CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a supplement typically used to aid fat loss. It is believed to positively effect body composition, leading to more fat lost and more muscle retained while dieting. In human studies evalutaing the effects of CLA on body fat loss have been inconclusive, with some studies showing CLA to be effective and some showing it to have no effect at all.
A paper published in The Americal Journal of Clinical Nutrition performed a meta-analysis of 18 studies in an attempt to reach a conclusion from the combined results. From the combined evidence, they found that CLA supplementation of about 3.2g per day caused a loss of about 0.09 kg per week in comparison with the placebo group, which is definitely significant. While CLA did appear to help with fat loss, something interesting to note is that while the fat loss effect of CLA was constant for a 6 month period, after the 6 month mark the effects seemed to diminish until reaching an asymptote at 2 years. What this means is that after the subjects had been taking CLA for 6 months, the effects dininished until at about the 2 year mark when it didn’t appear to be doing much at all.
Overall, CLA does appear to be an effective supplement for increasing body fat loss while dieting. Some users of CLA have also claimed that CLA can help limit fat gains while eating a surplus of calories in an attempt to gain muscle. The research here indicates that CLA is probably most effective to use for short periods of time (6 months or less) during which the individual wishes to reduce their body fat through diet and supplementation.
Whigham LD, Watras AC, & Schoeller DA. (2007). Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 85(5), 1203-11.
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CLA Increases Fat Loss