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This fat will enhance strength and muscle growth
By Jordana Brown
November 12, 2009
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a healthy fat that’s a derivative of the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid, which occurs naturally in the meat of cows and in dairy products. It is full of benefits, including anti-inflammatory actions, cancer-fighting functions and protection from heart disease, but the one FLEX readers will likely be most interested in is the ability of CLA to enhance muscle growth and strength while reducing the storage of bodyfat.
Good thing that as a growing bodybuilder you eat a lot of beef and guzzle gallons of milk, right? Actually, ample meat and dairy intake no longer necessarily equates to ample CLA intake, for two reasons. First, low-fat dairy products are low in CLA because CLA is among the fat removed from whole milk.
Second, current farming practices interfere with the way CLA is produced. CLA is metabolized by bacteria in cows’ stomachs from the grass they eat. Because cows today are generally fed grain instead of grass, and even grass-fed ones are not allowed to graze outside for as long as they used to, CLA production has dropped dramatically. Many experts estimate a 75% reduction in CLA levels in meats and dairy products. So, the main way to ensure you’re getting sufficient CLA is to supplement with it.
Many bodybuilders don’t seem to supplement with CLA, perhaps because the majority of research on CLA has shown just modest reductions in bodyfat and small gains in muscle mass. Two recent studies should change that.
The first, performed at the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), looked at the effects of CLA on muscle gain and fat loss during a weight-lifting program. Seventy-six subjects completed a seven-week program that consisted of lifting three times per week. Half of the subjects took five grams (g) of CLA per day; the other half received a placebo. The researchers reported in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that the group supplementing with CLA increased their muscle mass by more than three pounds compared to less than half a pound for the placebo group. The CLA group also had greater strength gains in the bench press and lost about two pounds of bodyfat–without dieting. The placebo group, on the other hand, actually gained about one pound of fat.
So consider getting fat, in the form of CLA, to get lean and add quality muscle mass.