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CLA Supplements: Do They Work?

April 24, 2019

What is CLA?

Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid in dairy products in certain meats we eat. Specifically, it's found in the meat and dairy from ruminant animals like cows, sheep, goats, and deer. These animals produce CLA naturally within their digestive tracks, and from there it makes its way into the meat and milk which we consume. Unless of course, you're a vegetarian, vegan or pescetarian.

There are many potential benefits associated with CLA consumption. These include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. CLA can potentially help decrease body fat, specifically in the abdomen. It also may help block the absorption and uptake of fat and sugar into fat cells.

Finally, it potentially helps the insulin receptors remain intact, increasing insulin activity, which is why it being studied as a potential treatment and aid for those suffering from diabetes.

However, the studies surrounding CLA have shown varied evidence to support these claims and further research is need to conclusively state that CLA is an effective supplement.

Potential Benefits of CLA Supplementation

There are many potential benefits to CLA supplementation based on scientific research. As CLA is found naturally in ruminant meats and dairy, one could argue that we don't need to supplement CLA and can naturally consume plenty.

That's fine and dandy, however eating a ton of red meat and dairy may be out of the question for many due to cost, religion, health (red meat and heart problems don't go well to together we're told), lactose intolerance, and a whole other mess of reasons. For the purpose of body composition, fitness and weightlifting, getting CLA from these food sources may just not be enough, and actual supplementation of CLA has shown potential in scientific study.

These benefits may include:

  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Weight management and decreased body fat, specifically in the abdomen
  • Increase lean muscle growth in conjunction with resistance training
  • Hinder the growth of tumors
  • Aids insulin receptors, increasing insulin sensitivity

How to take CLA: Dosages and Methods

Typically, CLA comes in pill or capsule form. Depending on the potency and/or blend, typical dosages are between three and six grams daily taken with or before meals. As always, consult with a physician before starting a supplement regimen and follow the label directions.

Side Effects Of CLA

One study showed that over a 12 month trial of high dosage, there were no adverse side effects associated with CLA supplementation. That being said, always error on the side of caution and follow the direction of your physician.

Our Conclusion

While it's shown that CLA plays a role in certain systems involving glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism, and it may prove to be a sound diabetes treatment, it's effectiveness as a weight loss and fat-loss supplement needs more scientific research. More conclusive evidence and studies are needed before we can confidently advertise its effectiveness.

If you're looking for the best way to drop belly fat, try using CLA as a supplement to healthy eating and an active lifestyle.


  1. Banni S. Conjugated linoleic acid metabolism. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2002 Jun;13(3):261-6. Review. PubMed PMID: 12045395.
  2. Ponnampalam EN, Mann NJ, Sinclair AJ. Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(1):21-9. PubMed PMID: 16500874.
  3. Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutr J. 2010 Mar 10;9:10. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-10. Review. PubMed PMID: 20219103; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2846864.
  4. Whigham LD, Watras AC, Schoeller DA. Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1203-11. PubMed PMID: 17490954.
  5. Steck SE, Chalecki AM, Miller P, Conway J, Austin GL, Hardin JW, Albright CD, Thuillier P. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for twelve weeks increases lean body mass in obese humans. J Nutr. 2007 May;137(5):1188-93. PubMed PMID: 17449580.

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