07-05-2003, 01:39 PM #1
ALA: Please show me some studies.
Well, for some reason I can't access medline or sciencedirect. Anyhow I am behind the times here, and was wondering if anyone has any studies that support claims of ALA increasing insuling sensitivity. The only studies I have come accoss showed that ALA has increased insulin sensitivity in either non-exercising elderly diabetics or rats at a dose of 3000mg. This is not to go against the grain (although most supplements are really just pseudoscience), but are there any studies to back this claim up that can be applied to bodybuilders?
07-05-2003, 02:01 PM #2AR-Elite Hall of Famer
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How does Alpha Lipotic Acid help us
Written by: Derek Charlebois
Before we get into Alpha Lipoic Acid, let's take a look at what happens to food when it enters the body:
A normal meal:
Food is consumed.
This food is converted into glucose for energy.
Insulin is released by the pancreas to shuttle the glucose into muscle and fat cells (assuming liver glycogen levels are full). Once the muscle cells are full, all excess glucose is shuttled to fat cells.
Now let's look at a meal taken with ALA:
Food is consumed.
This food is converted into glucose for energy.
Insulin is released by the pancreas to shuttle the glucose into muscle and fat cells. Once the muscle cells are full, all excess glucose is shuttled to fat cells.
Now this is where ALA comes into play. In order for glucose to be carried into cells, it must be attached to insulin. ALA is shown to have an insulin mimicking effect. So then more glucose would be shuttled to fat cells because the muscle cells are full, right? Wrong! Studies show that ALA increases Glut-4 transporters on the outside of muscle cells. This means more glucose can be shuttled into muscle cells and away from fat cells. Studies show that the amount of glucose shuttled to your muscles can increase from 50-60%. For those who are not that good in math: This means if you ate 100 carbs and originally without ALA, 40 grams of glucose went to your muscles cells and the rest, 60 grams, went to fat cells. Now, by supplementing with ALA, you have the power to send 60 grams of glucose and only 40 to fat cells. That is a big difference! How you ask.
ALA has an insulin like effect. It does not take the place of insulin, only mimics it. (To learn about insulin and its effects you can read my Insulin article). ALA has been shown to increase glucose uptake by mimicking insulin and shuttling it to Glut-4 receptors as mentioned above. Because ALA has increased the number of Glut-4 receptors on the outside of the muscle, more glucose can be absorbed.
Effects of Increased Glucose Uptake
This increase of glucose does many positive things. These include:
1. Increased pump
2. Less fat accumulation
3. Increases Amino Acid transport
4. Increases creatine
5. Increased insulin sensitivity
6. Increased Pump
The increased pump is due to the increase in glucose uptake. Not only does this feel great, but it also contributes to muscle growth. By increasing the muscle cells volume, but nutrients are able to be shuttled to the muscle. Hence increased muscle growth.
Less Fat Accumulation
Again, due to the increase in glucose uptake by muscles cells, less glucose is stored as fat. ALA also lowers one's blood sugar levels, creating a more suitable atmosphere for fat burning.
Increased Amino Acid and Creatine Uptake
This comes back to the increased pump. Because the muscle cells are in an enlarged state, more amino acids and creatine can reach them. Insulin increases amino acid and creatine uptake. Remember, ALA mimics insulin, which means it also increases amino acid and creatine uptake. There are a ton of creatine products on the market that are loaded with sugar. This is because sugar causes an insulin spike, which carries the creatine to muscle cells. The problem with this is an excess amount of sugar with cause you to gain fat. By supplementing with ALA you can carry more creatine to muscle cells without swallowing 75+ grams of sugar. I still recommend taking a simple sugary carb after your workout, but ALA can increase creatine uptake while you take a lower amount of sugar. This is very important for those who are cutting. They can get the same effects post workout without having to worry about storing excess carbs as fat.
Increased Insulin Sensitivity
This is great news for bodybuilders! When I go on a bulking cycle. I find that about after two months, my gains slow drastically. One way to combat this is to go on a brief cutting cycle to and your insulin sensitivity rebuild. Supplementing with ALA could allow you to add more mass as a result of your insulin sensitivity not reducing.
Results During Cutting vs. Bulking
Results will differ depends on your diet. If you are bulking, you can expect to less fat and more muscle gain because of ALA nutrient partitioning effect.
Results from cutting are increased fat loss and a muscle sparing effect. Because your muscles are storing more glucose, your muscles will not become as depleted as they usually do when cutting. This helps you look full and not flat.
07-05-2003, 02:02 PM #3AR-Elite Hall of Famer
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R-ALA is the ultimate antioxidant and perhaps too, the ultimate nutrient-partioning agent. When you are on a bulking cycle, it can make an enormous difference in terms of how much fat you gain versus how much muscle you gain. R-ALA changes the ratio of muscle to fat gained in favor of muscle and at the expense of fat.
