Controversy Over New ‘Steroid Alternative’

Natural Compound Boosts Muscle Growth 600% — But Should It Be Banned?

A new dietary supplement containing a concentrated double-bonded fatty acid isomer is currently the hottest thing going in amateur athletics — but not without controversy. 

Critics say the isomer called cis-9, trans-11 — trademarked C9-T11 — gives athletes an “unfair advantage” and should be banned. Proponents argue that research shows the nutrient to be both safe and effective and that banning the natural compound would be akin to banning vitamins. 

One thing people on both sides can agree on is the controversial, new supplement works. According to a recent study published in the journal Medicine & Science & Sports and Medicine, novice weight trainers who took cis-9,trans-11 for seven weeks experienced a 600% increase in lean muscle growth, including a 9-fold increase in biceps girth.

Another study published in the same journal found that in weight-training athletes, cis-9,trans-11 increased overall muscle strength by 202 percent within just 6 weeks — with zero side effects.

In fact, not only were there not any side effects, but men using the supplement actually experienced improved health measures across the board, including reductions in bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar.

And if all that weren’t reason enough to have athletes stocking up, researchers from Sweden’s Uppsala University found that people using cis-9,trans-11 for 28 days experienced a full 1-inch reduction of abdominal fat — without changes to their diets.

Word-of-mouth marketing has led to cis-9,trans-11 overtaking creatine as the most popular supplement in amateur athletic locker rooms. However, according to fitness registered dietician and fitness writer Dennis Johnson, M.S., CPT, the new “super supplement” amounts to an unfair advantage and should be banned because “it too closely resembles steroids in its benefits.”

“The main goal of the supplement industry is to produce legal alternatives to steroids,” says Johnson. “According to the Hatch Act, in order for any supplement to be legal it only needs to be found in a compound that exists in nature. But just because it’s legal and safe doesn’t mean it’s not cheating.”

Johnson argues that performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are banned not necessarily because of their untoward side effects but because they give athletes an unfair advantage — and so too, he says, does certain natural supplements, such as cis-9,trans-11.

‘Unreal’ Size and Strength Gains 

Whether or not using cis-9,trans-11 constitutes “cheating” doesn’t concern the thousands of athletes and fitness buffs using it.

Jason Massey, a 37-year-old amateur athlete from Fort Collins, Colorado, writes: “The gains in muscle size and strength I’m seeing with cis-9,trans-11 is UNREAL. 

“With other supplements I’ve used, I thought I could ‘kinda sorta’ notice a difference, but this is ridiculous. Cis-9,trans-11 is the first supplement I’ve used where I could actually notice vivid gains in muscle size. After my first 30-day ‘cycle,’ I’ve packed on over 25 pounds of muscle, and my strength has literally gone through the roof.”

Does cis-9,trans-11 deliver “steroid-like” muscle-growth effects? Well, judge for yourself. While the supplement has been banned from retailers like GNC and, a limited number of bottles are available by the supplement’s maker, ANR, LLC, online here.

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