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The Effects of Arachidonic Acid (ARA) On Strength & Muscle Mass

NOTE: The brand of ARA used in the study covered in this article – the brand with longest track record and most extensive  feedback by users – is X Factor by Molecular Nutrition. For  companies looking to carry ARA, the manufacturer of ARA  is Cargill and the contact (wholesale inquiries only) is

I recently did a video on ARA which discusses this study that found ARA had positive effects on strength and muscle mass, but was not able to give details because it had yet to be published as an abstract or full paper. The study results are now public and I cover them below.  Two previous articles on ARA ( Part I), by Monica M cover why ARA is a generally misunderstood fatty acid and not a a negative to health, (part II ) covered the safety of ARA as a supplement. Finally, Part III, cuts through the hype and bro-science to give details on ARA and it’s use as a supplement for increasing strength and muscle mass! My understanding is a full paper is in process that will also examine the specific mechanisms of ARA and its impact on strength, muscle mass, and performance.

This study looked at the effects of 1.5g per day of ARA for  8 weeks  on muscle hypertrophy, body composition, strength, and power, compared to a placebo matched control. For those who don’t enjoy reading abstracts and studies, here’s the cliffs notes followed by the full details:

• The group receiving 1.5g of ARA had in increase in lean body mass (LBM) of  approx 3%, corresponding to 3.5 lb (1.6 kg) compared to no changes in the placebo group

• Muscle thickness increased in the group receiving ARA  (+9.5%) vs. the placebo group (+4.7%).

• There was an improvement in  anaerobic power (via Wingate test which  measures  30 second maximal output), which increased in the group getting ARA  (+10.7%) vs. the placebo group (+3.8%).

• The group receiving ARA increased their bench press and leg press strength to a greater degree than the placebo group. Continue reading..

New Supplement Technologies (Teaser)

In this vid I give quick look at some technologies that greatly enhance solubility of compounds known for their poor solubility. Such a technology applied to various supplements could greatly improve their bioavailability. The link in the vid also takes you to another vid and article with additional info on the topic BTW.

Does Excess Protein Make You Fat?

In this vid I cover the (seemingly) never ending debate regarding the old advice that “protein intakes above your requirements will just be converted to bodyfat” that is the mantra of traditional nutrition advice. Is it true?

More Protein Myths Covered HERE

This is the study discussed in this video:


The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals

Jose Antonio*, Corey A Peacock, Anya Ellerbroek, Brandon Fromhoff and Tobin Silver

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014, 11:19 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-19

Continue reading..

Arachidonic Acid (ARA) part 2 – Is ARA supplementation safe? Can it even be beneficial?

EDITORS NOTE: I (Will) recently did a video on ARA which discusses a recent study that found ARA had positive effects on strength and muscle mass readers will want to check out. The results of this study will be covered HERE and in a future article by Monica. This excellent article below by Monica discusses the safety of ARA supplements and possible health benefits that set the record straight on this fatty acid…

In part 1 I outlined the background to the “ARA is bad” theory, and presented studies that have refuted this notion. Part 1 also explains the importance of distinguishing the different omega-6 fatty acids, LA and ARA, and describes the bell-shaped relationship between ARA and EPA + DHA in cell membranes.

In this part you will learn about safety aspects and potential health benefits (!) of ARA supplementation…

Safety and Health Effects of ARA supplementation

With the bad reputation that ARA has, let’s start by looking at safety data. On a typical modern diet (that includes meat, eggs and fish) the average intake of ARA is approximately 100–200 mg ARA per day.[1-5] Several studies have investigated safety aspects of ARA supplementation in different populations.

When healthy volunteers were given over 7 times the usual intake of ARA (i.e. 1500 to 1700 g ARA per day, compared to usual intake of 200 mg ARA per day) in a 7 week controlled feeding study, no effects on platelet aggregation, bleeding times, the balance of vasoactive metabolites, serum lipid levels, or immune response were observed.[6-10] Likewise, in a recent study on healthy men aged 26-60 years, supplementation with 840 mg ARA per day for 4 weeks had no effect on any metabolic parameter or platelet function.[11]

A study in healthy Japanese men and women aged 55-70 investigated whether ARA supplementation affects clinical parameters involved in cardiovascular, inflammatory, and allergic diseases.[12] Subjects were supplemented with ARA-enriched oil (240 or 720 mg ARA per day) or placebo for 4 weeks, followed by a 4-week washout period. The fatty acid contents of plasma phospholipids, clinical parameters, and AA metabolites were determined at baseline, 2, 4, and 8 weeks. It was found that ARA content in plasma phospholipids in the ARA supplemented groups increased dose-dependently and was almost the same at 2 weeks and at 4 weeks. The elevated ARA content decreased to nearly baseline during a 4-week washout period. Contrary to expectations, during the supplementation and washout periods, no changes were observed in plasma phospholipid EPA and DHA content. There were no changes in clinical blood parameters related to cardiovascular, inflammatory and allergic diseases.[12]

Continue reading..

