Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a potential anti-obesity agent with moderate effectiveness for the human population. It was initially prescribed for the anti-carcinogenic effect. But you might have questions; how can fat help to burn fat? Is CLA good for weight loss instead of burning calories by consuming less and practicing a hefty physical routine? I have made a checklist; Is CLA Good for Weight Loss? for you.
What is CLA?
CLA are polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3s and have almost 28 known types, out of which two are most abundant with proportions 85% and 10%, respectively. Meat and dairy products are natural sources of Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Supplements contain more significant amounts of CLA than foods.
Moreover, Linoleic acid is the most essential fatty acid, and your body can not synthesize it; that’s why you have to rely on natural sources to meet the requirement. Researchers believe that the amount of Conjugated Linoleic Acid present in the body affects animals’ diet, age, breed, and other seasonal factors.
So the deficiency of conjugated linoleic acid indeed affects health. (Conjugated is the name of the bonding type.) Still, there is not enough supporting evidence to clarify it as you can enjoy good health even if you don’t get enough from your food. But what about weight loss? Is it effective for losing weight? Keep reading to find the answer.
Can It Aid Fat-Burning and Weight Loss?
As obesity increases worldwide fast with the advancement of science and technology, people are becoming lazier and lazier with the help of machines and robots to perform their daily activities.
Due to this reason, interest in Conjugated Linoleic Acid has increased because it can be a potential weight-loss treatment. It is one of the most comprehensively researched weight loss supplements globally.
CLA’s biological activity is first observed to fight cancer in mice. Later studies suggested that CLA may be a potential weight-loss treatment. Many studies indicated that this supplement could help to reduce weight in several ways. It worked to reduce weight by decreasing food intake, increasing fat burning, stimulating fat breakdown, and inhibiting fat production.
Scientists have extensively studied CLA in randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of human scientific experimentation—- with mixed results. Some studies also showed that CLA had increased human body composition by burning extra fat and increasing muscle mass. However, many studies showed no effect at all.
In a review of 18 controlled trials, CLA was noticed to reduce modest fat levels. The effects were prominent during the first 6 months. Another study showed that CLA caused 3 pounds more weight loss than placebo. These effects may be statistically significant but small, and there are potential side effects.
So the most recent research suggests that CLA has no well-known results on weight loss in both the short and long term; instead, it has potential side effects.
CLA Weight Loss Results
There exists confusion among people related to the efficacy of CLA when used for losing body weight. Many ADS for CLA supplements claim scientific backing that CLA helps to reduce body fat and make you slim and smart. Their credibility is not what matters; sources also hide information regarding their potential risk.
CLA reduced body fat in overweight people and preserved muscle tissues without changing their diet. This discovery led to an influx of studies examining various aspects, but one consistent finding revealed that CLA helps people lose fat. Another research at Louisiana state university showed an 88% reduction in body fat of mice when fed with CLA for 6 weeks.
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Risks of it
Is there any risk that exists? If so, then to what extent will it cause harm? These are the things that have made the topic more confusing and tricky. But don’t worry; I am here to make it easy for you. Early studies were done on mice and pigs. When applied to humans, results are not very clear, although some promising studies show the efficacy of CLA for improving body composition and weight loss.
Studies, CLA, and weight loss
In studies where scientists observed weight loss compared to humans, the weight loss is relatively small. For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that people lost 1 pound of weight when taking CLA for 12 weeks compared to people not taking it. That’s about 10th of a pound per week. People taking its supplements have reduced weight by more minor than half a percentage point compared to people not taking pills.
Other studies also showed similar results. For example, in a study in 2007, researchers evaluated results from eighteen different studies where participants took CLA for more extended periods ( 6 months-2 years). People lost weight who took CLA, but it amounts to less than a quarter of a pound per week.
Also, many other studies demonstrated no long-term weight loss, especially in human participants.
