Ursolic acid has no additional effect on muscle strength and mass in active men undergoing a high-protein diet and resistance training: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Background Ursolic acid (UA) is thought to have an anabolic effect on muscle mass in humans. This study sought to compare the effects of UA and a placebo on muscle strength and mass in young men undergoing resistance training (RT) and consuming a high-protein diet. Methods A clinical, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted for 8 weeks. The Control+RT group (CON n = 12) received 400 mg/d of placebo, and the UA+RT group (UA n = 10) received 400 mg/d of UA. Both groups ingested ∼1.6 g/kg of protein and performed the same RT program. Pre- and post-intervention, both groups were evaluated for anthropometric measures, body composition, food intake and muscle strength. Results Food intake remained unchanged throughout the study. Both groups showed significant increases in body weight (CON Δ: 2.12 ± 0.47 kg, p = 0.001 vs. UA Δ: 2.24 ± 0.67 kg, p = 0.009), body mass index (BMI) (CON Δ: 0.69 ± 0.15 kg/m², p = 0.001 vs. UA Δ: 0.75 ± 0.23, p = 0.011) and thigh circumference (CON Δ: 1.50 ± 0.36, p = 0.002 vs. UA Δ: 2.46 ± 0.50 cm, p = 0.003 vs. UA 1.84 ± 0.82 cm, p = 0.001), with differences between them. There was no difference in the arm, waist and hip circumferences. Both groups showed increases in muscle mass (CON Δ: 1.12 ± 0.26, p = 0.001 vs. UA Δ: 1.08 ± 0.28 kg, p = 0.004), but there was no significant difference between them. Additionally, there were significant increases in the one repetition maximum test in the bench press and in the 10-repetition maximum test in the knee extension (CON Δ: 5.00 ± 2.09, p = 0.036 vs. UA Δ: 7.8 ± 1.87, p = 0.340 and CON Δ: 3.58 ± 1.15, p = 0.010 vs. UA Δ: 1.20 ± 0.72, p = 0.133), respectively, with no difference between them. Conclusions Ursolic acid had no synergic effect on muscle strength and mass in response to RT in physically active men consuming a high-protein diet. Brazilian Clinical Trials Registry (ReBEC) RBR-76tbqs.

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