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Bodybuilders progress faster with 5 grams CLA daily

You mustn't exaggerate the effects of CLA, but it does work according to this Canadian study. Bodybuilders accumulate more muscle mass and lose more fat if they take 5 grams CLA per day, write sports scientists at the University of Saskatchewan in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Bodybuilders progress faster with 5 grams CLA daily
CLA gets fantastic results in animal studies, but the trans-fatty acid only does so-so in human studies. In 2002 'the' Richard Kreider published the results of a study in which CLA did nothing to help bodybuilders. [J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Aug;16(3):325-34.] Since then researchers have not dared to touch CLA with a barge pole if Kreider says something, then its incontestable.

Nevertheless, the Canadians make a brave attempt in their article. Kreider's test subjects probably didn't train very hard, they write. That's why they had the seventy subjects in their study train for 7 weeks under the supervision of a coach. The subjects trained three times a week. In each training session they did 12 exercises, covering all big muscle groups.

Half of the test subjects took CLA, and the other half trained took a placebo. The effects on muscle- and fat-mass are shown below.

Bodybuilders progress faster with 5 grams CLA daily

The researchers suspect that CLA has an anticatabolic effect. They base their reasoning on the figure below, which shows that the CLA users had less 3-methylhistidine in their urine than the placebo users. The amino acid 3-methylhistidine is only found in muscle protein. It is released when muscles are damaged.

Bodybuilders progress faster with 5 grams CLA daily

The test subjects' strength progressed faster when they took CLA, but the effects were not statistically significant.

All in all, CLA works, the Canadians conclude. But should athletes use CLA? "When deciding whether to use CLA as a dietary supplement, one would have to weigh these relatively small beneficial effects against the relatively high monetary costs of CLA", are their concluding words.

The studied was partly financed by Bioriginal Food and Science Corp., a manufacturer of fatty acids for the supplements industry. The company also makes CLA.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Feb; 38 (2):339-48.

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