ALA and Insulin Sensitivity

Lately in class we have been discussing a lot about the human body and the different hormones that organs produce. One vital hormone, produced by the pancreas, is insulin. Many have heard this term, especially pertaining to diabetics and their inability to utilize the glucose that is available in their bloodstream. This causes their blood sugar levels to be too high or too low. Insulin maintains homeostasis by balancing optimal blood sugar levels to prevent hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Both insulin and glucose are two main components for obtaining lean muscle mass. Such as, if the human body does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin to cope with the amount of glucose that lingers around in your bloodstream, your muscle cells will not be able to take up this energy and use it, thus resulting in a reduction in the amount of energy you will have for exercising.

    Moreover, choosing meals with a lower glycemic index (such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes and fruits) is important to prevent spiking your insulin levels. This is so, because spiking your insulin levels too high will result in cells within the body not being able to absorb all of the free glucose roaming in your body, and forcing insulin to send signals for shuttling the glucose into fat cells, as opposed to it being used for protein synthesis. Storing glucose equates to storing fat, which is why eating a bag of candy right before bed could lead to gaining a little bit of fat. As well as, in regards muscle hypertrophy, your body should be producing more protein than it’s using; therefore, you want your body to stay anabolic and steer away from becoming catabolic.

    On the other hand, insulin is one of the main components for building muscle, but it is extremely hard to know if the glucose will be transported into your fat cells or muscle cells. One supplement that I have been incorporating in my daily diet is Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). This supplement can be extremely advantageous when added to a healthy diet. Lipoic Acid is normally made in the human body, usually in small amounts, but a healthy diet that contains a ton of vegetables can greatly increase the levels within your bloodstream. ALA is an antioxidant, used to prevent free radicals and their harmful effects on the human body. Free radicals are molecules that are unstable and roam around the body to obtain an electron for their outermost shell. This process continues as a chain reaction up until one cell becomes completely diminished with the loss of its electron. Antioxidants, such as ALA, prevent this process by donating an electron to fill a molecules valence shell, while still managing to remain stable after losing an electron of their own.

    Even so, Alpha Lipoic Acid is extremely vital in forcing your body to incorporate carbohydrates towards your muscle cells instead of storing it within your fat cells. ALA mimics the effects of insulin and aids with glucose transport to muscle cells by increasing the amount of (GLUT-4) receptors on the muscle cells, causing them to be more readily available for the uptake of glucose. With that being said, ALA has a lot of health benefits, such as, preventing diabetes, promoting more cellular uptake of amino acids, helping with decreasing body fat percentage, and being a strong antioxidant! One thing that I will recommend is to try to buy supplements that contain R-ALA instead of S-ALA. R-ALA is the natural version of Alpha Lipoic Acid, and resembles the content found within plants that can be naturally made within the human body, whereas S-ALA is synthetically made. With proper nutrition and consistent exercise, you too can improve your insulin sensitivity and achieve much more muscle mass!

Content Provided by: Ameron Bhaala | @ameronbhaala

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