When it comes to building muscle and just generally trying to get our bodies in shape, it simply cannot be denied that, whilst training is still hugely important, what we should ideally be focussing on instead is diet, nutrition, and supplementation.
That isn’t to say that training isn’t important, because we all know that it is, but the truth of the matter is that without putting the right nutrients inside of our bodies, we simply won’t make any real progress, leaving our bodies remaining largely the same.
As far as supplements go, from a muscle building perspective, zinc has been up there with some of the all-time bests, yet for some reason this mineral is still incredibly underrated.
Zinc has been proven to provide a number of health benefits to the human body, but recent evidence has also pointed to the fact that, from a bodybuilding perspective, it could be ideal as it looks as though zinc could provide numerous anabolic qualities deemed essential for muscle growth and repair.
Here’s a more in-depth look at zinc and exactly how it could help benefit people trying to build muscle.
What Is Zinc?
First off, before we go any further, we need to take a look at exactly what zinc is. Zinc is a trace element and essential mineral that our bodies cannot naturally synthesize.
As it is referred to as essential, this means that our bodies still need it, and as we cannot naturally synthesize it, we need it from dietary sources instead I.E food, drink, and supplements.
Zinc plays a number of crucial roles within the human body, with some great examples including the fact that it boosts immunity, it helps to facilitate the enzyme activity, it helps to heal wounds, it helps increase natural testosterone levels, and it helps assist with protein synthesis.
Experts recommend consuming at least 11 mg of zinc each day, though for bodybuilding/muscle building benefits, you may wish to increase this amount.
Relationship Between Zinc And Testosterone
Along with the fact that zinc helps assist with protein synthesis, it is the fact that zinc has been proven to naturally increase testosterone levels internally that has gotten experts so excited about the muscle building potential of this mineral.
Testosterone is the dominant male sexual hormone that is responsible for muscle growth, size, function, definition, strength, and repair, so naturally the more testosterone we can get into our bodies, the more muscle we will be able to build naturally.
What Does Zinc Do For The Body?
The main reason in which zinc is able to help create an anabolic (muscle building) environment for your muscles is all down to the fact that zinc helps boost testosterone, plus the fact that it helps increase protein synthesis.
It has been understood for nearly two decades now, that zinc is able to increase testosterone levels yet it is only over the last few years that we’ve been able to understand exactly how much testosterone the zinc is able to help produce.
Studies have also found that zinc supplementation can help to promote a good night’s sleep, which again is ideal because not only does getting the right amount of sleep help to boost natural testosterone production, it also helps with post-workout recovery because we do most of our growing when we sleep, as our bodies begin to repair and strengthen our muscles to be bigger and stronger than they were previously.
So combine all of the above factors together and you have the perfect environment for muscle growth and repair.
Top Natural Sources Of Zinc
As mentioned, zinc is an essential mineral that we must get from dietary sources. Here’s a look at a few examples of the top sources of zinc:
Starting with the most obvious example, we have zinc supplements.
For individuals looking to instantly increase their zinc consumption, zinc supplements as ZMA are absolutely ideal and can easily allow you to reach your recommended daily intake.
Oysters are an absolutely fantastic source of zinc, and are ideal for bodybuilders for many reasons. To begin with, oysters are low in calories and are packed full of protein and amino acids.
As far as the zinc content goes, 3 ounces of oysters will provide you with a whopping 74mg, so the next time you head to your local seafood restaurant, you may wish to give oysters a try.
Red meat such as beef or lamb is another great source of zinc, not to mention of iron as well. 100g of red meat such as beef, for example, contains more than 100% of your recommended daily intake, coming in at just shy of 13mg of zinc on average.
Red meat is also a great source of protein and it tastes pretty great as well.
Spinach is incredibly healthy as it is packed full of vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, calcium, and zinc.
One cup of cooked spinach contains around 1.5mg of zinc, which may not sound like much, but in actual fact it is around 15% of your recommended daily intake.
Benefits Of Zinc
Now that we’ve learned a little more about what zinc is, and some of the main sources, it’s now time to take a look at some of the main benefits of zinc.
As mentioned, zinc is an incredibly effective and vastly underrated mineral in the bodybuilding world, and so for that reason, here we’ll be taking a look at some of the main benefits of zinc, not just for bodybuilding, but also for general health, fitness, and well-being in the process.
