CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid (a good fat present in foods such as meat, cheese and dairy products at low levels). At least 1.4 to 3.0 grams per day dietary CLA is necessary to achieve body fat loss1,2.
However, obtaining CLA from the diet is problematic since it is present in very low levels in foods that also contain high amounts of saturated fat (bad fat). However, increased consumption can be achieved by supplementation.
What Is CLA?
CLA is produced from linoleic acid (found in high amounts in sunflower and safflower oil) utilizing a process that gently converts the linoleic acid into conjugated linoleic acid. But how can a fatty acid help in the challenge of reducing body fat while increasing lean muscle mass?
A number of studies have demonstrated that CLA reduces fat mass, while increasing lean body mass3. A recent human study investigating the effect of 4.2g CLA/day in 53 normal healthy individuals led to a significant decrease (3.8%) in body fat compared with individuals not taking CLA4. In addition a study in obese and overweight populations demonstrated that at least 3.4 g CLA/d for a period of 12 weeks was necessary to see a significant reduction in body fat2.
CLA Benefits For Training
The combination of CLA and weight training can be very beneficial for everyone. A small trial investigated the effect of CLA on muscle development in 24 novice body builders consuming 7.2 grams of CLA or placebo per day for 6 weeks while completing body building exercises5. An increase in skin-fold corrected arm girth, body mass and leg press was seen in the CLA group compared to the placebo.
A similar trial found that 28 day CLA supplementation (6g/day) did not significantly alter body composition in 24 experienced resistancetrained males6. There was evidence in this trial that CLA may have an effect on crude markers or catabolic/anabolic status and improve overall strength however this needs to be investigated further.
In studies of Berven et al.7, Blankson et al.2 and Thom et al.8, the net decrease in body fat tended to be greater than that in body weight and in the study of Smedman et al.3 there was a slight net increase in body weight, but a net decrease in body fat.
This finding indicates that in these studies not only a change in body fat had taken place, but also in lean body mass. A net decrease in body fat greater than that in body weight indicates that there was an increase in lean body mass or that the decrease in lean body mass was less than that in the control group as seen in the study of Berven et el7.
Further, in the body weight regain study of Kamphuis et al.9, CLA tended to promote body weight regain after a weight loss regimen and this increase in body weight was predominantly due to an increase in lean body mass. Gaullier et al.10, have further substantiated these findings in 180 overweight (BMI>25) men and women supplemented with 3.4 grams CLA/day for a period of one year. A significant decrease in fat mass 9% and significant increase in lean body mass 2% has been demonstrated10.
In summary, one can certainly achieve a toned and muscular appearance by weight training. Weight training is an exciting and rewarding process and seeing the desired results day after day is a truly fantastic feeling.
Additionally, there is a place for supplements in just about everyone’s routines. The correct supplements will assist you if you are unable to take in the nutrients that are required by your body that you normally get from ingesting whole food sources.
Undoubtedly using CLA, will give you an edge in your fat reduction and increased lean muscle efforts.
1. Mougios V, Matsakas A, Petridou A, Ring S, Sagredos A, Melissopoulou A,Tsigilis N, Nikolaidis M. Effect of supplementation with conjugated inoleic acid on human serum lipids and body fat. J NutrBiochem 2001;12:585-94
2. Blankson H, Stakkestad JA, Fagertun H,Thom E, Wadstein J, Gudmundsen O.Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans. J.Nutr. 130:2943-2948 (2000).
3. Roche HM, Noone E, Nugent A, Gibney MJ. Conjugated linoleic acid: a novel therapeutic nutrient? Nutr. Res. Rev. 14:173 187 (2001).
4. Smedman A,Vessby B.Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation in humans – Metabolic effects. Lipids 36:773â€¦quot;781 (2001).
5. Lowery L.M., Appicelli P.A. and Lemon P.W.R. (1998). Conjugated linoleic acid enhances muscle size and strength gains in novice bodybuilders. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 30.5 s182.
6. Kreider RB, Ferreira MP,Greenwood M, Wilson M, Almada AL. Effects of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation during resistance-training on body composition. Bone density, strength, and selected hematological markers. J Strength Cond Res 2002;3:325-34.
7. Berven G, Bye A, Hals O, Blankson H, Fagertun H, Thom E,Wadstein J, Gudmundsen O. Safety of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in overweight or obese human volunteers. European J. Lipid Sci.Technol. 102:455â€¦quot;462 (2000).
8. Thom E,Wadstein J, Gudmundson O. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat in healthy exercising humans. J Int Med Res 2001;29:392-6.
9. Kamphuis MMJW, Lejeune MPGM, Saris WHM, Westerterp-Plantinga MS. The effect of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation after weight loss on body weight regain, body composition, and resting metabolic rate in overweight subjects. Int J Obesity 2003; 27: 840-847.
10. Gaullier Jm, Hasle J,Hoye K., Kristiansen K., Berven G., Blankson H and Gudmonson O. Effects of CLA in moderate overweights during one year supplementation. 94th AOCS annual meeting and Expo, Kansas,May 2003