CLA for Weight Loss: Is It Worth Taking?

CLA for weight loss

The use of CLA for weight loss is very popular these days. Many people are convinced that it helps them with fat loss although others are dubious about the evidence. Read on to discover more about this supplement.

CLA refers to conjugated linoleic acid and has been touted as an effective supplement for weight loss. It’s a type of natural fatty acid found in meat and various dairy products.

Several studies done on animals have shown promising results on the use of CLA for fat loss. However, it’s not clear if CLA can help humans to lose weight. So let’s find out more about this to understand if using CLA for weight loss is truly worth it.

What is CLA?

CLA for weight loss

Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is a natural fatty acid that our bodies do not to produce but they can be derived from foods.

Some of the main sources of linoleic acid are dairy products and meat, especially the grass-fed varieties. It comes from the the grass and grains that the animals eat.

Cows and other pastured animals, including goats and deer, have unique enzymes in their digestive system that can convert the omega-6 fatty acids in the grasses and grains into CLA.

Researchers believe that the diet of the animal, as well as its age and breed, could affect the quality of CLA in a particular dairy product or meat.

CLA is not considered an essential fatty acid, so there’s no need to obtain it from supplements to achieve optimal health. However, many people these days like to take CLA supplements for their purported fat-burning abilities.

Using CLA for Weight Loss

The use of CLA for weight loss is still up for debate. However, some health experts believe that CLA can trigger a series of chemical reactions that could stimulate fat burning.

Michael Pariza, a professor in the Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison has stated:


Here are some ways in which CLA is thought to help in weight loss:

Speeds up Metabolism

The biggest benefit of CLA for weight loss is in its ability to increase the basal metabolic rates. It works by efficiently converting the foods that you eat into energy. Aside from decreasing overall body weight, CLA also prevents the fat cells from getting bigger, which alters the body’s fat-to-muscle ratio.

One randomized study has looked into the impact of CLA supplements on the metabolism of overweight but otherwise healthy adults. Those who took the supplements were able to burn fat stores more efficiently and used less protein for energy. This study is proof that the CLA may indeed help in speeding up the body’s metabolism, which is essential for weight loss.

Mobilizes Stored Fats in the Body

As already mentioned, CLA works by using fats for energy. Most of the fats that it targets are those that accumulate on the walls of the blood vessels, right in the belly area and under the skin.

Apart from minimizing those belly fats, the CLA will also improve your body’s energy expenditure, which helps you to burn fat faster than you build it.

What’s more, reducing all those fats stored in your body can help to boost liver functioning, and minimize the build-up of fatty deposits, which could lead to a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Increases Satiety

Another way in which CLA can help with weight loss is by increasing satiety, the feeling of fullness. This is very important for weight loss as it prevents one from overeating.

Studies done on humans have shown that taking CLA supplements each day did not affect their food intake during breakfast as compared to the oleic acid placebo. However, it led to a significant decrease in feelings of hunger, and the feelings of satiety and fullness were decreased.

Therefore, if you add CLA supplements to your diet, you may be able to minimize unhealthy cravings, allowing you to lose weight easily.

How to Use CLA For Weight Loss

There’s no standard rule yet on how much you should take, when to take, and for how long. However, experts recommend that you take approximately 3,000 mg of CLA to benefit from its weight loss effects.

There are a number of different types of CLA and supplements contain a different form than the CLA found in animals.  Supplements come in the form of capsules and it is best to take them before or during your meal.

The majority of the studies done on CLA look into the usage of 8 to 12 weeks, with a few studies going beyond 12 weeks. But the most common dosage among CLA users would be 3 grams  (3,000 mg) per day.

Getting CLA from Food

Although CLA supplements are easily available these days, it’s also possible to consume CLA from foods. In fact, studies show that those who get their CLA from foods have lower their risk of diseases, including cancer and heart diseases.

Dairy products and meat are the major sources of CLA. Here are some foods that have the highest amount of CLA:

  • Beef round – 2.9 mg/g fat
  • Butter – 6.0 mg/g fat
  • Cheddar cheese – 3.6 mg/g fat
  • Cottage cheese – 4.5 mg/g fat
  • Fresh ground beef – 4.3 mg/g fat
  • Lamb – 5.6 mg/g fat
  • Mozzarella cheese – 4.9 mg/g fat
  • Plain yogurt – 4.8 mg/g fat
  • Sour cream – 4.6 mg/g fat

It’s important to note that the CLA content of these food products will vary depending on the diets of the animals they were derived from.

Final Thoughts

According to studies the fat burning effects of CLA seems to be better in animals than in humans although human studies have shown modest weight loss.

Adding CLA supplements to your diet if you want to give it a try is fine, especially if you’re following a low carb diet like keto.

Although most people use CLA for weight loss, these supplements also come with several other health benefits as shown in the infographic above.  It can aid in muscle growth, improve blood glucose, lower cholesterol, and improve immune function.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that CLA is not a magic substance. It will not make up for poor eating habits or lack of exercise.


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