If you're a bodybuilder or are into strength training, then you must have heard of ALA or Alpha-Lipoic Acid but might not be sure of how beneficial supplementing with it can be. Alpha-Lipoic Acid's distinctive qualities that function both as water and fat-soluble antioxidant make it an intriguing supplement worthy of serious consideration.
This article will clearly help you understand what exactly ALA is and how it can be beneficial in your fitness journey.
What is Alpha-Lipoic Acid aka ALA?
Alpha-Lipoic Acid, also named thioctic acid, is one of the most potent antioxidants and fatty acids present in every cell of our body. It is found in the mitochondria of the cell and is involved in active energy metabolism.ALA binds with proteins to help the body convert carbohydrates into energy. Since it is an antioxidant, its prime function is to prevent free radical attack. Being both water and fat-soluble, allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier, making it one of the most preferred antioxidants by bodybuilders and athletes worldwide.
Benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid
ALA is considered a versatile antioxidant capable of fighting against almost every free radical species and regenerate other antioxidant. It also prevents various types of oxidations and inflammations from happening in the body.
Let's review the multiple benefits an athlete or a bodybuilder can reap from supplementing ALA in their daily diet-
Helps in Muscle Recovery
In competitive sports and bodybuilding, the period needed for muscle recovery plays an essential role. The objective is to reduce this period to a minimum to set new training impulses as quickly as possible. ALA prevents and repair muscle damage for both endurance and resistance training. Athletes tend to pump higher amounts of oxygen through their respiratory systems while exercising. ALA helps oxidize glucose and fat and uses it as fuel during intense exercise, with free radicals as a by-product. ALA assists in preventing muscle damage caused by free radicals and speeds up muscle recovery.
Aids in Fat Loss
While ALA is primarily a powerful antioxidant, it also seems to have potentially beneficial effects on fat loss and the prevention of further fat gain. Several studies have shown that ALA stimulates the activation of an enzyme known as 5’-adenosine monophosphate kinase (AMPK) in muscle and fat tissues. AMPK switches the body cells into a state that promotes the oxidation of fat tissues. It helps in successfully dropping body fat while being in a caloric deficit.
Interestingly, ALA also affects AMPK present in the brain. Supplementation of ALA inhibits AMPK activation in the hypothalamus, a brain region responsible for energy homeostasis in the body. The process results in suppressing appetite, which is undoubtedly beneficial while being on a deficit. Therefore, by decreasing AMPK in the brain and simultaneously increasing muscle and fat activity, ALA potentially induces fat burning, prevents fat gain, and reduces hunger, creating a perfect environment for positively changing your body composition.
Helps in Nutrient Partitioning
ALA shows a nutrient partitioning effect, which means that when consumed with carbohydrates, it will partition those carbohydrates into muscle tissue and away from fat tissue. It comes in handy when you are trying to cut or bulk, because if you can distribute nutrients towards muscle tissue and away from fat, you will successfully enhance or maintain lean muscle mass and decrease body fat.
This partitioning of nutrients towards muscle tissues and away from fat tissue will further enhance muscle energy storage, amino acid storage and improve insulin sensitivity, which is the body's ability to use carbohydrates in the presence of insulin.
Possible Side Effects
Research shows ALA to be safe for most people, with little to no risk of side effects. Adults may consume it up to 2,400 mg without any severe side effects. There is not enough research or evidence on the extra benefits and potential side effects of taking higher doses, so medical professionals do not recommend it. Also, there is little research exploring the long-term safety of ALA, including how the supplement may become toxic.
Regarding ALA, the dosage of 200-300mg per day is beneficial for reducing oxidative stress. To increase insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar, and decrease body fat, doses of 600mg per day could be helpful.
Also, there are specific times during the day where ALA works the best. Due to its antioxidant properties, try not to consume it around your workouts because the metabolic damage during training is a crucial trigger for muscle growth. Therefore, if you consume ALA too close to the workout window, it may negate some training benefits. Lastly, it would be best to divide the dosage of ALA throughout the day on two or three occasions to receive the maximal benefit.
Why Supplement It?
The amount of ALA naturally present in your body might not be adequate to obtain the maximal antioxidant benefits. Also, ALA presence in food sources is almost negligible. Therefore, increasing the amount of ALA through dietary supplementation can help reap all the vital benefits. Take a look at Epicvita’s multivitamin product - Maximult. It is a daily all-in one High-Performance nutrient and immune support system. With active ingredients, it also has an impressive list of other ingredients like probiotics, essential minerals, antioxidants, botanical extracts and also ALA. Maximult is available for both Men and Women.