GABA: The Forgotten Amino Acid (New Research)

By:  Matt Weik

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) supplements have been around for quite some time. Their claim to fame has been to help with relaxation, improve sleep, improve your mood, as well as improve your focus. GABA is a naturally-occurring amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter found in our cells. A new study from Japan is actually showing the potential to now be able to add lean muscle mass through GABA supplementation.

Researchers may have opened the door to new lean muscle growth for us all. For their new study they used 26 participants – men between the ages of 26 and 48 who use resistance training regularly.  They had them use 10g of whey protein each day and depending on the group, had them either add 100mg of PharmaGABA or nothing at all.  The PharmaGABA product is manufactured by Pharma Foods International who controls over 70% of the GABA market over in Japan.  The study using this form of GABA lasted a total of 12 weeks where the participants trained twice a week.


The results of the study were astonishing. After 12 weeks the group who used the whey and GABA had more than double the resting plasma growth hormone levels at week 4, 8, and 12 of the study when compared to their individual baseline values taken at the beginning as a baseline.  By comparison, the “whey only” group showed only an increase in resting plasma growth hormone levels at week 8 of the study.  In addition, the group who used whey and GABA showed an increase in lean mass of 1,340g whereas the control group only gained 146g.

Researchers said that, “combined ingestion of GABA with whey protein increased muscle mass more effectively than ingestion of whey protein alone in resistance-trained men. Therefore, dairy supplementation with GABA may be a useful addition to whey protein for augmenting exercise-induced muscle hypertrophy.”

Below is a chart from the study that shows the difference in lean mass measured by using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Here you can see the considerable difference between the whey protein group and the whey protein with GABA group.

The IML Research Blog is loaded with more valuable info.  Check it out!

Source: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise May 2016, Volume 48, Issue 5S, page 54, doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000485172.93346.3c “Combined Oral Intake of GABA with Whey Protein Improves Lean Mass in Resistance-trained Men” Authors: M. Sakashita, et al.