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What is Alpha-Ketoglutarate (AKG)?

Alpha-Ketoglutaric acid is a derivative of glutaric acid. AKG, also referred to as oxo-glutarate, is an important biological compound, and is the keto acid produced by the removal of an amine group from a molecule of glutamate during the Krebs cycle, a series of chemical reactions involved in aerobic respiration that occurs naturally. If this cycle slows down fat loss is prohibited, as fatty acids cannot be fully degraded.

AKG & Energy

During the Krebs cycle, a series of chemical reactions take place in living cells and is involved in energy production. The Krebs cycle occurs in the mitochondria of cells. More mitochondria are found in cells that expend a significant amount of energy, like muscle cells. AKG acts as a transporter of creatine to bring more creatine into the targeted muscle cells. AKG when administered orally, spares glutamine, thus increasing glutamine synthesis and availability. In the operating room, it has demonstrated prevention of protein catabolism and sparing muscle glutamine concentrations in the 24 hours after surgery.

AKG in Bodybuilding Supplements

In athletes, AKG when taken with other supplements, improves oxygen uptake, and decreases lactic acid in short duration exercise. AKG has been attached to single, or groups of amino acids including arginine and ornithine.

Ornithine-AKG (OKG) For Muscle

Alpha Ketoglutarate has been bound to ornithine for the past 25 years in France to treat burns victims. OKG is believed to be able to promote an anabolic and anticatabolic response which is attributed to ornithine and AKG sharing similar metabolic pathways. When coingested as OKG, the two compounds saturate receptor sites, increasing the availability of its unbound metabolites. OKG has been found to be significantly more effective than when ornithine or AKG is consumed separately.1

Arginine-AKG (A-AKG) For Muscle Recovery

Arginine is an amino acid that enhances muscle synthesis and recovery. Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO) synthesis. The potential benefits of increased NO levels include increased circulation to working muscles, increased nutrient uptake and protein synthesis. Separately, Alpha Ketoglutarate (AKG) combines with ammonia generated by intense muscle activity to create glutamine, an amino acid important for energy fuel and muscle recovery. Arginine is a nonessential amino acid that influences several processes including hormone secretion, increased in growth hormone output, removal of toxic waste products from the body, and immune system defences.Daily ingestion of L-Arginine AKG has been shown to increase the body’s creatine stores, which can improve performance of power athletes. Supplementing with Arginine Alpha Ketoglutarate increases nitric oxide (NO) levels. NO is important as it transports oxygen, increases blood flow and nutrient delivery to skeletal muscle. The more NO, the bigger the pump, and the bigger the muscle becomes. AKG also enhances workout performance, thus increasing muscle mass. Creatine is bound to the AKG molecule so that it can more easily enter muscle cells, bringing with it more creatine directly into the muscle cells.

AKG for Bodybuilders

AKG is a well-proven, versatile and highly effective supplement. In athletes and patients, AKG spares glutamine, thus enhancing its synthesis and availability. AKG is useful to athletes and patients post-surgery, as it is an anti-catabolic (prevents muscle protein depletion) after intense exercise or surgery. When combined with other amino acids, it enhances nutrient transport and uptake. It is used for improving athletic performance, as it improves amino acid metabolism. During heart surgery, AKG is even used to prevent a lack of blood and oxygen flow to the heart, proof of its enhanced oxygen transport ability.

1 Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements, Jose Antonio, PhD, Douglas Kalman, Phd, RD, Jeffrey R. Stout, PhD, Mike Greenwood, PhD, Darryn S. Willoughby, PhD, G. Gregory Haff PhD.

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