What is Glycerol Monostearate?
Glycerol monostearate (GMS) is a powerful, hydrating supplement that athletes, bodybuilders and food manufacturers use. GMS originates from glycerol, a natural, sweet, colorless component of fats. GMS powder is a combination of glycerol and stearic acid, a natural fatty acid. This chemical combination changes glycerol into glycerol monostearate.
Because it is a natural, non-toxic element, consumers use glycerol and glycerol monostearate for many different purposes (x). As a convenient, powdered supplement, GMS can keep the body hydrated and help build muscle.
Benefits of Glycerol Monostearate
GMS originates from glycerol, which may also be a useful method to help treat a variety of health conditions. It has a slightly different structure, but like GMS, glycerol is used in many different consumer products.
Glycerol helps the body retain fluids and improves hydration. When a person consumes glycerol, the body quickly absorbs it and sends it into different parts of the body very quickly, before the body can process and eliminate the retained fluid. Wherever it goes, glycerol helps that part of the body retain fluids. Health practitioners can use it to help rehydrate patients if they need it. In addition, glycerol also draws water into the gut, which can relieve constipation, so it may also be an effective laxative (x).
Reduces Brain & Eye Pressure
Glycerol is used to hydrate, but it can also reduce fluid buildup in some parts of the body, such as the eyes and the brain. Glycerol does not easily penetrate these areas, so when a patient takes it, the body reroutes excess fluid from these areas. Because of this, doctors may use glycerol to reduce eye pressure from glaucoma or to reduce fluid before an eye exam (x, x).
Glycerol may also minimize pressure in the brain from health conditions such as:
- Trauma to the central nervous system
- Poor blood flow to the brain
- Reye’s syndrome
Advances Athletic Performance
In recent years, glycerol monostearate has gained a lot of attention for its benefits to athletes by stimulating hydration and muscle building. For any athlete, a well-hydrated body is key. Most sports enthusiasts know that it is important to drink a lot of water. But during intense workouts, it may be harder to get enough. They may start feeling fatigued, the muscles may start to cramp and the athlete may even be forced to cut the workout short.
However, GMS may be a unique solution to this problem. Glycerol monostearate supplements are hyper-hydrators, forcing muscle cells to absorb more water. This helps athletes maximize performance, preserve energy and build endurance. Increasing blood flow through the body may reduce sore and cramping muscles. Finally, GMS can help an athlete to stay hydrated in heated or intense workouts (x, x).
Previously, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) formerly banned glycerol monostearate. However, as of January 1, 2018, the organization now considers it safe for athletes (x).
Maximizes Muscle Growth
Bodybuilders may benefit from GMS because its hydrating properties stimulate more blood flow to the muscles. This process is called hyperemia. Increased blood flow also sends more nutrients throughout the body and helps the body absorb other supplements that the athlete may use. Besides the physical benefits, many athletes may enjoy the feeling of fuller muscles that results from increased blood flow (x, x).
With increased blood flow comes muscle growth and not only does the blood carry nutrients, but it also removes lactic acid and carbon dioxide waste products. The process also creates more blood vessels to stimulate further growth.
Improves Food Production
Glycerol monostearate is routinely used in foods as an emulsifier. When products contain both water and oil, the ingredients separate. But an emulsifier helps combine them. It reduces the liquid’s surface tension and stabilizes the mixture. It can also interact with other ingredients, inducing air into them and preventing them from crystallizing (x).
GMS is a flaky, white, odorless, slightly sweet powder that the food industry uses to give whipped and ice cream its texture and body. It also helps thicken products and stabilize gels (x). In baked products, GMS helps improve the texture of bread and cakes and keeps them from going stale.
Emulsifies Industrial Products
Glycerol monostearate emulsifies waxes, oils and solvents. It is also used as a plastic lubricant, an anti-static component for plastics and an anti-fogging ingredient. Some manufacturers also use hygroscopic GMS with polyethylene because it may slow deterioration from air humidity and help boost insulation (x).
Enhances Personal Care Products
Manufacturers use glycerol because it is a natural and versatile ingredient (x, x). Once it enters the body, it absorbs it like a normal bodily chemical instead of rejecting it as a toxic ingredient. That’s because it is a normal bodily chemical; glycerol is present in the human body and it is involved in breaking down fats (x).
Different forms of glycerol are ideal for creams, lotions and other body care products. Because it is hydrating and moisturizing, it can effectively thicken products. It is also oil soluble, inexpensive to produce and environmentally friendly. Glycerol is a key ingredient in some makeup, cleaning products, lotions, creams, skin cleansers, suntan products, sunscreens and hair products (x).
Side Effects of Glycerol Monostearate
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels GMS as generally safe. However, inhaling pure glycerol monostearate is toxic and it may irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory and digestive tracts.
Although it is generally safe, overusing glycerol monostearate may cause side effects. Because it draws fluid from the brain and eyes into the muscles and other parts of the body, excessive amounts of GMS may cause headaches or blurred vision. Some other side effects of glycerol may include (x):
Although it is safe for most adults, researchers have not gathered enough information about glycerol to determine its safety for pregnancy or breastfeeding. It is best to avoid it to be safe. It is also dangerous to use it intravenously because it may severely damage red blood cells (x).
Glycerol Monostearate Supplement & Dosage
Although it may have the potential to benefit workouts and increase muscle mass, there is not enough research to prove its definite scientific effectiveness as a workout supplement (x). However, despite the small number of studies, Glycerol monostearate may be an effective way to tolerate heat intensive exercise and boost endurance (x).
GMS supplements are a good way to get a consistent dosage and make it part of a workout routine. As a powder, the recommended dosage is 2,000 mg (¾ tsp) one to three times per day a half hour before exercising.
The Bottom Line
Glycerol monostearate (GMS) is an increasingly popular supplement to quickly and efficiently hydrate the body and maintain that hydration. Anyone can benefit from it, but it may be especially helpful for athletes and bodybuilders. It may help increase blood flow to boost muscle mass and maintain endurance during tough workouts.
The food industry also use GMS in many of its products. It helps add texture and body to ice cream and whipped cream and even helps keep baked goods from going stale. Besides food manufacturers, industrial, drug and cosmetic companies also use glycerol in different forms because it can hydrate the body, emulsify mixtures and potentially help address certain health conditions. In proper doses, GMS has few side effects and it is generally safe for athletes, sunbathers and ice cream lovers everywhere.