r-ala vs Racemic ALA: A case study by Fonz


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A Blood glucose Analysis of R-ALA and racemic ALA

The latest controversial topic surrounding Alpha-lipoic Acid is the potency of the two known variants. This pertains to the newest variant; R-ALA, in comparison to racemic(or normal) ALA. This latter racemic ALA is a combination of R-ALA and S-ALA, normally found in a 50/50 split in common brand name ALA supplements.
In order to uncover which of the two was truly the better one, I decided to measure each ALA’s impact on blood glucose for a specific meal, and compare the results. As we all pretty much know by now, ALA increases the ability of the body
to store glucose in the form of glycogen and also oxidize un-needed glucose for energy. So in effect, whichever one of the two versions of ALA in my experiment gave the smallest blood glucose reading after a specific meal, was, the one which gave the user the best results in regards to glucose disposal and glucose up-take into the muscles. Fairly simple concept.

I bought 300 100mg R-ALA caps from AF(www.anabolicfitness.net) and 2000 100mg caps from Kilosports (www.kilosports.com).
These are the respective LOT numbers

AF: Lot # C06310 Exp: 06/04 (all three bottles)
Kilosports: Lot # C07351 (Both bottles)

What the analysis entailed involved performing a comparative experiment regarding the impact of a specific meal + different quantities of R-ALA and racemic ALA over a week. This latter time-frame would I believe be sufficient to factor out any inconsistencies, and also be a long enough time period to give an objective enough frame of reference in regards to the performance of both versions of ALA.

I performed my experiment with my blood glucose meter (Glucometer) called Gluco-trend 2 with the Softclix system. The serial number of my Glucotrend 2 is GH02114809 and the type number is: 1861964 .
I also purchased a separate glucometer at CVS to back-up the results obtained by my Glucotrend 2 blood glucose monitor. If at any time during my experiment, the values of the CVS blood glucose monitor and those of my Glucotrend 2 blood glucose monitor, were off by more than 10% I’d nullify the specific
attempt at measuring the BG response by the given meal. This was not nice for my fingers. Having to use the lancet 10+ times/day hurt like hell….. Anyways, The serial number of my CVS BG monitor is: 6429796 ,and the lot number of my
glucose testing strips was: EB271A1 Exp: 23/ Jan/03

All measurements were done in the AM and/or anytime I hadn’t eaten for 12hrs, as there is NO FOOD present in the stomach after 12hrs, liver glycogen is empty, and BG levels are lowest. This is the BEST time to measure blood glucose fluctuations.

In fact, the GTT test is best performed in the AM on an empty stomach(Ask your doctor, he will verify this) (GTT=Glucose Tolerance test). Values for the blood glucose will be given according to the American system: i.e. mg/dl .
This is the structure of each daily measurement.

Meal (N) N = 1,2,3……..21

1. Take initial BG(Blood glucose) measurement
2. Consume a SPECIFIC food.
(I'll give the exact macro-nutrients)
3. Take the R-ALA or racemic ALA( X number of mg)
4. and 5 and 6. Measure BG(Blood Glucose) levels at the 1 hr, 2hr, and 3hr mark.

So, an example with numbers would be:

Meal 20 400mg ALA + complex(Slow GI) Carbs

Meal: 340 1g 34g 50g (1.0L milk)

BG(Initial): 72mg/dl (Blood glucose reading at the time of eating)
BG(T+1): 99mg/dl (Blood glucose reading after 1hr)
BG(T+2): 93mg/dl (Blood glucose reading after 2hrs)
BG(T+3): 80mg/dl (Blood glucose reading after 3hrs)

(THE ABOVE IS JUST AN EXAMPLE). The numbers are completely fictitious.

My statistics(Body composition), in case anybody is wondering are 190lbs at roughly 9%, at a height of 5“9(174cms). I am a 23 y.o. white male. My diet during this past week was composed of 3000Kcal/day, on a rough 60% Carbs, 30% protein, 10% fat diet. In other words a typical high-carb maintenance diet for me.

