Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a term that refers to a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids naturally found in meat and dairy products, specifically from ruminant animals. Over the past two decades, CLA has attracted significant attention for its potential weight loss benefits. Let’s explore the science behind CLA, its effect on weight loss, recommended dosages, and its safety profile.
How does CLA aid in weight loss?
CLA is believed to offer several mechanisms that can promote fat loss:
- Enhanced Fat Burning: CLA may increase the activity of enzymes and proteins involved in fat breakdown.
- Reduced Fat Storage: It may reduce the activity of enzymes responsible for fat storage in adipose tissue (fat cells).
- Increased Fat Oxidation: By promoting fat cell death and reducing fat storage, CLA can increase the amount of fat sent to the mitochondria to be burned for energy.
- Preservation of Lean Muscle Mass: Some studies suggest that CLA can promote fat loss while preserving lean muscle tissue.
CLA has been the subject of numerous scientific studies. Let’s delve into some of the findings:
- Fat Reduction in Animals: A lot of the enthusiasm around CLA originates from studies on animals. Research on mice, for instance, has shown significant reductions in body fat with CLA supplementation.
- Mixed Results in Humans: Human studies have yielded mixed results. A meta-analysis of 18 clinical trials found that CLA supplementation did lead to modest fat loss. However, the weight loss was relatively small, averaging about 0.05 kg per week.
- Effects on Belly Fat: Some studies, including one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that CLA could reduce body fat, particularly in the abdominal area, but the overall weight change was minimal.
- Impact on Muscle Mass: While there is some evidence suggesting CLA can help preserve lean muscle mass during fat loss, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
The dosage of CLA can vary depending on individual goals and the specific study one refers to:
- Standard Dosage: Most studies have used dosages ranging from 3,200 to 6,400 mg per day, divided into two or three doses.
- Over-the-Counter Supplements: These often contain about 1,000 mg of CLA, so taking a few of these pills throughout the day can help achieve the recommended dosage.
- Safety Considerations: While CLA is considered safe for most people, it’s always advisable to start with a lower dose to assess tolerance.
Safety and Considerations:
- Digestive Issues: Some users report experiencing diarrhea, stomach upset, or bloating when consuming CLA supplements.
- Impact on Liver and Kidney: There have been concerns about CLA’s potential impact on liver and kidney function. While definitive evidence is lacking, those with liver or kidney issues should consult a healthcare professional before starting CLA.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Some studies have suggested that CLA might impact blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Those with diabetes should be cautious and monitor blood sugar levels closely when taking CLA.
- Purity and Source: As with all supplements, the quality and purity of CLA products can vary. It’s vital to select supplements from reputable brands.
CLA, with its potential to reduce body fat and preserve lean muscle mass, offers a tantalizing prospect for those on a weight loss journey. However, the scientific landscape presents a mixed bag of results. While some studies show promise, others have found limited or no significant effects of CLA on weight loss.