Supplement Spotlight: Can CLAs Help Me Lose Fat?

I get asked by a lot of clients, friends and family what supplements they should take. First of all, I never tell anyone what supplements they should take. I’m a personal trainer, not a nutritionist, dietician or doctor. I don’t “prescribe” supplements or specific diet plans. I do, however, provide information and experience that can help them make the best choices for themselves. Previously I covered BCAAs for recovery. Today we’ll look at CLAs and whether they can help shed unwanted body fat.

The Geeky Stuff

CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acids. CLAs are a family of fatty acids that are different biochemical arrangements of lineolic acid. Unlike other fatty acids, they have a cis double bond and a trans double bond. Different CLAs are named based on where these cis and trans bonds happen along an 18 carbon chain. This is important because research suggests that certain CLAs are better at helping burn body than others. CLA is thought to work by helping to deliver more fat directly to your muscles where it can be burned for energy instead of stored.

The Research

In a nutshell, the research isn’t super compelling one way or another. Studies, as is usually the case, are typically small in size and not definitive. Some show modest body fat reduction and some none at all. Read the research for yourself (see links below).

Key Takeaways

CLA is a substance that your body does not make naturally so you can only get it from foods or supplementation. Research shown that cows fed from a diet of grass, instead of grains or soy, have the highest levels of CLA.

If you are going to supplement, a mix of c9,t11-CLA and t10,c12-CLA is likely the most effective, but you aren’t going to see any miracles.

CLAs are not magic fat burning pills. You will likely see better results, in terms of body fat reduction, from ensuring that your exercise program, nutrition and sleep/regeneration habits are on point. And if they truly are and you are still having trouble shedding body fat then incorporating the right mix of CLAs into your diet/supplementation plan may give you a mild edge to shed the last bit of body fat.