By Bryan Haycock, M.S.
I remember when creatine monohydrate first hit the scene. I immediately went to work looking deep into the history of creatine research and sure enough, it was the real thing. Iíve been using it ever since. But the likes of creatine are far and few between. I think thatís why the study Iím about to tell you about caught my attention.
This study tested the effectiveness of phosphatidic acid (PA) at increasing muscle strength and mass with resistance training. It was conducted at the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Central Florida. Sixteen ďtrainedĒ men were randomly assigned to a group that either took 750mg of PA or a placebo (rice flour) group. During each testing session subjects were assessed for strength using a one repetition maximum (1RM) test on bench press and squat and body composition. Muscle thickness and pennation angle were also measured in the vastus lateralis (outer quad) of the subjectís dominant leg. For comparison, the first tests were done at the beginning of the study, and then those were compared with the second testing session which occurred at the conclusion of the 8-week supplementation program.
After eight weeks, the results showed an increase in 1RM for bench was 13 pounds for the PA group and 8 pounds for the placebo group. For squats, the PA group added 37 pounds to the 1RM and the placebo group added 28 pounds. Although we see a trend for greater gains in strength for the PA group, the differences didnít reach statistical significance. As far as lean mass increases go, the PA group gained 4.5 pounds and the placebo group didnít gain at all. My friends in academia will point out once more that although we see that PA is doing something, the results of this study didnít reach statistical significance.
Call me an optimist because I like what I see in PA as a natural anabolic supplement. It reminds me of the effects of ursolic acid working within the muscle cell to enhance anabolic signaling pathways. PA has been shown to activate the mTOR signaling pathway. This pathway plays a central role in the anabolic response to both feeding and training. Ursolic acid activates akt activity which is actually part of the mTOR anabolic signaling pathway. Granted, these two supplements are on the cutting edge of natural anabolic supplementation and there is yet more research to be done.
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