CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, is a type of fat found mostly in dairy and beef products that has recently gained attention for its purported weight loss capabilities.
Studies have strongly suggested that CLA can help reduce body fat deposits while also helping to reduce high blood pressure and bolster immune function.
Below our panel of experts list 8 potential benefits of taking CLA supplements.
8 Benefits Of CLA Supplements
Research supports the notion that CLA supplements may help to produce the following benefits in the average adult.
1: CLA can help you burn fat and lose weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight is a struggle many people are faced with. It’s hard to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and for those that do, it can be confusing. Fortunately, there’s a secret supplement that can kickstart your weight loss journey.
Studies have found that CLA helps to reduce food intake, increase fat burning, and inhibiting fat production. In fact, one study showed that CLA helps increase the metabolic rate in mice to reduce body fat (1). Another study shows that mice end up reducing their calorie intake by 10% to 12% when consuming CLA (2).
However, CLA doesn’t only show to improve the body composition of mice, but it has favorable effects for humans as well. A study found that it reduces body fat in overweight and obese individuals (3). Furthermore, 63 subjects completed a 12-week study to determine the effects CLA had on their weight. After the 12 weeks, it was concluded that CLA helps with weight loss (4).
2: CLA may help you reduce your risk of diabetes.
Although diabetes can be hereditary, it’s linked to overweight and sedentary people as well. Therefore, if you can lose weight and maintain this weight, you’ll reduce your risk of getting diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
Millions of Americans are at high risk for this disease because of a lack of exercise and being overweight. One study of 232 adults with diabetes and 1512 adults without diabetes found that CLA could be associated with risk for diabetes (5).
In fact, higher doses of CLA increase your insulin resistance response (6). CLA helps lower your blood sugar levels which is beneficial since high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) are associated with diabetes. Higher levels of CLA in your bloodstream also reduce leptin, a hormone that regulates fat levels.
3: CLA can reduce the risk of cancer.
There are many different types of cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, basal cell cancer, melanoma, colon cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma. One 2013 study found a link between CLA and breast cancer in Poland women (7).
Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are typically the modalities patients use to treat cancer, but many people are unaware of the powerful effects CLA may play in this detrimental disease. CLA reduces inflammation linked to cancer, and it lowers your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
Although it can be hard to completely avoid your risks of getting cancer, giving your body the right nutrients can significantly help. Another study published in 2016 connected a possible correlation with CLA and prostate cancer (8).
4: CLA could prevent your risk of developing heart disease.
Some research indicates that people who consume more CLA have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Since CLA lowers LDL cholesterol, it may be beneficial for your heart health.
A study was done on people who live in Costa Rica – where cows mainly eat grass instead of grain – and found these people to have less adverse side effects, such as myocardial infarction, that arise from the saturated fat intake of dairy products (9). Since pastured graze cows have more CLA in their milk than grain-fed cows, the results suggest CLA is an effective method for reducing your chances of a heart attack.
Furthermore, another study done on mice found CLA to protect against atherosclerosis (10). Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque on the wall of your arteries, which obstructs blood flow.
5: CLA could improve your lean body mass.
Several studies support CLA to be an adequate supplement for increasing lean body mass (11). If you increase your lean body mass, then you’ll lose weight more effectively.
That’s because not only does having more lean muscle mean less body fat, but it also means a more active metabolism. You’ll burn more calories at rest because as you increase your muscle mass you increase your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. This should make maintaining a healthy weight much easier because you won’t have to work as hard or diet as strictly.
To get the full effect of this potent benefit, it is suggested you engage in strength training or a High Intensity Interval Training workout regimen.
6: CLA can fight inflammation.
The Journal of Nutrition published a study finding that CLA successfully reduces inflammation in mice. This can reduce the damage done by collagen-induced arthritis (12).
Moreover, if you’re suffering from asthma and allergies, CLA is effective at decreasing over-responsive airway inflammation, since airway inflammation can be linked to COPD (13).
7: CLA can help fight osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis and affects the joints in your hands, knees, hips, and spine. Another study showed that CLA helps you maintain higher bone density as you age (14). In fact, it displayed to improve bone health in mice when combined with calcium (15).
Since CLA is maximized with exercise and exercise also reduces the risk of arthritis, it’s best to combine CLA with exercise to get the full benefits.
8: CLA could increase your testosterone.
Testosterone plays a vital role in reducing body fat and building lean muscle mass. It’s easier to build muscle and lose fat if you have higher testosterone, so this benefit ties into CLA’s weight loss and lean body mass benefits mentioned above.
Some research suggests that CLA supplementation may promote testosterone synthesis through a molecular pathway that should be investigated in the future (16).
As the above benefits demonstrate the effects of CLA supplementation are most keenly felt in the area of body composition. CLA supplementation along with regular strength training and a proper diet can potentially produce a slimmer, stronger you. A you that is less susceptible to developing heart disease or other maladies.