Do Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA) Improve Weight Loss?


Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are fatty acids which help promote healthy body fat composition through boosting fatty tissue breakdown.

Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) used to be very commonly absorbed in food; however, with the introduction of multiple “fad” diets which cut out entire food groups, such as dairy products, intake of CLA has significantly decreased. The real irony is that those wishing to lose weight by giving up dairy products are at the same time reducing their intake of the very substance that may help them improve weight loss.

Conjugated Linoleic Acids: Health Benefits

It is interesting to observe that while obesity is now reaching epidemic proportions, with some children likely to not live as long as their parents, when far higher levels of CLA were present in diet, the term “obese” was simply unknown. In The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements, Brewer (2010) highlights key health benefits and properties associated with taking CLA supplements, to include the following:

  • helps promote healthy body fat composition
  • increases breakdown of fatty tissue (lipolysis)
  • boosts lean body mass (muscle)
  • regulates enzyme actions
  • reduces size of fat cells
  • may increase weight loss in obese patients
  • significantly decreases waist size (compared to placebo)
  • improves insulin sensitivity
  • helps regulate metabolism

Conjugated Linoleic Acids: Dosage and Contraindications

Research studies have been undertaken on the effects of taking both 3.2 g and 4.2 g of conjugated linoleic acids per day. Those subjects taking 3.2 g CLA daily were identified to increase weight loss each week by around 90 g, while those taking 4.2 g CLA were recognised to have their waist size significantly decreased, compared to placebo after a period of one month.

In previous years, individuals would have received all the CLA required for health benefits identified above through their diet; however, it is now estimated that the average diet supplies just 100-300 mg of CLA per day. According to Brewer (2010), in order to reap the benefits associated with CLA, at least 3 g is required daily, with CLA supplements which contain a minimum of 75% CLA being the best choice. It is also well worth taking antioxidants in addition to CLA, while it is important to refrain from using CLA supplements during pregnancy, as there is insufficient research in this area.

As highlighted above, conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are primarily found in dairy products, which ironically are often the first food group that dieters cut out to as an attempt to lose weight. CLA supplements have been linked to helping obesity sufferers increase weight loss, through promoting the breakdown of fat composition, helping regulate metabolism and increasing insulin sensitivity.


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