What is CLA and How Does it Help Burn Fat?

CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid which is largely found in meat and dairy. CLA has a number of health benefits and is considered to be a necessity to a balanced diet. People who follow a vegan diet will struggle to obtain CLA through a natural diet. They will therefore need to use supplements to ensure they get the recommended amount.

Contemporary studies may also support the belief that CLA can assist in preventing cancer. However research for this is still in its infancy. Although most CLA supplements are marketed for their anticancer properties, athletes and participants in bodybuilding in more recent years have been taking the supplement due to its fat-burning ability.

When it comes to taking CLA in supplement form, someone supplementing with CLA will likely be doing this due to its ability to maintain weight loss, retain mass and regulate diabetes. 

CLA for Fat Loss

Increased levels of CLA stimulates the human body to burn fats. The human body will therefore increase the enzymes and proteins responsible for the breakdown in fat.

Speeds Up Metabolism

Research shows that CLA will increase the speed of metabolism. By having a fast metabolism, the body will burn more calories while resting and during exercise. This means that a person with more CLA will be generally able to eat more without putting on weight. 

Mobilise Stored Fat

Providing the human body has increased levels of CLA, this will encourage the breakdown of triglycerides, which is the main compound in fat cells. A person with high triglycerides will likely also have thicker artery walls and therefore have increased risk of serious illness such as heart disease. It is important to factor in that illnesses such as these also need to be combated with limited sugary snacks and refined carbohydrates. Dietary CLA or CLA supplements will not prevent this on their own. 

Fat to Muscle Ratio

Due to reducing the ability of fat cells becoming larger, while assisting with muscle growth and endurance, a person participating in strength training on a regular basis will be able to work out harder and faster for longer. This will contribute to a stronger body system that requires more energy to support bigger muscle groups. Bodies with larger muscles will result in an increase of Basal Metabolic Rate – essentially you’ll have a better fat to muscle ratio. 

The Risks of CLA

The risk of CLA supplements has been in debate for years. Some research found no adverse effects, but other research has suggested that taking CLA continuously could lead to certain health problems. Supplementing with CLA may lead to an increase in C-reactive protein levels, which in turn can mean inflammation in the body. While this can be a good thing for fighting off disease, prolonged inflammation has been linked to chronic diseases like heart disease.

Other studies have suggested that CLA supplements could increase your liver enzymes, which could lead to possible liver damage. It is important to note though, that these health risks have not been associated with natural forms of CLA, only supplements. The two are slightly different, and it’s unlikely that naturally occurring CLA comes with adverse effects. 

So if you do decide to supplement, make sure you don’t do so constantly. You don’t want to give the CLA levels in your body a chance to build up too much, as this could lead to health problems. For further advice, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor. 

CLA in the Diet

A recommended baseline for an adult looking to supplement with CLA on a regular basis is 3.2 – 6.4 grams per day. Research shows that this can help contribute to weight loss. However, as with all supplementation for weight loss, this only works when combined with a healthy diet and caloric deficit.

Sources

https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20040520/cla-weight-loss

https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/the-health-hub/weight-management/weight-loss/can-cla-help-lose-weight/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/conjugated-linoleic-acid#dosage-and-safety

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