Gaining lot’s of popularity lately is an all-natural ingredient that is making waves in the bodybuilding world and it could be a very big deal! Yes, we’re bamboozled with countless new products each and every year that promise unreal muscle gains but are really nothing but hyperbole.
The researchers at Chemi Nutra (A subsidiary of Italian pharmaceutical company ITALIFARMCO) have stumbled upon a novel ingredient, phosphatidic acid.
What separates phosphatidic acid from many of the other pretenders on the market is that it has human research trials demonstrating increases in strength and lean body mass and decreases in fat!
Let’s find out more about what this beauty is:
Phosphatidic Acid is a phospholipid, a diglyceride fat with a phosphate group bonded to the glycerol backbone. Phospholipids are a major constituent of cell membranes and influence a number of mechanisms in cell metabolism.
In Chemi Nutra’s case, they are extracting their phosphatidic acid from lecithin, a major source of many various phospholipids such as one of their other patented ingredients, phosphatidylserine.
Before we get into the details, you can see some of the Phosphatidic Acid-based products below and sign up for price drop alerts since they’re still expensive.
But keep reading, because, at the bottom of this post, we show an incredibly effective way to get PA for a fraction of the price!
Now let’s get into the details:
We all understand that muscles grow as a response to lifting, but how does this work?
Scientists have identified a protein named “mammalian target of rapamycin” — or mTOR for short — as a key regulator of this muscle growth. The term for this is ‘mechanically-induced mTOR signaling’.
Over the past few years as a result of this expanded knowledge of the mechanical functions behind muscle growth you’ve probably seen a lot of supplements talking about increasing mTOR signaling, with varying levels of success.
So, what does this have to do with phosphatidic acid?
Researchers weren’t satisfied with simply knowing that mechanical signaling of this protein causes muscle growth, they wanted to know exactly what is involved in that signaling.
Enter Troy Hornberger at the University of Wisconsin.
Through a fascinating series of research (if you’re a science junkie that is) using live cellular level imaging of muscle cells under contraction, the pathway and compound directly responsible for mechanical-induced mTOR signaling were identified as an enzyme phospholipase D, which degrades phosphatidylcholine into choline and phosphatidic acid, which directly activates mTOR.[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]
We’re already huge fans of choline supplements – they are cognitive enhancers that help improve the “mind-muscle” connection when working out. But now will supplement PA also help directly fuel mTOR signaling?
Although there are several sources of soy and egg-based derivatives of phosphatidic acid, the outcomes of the clinical trials show that soy-based PA sources are the most effective.
These breakthroughs in our understanding of muscle growth and mTOR signaling have led to a great deal of interest in how to apply this new knowledge to humans, as a potential treatment for diseases and for use in enhancing sports performance. This led to programs such as UCF’s Human Performance Lab to conduct studies in humans.
Of utmost importance when determining the usefulness of a compound for supplementation is determining if it is bioavailable, and can reach the desired tissues intact. In a study on humans, it was determined that phosphatidic acid has a high oral bioavailability in humans and increases plasma phosphatidic acid levels effectively.
In the next human study, following the same protocols (750mg daily, resistance trained athletes, 8 weeks), the phosphatidic acid again performed well. The supplement group ended off with significantly better lean body mass gains, adding 5 pounds of muscle compared to the controls 2.5 pounds.
Additionally, there was a statistically significant increase in leg press over control with the supplement group adding 115 pounds and the control just 70.
Another trend that was noted, albeit not statistically significant was one of increased fat loss in the supplement group vs. the control group(-2.8 lbs compared to -1.1 lbs).Although this isn’t a huge difference in weight loss by any stretch of the imagination, any increased fat loss from a supplement is better than no fat loss!
In another study, this time using soy lecithin as the source for PA, individuals were administered PA derived from cow brains (doesn’t that sound appetizing) in various amounts from 0-800mg.
The group that received the 400mg dose showed marked improvements in reducing cortisol levels and no rise in heart rates. Dosages higher and lower than this did not elicit the same benefit.
Note, however, that supplements made from bovine brain tissue are very hard to find, and we don’t recommend them. The main reason is unfortunately due to Mad Cow Disease, which occurred in a different bovine-based supplement, the cognitive enhancer phosphatidylserine.
So take this stress reduction study with a grain of salt – it was done using a form of the supplement that you won’t get your hands on (and likely won’t want to risk).
To reap the benefits PA has to offer, you would want to get the full 750mg dose that was used in the clinical trials. This ensures activation of the mTOR pathways that was discussed in detail above.
A side note here is that based on several anecdotal accounts, there have been reports of increase muscle fullness and strength gains when supplementing up to 1.5-2g phosphatidic acid.