Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

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In our new feature, we take a look at some of the lesser known products in our range. Most of you will be pretty familiar with the Leucine’s and Glutamine’s of the supplement world, but we’ve got a pretty big range here! We start off with Alpha Lipoic Acid – a well-researched nutrient that not everyone is familiar with.

What is Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)? A non-essential nutrient produced by humans, which has an array of functions.

What does it do? ALA can be used as an anti-oxidant, but the main reason it is used by strength athletes is to improve the function of insulin (insulin mimicker) particularly post-exercise when taken with carbohydrate.

Research by Burke et al (2003) showed that adding ALA to sucrose and Creatine increased Creatine uptake beyond and above just using sucrose. A 20% increase in phosphocreatine was seen (from 87.6 to 106.2mmol.kg). This may be linked to an increase in glucose uptake and utilisation (Poh & Goh, 2009). For this reason, the role of ALA in Type 2 Diabetes is being investigated. Many supplement companies added ALA to Creatine products based on the research on improved Creatine and Glucose uptake when supplementing with Alpha Lipoic Acid.

There is some great research on Alpha Lipoic Acid as a potent anti-oxidant; an anti-oxidant helps to neutralise free radicals and protect against damage. For those who train at a high intensity, or with a high frequency, anti-oxidants are beneficial.

Research by Zembron-Lacny et al (2009) looked at the anti-oxidant effectiveness of ALA after muscle damaging exercise. The researchers concluded that ALA “diminished oxidative damage” modulating a “pro-antioxidant response to the muscle damaging exercise.” In fact, levels of the potent anti-oxidant Glutathione increased by 40% with ALA supplementation (600mg per day).

Quantity and timing: The recommended dose is 1-2 500mg capsules per day, ideally with food. For the insulin mimicking benefits, consume ALA with glucose/creatine post-training.

Summary: If you’re looking for a potent anti-oxidant that may have the added benefit of improving glucose metabolism, then Alpha Lipoic Acid would be great product to try! Alternatively, combine it with Creatine and Dextrose post-workout.

References

Burke, D.G., Chilibeck, P.D., Parise, G., Tarnopolsky, M,A.,& Candow, D.G. (2003) Effects of Alpha Lipoic Acid combined with Creatine Monohydrate on human skeletal muscle creatine and phosphagen concentration. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 13, 294-302

Poh, Z.X., & Goh, K.P. (2009) A current update on the use of Alpha Lipoic Acid in the management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Endocrine, Metabolic and Immune Disorders – Drug Targets, 9, 392-398.

Zembron-Lacny, A., Slowinska-Lisowska, M., Szygula, Z., Witkowski, K., Stefaniak, T., & Dziubek, W. (2009) Assessment of the antioxidant effectiveness of alpha lipoic acid in healthy men exposed to muscle damaging exercise. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 60, 2, 139-143

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