Alpha lipoic acid has been garnering a lot of attention lately and for good reason. It’s a unique supplement that is beneficial not just to bodybuilders, but to the average Jane or Joe as well.
What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?
Alpha Lipoic Acid, also known as ALA, is a nutrient that the body produces in order to help other substances in the body such as enzymes and antioxidants produce results. In short, it is an aid to other nutrients in the body. However, in large quantities ALA also acts as an antioxidant itself. In fact, ALA has been found to boost the potency and effectiveness of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E. While the body does produce alpha lipoic acid, the amount is produces usually isn’t adequate enough to see the antioxidant benefits. By supplementing 200-400mg per day, it can better aid in removing toxins from the body.
As mentioned, most of the benefits of alpha lipoic acid come from its antioxidant properties. With the ability to fight free radicals as well as regenerate and boost other vital antioxidants in the body, alpha lipoic acid is highly beneficial in fighting oxidative damage. Research has shown that oxidative damage as a result of free radicals can lead to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, arthritis and even some cancers.
Though free radicals have been shown to cause oxidative damage, antioxidants have been found to both stop and reduce oxidative damage in cells. In some cases, antioxidants have even helped to reverse the cell damage. This benefit alone makes alpha lipoic acid a very important supplement in fighting against diseases and maintaining an optimal level of health.
Alpha lipoic acid also mimics insulin in the body. Studies show that it increases Glut-4 transporters, which means that more glucose is moved into muscle cells and not fat cells. This increase of glucose in muscle cells means:
Less stored fat
Increased amino acid transport
Improved creation absorption
Increased insulin sensitivity
These benefits are highly beneficial to bodybuilders who are in the cutting and even bulking phase. Those who are cutting won’t look as depleted thanks to more glucose being stored in the muscle cells – resulting in a ‘fuller’ look. Those who are bulking will benefit by gaining less fat and instead gain more muscle. This is due to ALA’s ability to move more glucose into muscle cells instead of fat cells.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects
There were no serious side effects of ALA during clinical studies, even at large doses. However, some mild side effects reported in a few individuals included allergic skin reactions and a possibility of hypoglycemia in diabetics. ALA also competes with the body for biotin, so it may be necessary to supplement with more biotin, especially when supplementing with more than 100mg of ALA per day. As with all supplements, it’s a good idea to consult with a physician if you have any questions or experience any side effects.
If you’re looking to supplement with alpha lipoic acid, keep in mind that ALA is very unstable and actually degrades when it is exposed to the outside atmosphere, so though it may be easier to add ALA powder to your protein shaker cup, it won’t be as beneficial to you as if you were to take it in a capsule.