1. What is X-Factor™
X-Factor is the name for arachidonic acid (AA), an essential fatty acid that is normally stored in cell membranes and is responsible for signaling adaptive changes in response to stress and other stimuli. It is a core anabolic nutrient and regulator of protein synthesis. X-Factor was designed by William Llewellyn of Molecular Nutrition, and is a patented product for bodybuilders (U.S. Patent #6,841,573).
2. What does it do?
Prostaglandins from X-Factor are intimately involved with protein synthesis and hypertrophy after exercise (1,2). Arachidonic acid also is correlated with improved insulin sensitivity (3), satellite cell activation and proliferation (4), cell regeneration and repair (5), and increased Nitric oxide formation in the muscle being trained. Other benefits include possible long term improvement in vascularity via stimulation of angiogenesis (6) in muscles being trained, PPAR beta/delta agonist properties (7) (increase uncoupling proteins for a thermogenic effect), and inhibition of stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (8), which is strongly correlated with negative partitioning in humans therefore paving the way for body composition improvement. On top of all this, AA inhibits resistin (9), which may have further benefits as far as insulin control goes.
3. How does it accomplish this?
When the muscle is stimulated by anaerobic metabolism (i.e., muscle contraction) arachidonic acid is released from the muscle cell wall by Phospholipase A2. Once released, arachidonic acid interacts with the COX-2 enzyme forming prostaglandins such as PGF2 alpha and PGE2. It is these prostaglandins that instruct the cell to increase protein synthesis and other beneficial responses to exercise.
4. Are there other reasons I should take it?
Muscle is not just protein and amino acids. There actually is a plasma membrane cell wall that needs to surround the contractile protein. The type of fatty acids (preferably essential fatty acids like X-Factor) determine the responsiveness of the skeletal muscle as unit to various signals. That is why this product is so "core" to the muscle building process and has effects above and beyond what protein can do. It is a highly anabolic nutrient, capable of producing dramatic solid tissue gains unlike any other anabolic supplement on the market.
5. Is it safe?
Yes. As a matter of fact, arachidonic acid is a component of many baby food products. Studies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture using up to 1.7 grams of arachidonic acid per day for 50 days have also shown absolutely no ill effects in adult users. (10,11,12) A recent study at Baylor University additionally gave 1,000 mg per for 50 days to resistance-trained men and confirmed no adverse effects to health. (13) As a matter of fact, during the study X-Factor showed very strong trends at reducing an important inflammatory marker predictive of total mortality called IL-6. (14) So X-Factor may very well have a protective benefit with weight training individuals.
6. Are their side effects?
Most users do not notice any side effects at all excluding increased delayed onset post-workout muscle soreness (DOMS), which is indicative of the amplified anabolic response caused by X-Factor (we don’t really consider this a side effect, more an expected benefit). A small percentage of users may notice sore joints, headaches, or insomnia.
7. What about these "prostaglandins" X-Factor makes? Are they Bad?
No, prostaglandins aren’t “good” or “bad”. Prostaglandins stimulate and lower cAMP when anaerobic metabolism is stimulated. In someone active and training "anaerobically" they are useful for improving glycogen synthesis directly in the muscle. Why? Because cAMP phsophorylates glycogen synthetase and thus inactivates it. So you definitely need prostaglandins if you are physically active and want to maximize glycogen synthesis. This effect of AA may also be a potential health benefit in regards to insulin control. We also know prostaglandins are so vital to protein synthesis and muscle growth, and lean muscle mass can also be very important to overall health. For exercising people, they may indeed be very important to health.
Now, take someone that is sedentary with an unhealthy metabolism. They don't have actively trained muscles so they may be in an anaerobic state everywhere due to hyperinsulinemia. This is a common metabolic problem in the United States and many other countries due to the trend for poor diets and inactivity, and basically means that your body is poorly managing its insulin usage. Hyperinsulinemia is also closely tied to excess whole-body inflammation. So pretty much everywhere in the body is getting hit hard by insulin and inflammation when someone has hyperinsulinemia, so they don’t want extra prostaglandins. This is the exact opposite in someone that is weight training, which focuses these hormonal responses to trained muscles and may improve whole-body insulin control. That is in general the paradox here and this probably explains why in someone training X-Factor lowers IL-6 (which also comes from hyperinsulinemia).
8. How much do I take and when?
A: You should take 750-1000mg the arachidonic acid per day (found in X-Factor) in divided doses. Each capsule contains 250mg AA. Ideally this total daily dose should be divided up into 3-4 doses during the day. Because insomnia has been reported by a small percentage of individuals we don't recommend you take the last dose close to bedtime.
9. Is it best to take x-factor with food or on an empty stomach or doesn't it matter?
A: Most likely taking it with food (particularly some fat) results in slightly better bioavailability. It should be useful either way though.
10. Can I take higher amounts of it for periods shorter than 50 days?
You could, but whether it works better or not is unknown. Most people continue to respond extremely well at the recommended 750-1000 mg dose level for 50 days, so there should not be much need to take more. Some people have been known to take up to 1,250-1,500 mg per day for 50 days, or extend a 1000 mg/day cycle to 75 days, but we generally feel this is unnecessary in all but very experienced users.
