Conjugated Linoleic Acid [CLA]: A Comprehensive Review

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Fats of different kinds are not identical. Some are used up in creating strength and vitality while others have various effects on health which are quite strong. CLA stands for “Conjugated Linoleic Acid”. It is fatty by nature and associated to the group of acids. Dairy and beef are the natural sources of CLA and it has been proven to reduce fat. Some believe that, in addition to being one of the best and in demand weight loss in the planet, it can have certain health benefits too. Let’s see what it exactly does and how does it affect someone’s health and weight.


So let’s start with explaining as to what exactly it is.

Being one of the essential fatty acids, Linoleic acid can be  found mainly in vegetable oils in fairly large quantities but it  can also be found in limited amounts in other foods.

Conjugated means bonding. In this situation, it simply  means a molecule of fatty acid bonds itself to another. With there having twenty-eight  different structures or  forms of CLA, the most essential  are ‘c9, t11’ and ‘t10, c12’

CLA is made up of mainly 2 molecules. They are the Trans (T)  and  CIS (c) which are double bonds. The arrangements of these bonds are translated by alphanumeric codes like “ c12, t10, etc”. These indicate the structure and placements of the bonds.


The forms are only different with regard to their bonding. The arrangement of double bonds is different than others. The changes between these forms may seem insignificant but these forms make a lot of difference in the way our cells work.

So primarily, CLA  is a potent antioxidant that consist of more than one double bond in their backbone or double bonds for both trans and  CIS. It is basically a trans-fatty acid but unlike other trans-fatty acid; it is natural and found in many kinds of healthy foods.

A lot of studies have proven that trans-fats  in natural animal source foods are never harmful while the  industrial trans-fats are hazardous. Again, the main source of CLA is dairy and beef. This gets better if the animals eat grass or vegetation. CLA is formed from the ruminants of goats,  sheep and cows. The CLA and the amount produced varies from what the animal usually consumed. Cows that eat grass have 300-500% more CLA content than those from cows that eat grains.


A lot of people in the United States have already started taking CLA. On an average, a woman takes in about one hundred fifty-one milligrams of it while a man takes two hundred twelve milligrams per day. The thing to remember is that CLA found in artificial supplements is not obtained from the low-fat foods. It is made by modifying sunflower oils and safflower chemically , a vegetable oils which are not healthy .The LA found in the oil  is then converted into CLA through a chemical procedure. This is indicated by their molecular structure. Naturally occurring CLA has a molecular structure of t11 ,c9 while supplements are extremely high in c12, t10. Such Large quantities are never found in nature. So, it is better to take the CLA found from foods than to take the one found in supplements since the one found in the latter won’t have the same benefits as the one found in the former.

The way CLA works was discovered in 1987 when  some researchers proved the fact that CLA can combat cancer in rodents. Then, sometime later, there are some researchers found out that it can reduce levels of body fat. CLA washed over the world like a trendy wave to fight and control obesity. Every year, more people migrated to CLA to fight their obesity. After extensive research, it has finally been proven that CLA attacks the obesity causing cells in the body and also reduces food intake and burns calories as well.


But does it actually make you lose those unwanted pounds? The answer is yes. CLA is the most extensively examined and scrutinized weight loss supplement in the world. Through lots of randomized trials and even human experiments, CLA has been shown to cause a very remarkable weight loss in humans. It has also been proved that CLA can improve body structure by increasing skeletal muscle in some cases. However, there have also been tests that have had no results in their health at all.

Many reviewers have confirmed the fact that CLA caused a tremendous weight loss. You can see the effects in 6 months from the start of consumption and the desired effect is seen after 2 or 3 years. These reviews have also shown that CLA brings out 3 lbs more weight loss compared with other supplements.

So, which has more health benefits? Natural CLA or the one used in supplements?

Natural CLA is produced from the meat of dairy and ruminating animals. There have been many studies to examine the fact that whether high intake of CLA causes diseases or fights them.

