CLA For Fat Loss

In today’s post I will be covering the effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) for fat loss in humans. I’m sure many of you have heard of CLA, supplemented with it, or taken XYZ supplement that contains CLA as an ingredient. I will be going over a meta-analysis titled ‘Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans.’ Let’s dig in and see how effective CLA is.
First, let me briefly describe what CLA is. CLA is a a group of linoleic acid isomers found in meat and dairy products found in ruminants. CLA has numerous positive and negative effects on health, I will touch on this later. ‘In nature, the most abundant isomer is cis-9,trans-11 (c9,t11), wheras in supplement forms CLA is typically sold as an equal mix of the 2 predominant isomers c9,t11 and t10,c12.‘ Supplementing with the c9, t11 isomer has resulted in massive reductions in body fat in various animals. For instance Azain et al discovered mice were able to reduce fat mass by 50-60%. Human trials have showed much less dramatic results.
The meta-analysis that I refer to throughout this post covered how CLA effects fat loss as well as the ability to keep fat off after a low-calorie diet. The data from the meta-analysis concluded that supplementing with CLA resulted in a a fat loss of .09kg/wk compared to a placebo. This results in a yearly fat loss of 4.7 kg (10.3 lbs). This is pretty paltry, but I suppose it is something.
In one study a greater loss in fat mass was noted when supplementing with 3.4g/day CLA compared to 6.8g/day. This is a pretty big hole and shows a pretty big weakness in that particular study. It may also show how widely the results may vary when humans supplement with CLA.
As the meta-analysis mentions, the average gain in bodyweight for Americans is currently .4kg/year or .0009kg/wk. So perhaps this supplement may work in the long term to curb weight gain. However, long-term studies on the effects of CLA on humans is rather sparse. Larsen et al studied the effects of CLA supplementation on obese subjects after they had undergone a low calorie diet for 8 weeks. The studies participants who lost >8% of their initial bodyweight were further studied. One groupe received 3.4 g/day of CLA while the placebo group received olive oil. After one year there were no differences in the weight regain between the CLA and the placebo group. Both groups regained ~ 4.0kg of bodyweight.
All-in-all I feel that CLA does work a little bit to lose weight. I personally would keep my money and spend it on something else like food. No supplement will allow you to eat whatever you want! All the studies on CLA had participants on a low calorie diet while supplementing with CLA. Just keep that in mind next time you go spending hundreds of dollars on supps you probably don’t need.

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