Conjugated linoleic acid, better known as CLA is a fatty acid which is found easily in dairy products as well as meats such as beef, lamb and kangaroo. In recent years, there has been plentiful research regarding CLA and its supplementation on exercise as well as for fat loss. The ingredient’s most common use is a fat loss support supplement as it is believed to inhibit certain enzymes which lead to fat cells storing fat and getting bigger. It is also taken as a pre- or intra- workout thanks to research showing that it can lead to greater fat burning. But did you know it can even help you recover?
New research by Tsao et al studied the effects of longer term CLA supplementation on muscle glycogen replenishment. 12 male participants were chosen to participate in a cross over trial which involved either taking CLA or a placebo for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, each participant performed a 60 min cycling bout at 75% VO2 Max before consuming a carbohydrate rich meal and was then examined via muscle biopsies, blood and gas samples to ascertain their recovery ability.
The scientists found that after a single bout of exercise with a carbohydrate rich recovery meal; those supplementing with CLA had greater muscle glycogen content than those on a placebo. Muscle glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT 4) expression was also increased for those who took CLA over the 8 week period. This is the main type of glucose transporter in skeletal muscle.
If you participate in regular high intensity exercise or exercise that involves a major cardio component, glycogen resynthesis and recovery is going to be important, especially if you want to continue performing at your best. While eating a carbohydrate rich meal will certainly help, you can further boost your recovery by having CLA for a couple of weeks. You might even find yourself losing some bonus fat mass whilst your at it. Make sure to have at least 3.8g per day for around 8 weeks for best effects.
Tsao JP, Liao SF, Korivi M, Hou CW, Kuo CH, Wang HF, Cheng IS. ‘Oral conjugated linoleic acid supplementation enhanced glycogen resynthesis in exercised human skeletal muscle.’ J Sports Sci. 2014 Nov 11:1-9.