Ok, now that the structure of the experiment has been explained, let us proceed on wards to the actual testing.

Blood Glucose Values:

Meal 1: 400mg ALA + complex carbs

Meal: 720 9g 36g 108g (21.0)

BG(Initial): 66 mg/dl
BG(T+1): 92 mg/dl (+26… +39.4%)
BG(T+2): 86 mg/dl(+20…..+30.3%)
BG(T+3): 86mg/dl(+20…….+30.3%)

Meal 2: 400 mg R-ALA + Complex Carbs

Meal: 720 9g 36g 108g (21.0g)

BG(Initial): 74 mg/dl
BG(T+1): 94 mg/dl(+20……….27.03%)
BG(T+2): 84 mg/dl(+10……….+13.51%
BG(T+3): 80 mg/dl(+6………+8.11%)

Meal 3: 600 mg ALA + Complex Carbs

Meal: 720 9g 36g 108g (21.0g)

BG(Initial): 66 mg/dl
BG(T+1): 104 mg/dl(+38………+ 57.58%)
BG(T+2): 72 mg/dl(+6……….+ 8.33%)
BG(T+3): 70mg/dl(+4…………+ 6.06%)

Meal 4: 600 mg R-ALA + Complex Carbs

Meal: 720 9g 36g 108g (21.0g)

BG(Initial): 83 mg/dl
BG(T+1): 100 mg/dl(+17…..+20.48%)
BG(T+2): 94 mg/dl(+9…..+10.84%)
BG(T+3): 88 mg/dl(+5……+6.02%)

Meal 5: 800 mg ALA + Complex Carbs

Meal: 720 9g 36g 108g (21.0g)

BG(Initial): 80 mg/dl
BG(T+1): 103 mg/dl(+23………+22.33%)
BG(T+2): 92 mg/dl(+12…………+15%)
BG(T+3): 90 mg/dl(+10………..+5.56%).

Meal 6: 800 mg R-ALA + Complex Carbs

Meal: 720 9g 36g 108g (21.0g)

BG(Initial): 80mg/dl
BG(T+1): 100 mg/dl(+20……….+25%)
BG(T+2): 90 mg/dl(+7…………+8.75%)
BG(T+3): 82 mg/dl(+2…………+2.5%

Meal 7: 1000mg ALA + Complex carbs

Meal: 720 9g 36g 108g (21.0g)

BG(Initial): 71mg/dl
BG(T+1): 90mg/dl(+19…..+ 26.76%)
BG(T+2): 86mg/dl(+15…..+21.1%)
BG(T+3): 72mg/dl(+1….. +1.4%)

(2000mg R-ALA,2000-3000mg ALA):

Meal : 1440Kcal 0g Fat 48g Prot 288g Carbs (Simple/Complex)

2000mgs R-ALA:

BG(Initial): 77 mg/dl
BG(T+1): 97 mg/dl(+20……..+25.98%)
BG(T+2): 118 mg/dl(+41…….+53.25%)
BG(T+3): 94 mg/dl(+17…….+22.08%)

2000mgs ALA:

BG(Initial): 70 mg/dl
BG(T+1): 95 mg/dl(+25….+35.7%)
BG(T+2): 123 mg/dl(+53…….+75.71%)
BG(T+3): 95 mg/dl(+25…… +35.7%)

3000mgs ALA:

BG(Initial): 65 mg/dl
BG(T+1): 85 mg/dl(+20…….+30.77%)
BG(T+2): 110 mg/dl(+45…… + 69.23%)
BG(T+3): 78 mg/dl(+13…….+ 20.00%)


