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ZMA Misconceptions: Sorting Truth from Fiction - Genetic Nutrition

ZMA Misconceptions: Sorting Truth from Fiction

, by Genetic Nutrition, 10 min reading time


ZMA is an effective nutritional supplement that is used in society by athletes and bodybuilders because it is a compound of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. However, the information about ZMA and the specific impact it has on an organism, as well as the advantages of its intake, is rather filled with myths and misconceptions. Here, we aim to list some of the myths associated with ZMA and give some facts regarding the matter.

ZMA is accompanied by some misconceptions that just refuse to be left alone. The internet, as we all know, amplifies the dissemination of information, and that is why fake news is quickly shared. This is a common refrain when it comes to determining what is true. Below, we will look at four typical myths that people have concerning ZMA, and we will determine if there is any reality to these myths. It is important to educate yourself and find out if any of these ZMA myths about the facts are true so that you can decide whether ZMA benefits you or not.

ZMA Myth #1 

Actually, ZMA seems to mimic the anabolic effects of steroids, and this product makes this claim through its labeling.

Well, out of all the myths surrounding ZMA that exist out there, this had to be one of the most ridiculous ones. There are some misconceptions about the use of ZMA, and it is said that it results in massive, quick changes in strength and muscle – similar to anabolic steroids. However, it should be noted that ZMA is not a steroid or prohormone – it is merely a blend of three vital minerals.

While some benefits could be derived from the use of ZMA, it cannot even come close to what is considered steroids. At best, ZMA can only indirectly support muscle building by regulating your hormones while asleep, not during the time you are actually working out. Nevertheless, it is important to dedicate efforts to the gym, as well as to have a proper diet. Well, let’s forget shortcuts with ZMA because there are none.

Verdict: Fiction. ZMA does NOT produce the fast, dramatic muscle building associated with anabolic steroids. In the best of circumstances, hope to get only small advantages.

ZMA Myth #2 

ZMA needs to be taken to be absorbed and assimilated by the body, it was stated that it must be taken on an empty stomach.

Here is another very popular myth about ZMA supplements: they have to be consumed when you have an empty stomach to be effective. Perhaps this arises from instructions on some ZMA supplements stating that they should be taken with an empty stomach. Nevertheless, there is not much proof that it really affects such a significant change.

Some of the studies showing positive effects of ZMA did not bother to mention that fasting was required after consuming it. For some individuals, it is advisable to take ZMA at night right before going to bed, but if taken on an empty stomach, one may even experience nausea.

Based on the evidence we have, it can be concluded that the product ZMA can be taken with or without food. Although lack of food may have some positive effects, this should be negligible at most, as otherwise the stomach is not completely empty. Despite this, do not be concerned if you have to consume your ZMA with a little meal or even a protein shake. Currently, there is no evidence suggesting that negates the effectiveness of ZMA.

Verdict: Fiction. It is also advisable to note that even though ZMA is best absorbed when taken with food, its supplementing capability is unlikely to be affected if taken the same way.

ZMA Myth #3 

It also has to be taken before bed, and this supplement is known by the name ZMA.

And yet again, here is one of the many familiar beliefs about ZMA – to gain its benefits, you have to take it just before going to bed. This likely stemmed from the fact that ZMA is expected to promote optimal testosterone synthesis and muscle remodeling during sleep. However, it doesn’t appear that the timing of supplementation is a decisive factor in this equation.

There is no research pointing out that ZMA's timely usage is required to function, and it has to be taken before sleeping. It has been observed that it can provide some benefits at different points in time. The only thing that could probably be in some way related to it is checking that your total daily dosage is not split in a silly manner.

There is no way we can further conclude that if one takes ZMA at different times of the day, it will not have the expected effect. Chances are you do not have to be very correct with the time you are taking it as long as it is a daily dosage. Though, if it is possible, it is still better to consume it before going to sleep because the body is most active during the night.

Verdict: Fiction. ZMA does not have to be taken right before sleeping, as may be thought by those who are not conversant with its usage.

ZMA Myth #4 

It can be seen that ZMA is more effective than separate zinc or magnesium consumption.

This myth is based on the assumption that simply combining zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 as the ZMA supplement produces some synergistic effects that cannot be produced by each of them separately. Indeed, although one might expect there to be some kind of positive interaction here, research has not yet been able to unveil such an interaction.

One study that directly compared ZMA to the combination of zinc and magnesium alone demonstrated that ZMA did not increase testosterone levels or enhance outcome gains more than the individual ingestion of the two minerals. Hence, it was deemed that the inclusion of vitamin B6 in zinc and magnesium supplementation probably does not produce any further ergogenic effect.

According to the present verdict, it seems that ZMA does not offer any synergistic or enhancing effects when taking zinc and magnesium supplements. This formulation does not appear to provide increased power or muscle mass gain past a basic level. Since the idea of synergy is missing, the efficacy of the supplement obtained from taking zinc and magnesium separately is barely likely to be similarly effective, according to the current evidential information.

Verdict: Fiction. Effectively, it would seem that taking ZMA is no better than simply taking zinc and magnesium on your own.


Well, after analyzing the facts and myths, it is possible to state that there are several really significant myths related to the ZMA supplement. However, it is still possible to find that ZMA still offers some benefits for athletes, such as enhancing anabolic hormone levels and sleep quality, though this should be moderated. ZMA is not ‘the’ answer to quickly pack on pounds of new muscle or step up strength like steroids. In sum, for health-conscious people, it is imperative that what they do in the gym, what they cook, and how they live as opposed to the supplements. Well, just do not be carried away with some of the other ZMA myths that we have as a971ere discussed.


  1. Is ZMA the compound that’s going to take me from 150 pounds of average to 250 pounds of massiveness instantly, like anabolic steroids?

No, this is a myth which has been disseminated all over the world. ZMA will not offer any magnificent gains in muscle mass or strength that are near to what is provided by anabolic steroids or prohormones. Thus, even in its best-case scenario, ZMA is of limited value, being but a supplement to exercise and nutrition. Thus, expectations for the effects of ZMA have to be realistic, at least in the usual dosage range and duration of zinc and magnesium supplementation.

  1. Does consuming ZMA mean it is 100% pointless if you do not take it on an empty stomach?

This is probably not true and thus may be a mere myth. Though there may be a slightly better absorption when the ZMA supplements are taken before meals, many of the studies conducted did not explicitly state this condition. Some people have complained of nausea, and they say that if they take the ZMA immediately after a light meal, then they do not experience this problem. To date, there is inadequate evidence to suggest that ZMA performance-enhancing ability is predicated on its intake in the fasting conditions. However, if possible, an empty stomach is better as the message is passed to the end receptor without any hindrance.

  1. Is there any disadvantage if I use ZMA during the morning or afternoon rather than before sleeping?

Probably yes. Though ZMA is supposed to be taken at night to aid hormonal secretion for muscle reconstruction and sleep, the latest studies do not substantiate that it must be taken before sleeping only for it to function. For as long as dosing is moderate with regard to time, taking the doses in different parts of the day is unlikely to interfere with the gains. However, if you can do it every night before going to bed, I still think it is ideal.

  1. Is it better to consume three nutrients in a combination called ZMA of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 than if they were to be taken singly?

There are no studies that show that ZMA is more effective than the same amount of the single minerals zinc and magnesium. There are no additional benefits we can derive from the cycle of these three that would enhance testosterone, performance, or muscle gains beyond what each of the three offers independently of the other two. Thus, the effect of ZMA does not seem to be significantly more potent than if you simply took zinc and magnesium by itself.

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