CLA: Fat Burning Fact or Myth

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“I’ve heard that CLA is a myth for fat loss. Is this true?”

For decades, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) was known to burn fat in animal studies. However, its effects were controversial in humans. In April 2005, the Journal of Nutrition reported that body fat mass is decreased in healthy overweight humans after a two year study on hundreds of individuals supplementing with CLA. The journal also stated that continual supplementation may help individuals maintain their initial weight loss for the long term. Another study in The Journal of Nutrition provided the same results of a study on an overweight and obese Chinese population for 12 weeks. After a study on sedentary women with metabolic syndrome, Vascular Health and Risk Management reported that CLA supplementation showed favorable effects on body fat mass as well as glycemic control. These are only a few studies that prove that CLA is a fat burning fact, so no more doubting this special supplement!

What is CLA?

CLA is a class of fatty acids that plays an important role in metabolic function. It is naturally found in certain food items. Grass-fed beef and raw dairy products are its primary sources.

CLA Benefits

Not only is CLA beneficial for fat loss, but it has several benefits on the body. In fact, studies show that CLA may help you combat the following:

Cancer (i.e., breast, stomach, colorectal, lung, and skin)

Cardiovascular disease

High blood pressure

High cholesterol and triglycerides

Insulin resistance


Food allergies


CLA is also known to enhance the immune system.

As mentioned earlier, you can get CLA through diet with grass-fed beef and raw dairy products. However, most Americans are unable to get enough of it through diet alone. A study published in the Livestock, Poultry, and Dairy Outlook journal in June 2010, only three percent of the total beef production in the United States is grass-fed. Even if the world was perfect and served only grass-fed beef, one would still need to consume 4,500 fat calories on a daily basis just to get enough CLA. Therefore, supplementation is important.

Human research studies have used 1.8 to 7 grams CLA per day for a variety of benefits. For body fat loss, 3.4 grams or less have shown to increase metabolism and help drop body fat mass while preserving muscle. Some studies have even shown that a combination of CLA supplementation with green tea may also increase weight loss stimulation.

Side Effects of CLA

No major side effects have been reported with over-the-counter CLA supplements. Minor side effects are a result of high dosages which may include stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. Therefore, it is recommended to build your dosage slowly. Start with a small dose for 1-2 weeks and build gradually until you’ve reached your desired dose.

As with all supplementation, you may want to consult with your physician before taking. If you are on prescription medication or have any major illnesses, please check with your doctor first.

Abby Campbell

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