There's a new muscle-building ingredient coming soon to the supplement marketplace, and it could be a real game-changer, unlike so many other recent supplement industry 'innovations'.
From the researchers at Chemi Nutra (A subsidiary of Italian pharmaceutical company ITALIFARMCO) comes the novel ingredient, phosphatidic acid.
The early research results are extremely promising: significant mass and strength gains, and significant scientific backing for the ingredient, both in models and in studies on trained athletes.
The chemical background of phosphatidic acid and where it comes from
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.
How does it work?
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 signalling'.
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 signalling, with varying levels of success.
Laboratory breakthroughs in muscle science
So, what does this have to do with phosphatidic acid? Researchers weren't satisfied with simply knowing that mechanical signalling of this protein causes muscle growth, they wanted to know exactly what is involved in that signalling.
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 signalling 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).
Putting it to the test in humans
These breakthroughs in our understanding of muscle growth and mTOR signalling 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. (9)
The First Study - 12.7% Squat Boost
In the first human study, trained athletes were given 750mg of phosphatidic acid daily for 8 weeks and followed a rigid resistance training program. At the end of the trial, the supplementation group gained 12.7% squat strength (9.3% for placebo) and a 2.6% increase in lean body mass (0.1% for placebo).
The study subjects consumed nearly identical calories over the course of the study. This study was a small one, and these benefits were not large enough to be deemed statistically significant due to those limitations, however they did generate enough interest to justify further human study. ( 10)
Second Study - 5lb lean muscle gain
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 (-2.8 lbs compared to -1.1 lbs). (11)
These Weren't "Beginner Gains"
These benefits might seem modest but there are a couple of very important things to remember here. First off, the studies were performed on trained healthy young males -- these weren't "beginner gains".
Most studies on muscle building compounds are performed in the elderly, sick, obese, or untrained. These groups stand to make rapid gains that look impressive on paper but do not convert well to people who are already in shape and trying to build more muscle.
These studies were done right, and it suggests that this is eventually going to be marketed and available as a muscle builder.
Is it Safe?
The next thing you're probably wondering is whether or not this ingredient is safe to take.
Fortunately, as the backers of this ingredient are seeking FDA approval, and a patent on this ingredient, they also performed a safety analysis in humans, concluding that there were: "no differences at baseline in blood chemistry and hematology between the CON and EXP supplemented groups" and "no differences were observed in urinalysis values between the groups" (12)
So far, it is looking very safe and side-effect free.
Where to buy?
No phosphatidic acid supplements have hit the market yet, but they should be coming soon. Chemi Nutra is currently marketing its Mediator trademarked phosphatidic acid to supplement companies, and ramping up that marketing since the release of their latest studies on the ingredient.
We're excited about the potential of this ingredient though, so rest assured, as soon as we hear something, we'll update this page with information on what products to buy and where to buy them. You can also sign up for our email list to receive updates on this and other supplement news.
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- Purpura M, Jager R, Joy JM, Lowery RP, Moore JD, Wilson JM. Effect of Oral Administration of Soy-Derived Phosphatidic ACid on Concentrations of Phosphatidic Acid and lyso-Phosphatidic Acid Molecular Species in Human Plasma. Poster Presentation at the ISSN Conference 2013.
- J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Oct 5;9(1):47. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-47
- Joy JM, Lowery RP, Dudeck JE, De-Souza EO, Jager R, McCleary SA, Wilson SMC, Purpura M, Wilson JM. Phosphatidic Acid Supplementation Increases Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength. Poster presentation at the ISSN Conference 2013.
- Dudeck JE, Joy JM, Lowery RP, De Souza EO, Jager R, McCleary SA, Wilson SMC, Purpur M, Wilson JM. Safety of Soy-Derived Phosphatidic Acid Supplementation in Healthy Young Males. Poster presentation at the ISSN Conference 2013