The Definitive Guide to Phosphatidic Acid


Male, female, young, and old, just about every one of us would like to have a little bit more muscle on our bodies and less fat.

If you’re like us, you’ve spent years trying to build muscle naturally and witnessed some success, but chances are you’re not quite satisfied with the progress you’ve made and want more.

We’ve all been there before.

Try as you might, nothing seems to work. No matter how many drop sets, supersets, special diets, or nutrient timing strategies you try seem to help you gain muscle faster.

Naturally, in the pursuit of more muscle and strength, you start to look at some muscle builder supplements but searching through the endless options on the shelf, you’re left confused.

How do you know what makes a muscle builder effective?


Support Muscle Building with PA Max!

PA Max contains 100% Mediator Phosphatidic Acid which has been noted to help stimulate muscle protein synthesis and  support lean mass gains.

Let’s start by answering that very question.

What Makes an Effective Muscle Builder Supplement?

We’ll be the first to tell you that the supplement industry is littered with supplements claiming to be muscle builders. We’ll also tell you that 99.9% of those products are absolute garbage for a couple of reasons:

  • They’re underdosed
  • They’re lacking human research
  • They have terrible bioavailability
  • Essentially, the vast majority of muscle builders that you’ll see advertised are nothing but overpriced placebos.

    That being said, not all supplements – including ones billed as “muscle builders” -- are completely worthless.

    There are natural compounds scientifically proven to help you (not some rat in a lab) build muscle, lose fat, and reshape your physique...if they’re accompanied by proper diet and training.

    No supplement can make up for a crappy diet or training program, regardless of what supplement companies tell you.

    Essentially, the effective muscle builder supplements on the market enhance an already sound training and nutrition protocol. Think of them as “amplifiers” or “accelerators”, but not a “magic bullet” that can replace hard work, consistency, and determination.

    You see when you get down to it, building muscle isn’t really that complicated. It’s almost too easy when understanding what it takes to build muscle. It boils down to three things[1,2,3]:

  • Eat more calories than you burn
  • Consume more protein than you break down
  • Progressively overload your muscles
  • That’s it.

    If you do those three things day after day, year after year, you WILL build muscle sans any special diets, training techniques or supplements.

    Now, the process of building muscle can be significantly enhanced by a properly structured training program and application of the right supplements at their clinically efficacious doses.

    And that brings us back to the question of “what makes an effective muscle builder supplement?”

    We’d answer that question by saying that for a supplement to be considered a worthwhile muscle builder, it must be:

    • Effective in humans
    • Without significant side effects when used regularly
    • Affordable (this is especially important, because regardless of how amazing a supplement is, if you can’t afford it, it’s not doing anyone any good)

    Now, there are already several supplements that would qualify as natural muscle builders according to this definition, including:

    • Creatine
    • Beta Alanine
    • Betaine
    • elevATP

    We’ve created supplements such as Prim-ATP, Mega Pre, and Ape Sh*t pre workout to take advantage of the muscle building benefits of these compounds in an effort to help you get better results from your diet and exercise program.

    But, there’s another ingredient that’s recently struck a chord with us. One that’s actually shown to help you build more muscle at a cellular level.

    The supplement we’re talking about is Phosphatidic Acid.

    What is Phosphatidic Acid?

    Phosphatidic acid is an all natural phospholipid generated by your body during intense exercise, particularly eccentric training.

    What’s a phospholipid?

    Structurally speaking, a phospholipid consists of a molecule of glycerol bonded to two fatty acids and one phosphate group. They constitute a major part of cell membranes and also serve as important signaling messengers inside of the cell.

    Now, back to the topic at hand -- what is phosphatidic acid and how does it help build muscle?

    To answer that, we need to drill down a bit and see what it really takes to bring about muscle growth.

    Sure, you know that you need to eat in a caloric surplus and train hard. You might also know that leucine is the essential amino acid that operates as the “trigger man” for muscle protein synthesis. We say that because research has shown that consuming 2.5-3 grams of leucine serves as an incredibly powerful signal to the body to start protein synthesis.[21]

    But, muscles aren’t just made of protein. They’re also made of fats, too.

    More specifically, the membranes of your muscle cells and organelles inside the cell (i.e. ribosome, mitochondria, etc.) are made up of phospholipids.

