Last Updated June 13th, 2021
What is CLA actually?
Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a fatty acid found in meat and dairy products. And has been commercially accredited as a weight loss supplement. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is an acid which commonly consists of omega-6 fatty acid. These fatty acids are prominently found in vegetable oils and in several other foods with a specified quantity.
There are 28 diverse forms of CLA. The significant difference that is present between these 28 forms is their double bonds that are arranged in different ways. The word “conjugated” refers to the type of bond between molecules. It is an essential polyunsaturated, omega-6 fatty acid. It is technically adored as a trans fat but a genuine one. It derives its sources mainly from cows, goats, and sheep. These meat and milk ruminants are excellent dietary sources that contain CLA.
The most substantial forms of CLA used in recent times are known as c9, t11 (cis-9, trans-11) and t10, c12 (trans-10, cis-12). The best perk of CLA is that it’s ridiculously easy to find on the Bulletproof Diet. The best natural sources of CLA are grass-fed beef, butter, and full-fat dairy, with smaller doses found in veal, lamb, turkey, and fish.
It is mandatory that animals feed on real grass and greens in order to produce CLA. Grass-fed beef or diary doesn’t just stock you up with CLA but with significantly higher omega-3s more vitamins K, D, A, fewer toxins which are available in conventional, and grain-fed options.
A four-ounce serving of grass-fed beef contains around 433 milligrams of CLA, while grass-fed whole milk contains up to 240 mg. But what if you are a pure vegetarian and on a road to losing weight, well CLA supplements are widely available to make life easier for vegans.
CLA content in common foods
Concentrations of CLA are generally expressed as milligrams per gram of fat.
Foods with the highest amounts of CLA include:
- Butter: 6.0 mg/g fat
- Lamb: 5.6 mg/g fat
- Mozzarella cheese: 4.9 mg/g fat
- Plain yogurt: 4.8 mg/g fat
- Sour cream: 4.6 mg/g fat
- Cottage cheese: 4.5 mg/g fat
- Fresh ground beef: 4.3 mg/g fat
- Cheddar cheese: 3.6 mg/g fat
- Beef round: 2.9 mg/g fat
How does CLA help you lose weight?
CLA supplements are being touted as weight loss pills that help in improving metabolism too. CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid which tends to act as an anti-inflammatory agent. You might have heard that omega-6 fatty acid doesn’t go well with your body, but fortunately, the omega-6 fatty acid present in CLA do the job of omega-3 fatty acids and showcases anti-inflammatory properties.
It is proclaimed that CLA is a fatty acid that burns fat. The CLA acts in various forms to help you lose weight. Various studies show that the 10, 12 CLA isomer acts on PPAR-gamma receptors to inhibit the genes responsible for fat storage and adipocyte (fat cell) production, which helps prevent weight, gain from the start. It doesn’t just help in reducing fat storage but also boosts your liver performance and can reduce the fatty deposits behind atherosclerosis.
At the same time, CLA increases your body’s energy expenditure, helping you to burn fat faster than you build it. CLA reduces fat by increasing basal metabolic rates. It efficiently converts the consumed food into energy.
The major area that experiences the effects of CLA is the belly. These stubborn fats are burned and a slender waist is a pompous result that you acquire from CLA. These amazing supplements also reduce the stress that can be caused by a weight loss diet. As Michael W. Pariza, a professor in the Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison quotes, “Basically, it was associated with reducing the stress of a weight-loss diet. CLA can be helpful to people who are dieting in part because the improved results make it easier for them to stick with the diet.”
CLA and immunity
There are several studies that prove the proficiency of CLA and one among them is its immune boosting qualities. CLA plays a role in regulating your body’s inflammatory and immune responses, as well as boosting liver health to support detoxification. Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) supports the immune system and helps build resistance to varied infections, inflammatory disorders and other immune system imbalances like autoimmune disease and allergies. Studies have shown the anti-inflammatory properties of both CLA isomers are accounted to be beneficial for people suffering from asthma and allergies by reducing over-responsive airway inflammation.
