Can CLA help you lose body fat? |

First of all, I’m not a doctor, I’m just a regular guy who for the past 3 years has researched different weight loss and fitness products. I’m going to show you how I use research and practical experience to help you make informed decisions about the products that I recommend.

The chemical composition of CLA is similar to other fatty acids, meaning that it is similar to other types of fat in addition to being similar in structure to its parent molecule, linoleic acid (LA). CLA is a free-radical fighting agent, which means it can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

The natural chemical component in milk, known as CLA, has been shown to help reduce body fat. In one study, women who consumed high levels of CLA for 12 weeks lost significantly more weight than women who consumed a placebo. CLA is known to have a number of other benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving cholesterol levels, and reducing fatty liver disease.

Almost everyone is on the lookout for a weight-loss medication.

Some pills may help, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: according to my source in the pharmaceutical business, the FDA has recently added a new criterion to weight loss trials that has created some issues with medication development.

What do you believe the new criterion will be? Raise the bar on safety? Nope. Interventions that last longer? Nope.

Any new weight reduction medication will have to be compared against a diet and exercise control, according to the new rule (minimum intervention). Previously, any medication was compared to a placebo drug – no diet, no exercise – as a control group. As a result, any results compared the drug’s impact to nothing.

Since then, they’ve discovered medicines that aid with weight loss… However, the new control group suffers much greater losses.

Surprisingly, diet and exercise help you lose weight more effectively than medications.

What should you do if you’ve reached a weight-loss stalemate?

What happens if you’ve been dieting and exercising for a while and have reached a stalemate?

You’re probably not going to your doctor for a prescription unless you’re one of those weight-loss ad droids. So, what are your options?

Some supplements seem to be promising. CLA is a good example.


What exactly is CLA?

Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) is an acronym for conjugated linoleic acids.

That, um, is self-explanatory… not.

Okay, let me attempt to clarify things out for you: CLAs are a group of fatty acids that are biochemically distinct forms of lineolic acid. They have a cis double bond and a trans double bond, unlike other fatty acids.

CLAs are, in fact, trans fats. (This is one reason why a blanket ban on all trans fats isn’t a good idea.)

CLAs are naturally occurring trans fats generated by cows and sheep during the digestion of unsaturated fats. See “All About Bad Fats” for additional information on trans fat.

The location of these cis and trans linkages throughout an 18-carbon chain is used to identify different CLAs (see figure 1 below).

The cis double bond (seen as a double line below) is at the 13th carbon, whereas the trans double bond is at the 11th carbon if you have c9,t11-CLA. The trans double bond is at the 10th carbon in t10,c12-CLA, whereas the cis is at the 12th.

Figure 1 - CLAs

Figure 1 shows the structure of CLA.

Question for investigation

Why should you be concerned about the many forms of CLA? It seems that some versions are more effective than others in assisting you in losing body fat.

In this post, I examine a study that compares c9,t11-CLA to a combination of c9,t11-CLA and t10,c12-CLA in terms of body fat reduction.

M. Raff, T. Tholstrup, S. Toubro, J. M. Bruun, P. Lund, E. M. Straarup, R. Raff, M. Tholstrup, M. Tholstrup, M. Tholstrup, M. Tholstrup, M. Tholstrup, M. Tholstrup, M. Tholstrup, M. Tholstrup, M In healthy postmenopausal women, conjugated linoleic acids decrease body fat. Epub 2009 Jun 3. J Nutr. 2009 Jul;139(7):1347-52.


This research was part of a larger project, however it seems that this is the first publication from that project. (Yes, one research may result in several articles being published.) Hey, if you have all that grant money, make sure you get every last cent out of it!)

There were 81 postmenopausal women with a BMI of less than 35, no hypertension, no chronic illness, no regular medication, and no menstruation for more than a year.

There was no selection for physical activity, but given this research was conducted in Denmark, I have to tell you that the typical Dane is in fairly excellent condition compared to the rest of the globe based on previous studies.

In fact, it seems that all of the Scandinavian nations have a more active “untrained” populace. As a result, “untrained” there is distinct from “untrained” elsewhere.

Everyone in the research had to fill out a 3-day food diary, documenting everything they ate during those three days, to ensure there were no dietary variations.

CLA vs olive oil

This research compared the effects of CLA on body composition and blood fats in three groups. The following were the groups:

  1. Olive oil was employed as a control since it is thought to be neutral or slightly helpful to blood lipid levels. The daily dose was 5.5 g (4.2 g oleic acid 18:1(n-9)).
  2. CLA combination – 5.5 g/day, consisting of 2.3 g CLA c9,t11 + 2.2 g CLA t10,c12-CLA (about 40 percent of each).
  3. The CLA isoform present in cow’s milk is C9,t11-CLA. The dosage was 5.5 g test fat or 4.7 g c9,t11-CLA per day.

The participants took either olive oil, CLA mix, or c9,t11-CLA for 6 capsules each day, but they had no idea which one they were taking.

The scientists were a bit sly to make sure everyone was taking their capsules. They gave the participants additional capsules for the month (a random number only the scientists knew about) and tallied how many were remained at the end of the month. If there were too many remaining, the researchers knew the individual had forgotten to swallow a certain amount of capsules.

The supplementation lasted 16 weeks.

Body weight & composition

Using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, researchers calculated how much body fat everyone had before and after the study (DEXA).

Because you can get an image of the entire body instead of sampling (as with calipers) and you don’t have to worry about getting inaccurate readings due to excess gases (as with hydrostatic weighing), DEXA is considered the gold standard for body composition. However, there are drawbacks: it’s expensive, and it’s often difficult to get access to the equipment.

Adipose tissue and blood

The subjects’ blood was drawn and adipose tissue biopsies were obtained before and after the olive oil or CLA administration.

