ZMA and creatine are supplements designed to maximize your results in the weight room. Creatine is an amino acid made in your kidneys, liver and pancreas. You also ingest small amounts of creatine when you eat fish and meat. ZMA, which stands for zinc monomethionine aspartate, contains vitamins and minerals designed to stimulate production of growth hormones in your body. Before trying either supplement, discuss it with your doctor.
Your muscles' primary source of energy is ATP. During an intense weightlifting session, ATP burns off within a matter of seconds. That’s the reason each set of bicep curls, for instance, begins to really burn after 10 to 30 seconds' worth of repetitions. Creatine is stored in the muscle tissue and helps produce more ATP when synthesized during heavy exercise. More repetitions and sets is the result of creatine supplementation, which in turn leads to greater strength gains.
ZMA supplements contain vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc. Very few studies exist, as of 2011, regarding ZMA’s effectiveness in terms of building strength and muscle size. However, a 1999 study published by the American College of Sports Medicine found promising results. It found strength-training football players who took ZMA daily for eight weeks experienced 2.5 times greater strength and size gains compared to players who didn’t take the supplement. ZMA works by increasing testosterone and growth hormone levels.
According to Bodybuilding.com, taking creatine and ZMA at the same time is safe and effective for healthy, strength-training adults. However, mixing the two together is not advisable due to their respective dosage scheduling recommendations. For example, Bodybuilding.com suggests taking creatine an hour before you lift weights to make sure your muscle-creatine concentration is high. Consume ZMA 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed. So, you consume both supplements at different times of the day. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends consuming 2 g to 5 g of creatine per day. Consult your doctor to determine the optimal dosage of ZMA for you.
Creatine has endured more studies than ZMA, so its safety and efficacy is understood better than that of ZMA. The UMMC states creatine is generally safe for adults 19 and older when consumed as directed. Creatine’s efficacy has had mixed results, according to UMMC. It has been used to improve athletic performance, treat heart disease and improve symptoms of muscular dystrophy. Results vary on a case-by-case basis. ZMA appears to be safe for adult consumption as well, but efficacy has yet to be determined. A 2004 study of 42 individuals over eight weeks, published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,” found no significant difference in strength gains between ZMA participants and a placebo group.
- Bodybuilding.com: Supplement Stacks and Final Remarks!
- ExRx.net: ZMA
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Creatine
- “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”; Effects of Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) Supplementation on Training Adaptations and Markers of Anabolism and Catabolism; Colin D. Wilborn, et al.; Dec 2004