Monday, June 23, 2014

Oral adenosine-5’-triphosphate (ATP) Supplementation - A Story of Mice & Men | Can ATP Be the Cornerstone of a New Generation of Innovative Pre Workout Pump Supplements

Photos like this helped BSN sell truckloads of their "mother of all pre-workouts" NO XPlode!
Increases in blood flow? That's something each and every of the first, second and third generation promises "pump supplements" to deliver. For the first generation it was arginine, for the second citrulline and for the third nitrates that were supposed to get the job done.

What? None of them worked for you? Well luckily the next "big thing" is already looming on the horizon: "Oral adenosine-5’-triphosphate (ATP) supplements," of which you'd think that they would be used to deliver immediate energy, are probably soon going to be marketed as "pump supplements".
I would alway chose creatine creatine over ATP supplements

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Why? Well, let me just cite the title of a recent study from the Auburn University, the University of Tempa, the University of Missouri-Columbia and the a couple of companies with a vested interest in preferably beneficial study outcomes:

"Oral adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) administration increases blood flow following exercise in animals and humans" (Jäger. 2014)

What? You're not impressed? Me neither, even though the body surface area, species adjusted human equivalent doses (HED) of either 100 mg (n=4), 400 mg (n=4), 1,000 mg (n=5) or 1,600 mg (n=5) of oral ATP as a disodium salt (Peak ATP®, TSI, Missoula, MT) the rodents in the study at hand received, the fact that the 400mg dosage of ATP that was used in the human arm of the study (12 resistance-trained male participants; 400 mg of ATP as a disodium salt daily 30 minutes before  breakfast  for  12 weeks + 400 mg of ATP 30 minutes prior to an acute elbow flexor bout consisting of 3 sets of 20 contractions at 50% of the subject’s 1-RM) produced rather mediocre elevations of post-workout.
Figue 1: Changes in Brachial Diameter at weeks 1, 4, 8, 12 were compared to control week by a paired t-test, ‡
p < 0.01, *p < 0.05 and +p < 0.10 (Jäger. 2014)
Maybe you want to disagree, but I don't really see how the transient and highly variable increase in blood-flow the scientists observed in the human trial (400mg/day) would be relevant for athletic performance or recovery. I guess, if it was not for the Wilson study (Wilson. 2014; read previous article) that reported recently that oral ATP supplementation can significantly impact athletic performance, skeletal muscle hypertrophy and recovery, I would not even have mentioned the study at hand, which suggests that the increase in "blood flow result[s] in improved oxygen and nutrient delivery to the muscle" and could thus be at the heart of the previously observed ergogenic effects of ATP supplements.

If it were not for the previously reported increases muscle mass, size and performance gains in Wilson et al.'s complex 12-week study with previously strength-trained subjects, I would yet say that we are probably dealing with yet another imposter supplement (re-read previous article).
If you are looking for an excuse to try ATP supplements, better take the Wilson study than this one.
Bottom line: I am similarly reluctant to call this study boring and non-significant, as I am reluctant to accept it as evidence that the good old marketing claim that pump supplements would exert their ergogenic effects by enhancing the blood flow. It may sound logical that this would improve the removal of metabolic waste products and nutrient delivery, but where is the evidence this is "anabolic", "ergogenic" or what not?

I don't want to say that this is not the case, but even if it was, will the real-world benefits in fact be more pronounced than they were with the 1st and 2nd generation "pump" supplements? I don't think so.
  • Jäger, R. et al. "Oral adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) administration increases blood flow
    following exercise in animals and humans." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2014:11-28
  • Wilson JM, Joy JM, Lowery RP, Roberts MD, Lockwood CM, Manninen AH, Fuller JC Jr, De Souza EO, Baier SM, Wilson SMC, Rathmacher JA. "Effects of oral adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) supplementation on athletic performance, skeletal muscle hypertrophy and recovery in resistance-trained men." Nutr Metab (Lond). 2013:10:57.