Here is an awesome video exploring if is CLA Good for Weight Loss:
Is CLA beneficial for you? If yes, then how? The answer is simple. It entirely depends on the way you use it. Several studies concluded that the daily recommended dosage of CLA is estimated to be 3.4 grams (3,400 milligrams). Researchers used amounts 3-4 times higher in many studies but for 12 weeks. And what about 3.4 grams? It’s up to debate when we get 3.4 grams.
A food scientist named Peter W. Parodi at Dairy Research and Development Corporation Victoria, Australia, found that “milk fat is the richest source of CLA.” but in America, dairy food consumption dropped dramatically, as much as 80% in the last two decades. Some studies suggest higher CLA levels might protect against heart diseases.
CLA’S potential benefits are not limited to a slender waistline and increasing muscles’ strength and exercise endurance, but also CLA positively impacts various ailments. Dr. Delbert Dorscheid, a cancer and asthma researcher at the University of Chicago, reviewed more than 200 studies related to CLA’s health benefits. He found that women with increased CLA concentration in their bodies have lower breast-cancer rates. Same with colon and prostate cancer. CLA helps boost the immune system and decrease cardiovascular diseases like type 2 diabetes and allergies.
Milk and CLA
If you’re drinking 2-3 glasses of milk daily and you’re satisfied with recommended consumption of CLA, then you may be wrong. Livestock feeding practices have largely removed the content of CLA from our diets. Larry D. Satter, an Agricultural dairy research scientist, demonstrated in his findings that CLA in milk from cows grazing on pastures is 500 times more than the cows feeding on hay or silage.
This demonstration is true when non-grazers eat pasture grass conserved as hay. Similarly, pasture-fed cows’ meat has more CLA levels than non-grazers meat.
Recommended CLA consumption helps strengthen the body’s immune system and heart health and ensures better blood sugar control.
How does CLA work?
CLA works by increasing basal metabolic rates, due to which more efficient conversion of food into energy took place. In other words, instead of reducing body weight, CLA prohibits the growth of small fat cells from becoming more prominent. CLA helps in altering the body’s fat-to-muscle ratio.
Pariza told the American Chemical Society that CLA stops the growth of small cells. He found that people who stopped taking CLA put weight back in the ratio of 75% fat to 25% muscles ultimately. Participants who stopped dieting and only kept taking CLA also gained a 50-50 fat-to-muscle ratio.
Pariza is very careful about pointing this out because research is still in the infant stage regarding CLA.; for example, CLA surely has an inhibitory effect on body fat accumulation, but the impact is not conclusive regarding diabetes and muscles. CLA reduces breast cancer in rodents much better but is not valid for all forms of cancer. Even if CLA doesn’t take the place of a miracle cure for cancer, it will still be a popular dietary supplement.
The proven working mechanism is up for debate. Still, few theories reveal that it keeps your body from accumulating fat by increasing metabolism and converting most food into energy.
Claims about CLA
Some claims about CLA are as follow:
- CLA boosts metabolism by increasing the rate and amount of calorie expenditure.
- These supplements lead to a reduction in weight gain.
- CLA supplements reduce body fat stores.
- It increases energy expenditure and fat cell burning.
CLA and fatty acids
CLA is the combination of two fatty acids (t10, c-12 CLA, and c9, t-11 isomer in equal amounts). It is related to omega-6 fatty acids, one of the two essential fatty acids which the human body can not produce. Interest in CLA began in 1980 when Michael W. Pariza at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, discovered an isolated agent in fried hamburgers that reduced cancer in mice. A few years later, they learned that this agent is a chemical form of linoleic acid called conjugated linoleic acid or CLA.
If you’re taking a CLA supplement, it improves your metabolism, weight loss, and fat loss, but the effects are minimal and perhaps meaningless in a real-world context. If you want to take this supplement, ensure it is taken with a healthy, nutritious diet and exercise.
It cannot undo the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, so it’s better to avoid it. Risking your health for losing a few pounds cannot be a beneficial option, especially when there are other ways to do it. Stay healthy; this is what actually matters!