CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a naturally occurring, polyunsaturated fatty acid found in the meat of ruminants (cows, sheep, etc.) and dairy from these animals. It is formed in the rumen of grazing cattle in a process where linoleic acid from grass is transformed into CLA.
Why do we need to supplement?
CLA has been explored in a wide range of body composition trials, with evidence showing that it may increase lean muscle and decrease body fat storage. The most important aspect of weight is how it is distributed. Muscle weighs more than stored fat (adipose), so someone with a high lean muscle may weight the same as someone with lower lean muscle, but will appear much leaner.
How does it work in the body?
CLA contains a mixture of different naturally occurring chemical shapes, known as isomers which have slightly different effects. The two main CLA isomers shown to have health benefits are c9t11 (cis-9, trans-11) and t10c12 (trans-10, cis-12).
C9t11 is present in high levels in food sources and may be associated with general health benefits, such as antioxidant benefits and reductions in inflammation. T10c12 is a CLA isomer which is associated in evidence with weight management, including lean muscle mass increase and body fat reduction.
The main way CLA is shown to work in the body is in the activation of Peroxisome Proliferator activated Receptor alpha (PPARa), a protein found in high levels in the liver. PPARA’s major function is to regulate the metabolism of fats in the liver.
Benefits in research
CLA supplementation may contribute to fat loss, according to several clinical trials. The additional mechanism proposed for this is the suppression of fat-gaining enzymes, including fatty acid synthase 1.
In one study, participants who supplemented with CLA over 6 months saw a significant reduction in body weight when compared to those taking placebos 2.
Lean muscle mass
CLA supplementation may also support the increase of lean muscle mass. In one example study, CLA supplementation ( when compared to fish oil as a control ) was able to increase lean muscle mass in individuals by 2.4% (over 12 weeks) 3.
The mechanism behind this isn’t fully understood, but it’s proposed that CLA may alter the way muscle fibres behave or altering the muscle’s metabolism 4.
Bio-CLA. are soft gelatin capsules containing conjugated linoleic acid of the type t10,c12 & c9,t11 in a 1:1 ratio
In our diet, fats occur as triglycerides that must be broken down to "free" fatty acids before the digestive tract is able to absorb them. This process is enabled by a digestive enzyme called lipase. Bio-CLA contains conjugated linoleic acid in the form of free fatty acids that have already been broken down and are ready for use. The advantage with this type of fatty acid is that they can be absorbed directly even by individuals with impaired lipid absorption.
1.Lau DS, Archer MC. The 10t,12c isomer of conjugated linoleic acid inhibits fatty acid synthase expression and enzyme activity in human breast, colon, and prostate cancer cells. Nutr Cancer. (2010)
2. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat and prevents holiday weight gain in overweight individuals,. Inpharma Weekly. 2007;&NA;(1585):6.
3. Sneddon A, Tsofliou F, Fyfe C, Matheson I, Jackson D, Horgan G et al. Effect of a Conjugated Linoleic Acid and ω-3 Fatty Acid Mixture on Body Composition and Adiponectin. Obesity. 2008;16(5):1019-1024.
4. Kim Y, Kim J, Whang K, Park Y. Impact of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) on Skeletal Muscle Metabolism. Lipids. 2016;51(2):159-178