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Building Muscle

Phosphatidic Acid: Muscle Enhancer or Myth?

Phosphatidic acid (PA) has been quickly rising in popularity over the past few years, with some people even suggesting that it could one day become the most popular muscle-building supplement on the market.  

While some have already jumped on the PA bandwagon, there are also still lots of folks who aren’t quite sure what it is.  In order to address some of the common questions and concerns we hear here at Dioxyme, we’re going over everything you need to know about phosphatidic acid.      

What is Phosphatidic Acid?

Phosphatidic acid (PA) is a biomolecule produced naturally within your body.  It plays an important part in the cell signaling process, which is why it’s referred to as a signaling lipid.  

In general terms, cell signaling refers to the process of communication that takes place between your body’s cells in order to coordinate and regulate their actions.  

Your body and all of its cells are fighting a constant battle to maintain balance as they’re being acted upon by all sorts of different environmental factors.

On top of playing a crucial role in cell signaling, lipids also play an important part in keeping your equilibrium stabilized, helping to provide structural support and store energy in your cells.(1)

How Does Phosphatidic Acid Work?

Phosphatidic acid specifically helps to promote mTOR signaling.  mTOR refers to the mechanistic target of rapamycin signaling pathways,which once activated, help to promote cellular growth.(2)

mTOR is particularly important when it comes to repairing and rebuilding your muscles.  Your muscle cells are going through a constant state of flux, where the proteins that make them up are consistently being broken down.  In order to repair and replace these damaged proteins, your body relies on a process known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS).  

The mTOR signaling pathway actively senses and reacts to environmental stimuli, helping to coordinate the transportation of proteins (along with oxygen and other biochemicals) to muscle cells in need of repair.(3)

Numerous studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between PA and the activations of mTOR signaling pathways which help to promote muscle protein synthesis.(4)

What Are The Benefits of taking a Phosphatidic Acid Supplement?

While phosphatidic acid is made naturally within your body, it’s only produced in minuscule amounts.  Although it can be found in some food sources like soy, most people don’t consume very much PA through their diets either.(5)

Because of the important role it plays in muscle protein synthesis, however, phosphatidic acid is becoming increasingly popular as a dietary supplement.  As a result, several human trials have explored the effects of PA supplementation over the course of a resistance training program.  

Build Lean Mass

To date, most studies have found that compared to resistance training alone, PA supplementation led to significantly greater gains in size and strength.(6)(7)

For example, one double-blind study published in Nutrition and Metabolism examined the effects of PA on individuals with previous training experience.(8)

Over the course of an 8-week resistance training program, half of the study participants were given a 750 mg daily dose of PA while the other half were administered a placebo.   

At the end of the study, the researchers found that compared to the placebo group, the group that was given PA on averaged gained 2.4 more kilograms of lean body mass.

Increase Your Strength

Another similar study published in 2013 also compared the effects of a 750mg daily dose of PA to a placebo.(9) Like the aforementioned trial, both groups also partook in an 8-week weight-lifting program.

The researchers found that after 8 weeks of training, those who were given a daily dose of phosphatidic acid saw significantly greater increases in strength compared to those who were not.  

For instance, compared to the placebo group, the PA group on averaged added almost 20 more kilograms to their 1 rep max on the leg press (+52kg vs +32.5kg).

what about the studies that didn't find positive effects?

While several studies have demonstrated positive effects, there still appears to be some debate in regards to the effectiveness of phosphatidic acid.

Some of the skepticism appears to stem from a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine which concluded that no differences were observed between those who supplemented with phosphatic acid and those who did not. (10)

While this study’s design was similar to the ones mentioned above in a number of ways, the one glaring difference was the daily dosages of PA that were administered to participants.

Unlike the other studies, this one compared 3 different groups. One group was given 250 mg of PA, another took 375 mg, and the other took none at all. After 8 weeks of training, the researchers found no differences in strength or lean body mass gains between the different groups.

Although some point to these findings as an indicator that phosphatidic acid may not be all that effective when it comes to building size and strength, the lack of positive results in this study appears to be largely a result of the dosages that were used, rather than the efficacy of the supplement itself.

Long story short, there is a sizeable and growing body of evidence that in combination with resistance training, PA supplementation is more effective at promoting muscle growth compared to weight lifting alone.    

How to Take Phosphatidic Acid (Dosage Recommendations)

Human trials have generally employed dosages ranging from 250 mg  - 750 mg per day. However, as we just discussed, the lower range of 250 - 375 mg per day may not be as effective at promoting size and strength gains.  

750 mg appears to be the most effective daily dosage for phosphatidic acids, with multiple studies demonstrating positive effects on both lean body mass and exercise performance. (11)

Is Phosphatidic Acid Safe?

Most human trials on PA have investigated its effects over the course of an 8 week training period.  No participants from any of these trials reported experiencing side effects from PA supplementation during the studies.  

However, it’s important to point out that research on phosphatidic acid supplementation is still developing and there remain some questions as to its long-term safety.  

While most researchers speculate that there are likely no serious long term risks associated with PA supplementation, more research has to be conducted before we can say for sure.(12)

Can You Take Phosphatidic Acid With Other Supplements?

Due to its mediating effects on protein synthesis and muscle growth, phosphatidic acid is commonly paired with other muscle building supplements like creatine and beta-alanine in order to enhance its effects.  

Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements on the market and has been shown time and again to improve exercise performance by boosting your body’s levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Beta-alanine plays an important buffering role in your body, helping to block the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles during intensive exercise.

Combining phosphatidic acid with creatine and beta-alanine leads to greater spikes in muscle protein synthesis compared to when it's taken on its own.

The Ultimate Muscle Enhancer:

phosphatidic acid + creatine + beta-alanine + HMB + HICA

Learn More

Wrap Up

Compared to resistance training on its own, researchers have found that PA supplementation leads to greater gains in both size and strength.  While there have been a couple of studies that failed to demonstrate positive results, those findings were largely due to the dosages administered in the studies.  

750 mg per day appears to be the ideal dosage for maximal muscle gains.  While most scientists believe there are no serious short or long-term risks associated with phosphatidic acid supplementation, more research needs to be conducted before we can say for sure.

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