CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, belongs to the omega family of fatty acids. Specifically, CLA is a mixture of at least 28 positional and geometric isomers of linoleic acid, which is an essential omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid. Essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body alone and therefore must be consumed through the diet.
How It Works
CLA reduces body fat by increasing basal metabolic rates. In other words, it helps the body convert food more efficiently into energy.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CLA FOR TRAINING?
One trial, 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.
1. CLA for Weight Loss and Increased Metabolic Rate
The main reason that CLA is so popular is its connection to weight loss.
It has been proposed that consuming CLA can help increase weight loss and decrease body fat through a series of biochemical reactions that act to increase the basal metabolic rate. Our basal metabolic rate is the minimum amount of energy the body requires to function, whereby an increase in BMR means that more calories are burned for the body to function.
CLA is involved in a series of metabolic reactions that regulate fat tissue in the body. It is thought that through increasing BMR, CLA acts to alter the body fat to muscle ratio and increase energy expenditure.
2. Enhanced muscle growth
Despite a decrease in body fat percentage, an overall decrease in weight is often not observed. This is because CLA has been shown to effectively increase muscle to fat ratio and act to enhance the growth of lean muscle mass. As muscles are metabolically active, an increase in muscle mass means the body burns more calories at rest.
3. Lowers cholesterol and blood glucose levels
There are also several other health benefits associated with this CLA supplementation. For example, CLA has been shown to help reduce blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels, reducing risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. For example, Kritchevsky et al. (1994) found that supplementation with 0.5g per day of CLA in rabbits caused a significant reduction in both LDL and total cholesterol, and an examination of the rabbit’s heart showed lower levels of atherosclerosis when compared to rabbits who did not receive CLA treatment.
4. Supports the immune system
When dieting and exercising regularly, the body can become run down and become more susceptible to illnesses. However, supplementing with CLA may help to boost the immune system. In several studies, CLA has been shown to increase immune system response and may also act to prevent catabolic (tissue breakdown) effects of the immune system during times of illness.
CLA and Fat Burning
The documented benefit of CLA in reducing body fat is explained by two main theories.
1) The first is the reduction of lipid uptake into adipocytes (fat cells) by inhibition of a specific enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (15-16). This mechanism is facilitated predominantly by the t10 isomer of CLA (16).
2) The second mechanism considered is the proposed benefit of CLA in reducing the accumulation of triacylglycerol in fat cells. Triacylglycerol is a blood lipid which enables transfer of glucose and fat from the liver.
In animal model studies on mice CLA was found to reduce accumulation of triacylglycerol in fat cells (17). This benefit was also seen in cultures of human cells with the t10 isomer (18-19).
A separate study demonstrated that fat loss in rats fed a CLA supplement is due to a reduction in size of fat cells by 15 to 29% compared to controls (20).
These results indicate the CLA can reduce both synthesis and storage of fat cells, as such reducing levels of body fat in both animal and human laboratory models.
Further studies on CLA fat burning
Another benefit found is that in an animal model a CLA supplemented diet increased oxygen consumption and energy expenditure, leading to greater fat burning capacity in the skeletal muscle tissue (15, 21).
As such, this indicates that CLA can potentially not only reduce body fat; but then also assists removing fatty deposits in our muscles.
Sources of CLA
CLA can be found in a number of commonly consumed foods. In particular, animal products including meat and dairy products.
However, in order to achieve all the benefits of CLA, the amount consumed through diet alone isn’t always enough. CLA tablets and capsules can be added to your diet plan and training regime.
|Food||mg of CLA per gram of fat|
|Fresh Ground Beef
When to Take CLA Tablets and How Much
There are various dosages of CLA recommended. In order to help reduce body fat, between 1.8 to 7g of CLA is recommended daily. For optimum results, we recommend 2 soft gels to be taken with meals 1 to 3 times daily.