Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is a fatty acid that is found naturally in sunflower oil, dairy, and meat. It is also sold as a weight loss supplement.
CLA has been studied for other health benefits.
It may help with Type II diabetes and heart disease.
It may also prevent some types of cancer and boost immunity.
As a supplement, CLA can be found in syrup or in pill form.
There are different strengths of CLA available on the market.
The syrup has a sweet flavor making it easy to swallow or mix into food.
How can CLA help with weight loss?
A study published by WebMD showed that overweight women were able to lose nine percent of their total body fat in one year while taking CLA supplements. They did not change their diets or lifestyle.
The control group in the study which took a placebo lost no body fat.
CLA was shown effective in increasing metabolic rate. This is the rate that your body can burn calories while at rest.
CLA also decreased abdominal fat and enhanced muscle mass. Abdominal fat is a prime indicator of future heart disease. More muscle mass will also help burn more calories.
People who suffer from weight gain due to thyroid disorders may have long term success with CLA. This is because CLA has unique properties that support thyroid function.
There has been no evidence of interactions with CLA and thyroid medications. You should always consult your doctor before taking a supplement.
You should look for an 80% mixture of CLA. This strength will give you the maximum weight loss benefits.
What are some other uses for CLA?
The Journal of Nutrition reported that in studies CLA has been shown to reverse the progression of atherosclerosis. This is a hardening of the arteries from plaque buildup. This may reduce your risk of heart attack.
There are some studies that show CLA may be able to help treat high cholesterol. It can lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Some studies showed it may also raise levels, so scientists think more research needs to be done.
CLA has also been extensively study in the treatment of Type II diabetes. It was effective in lowering leptin levels of people with diabetes in an eight week study performed by Purdue University. Leptin is hormone produced in fat cells that helps regulate appetite.
Another study showed that CLA can reduce insulin sensitivity. Participants also had an overall increase in glucose levels.
While taking CLA, insulin resistance was also lowered. This meant that patients needed less insulin and were able to use it better.
CLA is high in antioxidants and works as an anti-inflammatory. This can help support the immune systems in people with autoimmune disorders and certain allergic responses. While more studies are needed on its affects results are promising.
Preliminary studies show that CLA may reduce the risk of some cancers. They can include prostate, lung, breast, skin, and stomach. No studies have been performed in human trials yet.
Does CLA have any side effects?
Because CLA is found in found side effects are rare. If you do experience side effects after starting a supplement you should consult your doctor.
Fatigue can happen. Increased fatigue may affect your ability to perform daily tasks. This can be counterproductive if you are using it to lose weight. Sometimes this side effect will decrease after a few days of use.
CLA can cause abdominal distress. You may have diarrhea, pain, cramps, or bloating. Prolonged diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of this are dizziness, dry skin, headache, or increased thirst. Dehydration can become deadly. If CLA causes severe diarrhea you should discontinue immediately.
Other stomach related side effects may include nausea and loss of appetite. If this does not subside after a few days or you start vomiting contact your doctor.
While CLA has been shown to help diabetes and some forms of heart disease, it should not be taken without doctor’s supervision. CLA may have a negative effect or serious interactions with your medications.
Professionals at the University of Michigan Health showed that CLA supplements may have a negative effect on the function of blood vessels. This may increase your chances for heart disease. Only a doctor can determine if the benefits are greater than the risks.