    When you lift heavy weights, you damage muscle fibers, and in response to this damage, an enzyme called phospholipase D produces phosphatidic acid, which tells your muscles to fortify and grow.

    That’s great and all, but how does phosphatidic acid actually build muscle?

    This is where things get really interesting, in regards to phosphatidic acid.

    Essentially, when Phospholipase D is released, it breaks down phosphatidylcholine (another component of our cells) into choline and phosphatidic acid.

    Researchers who study cellular biology and physiology for living observed that phosphatidic acid leads to muscle growth by directly activating mTOR![4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]

    In other words, phosphatidic acid is to lipids what leucine is to protein -- it flips the switch in the muscle to start growth!

    Phosphatidic Acid Research

    Builds Muscle

    The first study to test the anabolic potential of phosphatidic acid in humans was carried out using a group of 16 resistance-trained men who trained four times per week for eight weeks.

    Men were randomly assigned to the treatment group (receiving a 750mg dose of phosphatidic acid) or the control group who receive a placebo. During each testing session, men had their body composition and strength (1RM) in the squat and bench press assessed.

    After eight weeks of training, researchers noted that the men receiving phosphatidic acid had a 2.6% increase in lean body mass, while the control group only demonstrated a 0.1% increase in lean mass.[13]

    Following this study, a follow-up study was conducted by a separate group of researchers in 2013, again using resistance-trained men.[14]

    The study group was larger this time, as a total of 28 men were involved in the study. Again, men were equally divided into experimental and control groups, with the experimental group receiving 750mg of phosphatidic acid and the control group receiving a placebo. Each male also undertook an 8 week periodized resistance training program.

    Again, phosphatidic acid delivered extra muscle building gains to the men taking phosphatidic acid. In fact, the group using phosphatidic acid added double the amount of muscle as the control group![14]

    The benefits don’t end there for phosphatidic acid though, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface, as this novel supplement isn’t only effective as a muscle builder, it’s also good for increasing strength too!

    Increases Strength

    Going back to the first human trial in 2012 we just discussed, remember how we said that researchers were tracking lean mass gains and strength?

    Well, it turns out phosphatidic may work for strength too!

    More specifically, men taking phosphatidic acid increased their max squat strength by an amazing 12.7%![13] You might also be interested to know that both the control and treatment groups consumed roughly the same amount of calories, underscoring the fact that it was phosphatidic acid enhancing muscle growth and strength, not just an excess of calories.

    The follow up 2013 study echoed these same findings, though instead of the squat, they used the leg press to measure strength increases, but the results were nonetheless head-turning, as the men consuming phosphatidic acid increased their leg press strength by an average of 115 pounds, compared to only about a 70 pound increase for the control group.[14]

    Size and strength from a single supplement?

    We’ll take that any day of the week, but phosphatidic acid still isn’t done yet.

    Supports Fat Loss

    While researchers weren’t specifically focusing on the fat loss potential of phosphatidic acid, they did notice that when consuming the novel muscle builder, it also led to some reduction in body fat.

    In addition to muscle mass and strength, researchers in the 2013 study also documented men using the phosphatidic acid treatment lost 2.8 pounds (1.6kg) of body fat compared to only 1.1 pounds (0.5kg) of fat for the control group.[14]

    In other words, not only is phosphatidic acid good for building muscle and increasing strength, it’s also useful for those undertaking a recomp as it helps build muscle and burn fat at the same time.

    Promotes Recovery

    When you hear the words “muscle protein synthesis”, you inevitably think about muscle growth and making gains, but that’s only half of the picture.

    Protein synthesis also impacts your ability to repair muscle tissue following a workout, meaning that if you can enhance protein synthesis to a larger degree than you normally can, you can recover faster.

    By ratcheting up protein synthesis during and after training, you’re also helping reduce soreness that occurs after a tough bout of training, which allows you to get back in the gym more quickly and train more frequently.

    This results in bigger and better gains, faster.

    In addition to enhancing protein synthesis, phosphatidic acid may also reduce muscle protein breakdown by regulating the expression of a particular set of genes that impacts muscle protein breakdown.[19]

    As you probably know, muscle growth ultimately boils down to protein synthesis outpacing protein breakdown, so anything that reduces the amount of breakdown that occurs indirectly supports muscle growth.

