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Most trainers and gym-goers have heard of growth hormone and know of its importance in strength gains and fat metabolism. Studies show that intense aerobic and resistance training is one way to stimulate growth hormone secretion. We know that the majority of growth hormone secretion occurs at night and a number of other studies have shown that day time secretion in relatively low. Here in lies the question – how do we boost growth hormone levels during the day in order to provide more muscle growth and fat loss? The good news is that there is some evidence that supplementing with GABA may increase growth hormone levels. Read on to find out more.

What is GABA?

GABA is Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. It is a naturally occurring amino acid compound that acts as a neurotransmitter in our brains.  GABA is a nootropic or cognitive enhancer. The opposite of a stimulant, GABA acts as a depressive, but don’t let that scare you! What this means, is that GABA works to relax us and clear our minds, helping us to wind down. GABA is available as a supplement in power form. You can find VPA GABA here.

What does GABA do?

In relation to health and body composition, GABA plays two main roles in the body. As a relaxant GABA may help to relieve conditions such as anxiety and can help you fall asleep. Studies have shown that people who use GABA fall asleep faster and have a more restful night sleep. Secondly GABA promotes the production of growth hormones.

A recent study examined the effects of GABA on growth hormone production when combined with an intense weight lifting program. The study design looked at the growth hormone levels in men when training versus not training, when taking GABA versus taking a placebo. Further research has shown that GABA supplementation and the associated increase in growth hormone results in an increase in muscle mass. The remainder of this blog will look at the results of these studies and answer the question, does GABA increase growth hormone?

GABA increases growth hormone levels

The first study found that 3g serve of GABA increased growth hormone levels by 375% when compared to the placebo. When weight training, taking GABA increased growth hormone levels by 175% when compared to those taking the placebo. At rest, a 3g serve of GABA increased GH levels over that of the placebo by 375%.

This shows that GABA is effective in increasing GH levels, particularly during the day when normal secretion is low. It also shows that when you perform intense training, you can enhance your natural hormone spike by taking a daily dose of GABA.

GABA increases muscle mass

A second study assessed change in muscle mass when performed a resistance training regime and supplemented with either protein alone or protein plus GABA over a 12 week period. The results of the study showed that those that took GABA demonstrated not only increased growth hormone levels but a significant increase in muscle mass as measured with X-ray absorptiometry.

As can be seen, GABA does increase both growth hormone and lean muscle mass. If building muscle is one of your goals, GABA is a useful supplement for you.

If you want to read more about GABA check out this blog:

The importance of sleep – Is sleep the reason you’re not seeing results in the gym?

If you’re interested in the first study, here it is:

Powers ME, Yarrow JF, McCoy SC, Borst SE. Growth Hormone isoform responses to GABA ingestion at rest and after exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 40, 104-10, 2008

If you’re interested in the second study, here it is:

Sakashita M et al. Oral Supplementation Using Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid and Whey Protein Improves Whole Body Fat-Free Mass in Men After Resistance Training. J Clin Med Res. 11(6): 428-434. 2019

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Sally Mitchell (BSc, MHumNut) is a university qualified nutritionist and VPA staff member. Her favourite VPA product is coffee Breakfast Shake. She enjoys powerlifting and running, and does both poorly.

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