Increase Fat Intake and Burn More Body fat
By: Robbie Durand
CLA supplements are made from safflower oil, a plant that has a high linoleic acid content (a healthy polyunsaturated fatty acid). CLA is the natural polyunsaturated fatty acid that is essential in all diets, and found in many foods such as avocados, olive oil, meat and cheese as well but in very small quantities. What is also remarkable about this compound is that it is also thought to have cancer-fighting properties.
Scientists discovered CLA in 1978 at the University of Wisconsin when they were looking for cancer triggering compounds found in cooked meat. What they discovered was the anticancer compound, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Since then, huge amounts of further research have taken place on CLA, and it became available as a weight loss supplement in the 1990s. For more than 10 years, CLA has been touted as the one of the most effectual supplement for weight loss which is stimulant free. CLA inhibits the activity of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL). This enzyme transfers fats from the bloodstream to the fat cells. As a result of the decreased enzyme activity the transport of fat into fat cells is blocked. At the same time CLA also stimulates the breakdown of stored body fat (lipolysis). And additional studies have shown that CLA increases the disintegration of cells (apoptosis), resulting in a decreased number of existing fat cells.
One interesting study had people take CLA during the holidays and examined if it could prevent the holiday weight gain. 49 overweight, but otherwise healthy adults aged 18-44, supplementing with CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) for six months from July to December reduced body fat weight gain during the holiday season from November to December. Subjects were randomized to receive either 3.2 grams/day of CLA or a placebo. Compared to CLA, the placebo group showed a greater rate of weight gain during the holiday season. Within the placebo group, holiday weight change was significantly greater compared to the pre-holiday period (August-October). Six-month change in body composition was improved with CLA compared to placebo, and body fat was significantly reduced within the CLA group. CLA had no effect on RMR, physical activity or dietary intake. The rate of reported negative emotions decreased significantly with CLA, although there was no difference in any other category of adverse event. CLA supplementation among overweight adults significantly reduced body fat over 6 months and prevented weight gain during the holiday season.
The scientific studies have discovered 4 ways it may fight obesity:
- Reduce fat storage after eating
- Increase fat burning or metabolism
- Increase the speed fat is broken down in fat cells
- Reduce the number of fat cells in our bodies
For example, in one study 20 people participated in the 12-week study. They have normal body weight and did physical exercise in a gym for 90 minutes 3 times weekly. They consumed either placebo or a CLA supplement (0.6 grams) three times daily as two capsules. At the end of the study, bodyfat was significantly reduced in the CLA group during the study, but not in the placebo group. No effects on body weight were observed. Thus CLA reduces body fat but not body weight in healthy exercising humans of normal body weight.
In another study, 63 people tending toward overweight or obesity took 1,700 mg of CLA per day, or a vegetable oil placebo, in about 7 ounces of sterilized milk. After 12 weeks, while there were no changes for placebo, the CLA group had lost body weight, improved body mass index score, had less total fat and fat under the skin, a lower percentage of body fat, and a smaller waist-to-hip size. The higher the body mass index at the start of the study, the larger the improvement in all measures. In an interesting study on the effects of CLA and sleep, overweight adults who took conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) burned more calories from body fat while sleeping.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, recruited 23 otherwise healthy but overweight men and women with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30, aged 18 to 44, to take 3.2 grams of CLA per day at breakfast or a placebo for six months. Participants measured their metabolisms in a metabolic chamber for 24 hours at the start and end of the study. After six months, those who had taken CLA burned an average of 4 grams more body fat while asleep than they had at the start of the study, while those in the placebo group burned 7 grams less. Those in the CLA group also burned 3.3% less energy from protein while asleep compared to the start of the study, while the placebo group burned 0.3% more. Compared to the start of the study, the placebo group burned an average of 43 fewer calories while asleep, while there was no change in the CLA group.
Close RN, Schoeller DA, Watras AC, Nora EH. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation alters the 6-mo change in fat oxidation during sleep. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Sep;86(3):797-804.
Watras AC, Buchholz AC, Close RN, Zhang Z, Schoeller DA. The role of conjugated linoleic acid in reducing body fat and preventing holiday weight gain. Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Mar;31(3):481-7. Epub 2006 Aug 22.