Before he became famous for his role in the largest sports doping scandal in the past decade, BALCO founder Victor Conte was a self-styled nutritionist who promoted a Zinc and Magnesium supplement he’d developed called “ZMA.” The athletes who endorsed it were mostly juiced-up with steroids, growth hormone, and other performance enhancing drugs. Still, even after the BALCO scandal, the product continued to sell and can be found on the shelves of GNC, Vitamin Shoppes, and advertised heavily online. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything to help with muscle or strength gains.
In a study titled “ Effects of Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) Supplementation on Training Adaptations and Markers of Anabolism and Catabolism” which was recently published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, ZMA was compared to placebo with regards to anabolic and catabolic hormone status, body composition, 1-RM bench press and leg press, upper and lower body muscular endurance, and cycling anaerobic capacity. In all of these areas, when compared to placebo, ZMA was discovered to produce similar results. The study concluded that “ZMA supplementation during training does not appear to enhance training adaptations in resistance trained populations.”
Despite the mountain of evidence that has been piling up against ZMA, it continues to be one of the best selling mineral supplements on market. There’s a sucker born every minute, and there’s always a guy like Conte with pseudo-science and slick advertising, ready to take advantage of them.