Alpha Lipoic Acid Enhances Effect of Exercise on Muscles
Researchers at German Sports University have studied the effects of alpha lipoic acid (ALA) supplements on performance and muscle strength recovery of athletes.
Previous studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Those effects have been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials.
Alpha lipoic acid is also frequently used as a dietary supplement for competitive athletes. However, quantitative information on the effects of ALA supplementation in healthy individuals or in competitive athletes was limited. According to the researchers, this was one of the first scientific studies of the physiological effects of alpha lipoic acid supplements in athletes after exercise.
A research paper is published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. It describes the results of a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial in which 17 male athletes participated. All participants were experienced in resistance- and endurance- intensive sports.
The specific questions that the researchers investigated are:
- Does a single treatment with ALA after acute exercise increase the ability to recover?
- Does a short-term chronic application of ALA during a high-intensity training period affect the ability to recover?
- Does the application of ALA after acute and during chronic training protocol prevent the loss of performance?
The subjects were divided into two groups. The participants in one group received a 150 mg dose of ALA. And the participants in the other group received a placebo.
Then all participants underwent a standardized single training session and a high intense training week with supplements. They used 150 mg alpha lipoic acid or placebo before and after exercise. The intensive training week included strength training sessions and long runs.
Blood samples were taken at scheduled times after exercise. And markers for muscle damage, inflammation and oxidative stress were investigated. In addition, the researchers also measured the maximum performance in a specific exercise (back squat).
The results of the study indicate that a moderate inhibition of muscle damage and inflammation was observed in the participants that took ALA. Performance in the back squat after intensive training was significantly reduced in the placebo-group. But performance wasn't reduced in the alpha lipoic acid group. No significant anti-oxidative effects were observed.
The researchers conclude that alpha lipoic acid supplementation during intensive training periods results in a reduction of muscle damage, reduction of inflammation, and better recovery. Therefore, ALA supplements could help athletes in long-term endurance training or in sports that induce oxidative stress, such as marathons and weight training.
The researchers also observe that more studies are needed for a quantitative understanding of the positive effects of alpha lipoic acid supplements.
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