CLA is most commonly used to promote fat loss and help build muscle. Recent research suggests that CLA may also help promote healthy glucose and insulin metabolism. It's usually derived from safflowers. It is completely natural, it is simply a particular type of fat found in plants and it finds its way into the tissue of animals that eat it. There used to be much more CLA in the everyday American diet.
Beef and lamb used to contain substantial amounts of CLA in their muscle tissue, but switching these animals from grass fed diets to being primarily fed grain has resulted in approximately a 75% decline in their CLA content. Since the 1960s, the CLA content of dairy products has declined by about two-thirds. In addition to that decrease, Americans have gravitated toward low-fat and skim milk, which has had most or all of the remaining CLA removed. Some researchers have speculated that the dramatic decline in CLA in our diets may be linked to increased rates of cancer, heart disease, and the obesity epidemic.
CLA is safe. In one toxicity study, the organs of animals given extremely high doses of CLA for 36 weeks did not exhibit any signs or symptoms of toxicity.
So how does it work? Conjugated linoleic acid inhibits the activity of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase. This is an enzyme that breaks down fat particles in the blood so that they can be taken up by fat cells for storage.
CLA helps to prevent the deposition and buildup of fat in the body. In animal studies, CLA resulted in a 66% reduction in lipoprotein lipase activity, which resulted in substantial reductions in body fat coupled with 5% to 14% increases in lean body mass.
CLA seems to help normalize impaired glucose tolerance and improve hyperinsulinemia, where the pancreas produces much more insulin than normal, due to its influence on hormone receptors that regulate genes involved in lipid and insulin metabolism.
CLA enhances the activity of an enzyme that regulates the burning of fats for the production of energy. The fact that this enzyme helps regulate glucose and fatty acid metabolism explains why supplementation with CLA may help people with weight loss.
The authors of one study concluded that CLA reduces body fat by several mechanisms, including a reduced energy intake (calories, that is), increased metabolic rate, and a shift in the "nocturnal fuel mix", how your body produces energy while you sleep.
How well does it work? Results of a study indicated that CLA reduced body fat mass and increased lean body mass in healthy overweight adults. In a small human trial, obese men who took 4.2 g CLA/day for 4 weeks exhibited a significant decrease in abdominal fat compared to no loss in the placebo group. Another study demonstrated efficacy as well as safety in healthy overweight or obese individuals in long-term supplementation.
Research has shown that CLA reduced body fat in healthy postmenopausal women and CLA was beneficial for children in weight loss and reducing BMI.
In laboratory mice, CLA supplementation produces a rapid, marked decrease in fat accumulation, and an increase in muscle tissue at relatively low doses without any major effects on food intake.
CLA has many side benefits! Researchers reported that high consumption of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduced the atherosclerotic process. CLA improves blood lipids by lowering triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
Results of a recent study found CLA participants with asthma had significant improvement in "airway hyper-responsiveness" and the study participants who happened to be overweight had a significant reduction in body mass index and weight. Great news if you are an overweight asthma sufferer!
CLA has been referred to as “a new class of anticarcinogens" in a prominent cancer journal. Results from animal studies indicate that CLA has important anti-cancer activity against a variety of cancers including melanoma, colorectal, breast, lung, and prostate.
Animal studies indicate that CLA may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. This benefit is apparently the result of CLA’s ability to normalize impaired glucose tolerance.
Studies indicate that CLA modulates fatty acid composition and metabolism in the liver, which is the primary organ for lipid metabolism, in a way that results in a decrease in the production of inflammatory hormones.
Not all fats are created equal, CLA may help you look better and live longer.