Dieting to try and lose weight while building muscle can be a real Catch-22. You might be doing everything right, but sometimes stubborn fat continues to linger in places you wish it didn’t. While doing your research on healthy, whole foods, you might have come across something called “conjugated linoleic acid,” also known as CLA. A naturally-occurring good fat, CLA is similar to omega-6 fatty acids.
Sounds amazing, right? Well, CLA is, ironically, present in foods like dairy and beef, which is traditionally associated with bad fats and not always included in people’s diets.
But there are a number of reasons that you want to find a way to include CLA in your diet, so today we’re going to tell you how to supplement CLA and get the benefits from this amazing fatty acid.
What is CLA?
As we briefly mentioned, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a polyunsaturated fat derived from linoleic acid, which is typically found in plant oils. CLA, though, is formed during the digestion and fermentation of the oil within the rumens of grass-eating animals, like cows.
CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid, but because of certain anti-inflammatory properties, CLA behaves more like an omega-3 fatty acid within the body.
What Are The Benefits of CLA?
According to MERCOLA, there are a plethora of health benefits derived from CLA, such as:
- Cancerous tumor reduction
- Reducing asthma symptoms
- Preventing cardiovascular disease
- Lowering high blood pressure
- Reducing risk of osteoporosis
- Reducing high cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Boosting the immune system
- Preserving muscle tissue and burning fat
- Fighting inflammation
CLA has the above benefits because of certain chemical properties. CLA is a special kind of fat that increases a feeling of satiety and inhibits the production of fat within the body. A study that followed 53 healthy individuals who consumed about 4.2 grams of CLA per day found that they had a 3.8% decrease in body fat compared to another group that didn’t consume CLA.
Another study looked at overweight and obese individuals. When these people took 3.4 grams of CLA over a period of 12 weeks, they had a significant drop in body fat. This means that without CLA, the scale wouldn’t have budged—if barely.
As for benefits for athletic performance, one trail monitored how CLA affects muscle development. The study found that when consuming 7.2 grams of CLA per day and undergoing a strict bodybuilding program, the individuals saw better leg strength gains and more lean body mass than those who did the same exact workout but without any CLA supplementation.
How CLA May Help Prevent Cancers
Earlier, we mentioned that conjugated linoleic acid may reduce cancerous tumor size. In an animal study, adding as little as 0.5% CLA to ones diet resulted in a 50% decrease in breast, colorectal, lung, skin, and stomach tumors. While more research is needed, there’s no reason to wait to add CLA to your diet with results like that.
Effects of CLA on Diabetes, Blood sugar & Insulin
CLA mimics the effect of synthetic diabetic drugs by improving insulin function and reducing the amount of blood glucose. Furthermore, because CLA reduces body fat, you simultaneously reduce your risk of diabetes.
Where Do I Find CLA?
CLA might be naturally-occurring, but that doesn’t make it ubiquitous. The main source of CLA is from ruminants, and most people, aside from those in the agricultural sector, have no idea what that means. Ruminants are used to describe animals that have a 4-compartment stomach, such as bison, buffalo, deer, goats, cows, and giraffes. There about 150 species of animals with “4 stomachs,” and humans aren’t one of them.
That said, it’s been found that during digestion, the bacteria in your gut will ferment some nutrients, resulting in a small fraction of conjugated linoleic acid—but it’s negligible.
So, where do you find CLA? What are the natural sources? Below is a list of foods that contain CLA:
- Grass fed beef – 30 mg of CLA per gram of fat
- Cheese from grass fed cow milk – 20 to 30 mg of CLA per gram of fat
- Lamb – 160-240 mg of CLA in a 4 oz serving
- Plain yogurt – 26 mg in a 6 oz container
- Butter – 54 mg in 1 tbsp
- Sour cream – 11 mg in 1 tbsp
- Cottage cheese – 22 mg in 4 oz
- 2% milk – 20 mg in 8 oz
- Ice cream – 26 mg in ½ cup
- Fresh ground turkey – 23 mg in 4 oz
- Chicken – 8 mg in 4 oz
- Safflower oil – 3 mg in 1 tbsp
- Egg yolk – 3 mg in 1 large egg yolk
- Sunflower oil – 2 mg in 1 tbsp
Natural CLA vs. CLA Supplements
Obviously, from the data above, you are going to have a problem getting the recommended amounts of CLA. Whether you are a carnivore or a vegan, the best sources of CLA are also those that are full of unhealthy saturated fats and cholesterol. Although CLA is spectacular for your waistline, trying to consume enough of the natural sources for CLA could be chaos for your diet. If you wanted to get 1.4-3.0 grams of CLA a day, you would need to consume about 2 pounds of beef, 100 ounces of whole milk, or a pound of cheese every single day.
That is why it is best to use some naturally occurring sources of CLA in your diet as well as CLA supplementation, particularly CLA safflower oil capsules like those created by Gaspari Nutrition. CLA safflower oil capsules have 1000 mg of conjugated linoleic acid for as little as 10 calories per capsule.
If you wanted to get 1000 mg of CLA from natural sources, you would need 9.25 ounces of grass-fed beef, which is a total of 518 calories and 33 grams of fat or 50 ounces of milk, a total of 938 calories and 50 grams of fat.
Or to really put this into perspective, 1 Gaspari Nutrition CLA capsule has as much CLA as 38 single scoop cups of ice cream.
How Much CLA Should I Take?
Now, you’re probably thinking, “I can totally eat 9.25 ounces of steak a day! No problem!” Well, there is a problem. Science-backed studies suggest that if you want to consume enough CLA for weight loss and a strengthened immune system, you need about 3,000-8,000 mg of CLA a day, depending on your overall weight loss goal.
You can do the math.
If you take a 1,000 mg CLA capsule 3 times a day, pairing the capsule with your morning, afternoon, and evening meals, you can get all the CLA you need without complicating your diet.
If you want to lose fat and boost your immune system simultaneously, there is nothing better than Gaspari Nutrition’s CLA. Get an excellent deal when you purchase CLA today.