All about CLA – what, why and how?
There seems to be a lot of buzz among the gym freaks about CLA. But very few people actually know what is CLA, what is CLA used for and how does CLA work. Here is a go-to guide for all your CLA related queries.
What is CLA?
CLA stands for Conjugated Linoleic Acid, is a group of fatty acids that are known for their powerful health effects. CLA contains natural fat burning enzymes and is generally known for being effective in fat loss, and bodybuilding.
They are found in eatables like meat and dairy products. Food products from grass-fed animals, such as mutton and beef, chicken eggs are good sources of CLA.
Nowadays, many CLA supplements and CLA diet pills have come up in the markets. However, it is important to note that these supplements are NOT derived from natural sources. They are made from safflower or sunflower oils, which are unhealthy vegetable oils, by a series of chemical processes. Hence, these supplements are actually unnatural CLA, or say, Artificial CLA.
Also, Read How Long Does It takes for CLA to work
What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid?
Linoleic acid is actually a common type of omega-6 fatty acid, which is present in large amounts in vegetable oils, and in various other food products, but in comparatively smaller amounts. ‘conjugated’ means a double bond, which has to do with in the arrangement of fatty acid molecules (a bit of chemistry there!)
There are 28 different forms of CLA; in each of these compounds, the arrangement of double bonds within the compound is different.
CLA is, basically, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, technically, a kind of natural trans-fat.
It should be noted that industrial Trans Fats or artificially prepared Trans Fats are different from natural Transfats (nature made CLA) and are actually harmful.
Hence, it is very important to know what kind of fat you are eating.
How does CLA Work? | What is CLA used for?
The earliest researchers of CLA found that CLA could be used to effectively treat cancer in mice. Later, some more researches concluded that it could reduce fat levels or burn body fat in humans. As obesity kept increasing among the youth, people started showing more and more interest in CLAs as a potential treatment for weight loss.
Does CLA work? | Can CLA really help to lose weight?
There have been extensive studies on CLA, their use and effects through thorough controlled trials. CLA have been proven to be helpful in improving body composition, by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass.
However, the results vary from person to person. While some studies show rapid effects, some studies show no effect at all.
Is CLA good for you?
Yes. Undoubtedly, CLA is good for you.
CLA are natural fat burners. Several observational studies have been conducted on the benefits of CLA and have effectively concluded that people who consume more CLA on a daily basis are not just healthier, body mass-wise, but they also have a lower risk of various diseases, especially, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Moreover, the direct relation has been found between CLA and weight loss.
Other than CLA, beef of grass-fed cows and dairy products are healthy sources of various other vitamins. So, including beef and dairy products, as well as natural CLA fat burners in your regular diet is a good idea.
Additionally, it has been found that meat of grass-fed animals (such as cow, sheep, and goat) have significantly more amounts of nature made CLA than the meat of grain-fed animals (like chicken). Hence, it is important to know where the meat you are eating is coming from, and how those animals are fed.
Are CLA supplements good for you?
No, not necessarily.CLA, as stated above, is good for you, but only from natural food sources. It should be noted that CLA dietary supplements are NOT derived from natural sources but from chemical alteration of unhealthy vegetable oils.
Do CLA Fat Burners work?
Many people suggest taking CLA supplements for weight loss.
The studies reveal significant results of weight loss or fat burn, however, according to researchers, ‘the magnitude of these effects is small and clinical relevance is uncertain. Adverse effects included constipation, diarrhoea, and soft stools.’
Hence, it is clear that, even though significant, the effects of taking CLA dietary supplements are so small that they hardly make a difference in the real world. Moreover, the side effects are a bit too much of a pain for such a minimal difference.
What are the side effects of CLA supplements?
CLA supplements in large doses could be harmful for you, and could give serious side effects.
Studies have shown that CLA overdoses could cause increased accumulation of fat in the liver, which could eventually result in metabolic syndrome and diabetes. CLA in large doses could result in inflammation, insulin resistance and lower HDL cholesterol (also known as the “good cholesterol”).
Comparatively less serious side effects of CLA include stomach pain, diarrhoea, flatulence and nausea.
How much CLA should you take? | How much dosage of CLA is safe?
Personally, I feel that putting your health under risk of liver malfunction and metabolism for just a few pounds is stupid.
However, if you wish to disagree, and still want to take CLA dietary supplements or pills, it is suggested that you pay attention to the amount you are consuming every day and not go overboard in excitement/nervousness. Enquire or talk to a nutritionist to know which are the best CLA supplement, how much dosage you should take, when to take it, etc. and get regular blood tests to monitor your health, metabolism, and liver functions.
CLA benefits are great when consumed from natural products like beef and dairy food, but the CLA supplements are unnaturally derived CLA and could be harmful for you.
Sure, six-pack abs look great but taking CLA supplements to lose fats and putting your health at risk does not sound like a good idea at all.
There are many other ways to lose fat or to burn fat, including regular exercises, cardio, yoga, etc.
Alternative ways to lose fat naturally:
- Reduce consumption of sugar and starch
- Eat protein, fat and vegetables (balanced diet)
- Lift weights 3 times per week
One common widely spread misconception is that you have to eat less in order to lose weight. Which is absolutely false. You don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight, you just have to control the proportions of various aspects of your diet, increase the amounts of proteins and carbohydrates you consume while cutting down on the sugar and fats, drinking more water and no junk food. And Voila, you will notice a significant difference in your body within numbered days.