Zinc Enhances Athletic Performance
One of the main reasons why bodybuilders and athletes in general, tend to enjoy using zinc supplements on a daily basis, is down to the fact that experts have found that zinc can actually provide a substantial increase in a person’s athletic performance.
This is mainly due to the fact that zinc promotes the release of hormones such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), growth hormone, and testosterone, all of which play key roles in muscle health and athletic performance.
Zinc Increases Testosterone Production
Another benefit associated with zinc, and one which we just previously touched upon, is the fact that zinc has been proven to increase natural testosterone production within the human body.
Testosterone helps boost athletic performance, it enhances muscle strength and growth, it enhances sperm motility, it increases sex drive and libido, and much more besides.
It increases conversion rates of androstenedione to testosterone, which, when used in conjunction with plenty of physical exercise, actually helps to produce even more testosterone, so the cycle repeats itself in a highly beneficial way.
It Boosts The Immune System
Not only is zinc beneficial for fitness and athletic purposes, it is also beneficial for health purposes as well, due largely to the fact that zinc has been proven to greatly enhance a person’s immune system.
This is considered one of the greatest benefits of zinc, as our immune systems are so important for us.
The human immune system is the body’s first and last, line of defence against illness and disease, so the stronger the immune system is, the fitter and healthier the individual become.
Experts have found that individuals with zinc deficiencies often suffer from a suppressed immune system.
This is because zinc deficiencies result in low levels of T-cell counts, and T-cells increase the human immune system when we suffer from an illness or disease.
Zinc is a very potent and powerful mineral when it comes to immunity, and as well as helping to protect the body against common illnesses, it can also provide substantial protection against conditions like cancer.
Zinc Helps To Increase Strength And Muscle Mass
As previously mentioned, zinc promotes the production and secretion of hormones such as testosterone, IGF-1, and growth hormone, making it an incredibly anabolic mineral.
All of the aforementioned hormones play significant roles in the growth, repair, and function of muscles within the body, and they all get a real boost when zinc is present.
This is important because not only will it allow the muscles to function more efficiently during training, making them stronger and allowing them to work harder before they fatigue, but it will also improve post-workout recovery, meaning that the muscles will repair themselves much quicker after you train, which is when the body will grow in the first place.
Many bodybuilders consider zinc to be just as beneficial as protein in terms of muscle growth and repair, so if your stack doesn’t include a zinc supplement, you may wish to re-think things and add one sooner rather than later.
Zinc Improves Insulin Sensitivity
As you can probably tell by now, zinc is incredibly important for the production and function of hormones within the body, and another one that relies heavily on zinc, is insulin.
Insulin is secreted by the pancreas to help regulate blood sugar levels, when glucose enters the blood stream.
Zinc binds to insulin, which helps to ensure that adequate amounts are secreted by the pancreas, as and when it is needed.
Next up, zinc enhances the health of the cells which make up components of enzymes which are required for using glucose as fuel.
Finally, zinc helps to reduce inflammation in cells within the body, which means that they become healthier and more sensitive to the insulin.
This is important not only for weight management, but also for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Trying to follow a bodybuilding diet when struggling with diabetes is not a pleasant thing to have to do, so ensuring you are as well protected against the disease as possible, is absolutely essential.
Zinc Is A Powerful Antioxidant
Zinc functions as a potent antioxidant within the body, which, as mentioned, already allows it to help prevent certain forms of cancer.
Not only that, but the potent antioxidant effects also promote cell health and function in general, whilst ridding the body of toxins and free radicals that damage the cells.
Our muscles, and indeed us in general, are made up of billions upon billions of cells, so obviously the fitter and healthier the cells become, the fitter and healthier we become by default, with this becoming especially apparent with our muscles.
Zinc Increases Energy Levels And Promotes A Good Night’s Sleep
Another of the benefits of zinc is the fact that it has been proven to increase energy levels, cognitive function, and can promote a good night’s sleep in general.
Sleep is essential for anybody, although bodybuilders need sleep, especially, due to the fact that their muscles grow and repair themselves when they sleep.
Zinc is essential for melatonin metabolism, which plays a vital role in us getting a good night’s sleep.
The benefits of zinc don’t stop there, however, as zinc also helps to regulate a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which helps the brain to focus and enhances drive and mental clarity.
Being able to focus in the gym is incredibly important, because you need to ensure that you’re focusing on the workout you’re performing, as opposed to just going through the motions, wondering what to watch on TV when you get home.