A biopsy isn’t a pleasant experience. Researchers conducted an adipose tissue biopsy from the upper outer quadrant of the buttock using a 16 or 17 gauge needle — that’s right, they removed a fat sample from the butt cheek.

What’s the purpose of the blood and fat? To find out whether the individuals were taking their supplements, and to discover what other hormones had altered.

There would be an increase in specific lipids if the subjects took their supplements as directed. You acquire more c9,t11 CLA in your blood plasma if you eat more c9,t11 CLA. To a degree, the same is true for fat, although fat alterations take longer to show up in analysis.

Rather of monitoring the individuals take their supplements, the researchers just tested their blood fatty acids; if there was no change, the person was not complying.

The blood samples were also taken to check whether the supplements affected insulin or glucose levels, which would indicate better or worse sugar control. Supplementation may assist with diabetes if there were improvements in insulin or glucose levels.

Expression of adipogenic genes

Fat samples were also taken to see whether supplementation affected adipogenic gene expression. Thank goodness for jargon!

Adipogenic gene expression refers to fat gene production, or how many fat-producing genes are produced. This may be perplexing since what matters is not how many genes you have, but how much RNA and, ultimately, protein you produce from them.

Allow me to explain. Genes are the blueprints for a product, much as a factory has blueprints for a product.

Various genes code for different proteins, but just because you have the gene doesn’t imply your cells are producing anything. Just because you have design ideas for a vehicle doesn’t imply you’re going to build one. Your cells determine whether to produce more or fewer glucose transporters, just as a car factory chooses whether to make more or fewer blue cars (GLUT4).

Scientists may look at a few things from a genetic standpoint:

1. Genes – in comparison to the rest of the world, what variations do you have? You have at least one gene that is different from someone with brown eyes if you have blue eyes.

2. Gene expression – are you the one who creates the gene product?

Almost everyone, for example, produces a certain amount of melanin (the stuff that pigments your skin). If you’re extremely pale, you’re not producing much, yet you still have the melanin gene. If you travel to a warm, sunny location and begin tanning, your body produces more melanin (raising melanin gene expression) and you get darker.

So, although genes are either present or absent, gene expression is changeable. Sometimes you produce a lot of a gene product, and other times you don’t make any at all.


The CLA-mix group had greater c9,t11-CLA and t10,C11-CLA levels in their blood (compared to the olive oil group – control) after 16 weeks, as anticipated, and the c9,t11-CLA group had higher c9,t11-CLA levels in their blood (compared to the olive oil group – control) (compared to olive oil group).

As a result, the 75 individuals who completed the research took their supplements, which raised the anticipated fatty acid in the blood.

CLA supplementation and body composition

What effect did CLA supplementation have on body weight and composition? Both yes and no.

The kind of CLA the individuals were taking made a difference.

One group improved their body composition whereas the other did not — any ideas as to whether kind of CLA, mixed or pure (c9,t11-CLA), worked?

The differences were seen in the mixed CLA group.

There were disparities in total fat, lower-body fat, and even lower-body lean body mass despite no changes in body weight. In comparison to the control and even the c9,t11-CLA group, the mixed CLA group had less total fat (4%), lower-body fat (7%), and lower-body lean body mass (3%).

By the way, that’s 7% less body fat than the other group, not 7% less body fat overall. That would be a fantastic outcome.

Nonetheless, you get a point for mixed CLA.

CLA supplementation and diabetic markers

There were no changes in diabetes indicators – insulin and glucose – despite variations in body composition with mixed-CLA administration.

Genes that cause adiposity

Given the reduction in fat, it stands to reason that the fat-producing (adipogenic) genes would be less active — in other words, gene expression would be reduced.

And that’s exactly what the researchers discovered in this study: the mixed-CLA group had lower mRNA expression of GLUT4 (a protein that carries glucose into the cell) and LPL (lipoprotein lipase, which breaks down fat).


CLA supplementation does reduce body fat, but only when a particular combination of CLAs is used.

The mixed-CLA group (40 percent c9,t11-CLA and 40 percent t10,c12-CLA) did reduce body fat in this research, while c9,t11 CLA supplementation did not.

If you want to supplement, a combination of c9,t11-CLA and t10,c12-CLA is the way to go, but don’t expect miracles.

To put things in perspective, consider the following: Although the mixed CLA group had 7% less lower-body fat than the control group, this equates to 700 grams (1.5 lb) of fat on average.

In conclusion

If you’ve done everything else right – exercised, followed the PN, slept well, etc. – but still haven’t lost any weight, mixed CLA supplementation may be worth a go. I believe you would be squandering your money if you didn’t have everything else in order.

You might also just relocate to Denmark. Goddag!


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Recently, a study was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) that looked at the effects of CLA on obesity in humans. The results from the study were astonishing, suggesting that CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – the common dietary supplement ingredient – can help you lose body fat. The study involved 50 adults between the ages of 18 and 50, with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30. The participants were divided into three groups, with one receiving 800mg of CLA daily, the second receiving 1,000mg daily, and the last receiving 1,600mg daily. Then, over the course of eight weeks, the participants were measured for body weight, fat mass, visceral fat. Read more about cla weight loss reviews and let us know what you think.

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Una is a food website blogger motivated by her love of cooking and her passion for exploring the connection between food and culture. With an enthusiasm for creating recipes that are simple, seasonal, and international, she has been able to connect with people around the world through her website. Una's recipes are inspired by her travels across Mexico, Portugal, India, Thailand, Australia and China. In each of these countries she has experienced local dishes while learning about the culture as well as gaining insight into how food can be used as a bridge between different cultures. Her recipes are often creative combinations of traditional ingredients from various different cuisines blended together to create something new.