Conjugated Linoleic Acid also known as CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid. Found in many dairy products & in beef, eggs and other meats, it has been studied extensively since it was discovered more than a decade ago. Human studies show that CLA can be effective in promoting fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass. Traditionally CLA has been used by anyone wanting to lose weight while preserving lean muscle mass. Some research shows CLA may be effective at helping with the maintenance of weight loss, making it suitable for anyone who has recently lost weight & wants to prevent the lost weight from returning.
Your body contains millions of tiny fat cells. To lose weight, you have to literally drain the fat out of the cell & burn it for energy. Unfortunately, every fat cell in your body is literally programmed to store fat. And the less fat you have, the harder your body will fight to hold on to every last pound. According to Dr. Michael Pariza, a CLA expert based at the University of Wisconsin USA, "every fat cell in the body wants to get big. What the CLA does is force that fat cell to stay little by affecting a number of enzymes that are ordinarily responsible for filling it with lipids." In other words, CLA literally diverts the calories you eat AWAY from fat & into muscle tissue. For instance, scientists from Sweden took a group of 60 overweight subjects, & gave them different doses of CLA for 12 weeks. The amounts varied from 1.7 to 6.8 grams daily. Subjects took 3 capsules with Breakfast, lunch & dinner. The results showed that CLA (in a daily dosage of at least 3.4 grams per day) could increase fat loss. Those who didn't use CLA gained weight. More interesting still, CLA users gained muscle - despite the fact they followed only a very "light" Training Programme1.
Since its discovery in the late 1970s, there have been countless studies looking at the supplementation and use of CLAs and its effect on weight and amount of body fat. Recently a 2012 review2 found that longer term use of CLAs for greater than 6 months helped lead to statistically significant weight loss and fat loss over the use of placebos. While the investigation for the use of CLAs has looked at its changes on body composition, few studies have looked at CLA supplementation and resistance exercise. However, a 2006 study3 was able to show that perhaps the use of CLA during a 7 weeks of resistance training may have helped exert anti-catabolic effects, which explains why those who used CLA experienced greater lean muscle mass gains. In addition, CLA has also been studied for its potential to act as an anti-cancer agent and for gastrointestinal issues such as Crohn’s Disease.
High-quality CLA is usually found in dark (such as amber or brown) soft gel capsules. The bottle CLA is stored in should not be clear. The use of a bottle that blocks light ensures that the potential for the degradation & oxidation of CLA is reduced. Beware of extremely cheap sources of CLA that don't list the amounts of CLA contained in each capsule. Tests show they often contain little of the active ingredient. CLA is not a stimulant, & most experts consider it to be safe to use for extended periods of time. CLA is usually taken with meals, in divided doses of 800-1500 milligrams depending on manufacturers’ recommendations. In accordance to studies, it seems at least 3.4g per day is considered the best dose to elicit the beneficial effects. Combined with a good diet & an effective exercise programme, CLA can help you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. CLA can also help you keep the weight off by diverting calories in the food you eat away from fat storage & towards muscle tissue. Further research shows that CLA works well with caffeine and creatine at promoting fat loss & muscle growth. It stands to reason that CLA has a synergistic effect with green tea extract & other thermogenic supplements. This means that the two supplements combined will produce greater results than either one taken alone. CLA is considered safe with little to no negative side effects.
CLA Supplements are commonly presented & sold as Complementary Medicines, Registered Therapeutic Items or Goods and Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia. CLA is not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read label prior to use.1. Blankson H, Stakkestad JA, Fagertun H, Thom E, Wadstein J, Gudmundsen O. ‘Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans.’ J Nutr. 2000 Dec;130(12):2943-8.