Alpha Lipoic Acid
What is alpha-lipoic acid?
Alpha-lipoic acid (also known as ALA) is a synthetic version of lipoic acid, a naturally occurring compound produced in the body and synthesized by both plants and animals. This antioxidant is vital to cellular energy production, and helps to neutralize the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are chemical byproducts produced during the process of oxidation that converts nutrients to cellular energy. As they oxidize, these compounds can become highly reactive and harmful to the cell, distorting its vital components and reducing its metabolic efficiency. While the body can naturally manufacture enough lipoic acid for metabolic functions, supplementing can allow more optimal levels to circulate in a free state.
How does ALA help with bodybuilding?
ALA has the ability to impact glucose uptake and reduce triglyceride production.
Triglycerides are fat in the blood and are used to provide energy to the body. If you have extra triglycerides, they are stored in different places in case they are needed later. High triglyceride levels have been linked to a greater chance for heart disease. When you think of fat developing and being stored in your hips or belly, you're thinking of triglycerides.
ALA has the ability to increase muscular absorption of the calories consumed, which means fewer calories deposited as fat and faster strength gains. ALA accomplishes this by recruiting GLUT-4 glucose transporters to the muscular cell membrane. This both mimics insulin & increases insulin sensitivity. Because of this, ALA is being explored as an “insulino-mimetic” that can be used to treat type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
There are two forms of alpha lipoic acid.
R-ALA is the form found naturally occurring within the body and is the biologically active form of alpha lipoic acid.
S-ALA is the unnatural, synthetic byproduct created during the production of alpha lipoic acid.
S-ALA is not sold by itself as it isn't very effective, but you will get S-ALA anytime you purchase ALA. The ALA you buy from nutrition stores is in reality a 50/50 mixture of S-ALA & R-ALA. Most companies don't go through the complicated and expensive process required to purify and remove the synthetic S-ALA from their products. Be aware that unless the bottle specifically states 100% R-ALA, you are only getting a 50/50 blend. It is important to know that R-ALA has been shown to be up to 12 times more effective as S-ALA.
How much does an adult need?
Currently there are no established daily doses for supplementation. However, oral alpha-lipoic acid is reported to be well tolerated in doses up to 600 milligrams per day. As a general antioxidant, a dosage of 20 to 50 mg daily is commonly recommended. Alpha-lipoic acid can be purchased in dosages ranging 30 mg to 100 mg tablets.
The Take Home Message
ALA helps you store the carbohydrates you eat in the muscle or in your liver as opposed to in fat.
Now you know why it’s on your diet plan! :)