The results were that people taking more CLA produced naturally have very little to no chances of attracting diseases, mainly the ones like cancer and diabetes (type 2). It even lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.


This could be a coincidence or it could be the effect of CLA. I say it could be a coincidence because there is Vitamin K2 also present in this meat and that also helps in warding off diseases. But when you consume dairy meat, you get both of those along with various other things which keep you equally healthy so it’s good to consume it on a regular basis.

We still haven’t found out whether large doses cause any side effects or not. Well, natural CLA is always healthy and has little to no side effects. But, artificial CLA is chemically altered from not so healthy vegetable oils. Supplementary CLA differs from the natural one, having a c12, t10 type structure. Very often, natural amount of anything don’t cause any harm. It will just cause harm when you start taking it in higher doses. This is exactly the instance with artificial CLA found in supplements. Artificial CLA in supplements can cause fatty liver which is one of the earliest sign of liver problems. A lot of studies have also shown that CLA, in spite of controlling fat, can also cause inflammation and clear the body of necessary cholesterols like HDL. This has been seen in both humans and animals alike. But this only happens when you use larger doses (as seen in all the animal experiments) Nevertheless, even with humans, the result was the same, be it natural or artificial in this case. These were genuine problems with CLA. CLA is also sometimes responsible for other adverse effects like nausea, diarrhea, and flatulence.

So, what is the correct dosage then? Studies say that the best dosage is measured in grams,more or less six grams a day. The side effects go up along with the dosage. It is declared safe by the FDA. These are the same people who tell us that it is okay to consume corn sugar as well as soybean oil  with a small amount of salt.

So, is it safe to take it?

In my opinion, the risk is far too great in taking in something that could damage your liver, natural or not in exchange of a shredding a few pounds. I would rather take some time out and work out a little bit. I personally believe that anti-obesity food supplement is somewhat dangerous way to lose weight. You can lose the same amount of weight with a mere kilometer walk or a short cycle ride and there are no side effects to it. CLA can be consumed initially if you are really obese and can’t perform the tasks mentioned above but the consumption should stop after a period of time since getting addicted to it can be bad.


If you take CLA for 4-5 months in a row and suddenly stop taking it, the shape you are in will be gone and then the cycle will begin again. If you do not agree with what I’m saying and want to consume more of CLA, then I’d tell you to get checked up regularly and get regular blood tests done along with regular liver checks. Positive tests will make sure that you aren’t harming yourself. I do, however; want to stress enough on the disadvantages of taking processed CLA as it is nothing but bad news.

In my opinion, any kind of supplement to lose weight, natural or artificial, is not worth it because if you want to lose those pounds, the only safe way is to exercise and proper diet. It is stress-free, has no side effects, and can rid the body’s diseases than these supplements could ever do. A run or basic yoga is more effective and calming than medication at home which gives you fatty livers and diabetes. Yoga helps you get rid of stress and refreshes you while a run will strengthen your lungs over time and will increase your stamina, something that CLA can never give you.

Getting a six pack is not easy and if something seems easy, it most  probably has adverse effects. Instead, choose a way that won’t cause you all these problems, and believe me when I tell you that there are plenty of ways out there to lose weight (hard work is still required. No matter how advanced our technology gets, we still will have to get up from our chairs and complete that 2 km run. As they say, no pain no gain.


No supplement in the world can give you everlasting strength, their effect always goes away with them. Even though it is the highest recommended product in the world to lose weight and has a number of success stories, with billions spent on countless experiments and the average rate of success was at its highest and better than the previous test always, there are some things that we just cannot ignore. These tests don’t go on for long enough to have any side effects in them but real life does. CLA may be the best but is it the best for you? Only you can answer that. There may be other weight loss supplements out there with better health benefits but If you are really decided to try this one make sure to ask for professional advice first and watch your CRP and blood sugar closely.

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