400mg ALA+R-ALA:
(Area under curve ALA): 0.5(1)(26)+20(1)+(0.5)(6)+20 = 56 units squared.
(Area under curve R-ALA): 10 + 5 + 10 + 2 + 6 = 33 units squared.
600mg ALA+R-ALA:
(Area under curve ALA): 19 + 6 + 16 + 4 + 1 = 46 units squared
(Area under curve R-ALA): 8.5 + 3 + 11 + 3 + 5 = 30.5 units squared
800mg ALA+R-ALA:
(Area under curve ALA): 0.5(1)(23)+(0.5)(11)+1(12)+ 11 = 40 units squared.
(Area under curve R-ALA): 10 + 10 + 5 + 1 + 4 = 30 units squared
1000mg ALA:
(Area under curve): 0.5(1)(19)+15+2+2+0.5(14)= 35.5 units squared

HI-CARB ANALYSIS ( Carbs = 280g)

2000mg R-ALA:
(Area under the curve): 10 + 9.5 + 20 +12 + 17 = 68.5 units squared
2000mg ALA:
(Area under the curve): 12.5 + 50 + 28 = 90.5 units squared
3000mg ALA:
(Area under the curve): 10 + 20 + 12.5 + 16 + 13 = 71.5 units squared


Carbs= 108g(All meals where exactly the same)

ALA = 400mg, Area = 56 units squared(Take as initial)
ALA = 600mg, Area = 46 units squared(Difference: -10 units squared(17.86%))
ALA = 800mg, Area = 40 units squared(Difference: -16 units squared(28.57%))
ALA = 1000mg, Area = 35.5 units squared(Difference: -20.5 units squared(36.61%))

R-ALA=400mg, Area = 33 units squared
R-ALA=600mg, Area = 30.5 units squared(Difference: -2.5 units squared(7.58%))
R-ALA=800mg, Area = 30 units squared(Difference: -3 units squared(9.09%)

From the above table, one can see that as ALA intake is increased for the given meal
(Containing 108g carbs as specified), the area under the blood glucose curve decreases. This is indicative of the extra ALA having an effect on glucose up-take and oxidation.
From looking at the table, one can see a pattern; namely, that as the ALA dosage is increased for the particular amount of carbs, the area under the blood glucose gets smaller in SMALLER increments. This is what is referred to as a decreasing
numerical series. Elaborating the series, one can extrapolate the best dosage of racemic ALA per gram of carbohydrates.

Series(1): = 56……..46……..40…….35.5….
Difference: = 10……..6……. 4.5……….……..approaches 0.

From this, we can easily approximate the next difference between areas to be 2 and then 0.
So, the series becomes:

Series(1): 56(400ALA)…..46(600ALA)…..40(800 ALA)…..35.5(1000ALA)…33.5(1200ALA)…..

So, from this, one can see that the dosage of ALA that would maximize its glucose up-take enhancing effects and glucose disposing effects, while minimizing any over-dosing(The ALA would simply be excreted, with your hard earned money),
would be 1200mg ALA per 108g carbs or 11.11mg ALA/ (g) carbs.

From the table above, one can also see that as the amount of R-ALA is increased in relation to a given specific carb meal(C=108g), the area under curve does indeed gets smaller, but only slightly. One can therefore surmise that over the amount of 400mg per 108g carbs there isn’t really any point in taking more as the area
under the blood glucose curve will decrease negligibly, and you’d basically be throwing your R-ALA away. That would put the optimal dosage of R-ALA per (g) of carbs at 3.70mg R-ALA per gram of carbs. This makes R-ALA 3X as powerful as racemic ALA if the carb meal <108g (3.7mg/g carbs compared to 11.11mg/g carbs) (Remember carbs < 108g) If you want to nit-pick, yes, you can go as high as 600-800mg of R-ALA per 108g carbs, but you’ll only get a 7.5-9% increase in effectiveness(See the table). Hardly efficient or cost effective if you ask me.

