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).
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.
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.