CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a popular supplement used for fat loss. There is some research supporting the benefits of CLA, and other research that shows it not to be worth while as a fat loss supplement. Some research has even suggested that it may have an unfavorable effect on insulin sensitivity, which certainly doesn’t support its supposed benefits for fat loss. One particular study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism demonstrates the effects of CLA supplementation on insulin sensitivity.
9 overweight subjects participated in the study. The subjects were not diabetic, so the results seen here canprobably be applied to most people. The subjects took 4g of CLA daily for a period of 12 weeks. A build up of CLA was seen in he muscle issue just as expected, but with that build up of CLA came a significant decrease in insulin sensitivity. Body fat mass and body conposition were not monitored, so the effects of CLA on body composition cannot be commented on in this case.
A decrease in insulin sensitivity means less favorable glucose metabolism, and perhaps even unfavorable effects on body composition. It is possible that the benefits of CLA outweigh its negative effects making for an effective fat loss supplement, so these results are not the determining evidence for the effectiveness of CLA. The effects of CLA are also dependant on which isomers are consumed. This study used a mixed isomer supplement, but mixed isomer supplements do vary in composition. The results seen here might cause concern for diabetics considering supplementation with CLA, and gives evidence against the effeciveness of CLA for fat loss. Still, many people continue to use the supplement, claiming that they have seen positive results, and other research has indicated that CLA actually does improve body composition by lowering body fat mass.
Thrush AB, Chabowski A, Heigenhauser GJ, McBride BW, Or-Rashid M, & Dyck DJ. (2007). Conjugated linoleic acid increases skeletal muscle ceramide content and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight, non-diabetic humans. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism = Physiologie Appliquee, Nutrition Et Metabolisme. 32(3), 372-82.
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CLA Decreases Insulin Sensitivity