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Alpha-Lipoic Acid May Help Improve Muscle Strength and Recovery

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an organic compound that works as an antioxidant. It is made in the mitochondria of cells but also found in foods and supplements. A new study has found that supplementation with ALA during intense exercise may help improve muscle strength and reduce muscle damage.

Seventeen college-aged student athletes participated in the study. They performed a series of strength exercises, and then received 150 mg of ALA or a placebo. They rested for 3 days while taking 150 mg of ALA or a placebo daily, and then performed a 6-day training protocol. They were given 300 mg of ALA or a placebo daily during the training protocol. After a 4-week washout period, the participants switched interventions.

The researchers took blood samples at baseline, 24 hours after the single series of strength exercises, and at the end of the 6-day training protocol. The blood samples were analyzed for markers of muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Maximum strength performance in a back squat was used to evaluate muscle strength throughout the study period.

More participants were able to increase or maintain the maximum amount of weight they were able to lift during the back squat exercise while taking the ALA supplement than while taking the placebo. Participants also experienced a moderate inhibition of muscle damage and inflammation while taking the ALA supplement.

The study was conducted by researchers from German Sports University. It was published on December 1, 2020 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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