Conjugated Lenoleic acid is a derivative of meat and milk products. It is an essential fatty acid that we unknowingly consume everyday through dairy products or meat. This compound has been known to be a powerful anti-oxidant and carries various health benefits. It attracted the scientists in 1988, when they discovered its anti-carcinogenic properties in research in which they fed hamburger meat to mice. Some of its major benefits include muscle growth, prevention of fat and cholesterol deposition, better metabolism and anti-cancer properties. It promotes a healthy body by increasing insulin sensitivity and promotes the growth of muscles rather than fats.
Research has found that our present-day society is being slowly deprived of this ‘miracle’ compound due to the change in feedings given to cattle. Modern cattle are artificially fattened and hence contain one-third of the CLA found in a normal grass-fed cattle. Hence, CLA can be conveniently consumed in the form of supplements.
With the advancement of time, there has been observed an alarming obesity especially in the American society and there is a chance that it is due to the decrease of CLA in the daily diets of people. Research has been done on small animals on the effects and benefits of CLA which has given positive results. However, the uncertainty lies in the fact that this compound has been tested only on a few human beings. The findings have failed to know if it will have the same effects. In one of the studies, it was found that the pill, when given to obese participants, did not really promote ‘weight-loss’, rather, it inhibited weight-gain. However, in a separate study, when the pill was given to diabetes patients, it worked well for two-thirds of the participants by increasing insulin levels and controlling blood sugar. In a subsequent study, Swedish scientists observed a decrease in the circumference of waist in their clients. Studies suggest that a 3.4 gram supplement per day should be enough to give the desired result.
CLA can be obtained naturally through various sources like poultry, eggs, lamb and red meat. Some of the bacteria present in the intestine also convert linoleic acid into CLA.
However, supplement pills are still the best source of conjugated linoleic acid.
The side-effects of consuming this pill are not accurately known. Some of the research participants complained of nausea. However, no long-term side effects or drug-interactions have been reported as such, except for gastro-intestinal upset in a minimal number of cases.
In a nutshell, CLA is not only a fat burner, but also promotes muscular growth, boosts the immune system, fights against cancer, and enhances healthy metabolism. With so many benefits, studies suggest that it would not be a good idea to consume CLA through natural sources as an individual would be required to increase his fat consumption to 500g fat per day, thereby consuming 4500g of calories from fat through CLA-rich foods. Apart from that, it is preferable for consumers to take CLA supplement whose isomer is close to the natural linoleic acid such as c9, t11 CLA.