What is CLA?
CLA - A Key to Burning Belly Fat
BEST SELLER:Jarrow CLA
STAFF PICK:Natrol's Tonalin CLA
Good Dietary Fat
CLA is short for Conjugated Linoleic Acid and is classified as a naturally occurring fatty acid. People already consume this ingredient in their daily diet, and one of the most abundant sources for this fatty acid is from animal byproducts. However, many supplements claim to obtain this ingredient from plant sources.
CLA & weight loss:
Okay, so you've gained some extra fat by eating poorly for too long, and
changing to a weight-loss diet, regardless of how nutritious it might be, will
not put you completely back into a lean and healthy body. Nevertheless, it is a
good start, especially if it includes a currently missing ingredient that was
commonly in our diets before about the mid-1960s. It is a fat (actually, a
mixture of similar fats) that is called "conjugated linoleic acids," or CLA for
short. This article is about CLA, where you can get it, and what it can do for
CLA has been repeatedly shown in scientific research to reduce body fat and
increase lean body mass. It is a mixture of fatty acids that occur as a natural
component of the fatty portions of beef and dairy products from grass-fed
cattle, so it used to be in our diet. (Actually, the normal bacteria in a cow's
digestive tract transform plant oils from grass into CLA.) Unfortunately, for
the past few decades, Americans have been losing out on the benefits of this
fat-reducing ingredient for several reasons: we consume less beef, we drink less
whole milk, and our cows make less CLA than they used to make because they are
no longer grass-fed.
Sources of CLA:
For Inquiring Minds: CLA in whole milk in the U.S. was as high as 2.81% in 1963,
and had dropped to less than 1% by 1992. On the other hand, grass-fed Australian
cows have 3-4 times more CLA in their meat than do grain-fed American cows. One
strategy, therefore, for bringing our CLA intake back up to earlier dietary
levels is to consume only beef, whole milk, and cheese that comes from grass-fed
cows. These products are generally available from health food stores that sell
meat from free-range cows. You have to go out of your way to find them and you
have to pay more for free-range beef and dairy products. A side benefit is that
free-range cows are probably not pumped up with steroids, growth hormones, or
antibiotics like feedlot cows are ... isn't that appetizing! This strategy may
seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom about the healthfulness of a
high-fat diet. Nevertheless, conventional wisdom is fundamentally wrong here.
Beef and dairy products with high levels of CLA are good for your health!
Barring what may be for you a radical dietary change to consume more beef and
full-fat dairy products, your best bet is to simply take CLA supplements. It
turns out, however, that a bit of an argument has arisen about the best source
of CLA supplements. Virtually all of the CLA supplements on the market are from
plant oils, mostly from sunflower and, more recently, from safflower. You should
realize, however, that plant CLA and cow CLA are not identical. Remember,
fat-reducing CLA is a mixture of similar fatty acids that are made by bacteria
in grass-fed cows. This means that the proportions of different fatty acids in
CLA are not the same in plants as it is in cows. Indeed there is some doubt as
to whether CLA of any kind occurs naturally in plants. Clearly, the best CLA for
fat reduction is from grass-fed cows. The next best CLA may be from certain
plant oils, which are altered to become CLA. Some evidence also shows that CLA
occurs in the fatty portion of turkey meat (that is, mostly in the skin),
although not in other poultry.
Study 1: Mice showed a 60% reduction in body fat and a 14% increase in lean body
mass when fed the human equivalent of 3000-4000 mg of CLA per day.
Study 2: Mice showed up to 88% loss in body fat in another study.
Study 3: CLA supplementation led to 31% loss of body fat in pigs over an 8-week
Study 4: Obese men lost an average of 1.4 centimeters in waist circumference
after 4 weeks of CLA supplementation.
Study 5: People participating in another CLA study group lost an average of 6
pounds in less than 2 months.
Study 6: CLA-fed mice showed an increase of 74% in energy expenditure from their
diet, so the smaller than normal amount of the food they ate went into storage
(fat) in their bodies.
Based on these and other studies, overweight people can generally expect to
start losing weight by lowering body fat and increasing lean body mass within
45-60 days on 3000-4000 mg of CLA per day. It should be just that simple. In the
form of a supplement, the cost for a month's supply for that much CLA should be
less than $20, and any local health food store or nutritional supplement
supplier should carry multiple brands of it.
Choosing a Good Product
When looking for a good, cost-effective CLA product, avoid pricey products that
contain added nutrients. From what I have seen, some products have additional
ingredients that apparently have the purpose of boosting the price and not
necessarily the nutritional benefits of the CLA supplement. If you are already
supplementing with vitamins and minerals, you do not need more beta-carotene and
vitamin E from a CLA product. And, unless you have good reason, you do not need
to have capsaicin in your CLA product, either. All of these are included in some
products, in addition to some real junk such as titanium dioxide, caramel color
or other coloring, etc. You won’t avoid all such additives, so just look to
products with the fewest extras for the best cost/benefit CLA product.
Cautions: Some people report feeling slightly nauseous or have gastrointestinal
upset or loose stools after taking CLA supplements. These side effects typically
go away when CLA is taken with food, especially high-protein food. (Let's hear
it for a good steak from a grass-fed cow!) Such symptoms occur for only about 2
weeks, until your digestive system gets used to the CLA burst that you give it
in the rather large pills that most brands offer.
How About Side Effects?
We normally think of side effects as bad. However, research on CLA points to a
number of additional health benefits, which can be thought of as bonus side
effects. For example, a 6000 mg daily dose can improve insulin levels, which
gets even further at the core of problems associated with overweight by
undermining the onset of diabetes. Research with rats also shows the activities
of CLA in preventing the development of breast cancer. Human studies are needed
to see whether this works in people the same way. CLA is also able to prevent
the growth of prostate cancer cells. Again, we don't yet know whether this
cellular-level activity will hold true at the whole-person level until it is
studied in humans. Nevertheless, early research suggests that CLA works like
certain anti-diabetic drugs, such as Avandia and Actos, to enhance insulin
sensitivity and protect against cancer. So, all in all, I think the ongoing
story about the benefits of CLA is just going to get better as research