What is The Best CLA Supplement in 2017?

It seems like every day a new, surefire, miracle weight loss pill is thrown our way. We’ve all seen the infomercials guaranteeing us to drop huge numbers on the scales. Although many companies focus on promoting the next big thing when it comes to supplements, sometimes a good old fashioned product is the answer.

If something has shown itself to work for three decades, it’s likely a winner in my book. Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA for short, could be the answer to successful weight loss. But what is the best CLA supplement? Let’s take a look and find out.

What is CLA?

CLA or conjugated linoleic acid is a type of fatty acid, closely related to omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 is of the two types of essential fatty acids (EFA) that helps the body to increase metabolic rates, boost its immune system and keep cholesterol levels in check.

Linolenic acid is the most common omega 6 fatty acid. In this context, the word conjugated refers to the arrangement of the double bonds in the fatty acid molecule (source).

There are a number of different forms of CLA, 28 to be exact, but only two are particularly important. These are “c9, t11” and “t10, c12” (Source)

CLA isn’t something new to the health and nutrition world. In fact, it has been around for decades. It was first discovered in 1988 when men and women alike rocked a perm and George Michael’s ”Faith” was topping the charts.

CLA actually came into existence when Michael W. Pariza, a professor in the Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, found something in fried hamburgers that reduced cancer in mice. Yes, I’m really serious!

After a few years his team found the mystery element. It was a chemical form of linoleic acid they called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA (source).

This discovery set off an enormity of studies into CLA and exactly what it could do. Although research varied, one consistent finding was that conjugated linoleic acid successfully reduced body fat in humans (source).

This is why CLA is most commonly used as a supplement for weight loss by body conscious fitness fans. Most users believe it can reduce body fat as well as improve muscle tone and exercise endurance. This may sound too good to be true, but science has stepped in to back up these claims.

Research has shown that CLA can preserve lean muscle mass not only in relation to strength training and reducing the catabolic effect of training on muscle protein (source), but also in the case of age related skeletal muscle loss (source).

How Does CLA Work and What Are the Benefits?

CLA reduces body fat by increasing your basal metabolic rate. In basic terms, this means it helps your body to do a better job of converting the food you eat into energy.

Studies have shown that CLA does not reduce body weight, simply body fat (source). It basically prevents small fat cells from getting larger and affects the body’s fat to muscle ratio.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that the benefits of CLA stop at a smaller waistline. Conjugated linoleic acid has shown itself to have a number of potential health benefits, especially reducing the risk of cancer.

Extensive investigation into CLA’s inhibitory effects against multistage carcinogenesis has been carried out. Studies have shown that CLA is beneficial in the prevention of cancer by preventing cancer cells from growing in a number of locations (source).

There has also been research showing that CLA could be beneficial in lowering the risk of heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is the biggest killer worldwide according to the World Health Organization. Therefore, it is no wonder that there is a desperate need for research into the ways in which the risk of the disease can be lowered.

One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people living in countries where cows are predominantly grass-fed, had higher levels of CLA in their bodies and a lower risk of heart disease (source).

Further studies have also shown that having higher levels of CLA in the body can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes (source)

Where to Find CLA

Conjugated linoleic acid is not naturally produced by the human body, but can be found in meat and dairy sources. The main sources being animals such as cows, goats and sheep. That said, the amount of CLA varies depending on what the animals ate (source).

Research shows us that the levels of CLA in beef and dairy produced from grass-fed cows is actually up to 500% higher than that of grain-fed cattle (source).

Most people in the US are already getting some CLA into their diet from food sources. It is thought to be between 151 and 212 mg per day for most Americans (source).

The problem is, most modern day Americans are not getting enough to reap the potential health benefits. This is mainly down to agriculture and the fact that as times have progressed, the way cattle are fed has changed.

Supplements are also available, but it is worth bearing in mind these are not manufactured from natural sources of CLA. They are made by chemically altering unhealthy vegetable oils like sunflower oil and using this chemical process to turn linoleic acid into conjugated linoleic acid (source).

Who Should Take CLA?

Science has shown us the benefits CLA has to offer and suggested that the dose to reap the health wonders is around 3.4 mg per day.

Of course, as mentioned, grass-fed beef and full fat milk are the best natural sources. However, in today's fat free crazed society, consumption of red meat and dairy products has dropped dramatically.

For many people, in order to get the right amount of CLA in their diet, supplements are a good option. However, all supplements are not created equal.

