It all began when I heard about a substance called GABA, which could allegedly reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), something that both my daughters and wife have suffered, more or less severely.

After beginning to read up on the topic, GABA was furthermore said to promote better sleep and help with anxiety; also something that could benefit my loved ones.

And last but not the least — there were claims that it could be used to stimulate the creation and secretion of human growth hormone (HGH) into the system, thus giving you benefits such as enhanced energy level, loss of body fat, and increased lean body mass.

Some studies even suggested that GABA could increase mental clarity and ability to focus.

Now I was genuinely interested. After all, we're talking about eight birds and one stone here.

But, as always — if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I decided to be extremely thorough on this one and scrutinize every word I could find on the topic.

What is GABA and how does it work?

It's short for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, a powerful amino acid that was first discovered in 1883 in Berlin. It's actually classified as a neurotransmitter, which means it helps nerve impulses cross the synapses and communicate better.

It's thought to have a natural calming effect and is believed to reduce feelings of anxiety by decreasing neuronal excitability.

In layman's terms, GABA acts as the brain's brake pedal.

GABA cannot pass the blood-brain barrier, hence direct supplementation within the diet will not make it to the receptors in the brain. However, it's been suggested that GABA can affect the gut microbiome, which, in turn, affects the brain through to so-called Gut-Brain Axis.

Speculations aside, the fact remains; a lot of people report positive effects from taking GABA supplements orally, especially for anxiety relief and insomnia. So whether it's placebo or real, to some extent there is a perceived effect.

What about HGH stimulation?

From a fitness perspective, I think GABA's alleged ability to stimulate human growth hormone (HGH) is of the most interest.

Studies suggest that HGH facilitates the metabolism of fats in the body, and since the body's HGH levels naturally decrease with age, the older you get, the harder it is to lose fat.

GABA effectively tricks the body into releasing HGH in adults, even though it's no longer needed for growth and development. And higher concentrations of HGH may amplify the anabolic effect of intense training and provide better strength and muscle mass gains over the long-term.

There are also claims made by some so-called anti-aging experts that HGH could reverse age-related bodily deterioration; like preventing wrinkles and skin and body tension brought about by stress.

To what extent these effects actually play a role in gaining strength and losing fat is very hard to conclude. And maybe it doesn't matter. For, after all, it's not working out that makes you strong. What makes you strong is recovery.

When you workout, you're breaking your muscle and nervous system down.

Spend time on recovery, and you speed up the rebuilding process and get yourself ready for the next session.

And if GABA can help you to relax and sleep better, it will at least have an indirect effect on body toning.

Does GABA have any side effects?

GABA is an all natural supplement, but can still cause dangerous interaction problems if taken with certain other supplements or drugs. If you’re already taking medications for depression, anxiety or insomnia, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting supplementation as it could interfere with or alter the activity of these medications.

If you aren't taking it to relax or help with sleep, then its sedative action can also be considered a side effect.

It's also quite expensive, at least here in Sweden. Not a side effect per se, but a possible dealbreaker if you're on a tight budget.

Dosage recommendations

The hardcore bodybuilder recommendation is to take 3-5 grams of GABA without food about 30-60 minutes before workouts to boost HGH levels. I've also seen recommendations to consider taking another 3-5 gram dose 30-60 minutes before bed to boost HGH levels higher during the night for even better recovery.

On the other hand, a typical, commercially available GABA tablet contains 250 to 750 mg, so I would steer clear of these higher dosages, at least initially.

It’s usually best to start with a lower dose and work your way up to make sure you’re able to tolerate it well and find the dosage that works best for you. If you notice any negative side effects, decrease your dosage and consider consulting with your doctor if symptoms persist.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, so always consult your physician before using supplements.


Despite my googling skills, I haven't found a single objective report about actual strength gains and decreased body fat percentage on GABA use. Probably due to the fact that those things are hard to attribute to a single factor such as GABA.

So — as promising as it sounds, I guess you'll have to try it out yourself to see if it works for you.

Or you can wait a while and let me do the testing for you. My take on this is that with these amounts of smoke there must be at least a small fire. It's also prohibited to sell GABA in Sweden, which makes me even more curious to evaluate it.

I will try it out for 30 days for the purpose of getting leaner, and write about my findings in another blog post.

Stay tuned!

If you spot any errors or misconceptions in this post, I would be very happy if you pointed them out to me. Cheers.

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