CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) Review
CLA, or Conjugated Linoleic Acid, is a non-essential fatty acid found primarily in meat and dairy products. CLA is found in the highest concentrations in the meat of animals that chew their cud. Cows and sheep are good examples of such animals.
There is some decent data indicating that CLA, taken in doses from .7 to 4.5 grams daily, can decrease body fat mass in obese and overweight people (the optimal dose seems to be about 3.2 grams daily — see Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1203-11). CLA appears to work by inhibiting the action of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL) — the enzyme that is responsible for transferring fat from the blood stream to the fat cells.
There is also some evidence that indicates higher doses of CLA can increase lean body mass. This contributes to an elevated metabolism, which is a good thing for weight loss! (J Nutr. 2007 May;137(5):1188-93.)
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get the beneficial effects of CLA directly from meat and cheese.
This fatty acid is available naturally in very low concentrations. In other words, you’d need to consume a huge amount of high-fat foods to obtain a reasonable amount of this supplement. By doing this, of course, you’d negate any positive benefits.
That’s why it’s necessary to supplement with CLA.Research has shown that CLA has great potential as a diet aid — helping to prevent additional weight gain, and spurring on lean muscle growth.
In fact, several double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (see above) have confirmed that CLA reduces fat and preserves muscle tissue. And that’s not all!
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Benefits…
- Displays powerful anti-carcinogenic properties.
- Helps diabetics control blood sugar levels.
- Acts as an antioxidant.
- Encourages muscle growth
- Regulates and controls fat metabolism
- Improves good cholesterol levels
- Reduces the incidence of heart disease
- Accelerates fat weight loss
Even better, side effects associated with the use of the conjugated linoleic acid supplement are extremely rare, and when they do occur they’re usually mild (often manifesting themselves as mild gastro-intestinal maladies).
Considering the controversy surrounding stimulant based fat burners, the CLA supplement represents a healthy and effective alternative. We especially like CLA for those who are sensitive to stimulants, or for seniors.
Dosage should start at a minimum of 3 grams per day for women, and 4 grams for men up to 200 lbs. Men over 200 lbs. will experience greater results with 5 grams per day.
When you’re looking for a quality CLA supplement, look for the “Tonalin™” name somewhere on the label. While not absolutely necessary, Tonalin is the patented form of Conjugated Linoleic Acid that was used in the studies determining the effectiveness of this supplement.
One thing to keep in mind: some retailers advertise CLA as being particularly good for burning belly fat. Despite the clinical evidence demonstrating CLA’s weight loss benefits, there’s no evidence it’s any better for burning belly fat over any other type of fat. Tony Rovere’s great article on burning belly fat fast clearly illustrates why this entire concept is a myth.
The best news is that CLA is relatively inexpensive. For example, at BodyBuilding.com, you can buy 180 caps of PrimaForce Max CLA for just under $18. At three caps per day, that’s a two month’s worth supply.
As I indicated earlier, studies indicate that CLA is most effective when consumed in the 3.2 to 4.7 grams per day range. Most CLA supplements (including the PrimaForce Max CLA) contain 1,000 mg of safflower oil per serving, usually standardized for about 70% CLA per serving (divided 50-50 between the aforementioned isomers).That means to obtain the ideal dosage for weight loss, you need to consume between 5-7 caps per day, instead of the recommended 3 (which will only provide you with 2.1 grams of CLA). That means a 180 capsule bottle will last you between 25 and 35 days. But at $18, it’s still a good value.