Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLAs) are omega-6 fatty acids that are primarily found in animal products like meat and dairy. They are polyunsaturated fats and according to the American Heart Association, these are beneficial for your heart.
Though CLAs are technically trans fats, they don’t have many negative effects on your health like artificially produced trans fats. An average diet gives 15-174 mg of conjugated linoleic acid daily.
Health Benefits of CLA
Many people consume CLA supplements thinking that these supplements will help their weight loss process and improve heart health. But studies have not yet established the exact health benefits of CLA. Let’s take a look at some of the possible benefits of CLA according to various medical studies.
1. Weight Loss
As per the study of the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), CLA will help you in losing a smaller amount of weight as well as body fat. This is because CLA contributes a major role in breaking down fats in the body. This is the reason people trust CLA for their weight loss.
Several medical studies have revealed that CLA encourages slight weight loss when researchers compared it with placebo groups. But more studies are required to establish the claim.
If you take conjugated linoleic acid orally, then it might decrease your body fat. But it doesn’t reduce your body weight or body mass index (BMI) in most people. Conjugated linoleic acid can act as a hunger suppressant, but it’s not clear whether it will reduce your calorie intake or not. Adding conjugated linoleic acid to fatty foods may not help you to lose weight. But adding conjugated linoleic acid to milk might lessen the body fat of obese people.
In children, 3 grams of conjugated linoleic acid daily is required to reduce body fat. Though CLAs are useful in lessening your body weight, some studies have revealed that a particular form of CLAs may enhance your risk factor for type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
There are no clear studies that will claim that CLA will improve your bodybuilding capacity. A study was published in 2015 and according to it; CLA along with exercise will improve your bodybuilding. Several studies have also shown that CLA supplements may reduce body fat and improve lean body mass, which is the ratio of fat to body weight.
A study was conducted when participants consumed 1.8 mg of CLA for 12 weeks and went to the gym for 90 minutes thrice a week to lessen their body fat but not their body weight. The scientists found some results that indicated the participants have lost their body fat as compared to a placebo group. So, they conclude CLA might reduce fat deposition.
3. Good for Heart Health
Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries is a disease where plaque gets accumulated in the arteries. This is one of the prime risk factors for heart disease. In 2018, a study was conducted on obese mice and it was found that taking CLA supplements could protect against atherosclerosis. But some more studies are required to establish the claims of CLA on atherosclerosis in humans.
4. Maintains Blood Pressure
CLAs are also beneficial in controlling your blood pressure. Experts believe that taking conjugated linoleic acid along with ramipril may lessen blood pressure more than ramipril alone in people who have unrestrained BP.
CLA Side Effects
Evidence suggests that you can take a small amount of natural CLA for your overall health and weight management. But CLA supplements that are made by chemically altering linoleic acid from vegetable oils are not at all healthy for you. Because they are a different form than the CLA found naturally in foods.
Supplements also contain higher amounts of CLA than people get from a natural diet like dairy or meat. Some nutrients are beneficial if consumed moderately from real foods, but become lethal when taken in large doses. And this is the case with CLA supplements.
Large doses of CLA supplements may enhance fat accumulation in your liver. This will make you more susceptible to metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Several studies (both in animals and humans) revealed that CLA causes inflammation, produces insulin resistance, and minimizes good HDL cholesterol. But some human studies using reasonable doses revealed that CLA supplements may produce several mild or moderate side effects like diarrhea, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress.
Dosage and Safety
Most studies on CLA recommended a dosage of 3.2–6.4 grams per day. A minimum of 3 grams of CLA is required for weight loss. The safe dosage is up to 6 grams per day and with this amount, no adverse reports are made. The FDA permits CLA to be included in foods and gives it a GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status.
If you enhance your dosage, there are more chances of experiencing CLA side effects.
Animal products from bovine such as cows, goats, sheep, and deer contain CLA. These products could be meat, milk, and cheese.
The amount of CLA depends on farming techniques. Products from grass-fed animals come up with more CLA than those from grain-fed animals. Bulletproof coffee is a popular CLA-rich butter that contains coffee, oil, and butter.
The Bottom Line
Several medical studies have claimed that CLA has only minimal effects on weight loss. Although you can take 6 grams per day, if you enhance your dosage, you may experience some CLA side effects. If you try to lose those extra pounds don’t depend on CLA rather try to lose them by exercising and dieting.