As supplements are derived from different oils, the amount of actual CLA you are getting differs between brands. Therefore, if you are looking to use CLA supplements, close inspection of the ‘supplement facts’ label is a must.

In order to ensure you are getting a full 3.4 grams of CLA from a supplement you need to calculate how much it is delivering. If a supplement offers 45 percent CLA and is 1000 mg, then you are getting 450 mg of CLA in each serving.

It is important to remember though, CLA is not a magic potion. Even getting the recommended amount through supplementation will not combat a poor diet and lifestyle. Most studies where CLA showed positive results were in those who maintained a healthy diet and exercise regime.

CLA Precautions and Side Effects?

Although CLA found in food sources have been shown to be beneficial, large doses of chemically manufactured CLA (such as that found in supplements) have been shown to have some side effects. Although research on humans is limited and the issue needs further investigation, there are some minor precautions people should be aware of.

There is research suggesting that large doses of CLA supplements over a long-term period can cause increased accumulation of fat in the liver. This can lead to more severe conditions like metabolic syndrome and diabetes (source).

Also, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, CLA supplements can cause a number of unpleasant side effects such as stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting (source).

However, to date no major side effects or drug interactions have been found when it comes to the use of CLA supplements.

The Best CLA Supplement

For many people, most notably those involved in fitness, adding CLA to your diet can be a good option due to the benefits for fat loss and muscle preservation. As a powerful antioxidant and anticarcinogen, as research has shown us, it appears that many others could benefit from ensuring their diet contains enough CLA.

In fact, since the modern American diet is lacking in CLA, deficiency could be one of the reasons why so many Americans are gaining so many fat pounds. Increasing your CLA levels could be one significant way to lead a healthier life.

With that said, for a number of reasons such as diet restrictions, many people choose to use supplements in order to get the levels of CLA they need.

Choosing the right supplement can be a difficult task. With so many different brands, forms and price ranges, finding confidence in selecting a product is often a hard job. So you’ll be happy to hear that I have done the work for you!

I have looked at the CLA supplements currently available and chosen five top contenders for the title of best CLA supplement to share with you today. I have listed some pros and cons for each in order to help you make an informed decision. At the end, I’ve left you with my overall favorite product.

Quality

Price

Our rating

For anyone who has ever read my reviews before, you will be aware that I am a big fan of the BulkSupplements brand. Every time I research a product, they have a quality option to offer, and CLA is no different.

This product comes in softgel form at an excellent price while offering a huge 300 softgel capsules per container. That is what I call great value for money.

Each softgel offers 1 gram of CLA. This product is made in a GMP certified facility in the USA and all products are third party lab tested for guaranteed purity.

The only small let down of this product is some people found it made them feel drowsy. Of course, all supplements affect people in different ways and may simply not sit well with those individuals, but it is something to look out for.

Pros


  • 1000 mg per serving
  • Softgel form
  • 300 softgels per pouch
  • Resealable pouch for freshness
  • Excellent price
  • Sugar, gluten, soy, dairy and yeast free
  • No additives or preservatives
  • Made in the USA
  • Produced in a GMP facility
  • Third party lab tested for guaranteed purity

Cons


  • Some users felt drowsy after use

Quality

Price

Our rating

Muscle Pharm are another big player in the supplements game. This brand offers quality fitness supplements to many a gym goer. Their version of a CLA supplement is also in softgel form and offers 1 gram of CLA per serving, with 180 servings per container.

This product is reasonably priced and is actually one of the cheapest of all the CLA supplements I looked at. Considering that it’s a 6 month supply, this makes it an affordable long-term option.

This product is made in the USA in a GMP certified facility. Unfortunately, it is produced in a factory which also uses a number of allergens like wheat, gluten and nuts, therefore, it may not be a safe option for anyone with food intolerances. Also, some users have had issues with the softgel capsules melting, which of course, is not what you want from a quality product.

Pros


  • 1000 mg CLA per serving
  • 180 softgels per serving
  • Good price
  • Made in the USA
  • Produced in a GMP certified facility

Cons


  • May not be suitable for those with food allergies
  • Not suitable for vegetarians
  • Melts easily

Quality

Price

Our rating

This CLA supplement comes from the well known supplement manufacturer Optimum Nutrition. This brand is well respected throughout the fitness community and loved by many hardcore gym fanatics for their workout boosting supplements.

This product offers a slightly lower dose of CLA at 750 mg per serving with 180 softgels per container.