    Here, with phosphatidic acid, you’re getting the best of both worlds as it both enhances protein synthesis and reduces protein breakdown.

    Decreases Stress

    Stress is both good and bad.

    Intense training is a type of good stress...without it skeletal muscles would never have the proper stimulus to grow.

    Chronic worrying, lack of sleep, etc are forms of bad stress, which torpedo muscle growth and recovery.

    Excessive stress leads to prolonged elevations of cortisol, a catabolic (muscle wasting) hormone that breaks down muscle tissue.

    It turns out phosphatidic acid may help reduce stress too, as research notes that 400mg per day leads to a significant reduction in cortisol levels.[18]

    How Much Phosphatidic Acid?

    The research-backed dose of phosphatidic acid as outlined in the two human trials demonstrating its benefits for muscle growth and strength is 750mg per day.

    Since we’re trying to maximize the anabolic effect of weight training, it’s advised to consume your serving of phosphatidic acid pre workout.

    Note: Research conducted in mice suggests that phosphatidic acid is best consumed when taken apart from whey, as combining the two actually decreases the effectiveness of both. Researchers believe this may be due to whey and phosphatidic acid competing for mTOR activation “bandwidth” in the muscle cell.[20]


    There have been a lot of hyped muscle builders over the years that have shown great effect in cell cultures and animal studies, but when put to the test in humans, ultimately come up short of expectations.

    This, by and large, has to do with the ingredient in question having terrible bioavailability.

    Essentially, your body does not efficiently absorb the ingredient, meaning you don’t really get the full benefits from it as advertised in the cell and animal studies.

    Here’s where phosphatidic acid really solidifies itself as one of the top tier natural muscle builder supplements.

    Phosphatidic acid offers high bioavailability and has been shown to be effective in humans when consumed orally.[12]

    No Side Effects, Either!

    Remember when we were listing out our qualifications for what makes an effective muscle builder?

    SAFETY was a big one on the list.

    Again, more good news for phosphatidic acid, as research conducted to date shows it is safe for human consumption and comes with no side effects (unless making gains is considered a side effect):

    “no differences at baseline in blood chemistry and hematology between the CON and EXP supplemented groups” and “no differences were observed in urinalysis values between the groups”[15]

    Is Phosphatidic Acid Safe for Women?

    This is a common question anytime a new supplement enters the market.

    Virtually all supplements are advertised for male athletes and bodybuilders, leaving women to wonder if a given supplement is effective (or safe) for them to use.

    The answer here is yes.

    Phosphatidic acid is safe for women to use. It is an all natural, non-hormonal muscle builder that does not affect levels of estrogen, testosterone, or any other hormone.

    Beware Cheap Forms of Phosphatidic Acid

    The form of phosphatidic acid used in the human clinical trials demonstrating significant increases in size and strength used only Mediator Phosphatidic Acid.

    Mediator -- the BEST form of Phosphatidic Acid

    Phosphatidic acid is naturally occurring in the body, and it can also be found in a number of foods regularly consumed in the diet, including cabbage, radishes, and lecithin. However, the amounts in food are typically very low and the amounts you’d have to consume to get them from whole foods isn’t really practical for the average person.

    Additionally, even if you did get all of your phosphatidic acid from food, there is some research noting that soy-based phosphatidic sources are potentially more effective.
    In fact, when researchers tested various sources of soy- and egg-derived phosphatidic acid, they found that phosphatidic acid derived from soy (the same kind used in Mediator®) increased mTOR signaling the most (636%!)



