Essential Supplementation - Phosphatidic Acid: Hype or Help?

Brad Dieter
Written By: Brad Dieter
January 19th, 2016
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Supplements
67.7K Reads
Essential Supplementation - Phosphatidic Acid: Hype or Help?
Phosphatidic Acid is a new muscle-building supplement and research is just underway. See if scientists think PA is all hype or if it helps build muscle.

Let’s face it, the times are changing in the fitness and nutrition industry. Broscience, pseudoscience, and anecdotal lore are giving way to the white lab coats and data driven decisions.

So to search for new, effective supplements, we should turn to the scientists.

Related: Are BCAAs Effective? See What the Science Says

The mammalian target of rapamyocin (mTOR) is what all skeletal muscle scientists dream about. Why? It's one of the key components of turning training into lean muscle tissue. If we boil it down to the basics, mTOR activation = muscle growth* and there is a newer supplement being utilized because it is a known activator of mTOR.

*Yes, this is a vast oversimplification but it is generally the right picture.

Phosphatidic Acid

Phosphatidic Acid, which we will lovingly call PA for this article, is one cool molecule. It does a lot of really important things in the body, but the one I care about is that it is a well-known activator of mTOR. This means PA has some serious potential for aiding in muscle growth.

Phosphatidic Acid

PA is actually a type of lipid (aka fat) that is often derived from lecithin (which is also used to make other supplements like phosphatidylserine).

One of the important aspects of PA as a supplement is it is actually really well absorbed. When you take it, it actually shows up in your blood. The same can’t be said for a lot of supplements1.

The Research on Phosphatidic Acid

Anytime you start looking at new supplements, you can actually use muscle cells, grow them in a lab, and give them the supplement and see how they respond. One of the first studies done on PA showed that giving muscle cells did increase the “grow” signal for muscles.2

Phosphatidic Acid for muscle growth

For scientists, seeing a mechanism is a good sign that it might be something worth pursuing, and pursue it they did.

In a small study of well-trained men, the people who took 750 mg of PA for 8 weeks saw a 3.4% greater increase in their strength in the back squat and 2.5% greater increases in lean body mass than the subjects who didn’t take it.

Phosphatidic Acid research shows increase in lean body mass

Now 3% might not seem like a lot, but if you are squatting in the 300s, that is at least a 9 pound increase more than the the placebo and man, I would love an extra 9 pounds on my back squat. Additionally, an extra 2.5% of lean body mass might end up being around 2-3 extra pounds of lean mass, which is also something I would happily accept3.

You would think one study would be enough, but replication is critical. A follow-up study in 28 people done using the same dosage above (750 mg/day) showed that PA increased muscle size and lean body mass4.

So it does look like PA works, not only when scientists pump their pipettes, but also in normal people pumping the iron.

Is Phosphatidic Acid Safe?

Now I know most of us would sacrifice a lot of things (sleep, work, … maybe even dare I say women) in the name of gains, but we should probably also see if this thing is safe.

Well, it turns out that phosphatidic acid at efficacious doses, around 750 mg/day, is safe in young, healthy males5.

Phew, dodged a bullet there.

Phosphatidic acid supplements

Potential Pitfalls

There is a mentality that more is better when it comes to muscle growth. More training, more food, more supplementation.  Specifically, people will often take multiple supplements that are “designed” to elicit muscle growth, assuming they will have additive effects.

Interestingly it appears that PA may actually have some interactions with whey protein supplements. In a study done with rats, taking whey protein and PA alone lead to increases in muscle protein synthesis but using them together actually reduced the effect of both, indicating they may interfere with each other6.

Now there are some definite caveats to this study as it was only demonstrating acute muscle protein synthesis in rats. And as we know, muscle protein synthesis is not a great indicator of long term muscle growth.

Clearly a lot more work needs to be done but it looks like more may not always better!

Need to Know

  1. PA is a lipid molecule that stimulates mTOR
  2. Taking 750mg or PA per day has been shown to lead to greater increases in strength and size during resistance training programs
  3. PA is a safe product with no reported negative side effects to date
10 Comments
Jax
Posted on: Sat, 02/02/2019 - 19:36

Will this show up as a banned substance in an own competition? Im am Olympic weightlifter and I want to try this product but I can’t risk getting caught with something I didn’t know was banned.

Dave
Posted on: Sat, 12/29/2018 - 14:30

Looking at the underlying study.the lean mass gain was 2.6% for treatment group vs. 0.1% for.the placebo group, so that's a 2.5% of starting mass not just of the increase. The treatment group saw a 12% & change in squat strength vs @9% for placebo group, again both percentages of starting lifts. If both groups started @ 100 kg squat, treatment group went to 112 kg & placebo to 109 kg, or a 3 kilo difference. So Brad Dieter is correct, and Lestado is mistaken.

Mike
Posted on: Wed, 10/03/2018 - 04:04

I’d appreciate a response to Lestado’s comment above as it pretty much negates your entire article.

Lestado
Posted on: Wed, 02/14/2018 - 16:18

Your calculations are way off bro. An extra 3.4% gain in strength would be equal to .34 Lbs if you gained 10 lbs of strength under normal circumstances. Remember its an increase in the increase not a percentage of your base strength. The same goes for the 2.5 of increased muscle growth... If you would normally gain 10 Lbs you would gain a whopping 10.25 with this stuff... Seems pretty negligible to me.

NeuroMD
Posted on: Sun, 12/20/2020 - 19:09

Wrong. Dave already very well explained why. Most all studies with this design will measure differences from baseline. So similar to what Dave said if placebo group for simplicity put on 5lbs of LBM, PA group on average put on 6.25lbs. Far from negligible. Did you even read the initial study?

Jose
Posted on: Fri, 12/22/2017 - 11:21

If I take your product Mediator PA7 does it come up on a drug screening?? My job has drug screening so I can’t risk it coming out as a steroid or any other illegal drug. Just asking before I start taking your product. Thank you.

SDJH2401
Posted on: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 06:26

You realise that that image of a 'muscle getting bigger' isn't actually a skeletal muscle (e.g. bicep muscle)... It's a smooth muscle that surrounds your blood vessels; so you're telling people that phosphatidic acid causing increased blood pressure which isn't true and isn't beneficial anyway. Also your graph, the error bars are overlapping so there is no significant difference between the placebo and phosphatidic acid; basically means that phosphatidic doesn't actually increase lean body mass... if you're gonna mention science and scientists with evidence, please get it right...

Daniel
Posted on: Sun, 01/24/2016 - 18:55

Hi, sooooo I train at night approx 830pm. If I take MP Combat in the morning and early evening, then take the combination of phospa muscle, plasma muscle and clear muscle 45mins prior to training - the phospha muscle was work properly because Ive taken a whey supplement??

Brad Dieter
Posted on: Mon, 01/25/2016 - 11:20

Hi Daniel,

I am assuming you are referring to the possible negative interaction between PA and whey mentioned in the article. I can't fully say the phospha muscle is working properly or improperly because you have taken a whey supplement but it is probably an ok scheme to take the whey separately from the PA. We don't currently have any interaction data in humans to draw good conclusions from on that question.

Daniel
Posted on: Wed, 01/27/2016 - 02:06

cheers mate, what about taking clear muscle, plasma and phospha muscle while in a cutting phase? Does it still provide many benefits in a cutting phase?