11. Anything I should avoid while taking X-Factor
NSAIDS are to be ideally avoided due to their direct effects on inhibiting the COX enzyme (central to the mechanism by which X-Factor works). However it may be that taking NSAIDS at certain times is worse than others with respect to muscle building. Certainly if you have an occasional headache and are known to respond to NSAIDs you could probably take the medication without interference.
12. Do I need to eliminate everything that is anti-inflammatory?
No. The only anti-inflammatory in the literature (so far) known to have strong adverse effects on X-Factor's benefit in skeletal muscle are NSAIDs (or its herbal equivalent white willow bark) due to their direct effect on the COX enzyme. Indirect anti-inflammatory products (which many products claim as a side benefit) most likely won’t have a strong effect on what X-Factor does. Actually some of the benefits of arachidonic acid appear to be through reduction of systemic oxidative stress/insulin levels (provided the muscle is active), which ironically may actually reduce COX-2 in non-muscle tissues. So all this stuff can be in the same ballpark.
13. Do I need to avoid fish entirely?
You should still eat fish. We will be investigating the interactions of different levels of fish oil supplementation with X-Factor in the very near future. The good thing is that in some cases the clinical benefits of fish oil appear to be directly tied to increases in cell membrane arachidonic acid. This is good news for the future of this supplement and those that love fish oil.
For now we ask that you limit oily fish intake to three times per week until more is known as far as real life effects in bodybuilders go.
14. Are there any particular foods I should be eating to make the product better?
Focus on nutrient dense whole foods (basically your typical bodybuilding diet) that have various minerals/vitamins/anti-oxidants in them. Possibly magnesium rich foods may hold some promise for some, such as spinach and brown rice.
15. Can I use creatine with X-Factor?
Yes, you definitely can use creatine with X-Factor. In fact, they make a very good combination. This is because arachidonic acid is involved with skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity (2), and may be involved with the insulin secretion curve as well. So you might as well take advantage of this opportunity and use creatine (since its transported by insulin), as it is a chance for some extra synergy.
16. How about Nitric oxide products? Can I use those with X-Factor?
Yes! As a matter of fact blocking Nitric oxide (with a nitric oxide inhibitor, L-NAME) negatively affected protein synthesis in the same way as taking NSAIDS did. So Nitric oxide also uses COX-2 for its effects on protein synthesis (2)
Some people report the pumps being pretty heavy with X-Factor when combined with NO products so you should add it in slowly to see how it affects you first. The pumps could be extreme, almost painful in some individuals.
17. Any type of workout program that works best with X-Factor?
X-Factor works well with any resistance training program. However, you may occasionally want to train muscle groups from different angles to tap into some of the AA in the more rested fibers. According to recent medical research, a greater PGF2 alpha response (therefore more anabolic) was found in fibers that were previously more rested/stabilized. (15)
18. Is there anyone who should not take X-Factor?
You should not take this product if you have, or are at risk for, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, are pregnant, or are suffering from any inflammatory diseases. Consult with your physician before use if you are taking any medication, or suffer from any health condition. X-Factor is for active exercising adults, and is not recommended for sedentary (inactive) people.
19. How much time off between cycles?
You should take as much time off as you were on. So if you took X-Factor 50 days then take at least 50 days off.
20. Can I use antioxidants with X-Factor?
Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, beneficial PGF2 alpha responses seem to be correlated with glutathione and resting cell membrane stability. (16) Antioxidants may actually offer some extra synergy.
21. Is PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) required?
No. Arachidonic acid does not cause any type of rebound effect upon discontinuation, nor does it affect testosterone levels.
22. Is it safe for women to take?
Yes. Arachidonic acid has been taken by men and women for thousands of years. In fact, wild cattle and pigs have approximately 10-12 times more Arachidonic acid (per gram of fat) than the domesticated cattle we are used to eating today. (17) Humans (both men and women) have evolved on high levels of arachidonic acid. When supplementing X-Factor, however, some women may notice slightly increased menstrual discomfort. This response is very individual, and not commonly strong enough to warrant the discontinuation of a cycle.
23. IS X-Factor Banned from Sports? Will I fail a drug test if I take it?
No, X-Factor is presently not banned by any major athletic body, nor it is tested for in an athletic (IOC) drug screen. Many collegiate, amateur, and professional athletes have been using the product for years with excellent results and zero issues of suspension or sanction on record.
24. Will X-Factor cause cancer?
No, the ingredient in X-Factor is not a carcinogen. It is a very safe essentially fatty acid. But it is important to note that like other non-cancer-causing growth-promoting agents such as testosterone, growth hormone, or IGF-1, if you had cancer it could potentially be used by an existing tumor to promote cell growth. This is the general nature of anabolic agents.
In studies, arachidonic acid was observed to cause cell growth through the PI3K mechanism. (18) PI3K is also the mechanism by which IGF-1 works. So one of the ways x-factor acts as an anabolic is extremely similar to Growth Hormone and IGF-1. Other studies have shown stimulation of protein synthesis by arachidonic acid through stimulation of the beta 2 receptor (19, 20), but stimulation of beta 2 receptors doesn't cause cancer in non-cancerous tissues either.
Testosterone’s effects on cancer are analogous to the PI3K and beta 2 mechanisms just mentioned. It doesn't cause cancer, but certain cancer cells can make use of it as a growth-promoting agent. You, likewise, shouldn’t take anabolic agents like testosterone, growth hormone, IGF-1, or X-Factor if you have cancer unless you are specifically directed to by your physician for a medical reason.
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