What is CLA?
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is an Omega-6 fatty acid which is found in the meat and dairy products of animals such as cows and sheep, but is not naturally produced by the human body. Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a fatty acid like that of Linoleic acid, but they have different molecular structures. Interestingly enough, although they are chemically related, it is found that they have opposite effects on the body once consumed.
Linoleic Acid has been found to stimulate lipogenesis which is the metabolic formation of fat. CLA does the opposite by inhibiting fat formation in the body. This is also why CLA is known as an anti-carcinogen as it inhibits the development of cancer by preventing tumor growth.
Studies have shown that the naturally occurring CLA is produced by the fermentative bacteria in the digestive tract of ruminant animals, therefore consuming meat or diary by a grass-fed animal gives you up to 4 times the amount of CLA than a animal who is grain fed. Due to this finding, there was a theory made that states that the change in feeding of cattle from grass-fed to grain-fed, has led to an increase in the obesity level of humans – but studies are still being done to prove that hypothesis.
It is incredibly hard to naturally increase the CLA levels in your diet, as it requires consuming a lot of fat (mostly saturated). That is why a CLA supplementation was manufactured and recommended.
CLA – As a Supplement:
CLA is a non-stimulatory supplement, which is dark brown or amber in colour. It is capsule containing safflower oil (50:50 ratios of c9t11 and t10c12). It is recommended to take 1-2 capsules, 2 or 3 times a day, and is best to consume with main meals. If used in conjunction with other supplements, it has been found to work best with Creatine, Caffeine and Whey protein products.
CLA supplements enhance the muscle growth in your body and decrease the fat deposition therefore resulting in an improved body composition. This is achieved by enhancing your body’s insulin sensitivity i.e. drives the glucose and fatty acids into the muscle cells and away from the fatty tissue. What this simply means is that instead of the sugar being stored as fat, it is rather being burned up in your muscles for energy. Due to this, it has been found that CLAs don’t necessary make your fat cells smaller, but rather prevents them from getting bigger. That is why CLA’s are most effective when used in conjunction with a good diet and exercise regime.
The benefits of CLA as a supplement include:
- Improves your immune function
- Lowers your cholesterol and triglycerides
- Increases your metabolic rate & assists with loosing fat mass
- Prevents the breakdown of muscles
- Inhibits the development of cancer by preventing tumor growth
- Assists during the growth and retention of lean muscles
- Lowers insulin resistance to prevent diabetes during adulthood
- Helps controls weight by diverting the calories away from fat storage
During numerous studies, it was found that CLA is more beneficial for those who consumed the capsules over longer periods of time compared to those who consumed them over a shorter duration. While training and dieting, the group of people who consumed CLA capsules appeared to lose more weight overall, in areas such as around the abdominal area, than those who didn’t. They also showed a great muscle mass growth than those who didn’t supplement with CLA during training.
CLAs will not be able to burn the fat off your body, nor are they a miracle cure for weight loss. CLA supplements are designed to assist you with the weight loss and speed up the progress, so you will be able to receive optimal results. With the long term benefits and very minimal side effects (if any), it is no surprise why CLAs are used worldwide as a supplement for weight loss.