Conjugated linoleic acid, popularly known as CLA, is turning out to be a popular fat burning supplement.
Not only does it help in weight loss and muscle building but also reduces the risk of heart disease and helps in preventing cancer as well.
Every supplement should be taken in the right amount at the right time for the best results.
Let us find out how to take CLA, effective dose, and when to take CLA pills. Also whether CLA before bed is the best way to take CLA or not.
What is CLA?
CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid and is found in the digestive tract of grass-fed animals such as cows, goats, chicken, and turkeys. These mammals are called as ruminant mammals as the food ingested undergoes rumination in a special stomach before undergoing complete digestion.
CLA, when consumed by humans in the form of dairy products or meat causes three actions (1):
- Enhances lipolysis which means increases the breakdown of body fat
- Decreases lipogenesis which means reduces the conversion of energy to fat stores.
- Increases fat cell apoptosis which promotes the death of cells of fat tissue.
In short, CLA promotes the fat-burning process of the body and inhibits the body from storing fats.
Summary: CLA is a fatty acid that increases the burning of fats and reduces the storing of fats in the body. Even though CLA is very beneficial for the human body, it cannot be produced naturally by humans. Dietary intake is the only way to acquire optimum levels of CLA.
What are the Benefits of CLA Supplements?
Listed below are a few of the most important benefits of CLA supplements.
Reduces Body Fat
Lowering of body fats is one of the prime reasons why CLA supplements is a popular name in the fitness industry.
According to one theory, this action of CLA is through the inhibition of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (2). Lipoprotein lipase converts fat cells from the circulation into body fat stores.
Another study on rats revealed that CLA caused a reduction in the size of the fat cells rather than a reduction in the number of the fat cells, thereby, contributing to the overall fat loss (3).
Hence, it was concluded that CLA can decrease the synthesis as well as the storage of fat cells causing a reduction in body fat levels.
Increases Metabolic Rate
CLA can enhance the basal metabolic rate or BMR and help in increasing weight loss. An increased BMR often indicates that the body burns more calories to function.
A study performed on 134 overweight individuals by putting them on CLA supplementation for 2 years revealed that CLA could not only reduce the body fat mass but also help in maintaining the reduced weight for a prolonged duration (4).
According to another study performed by Vaughan et al. it was observed that CLA or omega 3 fatty acids can induce the genes that activate metabolism causing an increase in oxygen consumption, a hike in glycolytic capacity, and an increase in the overall metabolic rate (5).
Enhances Growth of Lean Muscle
Even though CLA reduces body fat mass effectively, a sharp reduction in body weight cannot be appreciated.
The credit goes to another special property of CLA- improvement in muscle metabolism. According to studies, CLA supplements can cause an increase in the muscle to fat ratio (6). Owing to this property, there is a definite improvement in lean muscle mass.
The significance of an increased lean muscle mass is that there is a hike in energy expenditure of the body even at rest.
Often while chasing your target weight, there is a chance of undereating and overtraining. Both of these activities can lower your immunity making you more susceptible to unwanted illnesses.
CLA supplements can come for your rescue as studies indicate that CLA can boost your immune system (7).
It is known for its anti-cancer properties and is a powerful anti-oxidant as well (8).
CLA has shown to decrease blood pressure, prevent atherosclerosis, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
A study on hypercholesterolemic hamsters has shown a considerable reduction in blood cholesterol levels on dietary CLA supplementation (9).
According to different clinical trials, CLA supplements can cause a significant reduction in LDL and total cholesterol in humans when a dose of 3 to 4gm is administered on a daily basis (10).
Summary: CLA supplements can decrease body fat, increase metabolic rate, boost immunity, and lower cholesterol.
Are There Any Risks Associated with CLA Supplements?
In very rare cases, CLA supplements may have mild side effects like nausea, fatigue, and diarrhea. In spite of being considered safe, CLA supplements consumption may be risky in a few cases such as-
- Pregnancy- There is a lack of research with regards to the safety of CLA supplements in children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers. Hence, it is ideal to avoid the consumption of supplements in these cases.
- Diabetics- CLA supplements can increase insulin resistance which in turn, may increase blood glucose levels and worsen the metabolic condition of those who have diabetes.
- Individuals who are on other medications- They should consult their doctor before using CLA supplements to rule out the possibility of any drug interactions. For instance, those on blood-thinning drugs should refrain from using these supplements as they can aggravate the thinning of the blood.
CLA supplements have shown to have adverse effects on the liver and may cause fatty liver. Another drawback of these supplements is that they can lower the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) along with the bad cholesterol (LDL).
Summary: CLA supplements are associated with very mild side effects like nausea and stomach upset. Pregnant women, diabetics, and those with any other pre-existing metabolic disorder should consult their doctor before using these supplements.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Dosage and timings of supplements can be called as the actual game changers! A correct dose taken at the right time can help you go the extra mile in your path to fitness.
Here are some very common doubts that may have boggled the minds of those who have started their weight loss journey afresh:
What Should be the CLA Dosage for Fat Loss?
A number of studies have been conducted to learn how much CLA for weight loss is ideal. One of the studies was conducted on a group of 60 overweight volunteers, both male and female.
They were given 3.4gm CLA daily for 12 weeks. It was noted that there was an overall reduction in the weight and the BMI of the volunteers. It was concluded that CLA supplements are both safe and effective when taken in a dose of 3.4gm per day (11).
It is recommended to have a minimum of 3000mg of CLA if your goal is to lose weight. If you are on the heavier side you may have to increase the dosage to obtain better results. Always bear in mind to never exceed the dose beyond 6000mg per day.
Can I Take CLA at Night?
Sure. You can have CLA before you go to bed. Some people experience nausea while having CLA on an empty stomach. To avoid it you can have a CLA supplement with your night meal itself.
Should I Take CLA Before or After Workout?
You can take CLA before or even after a workout. It can have individual variations depending upon how the body responds in a person.
For instance, having CLA supplements just before a workout can cause acidity due to increased gastric acid production. In that case, you may have to prepone your pre-workout shake to at least an hour or two hours before the workout or you can have it as a post-workout supplement.
When Should I Take CLA for Weight Loss?
You can take CLA supplements as a single dose with any one of your primary meals.
Another option would be to divide the doses into 3 or 4 depending upon the form of supplements and have them with each of your meals.
For instance, one CLA 1250 soft gel can be taken with your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Final Note
Conjugated linoleic acid serves as an effective dietary supplement for weight loss and muscle mass building.
If you are aiming at muscle building and a reduction in weight, natural dietary sources of CLA may not be enough as 3 to 4 grams of CLA is required to experience an acceleration in the fat-burning process. This is when you need to add CLA supplements to your fitness routine.
One should never consider CLA as a magic pill that can simply drive all your weight-related worries away!
It surely promotes the fat-burning potential of your body but shows definite results only when you combine it with balanced nutrition and a good workout.
Before consuming CLA, make sure that you consult your family doctor or gym trainer so that you may not end up having any unwarranted side effects.