GABA

Gaba photo 2

What is it?

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is an amino acid and an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

What does it do?

Gaba reduces the activity of nerve cells in the nervous system.

Why am I talking about this?

Because it has helped me immensely in regards to sleep, anxiety, and preserving lean muscle mass.

Gaba 3

Intro:

Gaba is a chemical messenger that is widely distributed in the brain. Its natural function is to reduce the activity of the neurons to which it binds. Furthermore, Gaba receptors are probably the most common kind in the mammalian nervous system. It is estimated that close to 40% of the synapses (connections) in the human brain work with Gaba and therefor have Gaba receptors (thebrain.mcgill.ca, 2018).

I’d like to have a look at some research, starting with Gaba’s ability to preserve lean muscle mass. If you’ve read my Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training article, you may have picked up that I have a thing for growth hormone. I came across a randomized, double-blind, cross-over study who’s purpose is to determine the growth hormone responses to Gaba ingestion at rest and after exercise (Powers et al., 2007).

11 healthy resistance trained males participated in this study. They were randomly assigned and either given 4 gaba (750mg), or a 4 placebo (sucrose). Neither the researchers nor the participants knew which one they were taking until the study was over. Subjects participated in 4 experimental trails, each separated by 1 week. This consisted of 2 resting and 2 exercise bouts completed in a counterbalanced fashion. They were told to continue their normal daily activities, keep their diet, refrain from any drugs or supplements proposed to have an ergogenic (performance enhancing) effect, as well as lay off exercise 24hrs prior to each experimental trail. Blood samples were taken before each trial as well as 15, 30, 45, 60, and 75 minutes after supplementation.

Figure 1 gaba article

Results: There was no difference in the total number of reps completed when comparing the exercise with gaba and exercise with placebo. However, serum growth hormone concentrations increased approximately 18-fold above pre-ingestion value during both exercise with gaba and exercise with placebo. In addition, an approximate 15-fold increase above baseline was observed during the rest with gaba trail; but no difference throughout the rest with placebo.

More importantly, the GH response 30 minutes after the cessation of exercise was about 200% greater in the exercise with gaba responses than the exercise with placebo. Therefore, gaba supplementation results in the greatest increase in serum GH hormone levels while at rest, as well as immediately after and 30 minutes post-exercise.

There are many reasons why one should care about their levels of growth hormones as it serves important roles in adult life. This includes maintenance of lean body and bone mass, promoting lipolysis (breakdown of fat), thereby limiting visceral adiposity (fat stored around important organs), regulating carbohydrate metabolism, cardiovascular system function, aerobic exercise capacity, and cognitive function (Chertman et al., 2015).

GABA AND SLEEP

I take 750mg of gaba every night, 30 minutes prior to bed. It has a calming, sedative effect and helps me fall asleep quicker, and remain asleep for longer. A 2015 study found that subjects taking gaba did in fact fall asleep sooner by an average of 5 minutes. In addition, a 2008 study found that patients suffering from insomnia had 30% lower levels of gaba compared to the control group (Tatsuzaki et al., 2015).

GABA AND ANXIETY

I am all too familiar with the body jerking; heart pounding; unable to concentrate or think straight feeling brought on by anxiety. If you’ve experienced it you know how much it can negatively affect your health, especially if it’s ongoing. Gaba reduces the activity of nerve cells in the nervous system, which could be linked to anxiety and fear. When my anxiety starts to climb I reach for gaba and take about 300mg. Within 5 to 10 minutes I notice a difference – my heart slows and my concentration improves.

A 2002 study found that those with panic, mood and anxiety disorders, or a family history of these disorders had decreased brain concentrations of gaba (Kent et al., 2002). There is significant amount of data supporting gaba’s ability to reduce anxiety and well as help treat depression.

gaba photo

SUMMARY

Gaba is an amino acid and an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps reduce the excitability of nerve cells in our central nervous system. Research supports that supplementing with Gaba relieves anxiety, improves sleep and increases levels of growth hormone. In addition, it can reduce depressive symptoms, relieve PMS symptoms, decrease inflammation, and improve focus in ADHD.

I have been supplementing with Gaba for over 2 years and I have not experienced any adverse effects. You may experience a tingling sensation at a higher dose. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should steer clear because it’s affect on these individuals has not yet been studied. If you are currently taking medication for anxiety or depression, make sure to speak with your doctor before using Gaba; as it may affect these medications.

Finally, there is controversy on whether or not gaba crosses the blood-brain barrier. Some research says it does not, other research says it does. All I know for certain is this natural supplement has helped me immensely and I wanted to share this in hopes it helps others.

Keep Moving.

