What Is Alpha-GPC

If you’ve ever turned and looked at the back of a supplement label and had no clue what some of the ingredients were, you are not alone. Alpha-GPC or alpha-glyceryl phosphorylcholine, is probably one of those ingredients. Studies have shown, that in athletes Alpha-GPC supplementation prevents exercise-induced reductions in choline levels, increases endurance performance and growth hormone secretion. We’re going to talk more about what Alpha-GPC is, what it does, and if the research backs up the claims.

What Is Alpha-GPC Alpha-glyceryl phosphorylcholine

Alpha-glyceryl phosphorylcholine (αGPC) is a precursor of acetylcholine and can increase acetylcholine concentration in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in memory, learning, and in voluntary muscle movement. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that carry important information from your brain to your body via nerve cells.

Aceylcholine gets its name from the two substances that it’s made from — an acetyl group (acetyl coenzyme A, which comes from the sugar molecule glucose) and the nutrient choline.

How Does Alpha-GPC Work, What Does Alpha-GPC Do

Alpha-GPC is converted to phosphorylcholine, a source of choline. Studies have shown that Alpha-GPC, increases dopamine levels as well as serotonin levels, which suggests a potential action to be a modulator of the dopaminergic (DA) neurotransmission and serotonergic (5-HT) system [R]. DA transmission has been linked to mood state and plays a critical role in motivational processes [R,R]. 5-HT receptors are associated with anxiety and depression [R].

In addition to cognitive behavioral function, studies have found positive effects of Alpha-GPC on isometric strength, as well as power, speed, and agility [R]. However, the mechanisms are not fully elucidated, increases in peak power, are a result of central (or neural) adaptation. Given that cholinergic nerves trigger muscle contraction, and that Alpha-GPC augments choline availability, researchers believe it might have the potential to influence muscular performance [R].

Alpha-GPC Benefits

Increases Cognitive Function (Memory, Learning, Reaction Time) 

Alpha-GPC provides an immediate supply of choline to the bloodstream. Choline is an essential component to all major phospholipids in the body. Alpha-GPC crosses the blood-brain barrier, and boosts choline levels and is involved in the process of acetylation, resulting in the formation of acetylcholine. The release of acetylcholine supports cognitive function.

A study published in the Journal Nutrients administered 400mg of Alpha-GPC or placebo to study participants for a duration of two weeks. The study found that participants experienced increased feelings of motivation potentially through interaction with dopamine circuits in the brain [R]. 

Another study, published in the Journal Of The International Society of Sports Nutrition analyzed the effects of Alpha-GPC on mood, cognitive function, power and speed.

Twenty participants, ten male and ten female, consumed 200, 400mg of Alpha-GPC, 200mg of caffeine, and a placebo, in a randomized, double-blind crossover study. Tests for reaction time, were 18% and 10.5% faster in Alpha-GPC groups.

A Meta-Analysis analyzing several studies, on adult onset cognitive dysfunctions, found that alpha-GPC improves cognitive and function in patients with neurological deficit or conditions [R].

Increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Studies have shown that Alpha-GPC is a human growth hormone secretagogue. Secretagogues are agents or peptides that promote the secretion and release of hormones, neurohormones, chemical neurotransmitters, enzymes, or other molecules synthesized and secreted by cells.

Growth hormone secretagogues (GHS) are synthetic, non-natural peptidyl and non-peptidyl molecules that interact with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to naturally increase and facilitate the production of GH levels in the body.

One of the major benefits and indications of human growth hormone, is the ability to help induce greater changes in bone density, as well as lean muscle and tissue growth. 

In a 2008 study, seven male subjects participating in resistance training were given 600 mg of alpha-GPC 90 minutes prior to completing six sets of 10 Smith machine squats

At 30-minutes post-exercise, resting metabolic rate (RMR) and respiratory exchange ratio (RER) were measured Immediately following RMR and RER measurements, subjects performed three sets of bench press throws at 50% of their pre-determined 1-repetition maximum to assess peak force, peak power, and rate of force development.

The study found, that compared to baseline, peak growth hormone levels increased 44-fold vs 2.6 in the alpha-GPC group [R, R].

Increases Peak Power Output And Strength

Remember the study above, the one published in the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition that analyzed the effects of Alpha-GPC on mood, cognitive function, power and speed? Well, another variable they tested was vertical jump.

Twenty participants, ten male and ten female, consumed 200, 400mg of Alpha-GPC, 200mg of caffeine, and a placebo, in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study design. Vertical jump peak power was statically significant at 8.5% higher than the placebo group, and 6.5% higher than the caffeine group.

An additional study found in the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition analyzed Alpha-GPC on isometric strength and power output at baseline using the isometric mid-thigh pull. The isometric mid-thigh pull test is a reliable way to test maximal strength and has been shown to correlate with vertical jumps and sprints. 600mg of Alpha-GPC per day increased is lower body force production after 6 days of supplementation [R]

Alpha-GPC Side Effects And Risks

Safety, tolerability and efficacy studies have shown that Alpha-GPC does not exert any severe side effects, even at higher dosages of 1200mg per day for six months.

Alpha-GPC: Takeaway

Overall, Alpha-GPC is an incredible ingredient, and a definite value add in your pre workout or cognitive support supplement. Studies have shown that Alpha-GPC has an effect on dopamine and serotonin, improving mood, and reducing anxiety. Performance studies also show, Alpha-GPC has a positive ergogenic benefit on strength, peak power output, and can improve body composition, vitality and quality of life, as a growth hormone secretagogue.


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