Important Nutrients for those that train hard: Part 3

Alpha lipoic acid is very powerful antioxidant affecting an unusually wide array of free radicals. Unfortunately, most antioxidants are only be used one time before they become oxidized.   Alpha lipoic acid is a very rare antioxidant in that it has the capability to recycle other important antioxidants so that they may go on and do there job again. This is true for its effect on both water soluble (i.e. vitamin c) and fat soluble (i.e. vitamin e) anti-oxidants. In addition to its antioxidant capabilities, alpha lipoic acid also increases energy production through its direct effect on the cell mitochondria, improves aortic blood flow, reduces LDL oxidation and improves cellular glucose absorption. There is also quite a bit of research suggesting that alpha lipoic acid may improve liver function (particularly those functions effecting glucose regulation) and that it may increase endoneural blood flow.

From a training aspect, alpha lipoic acid has tremendous benefits for recovery. It helps reduce oxidation caused by heavy exercise while also improving your bodies ability to metabolize substrate (most notably sugar) for energy.  The increase in blood flow will both aid training intensity as well as recovery speed. Improvements in endoneural blood flow will improve neural output and recovery from heavy training. But the most notable difference is that your muscles will just generally feel more relaxed between workouts. You will feel like you are able to do harder workouts more frequently, and like the workouts take less “toll” on you.The ability to train harder, more frequently will help you loose weight, increase strength and power, and put more muscle. In addition to feeling better between workouts, the alpha lipoic acid will also help your general health. It may help you lean down a little more and it will certainly aid your blood sugar control, helping you prevent diabetes.  A conventional alpha lipoic acid will take a dose between 600-1200 mg/day to get these benefits. An R-alpha lipoic acid standard will take about a third of that dose. Start low and work your way up. It is one of the few supplements that will actually help you “feel” a difference. Most people know when they have achieved the right dose.

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