 

 

References:

Chertman, L.S; Merrium, G.R; Kargi, A.Y. Growth Hormone and Aging. NCBI Bookshelf. A service of Natural Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. 2015.

Lydiard, R.B. The Role of Gaba in Anxiety Disorders. J of Clin Psychiatry. 2005; 64 Suppl 3: 21-7.

Kent, J.M; Matthew, S.J; Gorman, J.M. Molecular targets in the treatment of anxiety. Biol Psychiatry. 2002, 1008-30.

Powers, M.E; Yarrow, J.F; McCoy, S.C; Stephan, E.B. Growth Hormone Isoform Response to Gaba at Rest and After Exercise. Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, Centre for Exercise Science. 2007, 104-108.

The Brain From Top to Bottom. Anxiety Neurotransmitters. McGill, 2018. (thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_04/d_04_m/d_04_m_peu/d_04_m.peu.html) (Accessed April 1, 2018).

Yamatsu, A; Yamashita, Y; Maru, I; Yang, J; Tatsuzaki, J; Kim, M. The Improvement of Sleep by Oral Intake of Gaba and Apocynum venetum Leaf Extract. J Nutri Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2015; 61(2): 182-7.

 

 

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Reasons You’re Not Gaining Muscle

1. You don’t eat enough

If you aren’t getting a surplus of calories, you simply won’t grow. If you’re not sure how many calories/day you should be consuming, the harris-benedict formula is an equation that will help you determine just that. First we must find out your “basal metabolic rate,” which is the number of calories your body would burn if staying in bed all day:

Men BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
Women BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

After you have determined you BMR, use this table to figure out your daily recommended intake:

Little to no exercise Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.9

Finally, now that you have a good idea of how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight, you need to add calories in order to have the surplus required to build lean tissue. I would start with an increase of 250 calories/day; see how your body responds after a couple of weeks and then increase/decrease from there.

2. You do too much cardio

maxit_treadmill_kl-1303If you are already not eating enough calories, expending more calories via cardio will make it next to impossible for your body to gain lean muscle. The right type of cardio has its place (sprint training, slow long distance) but your first priority should be resistance training.

3. You’re not getting enough protein &/or carbs

Protein is needed for growth and to repair broken down tissue. If you aren’t getting enough, your body will turn to breaking down muscle in order to meet its daily protein needs. 1.2 -1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight should be consumed each day. It may seem like a lot at first, but it can easily be reached through the frequent consumption of lean meats, low fat dairy, eggs; egg whites, and protein powder.

Moreover, restricting your intake of carbohydrates while trying to put on muscle will leave you flat and feeling like garbage. Carbs supply the energy needed to get through intense workouts, and your brain alone needs 130g/day to function properly. 2-3g of carbs per pound of body weight is needed each day when gaining muscle. Make at least 80% of these carbs complex, and only consume simple carbs around your workouts.

Good Carb, Bad Carb

protein4. You’re inconsistent

For anything to work, consistency is vital. Almost any weight lifting plan will work if you’re consistent with it. I used to make the mistake of doing different workouts every time I hit the gym; it wasn’t until I started sticking to a plan for 4-6 weeks at a time did I really start to see gains in both lean muscle mass and strength. Find a plan, log everything, and follow through with it.

If you’re inconsistent at hitting the gym all together, well you have your answer right there.

5. You’ve been doing to same thing for too long and/or you aren’t training hard enough

Opposite from inconsistency, you’re consistent but cannot recall that last time you did something different. Our bodies are good at adapting to repetitive training stimulus, and sooner or later you will hit a plateau if you don’t switch up the exercises and/or the rep and set schemes.

On the same note, you simply might not be training hard enough. If you’re not challenged during your workouts and don’t opt for the heavy weights, you aren’t causing damage to your muscles, if you aren’t causing damage your mueat sleep train repeatscles will have no need to repair itself and heal bigger and stronger. Stop being a sissy and lift heavy things!

(For hypertrophy, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps is generally agreed upon)

6. You don’t sleep/recover enough

Training hard and eating well plays a huge role in gaining muscle, but just as important is sleep and recovery. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is highest when we sleep so getting the recommended 8 hours each night is a must. Also, those who don’t sleep enough tend to have higher levels of cortisol, which is catabolic hormone (breaks down muscle tissue); clearly this is a bad thing for those wanting more muscle.

7. You aren’t supplementing properly

This should be the last thing to consider, and only if you have perfected the points above. Also, relying on supplements to increase your performance is a poor idea.protein-powder

Personally, I’m all for protein powders, multivitamins, amino acids, and some pre-workouts; they have helped boost my training and aid in my recovery.