Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) for Weight-Loss and Building Lean Muscle Mass
Believe-it-or-not there is a trans-fat that has a multitude of health benefits from dramatic weight-loss to increasing lean muscle mass. This fat is conjugated linloeic acid or CLA. While CLA is present in milk and other dairy products it is low in non-grass fed cows’ milk, meat and cheese. The best way to get adequate amounts is through supplementation. However there are some potential risks to consider before undertaking a CLA regimen.
What is CLA?
CLA is a fatty substance that occurs naturally mainly in beef and diary products like milk and cheese. Cows are potential factories for CLA because they are able to convert fats from their diet into CLA in the stomach. Humans however are inefficient at this and must rely on dietary sources.
The problem with getting CLA from beef and dairy products is due to the modern practices of feeding cows. Grass fed cows produce up to 300 to 500% more CLA than feedlot cows.
Getting adequate CLA from the diet would be even a greater problem for those that are lactose intolerant or vegetarians.
When it comes to weight loss CLA would seem to have all the right qualities:
It has been shown to increase metabolism to burn fat particularly targeting abdominal fat. The “spare tire” around the waist is both the most unsightly fat deposit as well as the most detrimental to health.
It increases lean muscle mass which in turn stimulates more fat burning
improves fat/muscle ratio
It curbs appetite
CLA was first “discovered” in 1979 when researchers at the University of Wisconsin applied beef extract to mice fed a carcinogen and noticed dramatic reductions in tumors of the treated mice. It was later determined that this was due to CLA.
CLA is unique in fighting cancer at all stages:
3. Other Benefits
enhances and improves immune system
Which Form of CLA Should I Take?
The most studied form of CLA is a patented form called Tonalin.
Avoid any other form that is not labeled as such.
This form of CLA is derived from safflower oil so vegetarians need not be concerned about animal products.
Some unscrupulous vendors are selling plain safflower oil as CLA. Others use sunflower oil which is not as good a source as safflower oil.
Further complicating things is that CLA comes in a variety of forms known as isomers. Think of isomers as a pair of gloves; a right and a left. While they are similar in appearance they are not interchangeable. There are actually 28 isomers of CLA.
There is only one predominant isomer that occurs naturally in beef and dairy products. However there are two isomers present in Tonalin which is a semi-synthetic product.
One of these isomers by itself had several disturbing health effects from increasing bad cholesterol to increasing risk factors for diabetes.
How Should I Supplement with CLA?
Take only Tonalin.
The dosage is from 3 to 5 grams per day.
Tonalin is typically packaged in softgels containing about 1 gram of Tonalin each; so one would take one to two softgels two to three time a day with a meal containing some fat.
A product of sesame seeds known as sesame lignans has been shown to enhance the effect of CLA.