Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a coenzyme involved in ATP production and carbohydrate metabolism, and is a potent antioxidant. Research suggests that ALA improves insulin efficiency and sensitivity.42 Many studies on patients with type 2 diabetes have shown that ALA increases insulin-dependent glucose disposal. Specifically, one study showed that the rate of metabolic clearance of glucose increased by 50% with ALA supplementation.43
ALA can also affect glucose uptake into skeletal muscle directly. One study demonstrated that glucose uptake increased by 40%-300% in muscle cells after subjects were given ALA supplementation.44 Animal studies have shown that ALA stimulates adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase in skeletal muscle, which regulates cellular energy metabolism as well as decreasing triglyceride accumulation.45 Skeletal-muscle triglyceride accumulation has been shown to contribute to insulin resistance. Similar studies have shown that ALA suppresses AMP-activated protein kinase in the hypothalamus, causing a decrease in food intake, increasing energy expenditure, and resulting in significant weight loss.46 Human studies have shown that ALA supplementation combined with creatine monohydrate and sucrose increases creatine uptake by skeletal-muscle cells more than creatine plus sucrose or creatine alone.47 Large doses, such as 600-1,200 mg per day, of ALA may cause GI upsets, rashes, or headaches.
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