I think that anyone who is trying to lose weight continues to secretly hope there is some sort of magic weight-loss pill out there. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA for short) has become quite a popular fat-loss supplement but can CLA help you lose weight? And more importantly, is it safe?
Obviously, when we think of weight-loss we’re actually dreaming of fat loss. And while fat might seem easy to lose at the beginning, it can become increasingly hard when there are just a few pounds left. when you have a lot of extra pounds and a
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if taking a CLA supplement would help you burn that stubborn fat and reveal those beautifully toned muscles you’ve been working so hard to get?
What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid?
CLA is an Omega-6 fatty acid and to make things a bit more confusing, there are actually 28 different forms of CLA, but the main ones are c9, t11, t10 and c12.
I’m not going to bore you with the technical details, but the bottom line is CLA is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, which technically makes it a trans fat. However, don’t mistake it with those nasty processed trans fats since CLA is a trans fat occurring naturally in animal foods and doesn’t carry the negative health effects of the processed stuff.
In fact, there are plenty of studies that show the trans fats naturally occurring in animal foods are not harmful.
Not all CLA is created equal
When it comes to the natural CLA, the most important foods you can get it from are the meat and dairy products from cows, sheep and goats. However, keep in mind the levels of CLA are significantly higher in the meat and dairy of grass-fed animals compared to their grain-fed counterparts.
Sadly, the CLA included in supplements doesn’t come from natural foods. The artificial CLA is made by chemically processing sunflower and safflower oils and it’s very different from the natural CLA. Furthermore, the CLA taken as a supplement doesn’t provide the same benefits as the CLA you get from natural foods.
Can CLA help you lose weight?
The way conjugated linoleic acid affects the body is very interesting. Before we get to the weight-loss benefits, you should know CLA appears to have cancer-fighting properties, although this particular research was performed using mice as test subjects.
However, other studies found it can also lower body fat. And it can help in more ways than one. For example, this research discovered CLA can actually raise your metabolism, which of course translates into helping your body burn more fat.
OK, but these studies (and many others) have been conducted on mice. Nevertheless, there is plenty of research on how CLA actually affects humans and some studies have shown it can indeed help people lose a significant percentage of fat.
Right now you might think CLA is indeed the weight-loss miracle you’ve been waiting for. Well, just to make things more confusing, there are also numerous studies that show CLA actually has no weight-loss effect or provide modest fast loss, which is hardly ideal.
Potential side effects fo CLA
Weight-loss aside, the conjugated linoleic acid naturally occuring in food does provide health benefits, but the lab-made counterpart has a very different structure and there is also the dosage problem.
Taking CLA supplements means you will be getting a whole lot more than what you’d be able to take just from food and large doses can be detrimental to your health. One of the associated risks is the accumulation of fat in the liver which is just the first step towards serious illnesses such as diabetes.
Interestingly, even when CLA supplements manage to lower body fat they can still come with a host of negative effects, such as insulin resistance and inflammation.
Truth be told, some of these studies have used much larger doses of CLA that what you’d normally take even when using supplements but they do show there is a legitimate reason for concern.
So should you take a CLA supplement or not?
The answer to the question ‘Can CLA help you lose weight?’ is a big maybe.
If you truly care about your health I would say it’s not worth the risk. What you can do is make sure your diet includes plenty of foods that are naturally rich in CLA, specifically grass-fed beef and dairy.
Of course, regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy, so this shouldn’t be ignored. A varied diet focused mostly on single-ingredient natural foods is certainly a must but not without exercise. And once you do these things, weight loss will follow even if it won’t happen overnight.
Have you ever taken a CLA supplement and how did it affect your body?