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Phosphatidic Acid

www.ironmanmagazine.comAs always, some of the best science in the field of sports nutrition is being published in the ISSN’s peer-reviewed Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition ( One new ingredient and another piece of cool science thinking leads the way. Have you ever heard of phosphatidic acid? Well, now you have. Phosphatidic acid has been shown to activate the mammalian target of rapamycin signaling pathway, a.k.a. mTOR. In English, that means that it can enhance the anabolic effects of weight training. Bet that got your attention.

In one of the first studies of its kind, scientists looked at the effects of phosphatidic acid supplementation on strength and body composition. Sixteen resistance-trained men were randomly assigned to a group that took in either 750 milligrams of phosphatidic acid or a placebo. Those who got the phosphatidic acid showed a 12.7 percent increase in squat strength and a 2.6 percent increase in lean body mass, while those who got the placebo showed a 9.3 percent improvement in squat strength and a 0.1 percent change in lean body mass. Thus, daily supplementation of 750 milligrams of phosphatidic acid combined with a four-days-per-week resistance-training program for eight weeks helps both strength and body composition in young, resistance-trained individuals.1 So phosphatidic acid is another ingredient you’ll soon be “stacking” with a bunch of others in your supplement arsenal.

Here’s a question: Why is it that some studies show that additional protein supplementation helps you gain muscle and strength, and others do not? A couple of scientists did some Sherlock Holmes–like sleuthing and came up with a remarkable answer—the “protein-spread theory” and the “protein-change theory.”2

Basically the protein-spread theory states that there must be a sufficient percentage difference in the amount of protein consumed daily by the two groups, at least 66.1 percent greater consumption by one group. In the protein-change theory, the average change in habitual protein intake also has to be about 60 percent higher! I know it sounds confusing. Let me sum it up for you.

First of all, the words spread and change aren’t descriptive enough. Forget the group vs. group comparison. For you as an individual it’s meaningless. The takeaway point is that you need to eat 60 percent more protein than what you normally get. Thus, if you’re already taking in 100 grams of protein, in order to achieve an anabolic effect, you’d need 60 percent more, which would be 160 grams.

So consider your current protein intake and do the math: Figure 60 percent of that, and add that amount to your total daily intake. Make sense? Perhaps it should be called the protein-dose threshold. Whatever you call it, if you do eat more protein, it does help the adaptive response to weight training. Nuff said.


Editor’s note: Jose Antonio, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University in sunny South Florida.


1 Hoffman, J.R., et al. (2012). Efficacy of phosphatidic acid ingestion on lean body mass, muscle thickness and strength gains in resistance-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9:47.

2 Bosse, J.D., et al. (2012). Dietary protein to maximize resistance training: a review and examination of protein spread and change theories. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9:42.

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