Potential for treating cancer
CLA possess the qualities to prevent the growth of cancer cells. It hinders the process of cancer cell formation and prevents them from growing. It lowers the susceptibility of tissues to cancer and inhibits the metastasis (spreading) and adhesion of new tumors. It also helps to reduce the formation of new blood vessels that influence the growth of the tumor. It regulates a gene called PTP gamma (an enzyme that is present in humans is encoded by the PTPRG gene). This particular gene is well-known for suppressing tumors in breast, kidney, and lung cancer.
Improves insulin response
A particular study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered higher concentrations of 9, 11 CLA. These CLA substances are abundantly available in adipose tissues which are closely associated with lowering risk of diabetes. A diet rich in CLA helps you consume less toxic substances present in processed meat products that are responsible for causing diabetes. The commercial venture to CLA makes you believe that it improves insulin response and controls blood sugar. An interesting study on CLA supplements showed that CLA supplements along with olive oil kept the benefits of CLA intact and prevented insulin resistance.
CLA for stronger bones
Another advantage of CLA is associated with its bone-strengthening features and protective effects. A dietary CLA helps strengthen the bone by preventing the loss of bone density and by increasing the body’s signals to absorb calcium. It keeps a check on the activity of osteoclasts (a large multinucleate bone cell which absorbs bone tissue during growth and healing) and helps reduce the same. These cells are responsible for feeding on your bone when your bone has a lower level of calcium.
What happens when you consume CLA in excess?
The consumption of CLA supplements has been a controversial talk for quite some time. Though some studies have proved it safe still there are several other studies proving its harmful effects. CLA can avidly increase the levels of C-reactive protein which controls the inflammation of the body. Though inflammation helps fight pathogenic organisms and initiate tissue repair after a trauma, it can still lead to chronic inflammation which can cause harmful side effects to your body. This inflammation if ignored can lead to liver damage by increasing the liver enzymes.
The most important features of CLA proves that it isn’t harmful when taken directly from healthy food but can develop adverse reactions when taken in a supplemental form. To be on safer sides, it is always good to consume CLA rich foods. Though it is said to be effective slowly, there is nothing like taking healthy food rather than a supplement. There is a lack of CLA in several CLA rich foods due to food adulteration. Processed meat lacks the essence of being feed grass and as a result, it contains less CLA content.
Few side effects of CLA supplements
CLA supplements can worsen insulin resistance. In other words, it alters the process of how your body absorbs sugar, especially in people affected with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. This isn’t much evidence to prove its safety, and hence doctors don’t recommend CLA for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The consumption of CLA may also cause dangerous effects on the liver, such as “fatty liver.” Thought it is good in lowering the bad cholesterol, at certain junctures it may lower HDL or good cholesterol. Some researchers have also documented an increase in inflammation with the use of CLA supplements.
The intake of CLA should be consulted well before it is taken. CLA supplements may interact with drugs prescribed for schizophrenia and other mental disorders. CLA supplements also help thin the blood, therefore care should be taken when already on antihypertensives.
Take away thoughts on CLA
You may be impressed with the wonderful weight loss features that they portray on CLA supplements, but you should also have second thoughts that it is not a magic pill. CLA can’t be used as a supplement or an excuse for the lack of substantial eating habits or poor excising. As Michael W. Pariza, a professor in the Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison says, “I think it’s something that can help [with weight loss], but certainly there are no miracles.”
Not all CLA supplements constituent of the same proportion of elements. Several people have found CLA supplements to be more effective when taken before or with meals. Though there are rare side effects that include nausea and stomach upset, it has still found a way to be a part of everyone’s dietary plan. In recent years, CLA has been a part and parcel of every nutritionist and weight loss guru’s agenda. Ann Louise Gittleman, a registered nutritionist and author of the bestselling book, The Fat Flush Plan, is no exception. In her book, The Fat Flush Plan, she makes it a point to cite CLA’s fat burning capabilities and its character to convert weight gain into body muscles. On the whole, a healthy nutritious diet is always the best rather than any supplements that are just duplicates.
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