Journal Of Special Operations Medicine (JSOM) Paper


Hit cover picture to be taken to the JSOM home page

The Journal Of Special Operations Medicine (JSOM) covers a wide range of topics focused on special operations forces (SOF). Topics range from medical procedures and other medical based focus (diseases, etc) SOF can face and need medical treatment for. JSOM also covers topics such as training and injury prevention, and even topics such as nutritional supplements that may benefit SOF. For example, JSOM recently published a review of the importance of vitamin D for soldiers.

So, having a personal and professional interest in the topic, it should not be a big surprise I read this journal. Recently  Dr. Kyle Hoedebecke and yours truly had an LTE published in JSOM. This short paper was in response to a review paper  titled  “Operational stressors on physical performance in special operators and countermeasures to improve performance: a review of the literature.” by O’Hara R, Henry  A, Serres J, Russell D, Locke R.

In this review the authors  concluded that “The rigors of both physical training and prolonged deployments without adequate rest and food intake can compromise physical performance.” After doing a literature search, they  concluded that  “Specific countermeasures for these known decrements are lacking in the scientific literature.”

Dr.  Hoedebecke and I responded that there were published studies that demonstrate a number of nutritional supplements  may  counteract some of the decrements of training and combat specific to special operations forces (SOF) and other military personnel, and we covered a small sample of nutritional supplements that can directly assist SOF and other military personnel. This is the citation and abstract from what we submitted and was published in  JSOM as response:

Hoedebecke K, Brink W. Operational stressors on physical performance in special operators and countermeasures to improve performance: a review of the literature. J Spec Oper Med. 2014 Summer;14(2):84-5.


In the article “Operational Stressors on Physical Performance in Special Operators and Countermeasures to Improve Performance: A Review of the Literature,” O’Hara and colleagues* performed a literature search for “specific countermeasures to reduce or prevent significant decrements in physical performance and reduce musculoskeletal injuries” with the conclusion that “specific countermeasures for these known decrements are lacking in the scientific literature.” This deduction, however, proves inaccurate as evidence within the military community does exist and, unfortunately, has been undervalued. Provided here are only a few examples of present Special Operations Force (SOF)-relevant supplement research.

NOTE: If you’d like to read the full paper by O’Hara R, Henry  A, Serres J, Russell D, Locke R. and the response to their paper by Dr. Hoedebecke and myself, JSOM does give a 3 day free membership where you can read back issues, full papers, etc. If interested, go HERE  for your free 3 day membership so you can read the above papers as well as others you may find interesting.




The Ultimate Training Program?!

This short vid covers why I love the sled and my latest training program. Strength & Conditioning, fat loss, rehab/prehab work, etc. This program – be you bodybuilder, strongman, fitness model, or BJJ/UFC athlete – has you covered and will make an excellent addition to your strength & conditioning base and a great “need something different” program. More info on the program HERE

Creatine Contraindications

Below is a side bar from a lengthy article I recently wrote on the latest studies covering the many potential benefits of creatine. This short side bar covers the possible contraindications of creatine

Are there any contraindications Of Creatine Monohydrate?

Hundreds of studies to date have shown that creatine monohydrate is an amazingly non-toxic and safe supplement with numerous benefits. Further studies directly examining possible side effects, both prospective and long-term retrospective (up to five years), have failed to find any serious side effects of creatine supplementation (65-69) on various markers studied, such as renal function, hepatic function, and others. So are there contraindications of creatine monohydrate?

Although creatine monohydrate is clearly safe for healthy people with a very low side-effects profile using up to 10 grams per day, are there specific groups who should not use it?

Again, the data suggest very few actual contraindications. The only people who should avoid creatine supplements are those with a history of renal disease and/or those taking nephrotoxic (poisonous to the kidneys) medications. There’s been a handful of case reports that show very high doses of creatine (and the reports were not always clear as to what form of creatine was used) were associated with kidney dysfunction.(70) Typical for such a simple case report, it’s unclear what other medications were involved or pre-existing medical condition existed.

However tenuous the connection between high-dose creatine monohydrate and pre-existing kidney dysfunction, it’s prudent to advise people with a history of renal disease and/or those taking nephrotoxic medications to avoid creatine supplementation until more data exists examining that connection. As creatine monohydrate supplementation may cause a transient increase in creatinine levels in some individuals, it may act as a false indicator of renal dysfunction.

Full Article HERE

The Shoulder Part 1: Impingement Syndrome

How many times have we done or seen people at the gym doing the “wind-mill” stretch before a workout?   Sooner or later every weightlifter will experience pain and tenderness in their shoulder.  The pain usually lingers for weeks if not months, and the pain is usually more noticeable when performing a bench and/or overhead press, but it gets better later into the workout. Chances are someone has said that it is possibly bursitis or rotator cuff issue, and rest and “take it easy” is the best way to treat it, but taking it easy or rest isn’t going to happen.

Continue reading..

Do You “Need” Supplements?!

Some claim “you don’t need any supplements” to make progress in the gym, or when trying to lose fat, or improve performance. Some claim they “need” a long list of supplements to succeed. What’s the truth? I cover the facts in this vid!

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