It is no surprise that such a well known manufacturer would have a number of high quality assurances for their product. Made in the USA in a GMP certified facility, each raw ingredient includes a certificate of analysis from the vendors. Optimum Nutrition has also undertaken a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, ensuring all products are both in-house and third party lab tested to ensure quality in every product. I’m impressed!

On the downside, some users of this product experienced headaches and sweats which may be side effects. Plus, it is a little bit on the higher side when it comes to price.

Pros


  • 750 mg CLA per serving
  • Softgel form
  • 180 softgels per container
  • Made in the USA
  • Produced in a cGMP facility
  • All ingredients subject to a certificate of analysis
  • Products both in-house and third party lab tested
  • Free from allergens

Cons


  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for vegetarians and vegans
  • May cause some side effects

Quality

Price

Our rating

Here we have a CLA supplement from Sports Research which offers high potency formula of 1.25 grams, 95% active pure CLA. It has 180 capsules per container for a 6 month supply.

Again, this product comes in softgel form. Unfortunately, it is a gelatin softgel making it unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans, however, these softgel capsules are certified kosher.

This product is made in the USA in a GMP facility, it is non GMO and free from a number of allergens including gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, nuts and yeast. There are no binders, artificial ingredients or fillers, all of which shows the quality of the product.

Unfortunately this product is also comes with a higher price tag which may not suit everyone. Moreover, many people who used this supplement found it left them feeling bloated and uncomfortable.

Pros


  • 95% CLA
  • 1.25 grams per serving
  • 180 capsules per container
  • Softgel capsule form
  • Kosher
  • Non GMO
  • Gluten, soy, dairy, nut, yeast and egg free
  • No preservatives
  • Free from fillers or binders
  • Made in the USA
  • Produced in a GMP facility

Cons


  • Expensive
  • May cause bloating
  • Not suitable for vegans and vegetarians

Quality

Price

Our rating

As the name suggests, this CLA supplement from Naturewise is a high potency formula which offers 1.25 grams per serving. It comes in softgel form, offering 180 softgels (6 month supply) per container.

This product is made in the USA in a GMP certified facility. It is non GMO and free from most common allergens such as soy and gluten. This of course gives you a certain level of confidence about the quality of the product. It’s reassuring to know that it meets regulation standards and will not cause any issues for those with food intolerances.

There are a few points which let this product down slightly in my opinion. Firstly, compared to other products, it is rather expensive. I do appreciate that this supplement offers a six month supply, however, these could be quite expensive as a one time purchase.

Secondly, some users have opened this product and found the entire bottle of softgels have melted into one large blob. Again, when you consider that this product is a higher price, the last thing you want is something that can melt easily and after a couple of months you lose half the bottle.

Moreover, the softgels are huge. For me, swallowing pills is a major task and these would be far too big, for some maybe this isn’t an issue, but if like me you hate swallowing pills, you may wish to try an alternative.

Pros


  • 80% CLA
  • 1.25 grams per serving
  • Softgel form
  • 180 softgels per container
  • Made in the USA
  • Produced in a GMP facility
  • Non GMO
  • Gluten free
  • Soy free
  • Dairy free
  • Nut free

Cons


  • Expensive
  • Gelatin capsule (not suitable for vegetarians and vegans)
  • Melts easily
  • Large softgels which are hard to swallow

Our Choice

With this particular form of supplement it was much harder to choose between the products when it came to ranking them. In honesty, most of the CLA supplements I have listed are equal when it comes to quality.

All of our top five products are made in the USA in GMP facilities and many are lab tested for purity all of which should give you confidence that no matter which option you feel is best for you, you will be buying a quality product. This is of course, majorly important when looking for something which you intend to put into your body on a regular basis.

For me though, the overall winner had to be the BulkSupplements CLA supplement. Like the rest, the quality is proven in their no frills, pure, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin product. But more so, the value for money really stands out.

Not only was this one of the cheapest of all the products I saw, it offers a huge supply making it an excellent affordable, long-term option. Plus, because it is middle of the road when it comes to dosage, there is less chance of it resulting in some of the more common side effects like nausea Fand diarrhea.

I think that this product would make a good choice for anyone looking to try CLA supplements for the first time and let’s face it, if it’s good quality and a great price, what more can you ask for?


If you’ve tried any of the CLA supplements I’ve looked at, we would love to hear your feedback in the comments below, also, if we didn’t mention your favorite CLA supplement, let us know.

Helen Sanders
 

Chief editor here at Health Ambition, I'm a proud mother of two passionate about nutrition and ways to live healthier with more energy!

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