    1. Schiaffino S, Dyar KA, Ciciliot S, Blaauw B, Sandri M. Mechanisms regulating skeletal muscle growth and atrophy. FEBS J. 2013;280(17):4294-4314. doi:10.1111/febs.12253
    2. Phillips SM. A Brief Review of Critical Processes in Exercise-Induced Muscular Hypertrophy. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z). 2014;44(Suppl 1):71-77. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0152-3.
    3. Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Exercise, protein metabolism, and muscle growth. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001;11(1):109-132.
    4. Hornberger, T. A., Sukhija, K. B., & Chien, S. (2006). Regulation of mTOR by mechanically induced signaling events in skeletal muscle. Cell Cycle (Georgetown, Tex.), 5(13), 1391–1396.
    5. Hornberger TA, Chu WK, Mak YW, Hsiung JW, Huang SA, Chien S. The role of phospholipase D and phosphatidic acid in the mechanical activation of mTOR signaling in skeletal muscle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2006;103(12):4741-4746. doi:10.1073/pnas.0600678103.
    6. You JS, Frey JW, Hornberger TA. Mechanical Stimulation Induces mTOR Signaling via an ERK-Independent Mechanism: Implications for a Direct Activation of mTOR by Phosphatidic Acid. Berdeaux R, ed. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(10):e47258. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047258.
    7. Foster DA. Phosphatidic Acid and Lipid Sensing by mTOR. Trends in endocrinology and metabolism: TEM. 2013;24(6):272-278. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2013.02.003.
    8. O’Neil TK, Duffy LR, Frey JW, Hornberger TA. The role of phosphoinositide 3-kinase and phosphatidic acid in the regulation of mammalian target of rapamycin following eccentric contractions. The Journal of Physiology. 2009;587(Pt 14):3691-3701. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2009.173609.
    9. Goodman CA, Mabrey DM, Frey JW, et al. Novel insights into the regulation of skeletal muscle protein synthesis as revealed by a new nonradioactive in vivo technique. The FASEB Journal. 2011;25(3):1028-1039. doi:10.1096/fj.10-168799.
    10. Goodman CA, Mayhew DL, Hornberger TA. Recent Progress towards Understanding the Molecular Mechanisms that Regulate Skeletal Muscle Mass. Cellular signalling. 2011;23(12):1896-1906. doi:10.1016/j.cellsig.2011.07.013.
    11. Goodman CA, Frey JW, Mabrey DM, et al. The role of skeletal muscle mTOR in the regulation of mechanical load-induced growth. The Journal of Physiology. 2011;589(Pt 22):5485-5501. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.218255.
    12. Purpura M, Jager R, Joy JM, Lowery RP, Moore JD, Wilson JM. Effect of Oral Administration of Soy-Derived Phosphatidic ACid on Concentrations of Phosphatidic Acid and lyso-Phosphatidic Acid Molecular Species in Human Plasma. Poster Presentation at the ISSN Conference 2013.
    13. Hoffman JR, Stout JR, Williams DR, et al. 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. 2012;9:47. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-47.
    14. Joy JM, Lowery RP, Dudeck JE, De-Souza EO, Jager R, McCleary SA, Wilson SMC, Purpura M, Wilson JM. Phosphatidic Acid Supplementation Increases Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength. Poster presentation at the ISSN Conference 2013.
    15. Dudeck JE, Joy JM, Lowery RP, De Souza EO, Jager R, McCleary SA, Wilson SMC, Purpur M, Wilson JM. Safety of Soy-Derived Phosphatidic Acid Supplementation in Healthy Young Males. Poster presentation at the ISSN Conference 2013
    16. O’Neil TK, et al. The role of phosphoinositide 3-kinase and phosphatidic acid in the regulation of mammalian target of rapamycin following eccentric contractions. J Physiol. 2009 Jul 15;587(Pt 14):3691-701.
    17. Joy JM, et al. Phosphatidic acid enhances mTOR signaling and resistance exercise induced hypertrophy. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014 Jun 16;11:29.
    18. Hellhammer, J., Fries, E., Buss, C., Engert, V., Tuch, A., Rutenberg, D., & Hellhammer, D. (2004). Effects of soy lecithin phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylserine complex (PAS) on the endocrine and psychological responses to mental stress. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 7(2), 119–126.
    19. Bond, P. (2017). Phosphatidic acid : biosynthesis , pharmacokinetics , mechanisms of action and effect on strength and body composition in resistance-trained individuals, 1–9.
    20. Mobley, C. B., Hornberger, T. A., Fox, C. D., Healy, J. C., Ferguson, B. S., Lowery, R. P. Roberts, M. D. (2015). Effects of oral phosphatidic acid feeding with or without whey protein on muscle protein synthesis and anabolic signaling in rodent skeletal muscle. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 32.
    21. Pasiakos SM, McClung HL, et al. Leucine-enriched essential amino acid supplementation during moderate steady state exercise enhances postexercise muscle protein synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94, 809-818.

    You may also like

    View all
    Example blog post
    Example blog post
    Example blog post