such as food cravings, fatigue, and mood swings, which occur in ladies between ovulation and the beginning of menstrual bleeding.
Studies show that menstruation disrupts GABA levels, and may decline during the menstrual cycle. However, it can help to alleviate the PMS symptoms. For instance, research indicates that this neurotransmitter could function as a natural pain reliever during cramps, while other researchers have noted that it could be involved in the mechanism of cramps.
Inflammation is a natural response triggered by the immune system as a result of injury or illness. Chronic inflammation can lead to severe conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and heart disease, to name a few.
Well, research indicates that the neurotransmitter could decrease inflammation, which may lead to the treatment of such conditions. Mainly, this neurotransmitter has been found to reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and could reduce the activity of a pathway linked to joint inflammation.
Joint inflammation and arthritis can pose a real challenge to athletes and anybody wishing to get fit.
In addition to enhancing sleep quality and reducing anxiety, this neurotransmitter is deemed to play a pivotal role in managing depression. For starters, research shows that people with symptoms of depression tend to have lower levels of this neurotransmitter, as opposed to those without the disorder.
GABA levels have also been shown to increase after depression is treated. Thanks to its antidepressant effects, it can be an excellent alternative to conventional depression treatments.
GABA Side Effects
This supplement is usually safe and can be used with minimal side effects. However, people in some categories may want to limit or avoid its use.
If you are breastfeeding or pregnant, you are advised against taking a GABA supplement as its impacts have not been studied in these individuals.
Additionally, if you are already on medication for depression, insomnia, or anxiety, you may want to consult with your doctor before embarking on supplementation as it could interfere with the mechanisms of these drugs.
Interestingly, anecdotal reports have also shown that high doses can increase depressive episodes or increase anxiety.
Finally, if you experience symptoms such as tingling or flushing, you are advised to discontinue using and talk to your physician.
Dosage for this supplement may vary according to sex, age, and weight. However, it is advisable to talk to your doctor before embarking on supplementation to determine how much you should take and whether it is right for you.
For bodybuilding, one should take 500 to 750 milligrams daily, twice a day. If you take 750 mg twice daily, your intake will amount to nearly twice the maximum amount prescribed by doctors.
For typical relief from stress, the average dosage ranges from 700 to 800 milligrams daily. The serving should be divided into three or four doses over the day.
Regarding anxiety, the recommended dosage ranges from 250 milligrams to 650 milligrams thrice a day (total of 750 to 1950 mg).
However, it is
always best to start with a lower dose and work your way up to a higher one
after demonstrating tolerance.
What Are the Available Forms of GABA?
As a supplement, the neurotransmitter is available as a powder, capsule and in tablet form.
Although scientists have argued that GABA doesn’t readily cross the blood-brain barrier, many neurohackers claim to experience a calming effect when using GABA.
PharmaGABA is a natural form of this amino acid/neurotransmitter that is made using Lactobacillus hilgardii bacteria. This is the same bacteria that is used in the fermentation of vegetables in traditional Korean cuisines. When in this form, it seems effective in enhancing mood.
Where to Find GABA
Pure GABA supplements are widely available in pharmaceutical outlets, and online distributors, such as Amazon, Bodybuilding.com, and GNC. Given that different companies produce and distribute this neurotransmitter as a supplement, there are numerous products on the market. As a result, the prices are also expected to differ.
However, most GABA supplements cost anything from $10 to $20.
In a nutshell, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that alleviates feelings of anxiety and fear. It can be used to manage multiple health conditions, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, postmenstrual syndrome, and inflammation.
Importantly, as an amino acid, it increases the prevalence of the human growth hormone, which enhances sexual function, increases muscle strength, reduces recovery time between workouts, and promotes the metabolism of fats.
This supplement is available in numerous forms, including capsules and tablets and is readily available in pharmaceutical outlets. What’s more, it is cheap and doesn’t have many side effects.