Now, as you may have noticed I have also included a high-carb section w/ ALA and R-ALA. This section was to test if there was an upper limit to ALA’s effectiveness. What I asked myself, was wether there was a physiological point where ALA just stopped working(i.e. Too much glucose entering the blood-stream.).
I’ll re-post the data:

Carbohydrates = 280g(At once)

2000mg R-ALA:
(Area under the curve): 10 + 9.5 + 20 +12 + 17 = 68.5 units squared
2000mg ALA:
(Area under the curve): 12.5 + 50 + 28 = 90.5 units squared
3000mg ALA:
(Area under the curve): 10 + 20 + 12.5 + 16 + 13 = 71.5 units squared

Ok, here is the interesting part……as extrapolated above, R-ALA is about 3X more powerful than ALA at stimulating glucose up-take and disposal FOR A SPECIFIC AMOUNT OF CARBS. Very important this. From the numbers above, one can easily see that 2000mgs R-ALA was about as effective as 3100mg ALA(I extrapolated) in keeping the blood glucose response curve under control, making it only 55% stronger than ALA not 3X stronger.
Interesting. We have just discovered something of importance. R-ALA(And similiarly ALA to a smaller degree) works best if carb intake during the day is comprised of SMALLER carb meals not one big one.


Having completed the experiment I can safely say I think I have the dosages of R-ALA and racemic ALA pretty well figured out. These are: 11.11mg of racemic ALA per gram(g) of carbohydrates, and 3.7mg of R-ALA per gram(g) of carbohydrates; AS LONG AS the carb content of the meal is kept < 108g. If the carb content of the meal goes beyond 108g the R-ALA loses effectiveness at an ever increasing rate, but still manages to be 55% more effective(mg per mg) than racemic after a single 280g carb load.
To use an analogy, R-ALA is like a scalpel while ALA is like a kitchen Knife. They will both work, but for cutting I would go with R-ALA, and for bulking I’d go with racemic ALA because of the cost.

My experience concurs, I have found r-ala to be about 2x as effective as racemix. But the price of r-ala is about 3x which makes racemix more cost effective.

Sorry, but I found your experiment inconclusive b/c of your methods for experimentation.

I know that to get real accurate results, other methods would have to apply, but these are some ways to improve your experiment:

The 12hour fast is correct.
I saw that you did use the same carbodhydrate amounts which is correct, but, was each meal the same?(as in 9g olive oil fat, 36g pure whey protein,108 dextrose, or 0g fat, 48 pure whey protein,288g dextrose). If each meal wasn't the same like I explained, and lets say you were eating the same macronutrient amount, but one meal had milk in it, while the others didn't, this would create flaws in your experiment. Each meal would have to be the same in amount (g), rate of gastric emptying, response to insulin, and many other factors (meaning that each meal would have to be exactly the same, having just the same macronutrient breakdown is not correct).

Your starting glucose levels would have to be the same in each experiment.(you should know why)
You have to take into acount Insulin sensitivity decreases from morning to night time, so the experiment should be performed in the morning.( I believe you tested yourself throughout the day after each meal)
Insulin sensitivity can change from day to day, and other factors like exercise can affect your insulin sensitivity. So you would have to be on the same diet for at least a week, and you would have to inhibit exercise( although you could incorporate exercise, this would have to be done as a totally different experiment).
Glucose meter testing should only be done after 12 hours of fasting, (in exercise experiments= after workout )
You would have to perform the experiment many times to come up with a statistical conclusion.
I could go on and on.....

I was really wondering what your glucose levels were when you didn't administer the R-ALA or the ALA. If you gave this number, you would be able to compare placebo to your ALA products, while at the same time, measure how your own insulin responds so that you could compare your insulin sensitivity at the current time, to a future date to see if your insulin sensitivity is improving based on your current diet.

LAWNSAVER or any others, have you done a similiar test on yourself for exogenous insulin?
Another problem with the experiment is the purity of the R-ALA that was used. That is the first thing you should check...
What you guys paying for RALA?

I might be able to help w/ a 250mg 100 pill per bottle R-ala. I started a small company for just R-ALA since I got good deal on it and can do 500+ bottles per month if you guys are interested?