CLA: The Key To Fat Loss?

The prevalence of CLA products over the past few years has increased massively due to the public's change in diets. As health practitioners advocate us to stay clear of red meats, eggs and dairy products (all of which contain high levels of CLA) and the mass production of cheap supermarket meat as we struggle to afford the luxury of grass-fed organic meat, which contains between 300-800% more CLA than their supermarket counterparts. Vegetarians also are lacking diets containing CLA due to the fact that their diets eliminate all choices of products containing it. But what is CLA and why do we need it?

What is CLA and why do we need it?

CLA or conjugated linoleic acid is a naturally occurring ‘fat burner’. Unlike other ‘fat burners’ this is not a thermogenic aid, therefore we will not get any hot sweats when taking it! It is a free fatty acid that we get through our diet in meats and dairy products. If we wanted to get as much CLA from our diet as we were from a supplement we would have to ingest a huge amount of fat, the majority saturated more than 600g of fat a day! This is almost impossible, especially when using on a cutting diet where CLA has been proven most beneficial.

CLA basically changes the way the body stores fat in adipose tissue. It doesn’t burn the fats itself but when used on a calorie deficit it enables the body to use the fat it currently has and stops new fat cells from being produced. They are taken into the body as free fatty acids and then moved into the chylomicrons (which start fat digestion where short chain fatty acids or medium chain fatty acids are turned into one glycerol and three fatty acids, before going to the liver for gluconeogenesis or binding with albumin to enter the cell membrane). There have been many studies over the years highlighting the benefits of CLA, all with varying results. Upon comparison of the results, it is clear to see the benefits that they all share in varying degrees. A study by Laso et al (2010) on the benefits of CLA Tonalin (a commercial mixture) found that CLA was able to: increase energy metabolism; protein metabolism; increase oxidation and increase lean body mass whilst reducing fat mass.

Naturally occurring fat burner - Sounds too good to be true?

Well, when looking more in depth at the study, you will see that it is a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on a large human study group. The study also had no motives as was conducted by a team of health practitioners.  These are all points that indicate whether or not a study may be biased or offer any dodgy results. The study also found that to reap the most effect of CLA Tonalin it should be supplemented for at least 12 weeks on a 3g a day dosage. Upon comparison to other studies, this dosage falls in the middle as studies found effects with between 2g and 4g daily. All reported a decrease in fat mass between 4 and 7% when supplementing with CLA and having no dietary differences. It has also been found that healthy or slightly overweight adults see results quicker with obese adults finding a difference in fat mass after supplementation for between 3-12 months.

There have been reported side effects over the years that have been unfounded and CLA Tonalin has shown no changes in blood glucose levels or insulin sensitivity, again something that is paramount when on a cutting diet. Another benefit that has not been already mentioned is the fact that CLA increases the immune system, something which will have taken a battering hen on a calorie deficit, due to nutrients and vitamins being lowered to enable fat loss and gym sessions increasing in intensity.

CSN's opinion?

CLA Tonalin is the ideal supplement to help aid fat loss when on a calorie deficit. Lean body mass is increased with fat mass decreasing, which is what is needed when cutting. Protein metabolism is increased, which again is ideal when cutting as this will help avoid proteolysis. Energy metabolism is increased which in turn will enable fuel sources to be made from fat stores. This will enable us to keep protein levels high increasing satiety and not meaning our calories have to reduce when not needed, keeping our energy levels high for our all-important workout sessions. So if you’re looking for an extra helping hand for losing those last few pounds of fat, look no further than CLA.

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