Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a mix of different types of linoleic acid isomers, which are generally found in dairy and meat products. CLA is a type of fat that many have heard about but don’t know much about. Recent studies have shown that it has a large number of benefits for those who practice sports and beyond.
The benefits of conjugated linoleic acid
Conjugated linoleic acid is an altered form of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid and very important for human health. CLA cannot be produced by the human body, it can only be obtained from foods such as butter, beef and lamb or supplements.
CLA is a very powerful antioxidant, anti-carcinogen, anti-catabolism, improves immunity, helps in the process of fat burning, in building and maintaining muscle mass.
Some of the most well-known benefits of CLA supplements
- increases the rate of metabolism;
- intensifies muscle growth;
- lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels;
- reduces food allergies;
- improves the immune system;
Supplementing the diet with conjugated linoleic acid has been shown to improve fat / muscle mass ratio, help burn fat deposits, especially in the abdomen, and improve muscle mass. CLA performs this reaction and reduces body fat by increasing insulin sensitivity so that fatty acids and glucose can pass through the membranes of muscle cells away from adipose tissue.
Unfortunately, the source of CLA in meat is becoming poorer, due to the way of feeding the cattle with too little grass, which has a great impact on the concentration of conjugated linoleic acid.
From a chemical point of view, CLA is related to linoleic acid, but it has totally different effects. For example, (simple) linoleic acid stimulates fat deposition while CLA inhibits fat deposition. Also, linoleic acid tends to help grow tumors while CLA is an inhibitor of their growth.
Another crucial difference is that linoleic acid makes cholesterol susceptible to oxidation while CLA makes cholesterol more stable. I have mentioned all these things to attract attention when consuming supplements, to be careful to always take conjugated linoleic acid and not simple.
What are the natural sources of CLA?
As mentioned above, CLA can be found in dairy products such as grass-fed butter, saffron oil (there are capsules with this oil), red meat, poultry, eggs, corn oil. It is quite difficult to perfectly cover the body’s need for linoleic acid conjugated by nutrition, ie about 3 grams per day. That would mean consuming a lot of calories from food every day to cover those 3 grams.
The solution is to resort to CLA supplements – my favorite is Now Foods but you can choose your own brand. Make sure you stick to natural sources and keep in mind they’re very effective when accompanied by movement and a balanced diet.