Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a chemical that is categorized as an omega-6 class of necessary fatty acids. Given that this is a naturally occurring fat, it should not be compared to traditionally manufactured ‘trans-fats’ which have a harmful effect on our body. Even though the studies are inconclusive as of yet, there are many potential health benefits that are derived from CLA.
CLA consists of around 28 isomers which are different physical forms of the same molecule, and different isomers have various ways of affecting our health. But since there is no distinction between such isomers in CLA supplements, we will not discuss each isomer separately instead we will discuss CLA as a whole.
What Is CLA Supposed To Do?
There are claims by the manufacturers of CLA supplements that CLA helps in reducing body fat, helps in the growth of muscular tissues, helps in controlling high blood pressure, reduces the risk of cancer, decreases the risk of asthma, helps in reducing the risk of heart diseases, increases bone density, improves sensitivity to insulin, and provides an overall healthy boost to our immune system. However, these are just the claims of some very talented marketers, and should be taken with a grain of salt since the actual studies sound less miraculous than these claims. So we need to be very cautious when considering adding CLA to our diet and be cautious to get too excited about the many benefits it may provide on our body.
Does Scientific Research Back Up The Claims?
There are certainly some benefits to using CLA supplements, but there are potential drawbacks as well. Like with all supplements, it is always important to check with your doctor prior to taking any kind of supplement.
Insulin Effects: In some studies, undertaken on mice, CLA also exhibited anti-diabetic tendencies. But human trials indicate that CLA may inhibit the effects of insulin and increase any existing diabetic condition in humans. Only one study found some benefits with regards to increased insulin sensitivity in CLA users.
Reduction in Body Fat: There are a good number of research studies which indicate that CLA supplements help in reducing body fats. On the other hand, there are also studies which show no weight loss in humans using CLA supplements. The overall results for weight loss by CLA supplements are quite inconclusive and at best provide only moderate weight loss.
Anti-Carcinogenic Nature: A recent study undertaken by American College of Nutrition indicated that CLA showed anti-tumor effects when tested on animals, but there was simply not enough evidence to conclude whether CLA has the same effect on tumor cells in humans or not.
Effects on Appetite: One of the studies undertaken about CLA found that their consumption reduced hunger and induced a feeling of fullness. This however, does not mean that it results in any weight loss or reduction in intake of energy.
Conclusions and Recommendation
Given the inconclusive result of all the research that has been conducted regarding CLA, there is a lot of room for interpretations and its mostly up to the consumer to decide for themselves whether the use of CLA would provide positive health benefits for them.
However, a dosage of around 3-4 grams per days seems healthy according to most researches and is recommended by most health care professionals. Do you research and check out high quality, pure CLA supplements.