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Introduction

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring acid that is known as a fat loss supplement. It has been promoted as an aid to weight loss across the dieting industry and is commonly found in capsule form as a supplementary component.

Although the acid occurs naturally in meat and dairy products, it is found in extremely low amounts, meaning, the supplementary form is the most common source.

CLA has been dubbed as one of the “good fats” that actually help the body reduce the urge to consume unnecessary foods. The supplement is commonly taken by bodybuilders to help reduce body mass fat.

The Bottom Line – CLA is a naturally occurring fat, usually consumed in pill form to aid weight loss.

CLA Health Benefits

The main health benefit attributed to CLA is weight loss, which, will also offer other indirect health benefits to the body overall. Weight gain is commonly associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, joint problems, and a range of other health issues.

It stands to reason that by taking advantage of the weight loss benefits of CLA supplementation, this can indirectly reduce the risk of several health issues that can arise from carrying excess fat.

There are also claims that this acid can be of great benefit to an overall healthy skin complex.

Below is a list of the possible benefits we’ve found:

CLA Can Help You Lose Weight

A study carried out in 2001, consisting of 22 individuals split into two groups, by the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, examined the effects of CLA intake in relation to body fat.

Over the course of an eight week period, one group were given a placebo, and the other was given a CLA supplement.

Their diet was also controlled and showed no major signs of deviation in terms of calorie intake or overall nutrition. They discovered a daily intake of between 0.7 – 1.4 grams of CLA did in fact significantly reduced body fat. it also increased the content of CLA levels in serum.

This, in turn, helped to further promote the loss of body fat. These data indicate that supplementation with 0.7-1.4 g CLA daily for 4-8 weeks may modulate body fat and serum lipids, as well as increase the CLA content of serum lipids in humans.

So, it does, in fact, help you to lose excess body fat. [1]

CLA Can Help Promote Healthy Skin

The claim that this product can promote healthy skin is not very well founded. The only clinical studies that examined this claim were not performed on humans, and therefore cannot be reliable as evidence to suggest the same benefits will be experienced by a human.

There is some evidence to suggest that CLA does have a positive effect on skin composition where body fat is concerned. [2]

The Bottom Line – CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid, commonly taken in pill form, and has been shown to help reduce overall body fat.

How To Use CLA

CLA is generally taken in capsule or softgel form.

The most common methods of taking CLA are:

  1. Capsule

The typical dosage amount for CLA is between 400-1000mg per day.

Are There Any Foods That Contain CLA?

Although CLA is found in meat and dairy products, the amount is extremely low and it is recommended you take a concentrated supplement. It is also found in safflower oil.

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Safflower oil

CLA Side Effects List

We have found the following possible side effects for CLA:

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

These side effects are possible but may not be the typical user experience.

Is CLA Safe?

Taken as part of a food source, or as a supplement in the recommended amounts, yes, it is safe to consume.

When Should I Not Take CLA?

  • If you are pregnant and/or breast-feeding: There is not enough evidence or research to suggest it is safe to consume whilst pregnant. Safer to avoid.
  • If you’re a child under the age of 18: There is not enough evidence or research to suggest it is safe to consume for children under the age of 18. Safer to avoid.

Has CLA Been Linked To Any Deaths?

This has not been linked to any deaths.

The Bottom Line – It is safe to consume in the recommended dosage but advised to avoid if under 18 or pregnant.

Where Can I Buy CLA & Do I Need A Prescription?

You can purchase CLA from good health food stores and online retailers without the need for a prescription.

Conclusion

Although clinical Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) studies have been shown to reduce body fat in trial participants, there are also some conflicting studies that yielded no change in body fat mass, and no overall benefit to the user.

The reason for this is very simple, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) supplementation seems to only be effective on certain age groups in line with their efficiency to absorb and process nutrients. Some studies also showed no benefit of CLA supplementation for people that already undertake resistance training or exercise.

As it stands, whether or not CLA can actually help you lose weight is inconclusive relative to your own physical personal circumstances and more studies are needed to confirm the potential benefits of this product.

CLA is commonly found in meat and dairy, however, these products contain such a small amount you could even argue that relying on these foods as a source of CLA is highly inefficient. There are also claims that CLA is present in Safflower Oil, but again, some experts have deemed this to also not be an effective source in obtaining this acid.

Beth Coats, RD LN
Beth Coats, RD LN
Staff Writer & Fact Checker at DietProbe
Beth is a registered dietician with over 20 years experience in general nutrition.
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Fact Checked


This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.