A number of studies have demonstrated that CLA reduces fat mass while increasing lean body mass. And whilst there are plenty of thermogenics, stimulants and thyroid stimulators of notable merit, few supplements on the market today have been backed by as much research as CLA. We look at the facts and studies surrounding this latest fat loss supplement to see if it’s worthy of a place in your supplement cupboard.
So what is conjugated linoleic acid? Essentially it’s a naturally occurring fatty acid and whilst it can be obtained through your diet by eating beef, cheese and certain dairy products it’s only present in these foods in very low doses. So it would be pretty hard to get the recommended 4.2 grams per day as suggested by A. Smedman et al (2001) who, in a study conducted at Uppsala University in Sweden, discovered that supplementing 4.2 grams of CLA per day in 53 normal healthy individuals led to a significant decrease (3.8%) in body fat compared with individuals not taking CLA.
It’s believed CLA lowers your body fat in 3 ways; firstly in a study conducted in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of País Vasco it was discovered CLA interferes with a substance in your body called lipoprotein lipase, which is partly responsible for helping store fat in your body. Secondly the same study also concluded that CLA helps your body use its existing fat for energy. Therefore studies show CLA not only inhibits the storing of fat it also enhances the burning of fat.
Thirdly, and perhaps most important for bodybuilders, CLA has been show to increase muscle mass which in turn can increase your metabolism and the amount of calories you burn at rest. This of course has the added benefit of not actually making you lose weight, but rather changing (and improving) your body composition. Mostly recently a 1 year human study showed a 9% reduction in body fat and 2% increase in muscle mass (Gaullier, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79(6): 1118–1125 (2004.) Whilst the previously mentioned study at Uppsala University in Sweden also showed a slight net increase in body weight, but a net decrease in body fat.
So in conclusion, it seems CLA won’t actually make you lose weight as such, but rather change and improve your body composition hence why it is the preferred fat loss supplement of many bodybuilders. Regarding how much you should take, in studies where a notable amount of fat was lost dosage varied from 1.4 grams to 6.5 grams, therefore it might be advisable to take at least 2grams per day (with a meal.) Lasltly, and worth noting, Myprotein.com’s CLA soft gels are currently the strongest on the market, containing 1 gram of CLA per soft gel. Also at £7.49 for 60 capsules they are also the best value.
60 caps of CLA are available from Myprotein.com for £7.49 and 180 caps for £17.39 http://www.myprotein.com/uk/products/cla
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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. 130:2943-2948 (2000).
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A. Zabala et al (2006) ‘Trans-10,cis-12 Conjugated linoleic acid inhibits lipoprotein lipase but increases the activity of lipogenic enzymes in adipose tissue from hamsters fed an atherogenic diet.’ Br J Nutr. 2006 Jun;95(6):1112-9.