Does Phosphatidic Acid Really Grow Muscle?

Phosphatidic acid is a phospholipid known to increase mTOR, a naturally occurring substance that regulates muscle growth – if you increase mTOR, you increase muscle protein synthesis. When reviewing the studies on phosphatidic acid (PA), you'll find conflicting results – some show significant effects on muscle mass, and a couple don't.

Consuming phosphatidic acid definitely can increase protein synthesis significantly. But the reason some studies show negligible results is due to two things: price and dosage, and the two are inextricably linked.

A CHEAPER PHOSPHATIDIC ACID DOSE
Research studies are often financed by people who have a vested interest in the product. It may raise your suspicion antennae, but it makes sense. Who else is going to dish out money to investigate a substance, especially one that isn't going to save the world from some disease?

So yeah, manufacturers of phosphatidic acid financed most of the studies.

The problem is, phosphatidic acid is expensive, and the price sweet-spot for most sports supplements is between $29 and $49. With retail affordability most likely the motivation, some researchers set the PA doses too low and below the level to significantly increase muscle gains.

Additionally, with phosphatidic acid, there's no apparent cumulative effect. You either reach the threshold level where it notches up mTOR production to make a noticeable difference, or you don't. That’s why the studies that used larger doses of PA showed good results:

3.75 pounds of extra muscle over an 8-week period

Adding almost four more pounds of muscle just by adding PA is a pretty good anabolic leverage.

PHOSPHATIDIC ACID DOSING THAT WORKS
Biotest has been selling and using phosphatidic acid for several years now, and our accumulated experiential knowledge of the product has led us to some conclusions. For one, the common dosage recommendations need to be flushed down the vortex of the toilet. Taking 750 mg doesn't give the best results. Neither does 375 or 250 mg.

Contrary to what the economically minded say, you need to take a full gram of phosphatidic acid.

Furthermore, you probably shouldn't use phosphatidic acid more than once a week. You heard me. Once a week. Phosphatidic acid should be saved for the biggest, baddest workout of the week, the one you plan out. The one you anticipate with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Don't waste your money by using PA for non-focused casual workouts. You'll get a noticeable muscle-gaining boost from once-per-week dosing.

This protocol will also end up being an economical one because you're only using it once a week. The 60-capsule bottle suddenly becomes nearly a 4-month supply instead of a month's supply. Here's the dosing summary:

IDEAL PHOSPHATIDIC ACID DOSING
  • Take 1 gram of phosphatidic acid per dose, one hour before training.
  • Use PA only once per week on your hardest workout day.
  • Consume 5 grams of L-leucine during the workout.



References:
  1. Bagheri, Reza, et al. "Whole Egg Vs. Egg White Ingestion During 12 Weeks of Resistance Training in Trained Young Males," Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Dec. 9, 2020.
  2. Vliet, Stephan Van, "Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men." Am J Clin Nutr, October 4th, 2017.
  3. Hoffman JR, Stout JR, Williams DR, Wells AJ, Fragala MS, Mangine GT, Gonzalez AM, Emerson NS, McCormack WP, Scanlon TC, et al. "Efficacy of phosphatidic acid ingestion on lean body mass, muscle thickness and strength gains in resistance-trained men," J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012;9(1):1.
  4. Joy JM, Gundermann DM, Lowery RP, Jäger R, McCleary SA, Purpura M, Roberts MD, Wilson SM, Hornberger TA, Wilson JM. "Phosphatidic acid enhances mtor signaling and resistance exercise induced hypertrophy." Nutr Metab. 2014;11:1.
  5. Andre TL, Gann JJ, McKinley-Barnard SK, Song JJ, Willoughby DS. "Eight weeks of phosphatidic acid supplementation in conjunction with resistance training does not differentially affect body composition and muscle strength in resistance-trained men." J Sports Sci Med. 2016;15:532–539.
  6. Escalante G, Alencar M, Haddock B, Harvey P. "The effects of phosphatidic acid supplementation on strength, body composition, muscular endurance, power, agility, and vertical jump in resistance trained men." J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13(1):1.
  7. Gonzalez AM, Sell KM, Ghigiarelli JJ, Kelly CF, Shone EW, Accetta MR, Baum JB, Mangine GT. "Effects of phosphatidic acid supplementation on muscle thickness and strength in resistance-trained men." Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (ja). 2017.