What is CLA?
Not all fats are created equal.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fatty acid. Linoleic acid is one of the essential fatty acids which means you need to get them from the food you eat or from supplements.
CLA is taken as a supplement because it is known for its fat-burning and weight loss effects.
What are the benefits of CLA?
CLA has been touted as an effective, stimulant free weight loss supplement for more than a decade now.
CLA and weight loss
CLA helps you to lose body fat. Among the research is a study published that found that CLA reduced body fat and preserved muscle tissue in overweight or obese people who did not change their diet.
According to the study, individuals in the CLA group lost six more pounds of body fat, on average, compared to those in the placebo group.
Another study found that CLA reduced body fat in healthy exercising humans of normal body weight.
There are many mechanisms by which CLA helps to reduce body fat.
It modulates fat metabolism, which helps your body use food for energy, and it keeps you from building fat stores.
CLA also causes weight and fat loss because it boosts the body’s metabolism by increasing your energy expenditure and fat-burning which helps you to burn more calories.
Mechanism 1: CLA supplements boost metabolism
In one study researchers looked at the impact that a 3.2g CLA supplement had on the metabolism of overweight but otherwise healthy adults.
People who took the supplement burned fat stores more efficiently, used less protein for energy (in other words maintained muscle mass), and burned more energy while they slept compared to the placebo group.
Another study tested the impact of an even higher dose (3.76g) on fat burning and energy expenditure for a few months. Results showed that CLA increased the rate of energy expenditure, specifically by increasing the rate of fat burning.
These studies conclude that CLA supplements boosts your metabolism.
By increasing fat metabolism, your body is able to increase the number of calories that it is able to burn off each day and utilize its energy stores more efficiently.
Mechanism 2: CLA supplements lead to weight loss
One study looked at the impact of a high dosage of CLA (6.4g) on body weight in obese women.
This study found that taking CLA was associated with a lower BMI and lower fat tissue after 36 weeks.
The conclusion was that there is a decrease in overall weight as a result of CLA supplementation.
Mechanism 3: CLA supplements decrease fat stores
A study tested the impact of a 4.5g CLA supplement on fat loss in overweight but otherwise healthy people for one year.
The group taking the CLA supplement lost close to 9% more body fat than the placebo group, which amounted to 5.5 pounds after one year.
Another study looked at the impact of long-term (two year) supplementation of 3.4g of CLA. Subjects who lost body fat in the first year of the study were able to keep it off for the entire two years, averaging 6 pounds of body fat lost.
This is important, because the year after initial weight loss is typically the most common time for regaining lost fat.
These studies provide evidence of body fat loss from CLA supplements.
Taking CLA supplements has a beneficial impact on body fat loss in the first year, and continuing to take the supplements kept the fat off in the following years.
CLA and bodybuilding
One study monitoring the benefits of CLA supplementation on muscle development, showed that consuming 7.2 grams of CLA per day, when accompanied by a bodybuilding regimen, led to an increase in skin-fold corrected arm girth, leg press gains, and overall body mass, as compared to a placebo group which performed the same routine without CLA.
In another study, participants who took 1.8 mg of CLA for 12 weeks and went to the gym for 90 minutes three times per week, reduced their body fat when the researchers compared them with a placebo group.
This research proves that CLA supplements reduces body fat and improves lean body mass which helps to boost your sports performance.
CLA and dieting
CLA also provides an important psychological benefit while dieting.
Research has found that participants who took CLA repeatedly commented that they felt markedly better than those who received a placebo.
Basically, it was associated with reducing the stress of a weight-loss diet.
CLA can be helpful to people who are dieting in part because the improved results make it easier for them to stick with the diet.
Dosage per day
Most studies on CLA have used doses of 3.2–6.4 grams per day. One review concluded that a minimum of 3 grams daily is necessary for weight loss. Capsules of a CLA supplement should be ingested slightly before or during a meal.
Doses of up to 6 grams per day are considered safe, with no reports of adverse side effects.
The bottom line
The biggest benefit of a CLA supplement is its fat-burning effects. CLA breaks down stubborn fat, which may otherwise be difficult to get rid of.
For anyone who is interested in the world of fitness, CLA helps you to increase lean body mass which can really make a huge difference in the results you see from your efforts.
Taking a CLA supplement increases metabolic rate, makes weight loss easier and helps you to get the most out of your workout.