Except immediately following your workout, the carbs you eat cause an insulin spike, which when combined with high blood glucose levels resulting from those carbs, makes for a very lipogenic environment. Using r-ALA, you can channel more of the glucose to the muscle cells instead of the fat cells gaining more lean muscle mass without a concurrent gain in body fat. Please read on to learn how to make the most of r-ALA.
As you probably know, an antioxidant is a substance that prevents or slows the breakdown of another substance by oxygen. In the body, vitamins and minerals such as beta-carotene (a vitamin A precursor), vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium have been found to act as antioxidants. They act by scavenging free radicals, molecules with one or more unpaired electrons, which rapidly react with other molecules, starting chain reactions in a process called oxidation.
Free radicals are a normal product of metabolism and the body produces its own antioxidants to keep them in balance. However, stress, aging, and environmental sources such as polluted air and cigarette smoke can add to the number of free radicals in the body, creating an imbalance. The highly reactive free radicals can damage healthy DNA and have been linked to changes that accompany aging (such as age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people) and with disease processes that lead to cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Studies have suggested that the antioxidants that occur naturally in fresh fruits and vegetables have a protective effect. For example, vitamin E and beta-carotene appear to protect cell membranes; vitamin C removes free radicals from inside the cell.
Touted to be the supreme antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an enzyme found in the mitochondria -- the energy producing structures found in our cells. ALA can operate in concert with vitamins C (water soluble) and E (fat soluble). Much research has been dedicated to examining ALA's effects on diabetes, especially the nerve disease accompanying the progression of diabetes. Although a lot of advertising and marketing has promoted the potential "insulin-boosting" action of ALA, very little evidence points to this effect in humans. Indeed, the minimum effective dose of ALA required to improve some aspects of diabetic symptoms is not cheap: 600 mg/day.
ALA is comprised of a pair of nearly identical molecules called isomers. New research indicates that the active half of ALA, the R isomer, may be far more effective than what is widely available. This super ALA loaded with R isomers may enable consumers to use a lower dose with potentially greater effects.
Although alpha lipoic acid is involved in cellular energy production, its chief role as a dietary supplement may be as a powerful antioxidant. The body appears to be able to manufacture enough alpha-lipoic acid for its metabolic functions (as a co-factor for a number of enzymes involved in converting fat and sugar to energy), but the excess levels provided by supplements allow alpha-lipoic acid to circulate in a "free" state. In this state, alpha-lipoic acid has functions as both a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant. This unique ability of alpha-lipoic acid to be active in water and lipid compartments of the body is important because most antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, are effective in only one area or the other. For instance vitamin C is usually restricted to the interior compartment of cells and the watery portion of blood, while vitamin E embeds itself in the fatty portion of cell membranes. Adding to the potential importance of alpha-lipoic acid is its role in the production of glutathione, one of the chief antioxidants produced directly by the body.
In animal studies, alpha-lipoic acid supplementation has been shown to improve several indices of metabolic activity and lower the degree of oxidative stress. Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation reversed the declines in oxygen consumption and mitochondrial energy production that are commonly observed with aging. Activity levels increased approximately 3-fold in animals fed the supplement, suggesting that energy levels were enhanced. Levels of other antioxidants, such as glutathione and ascorbic acid, were also elevated in animals consuming alpha-lipoic acid, suggesting that the supplement may help protect and/or recycle these antioxidants and contribute to the overall capacity of the body to neutralize free radical damage.
In conjunction with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid may be doubly helpful in patients with diabetes. By promoting the production of energy from fat and sugar in the mitochondria, glucose removal from the bloodstream may be enhanced and insulin function improved. Indeed, alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to decrease insulin resistance and is prescribed frequently in Europe as a treatment for peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) associated with diabetes. In the U.S., the American Diabetes Association has suggested that alpha-lipoic acid plus vitamin E may be helpful in combating some of the health complications associated with diabetes, including heart disease, vision problems, nerve damage and kidney disease. Alpha-lipoic acid has also been implicated in helping to protect the brain from damage following a stroke.
ALA is of particular interest to the bodybuilder as well. Let's assume that as a bodybuilder, you are on a bulking cycle. Here's what happens when you eat a bulking meal without the benefits of ALA:
1. Meal taken w/o ALA.
i) Food (Macronutrients) is ingested.
ii) The body converts these nutrients to glucose, its main source of fuel. (Protein and triglycerides are also converted to glucose) Protein: is 58% glucogenic and Fat is: 10% glucogenic.
iii) The body detects the glucose entering the Blood stream. The Pancreas releases insulin to shuttle the glucose/amino-acids/fats into the cells. The glucose is delivered to the myocites (muscle cells) and to the adipocytes (fat cells).
Unfortunately, when bulking, the muscle-cells are often COMPLETELY full; so all the nutrients are either oxidized for energy or shuttled into the adipocytes (fat cells). The net result is that although you gain muscle when bulking, you also increase your fat mass as well.
07-05-2003, 05:00 PM #4
Excellent! I feel somewhat reassured. Thanks bro.
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