Whether you’re only starting your path to weight loss or are already through a few milestones on your way, you’re probably wondering if there are ways to achieve your goals faster.
While there are many weight loss supplements on the market, the safety of most of them is a big concern, especially if you’re planning to take them long-term. But this doesn’t mean that there are no safer alternatives.
Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are completely safe and can help you speed up your slimming process. This guide will introduce to you 5 best CLA supplements for weight loss and will answer all your questions about their use, benefits, dosage, and side effects.
- 1 5 Top-Rated CLA Supplements for Weight Loss
- 2 What Is CLA and Why Do You Need It?
- 3 Dietary Sources of CLA: Where Can You Find It?
- 4 Benefits of CLA for Weight Loss and Overall Health
- 5 Getting the Most Out of Your CLA Supplementation
- 6 Dosage, Recommended Intake, and Side Effects of CLA
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Final Word
5 Top-Rated CLA Supplements for Weight Loss
NatureWise CLA Softgels
So, the list of the best CLA supplements for weight loss begins with the NatureWise softgels. Their conjugated linoleic acids are derived from high-quality, standardized safflower oil.
The dosage of the supplement can be varied according to your needs. You can take the standard dosage, which is one softgel three times per day, or switch to the maximum dosage, which is equal to 3 softgels three times per day. One softgel contains 1,250 mg of CLA, so both dosing options do not go beyond the range of the recommended daily intake.
The only drawback of these softgels is that they aren’t vegan-friendly because of gelatine used in softgel shells.
Bulk Supplements CLA Softgels
Bulk Supplements offers one of the best CLA supplements for weight loss, most suitable for those who think about long-term supplementation. There are 100, 300, and 6,000-count packages available, so you can easily pack yourself for months.
One serving is equal to 2 capsules and has 1,589 mg of CLA. The manufacturer recommends taking one serving of the Bulk Supplements softgels 2 to 3 times a day, but it’s still highly advised to discuss supplementation with your doctor.
Sports Research CLA Softgels
The next option in this list of the best CLA supplements for weight loss is offered by Sports Research. It comes in standard and maximum dosing options, with 1.5 or 4.5 g of CLA per serving, respectively.
The best thing about Sports Research is that their supplement is devoid of animal-based products. So, if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you can use these softgels for supplementation.
Also, the manufacturer succeeded in making this supplement free from the most common allergens, so people with food sensitivities can benefit from them as well.
MET-Rx CLA Softgels
MET-Rx is another top-rated CLA supplement for weight loss on the market. It doesn’t contain caffeine or other stimulants and offers mild yet pronounced effect.
One serving of this supplement is equal to one capsule and packs 1 g of CLA. Therefore, the whole 90-count package will last for three months if you take one softgel per day.
The only issue for health-conscious people is the use of food dyes in the shells. Also, the manufacturer uses gelatin, so these softgels won’t suit vegans and vegetarians.
Vitamorph Labs CLA Softgels
Finally, the last option on this list of the best CLA supplements for weight loss is offered by Vitamorph. It’s a high-potency supplement, as it can provide you with 3 grams of pure conjugated linoleic acid per serving (2 capsules).
The manufacturer suggests you take one serving with breakfast and another one with dinner. Thus, a 90-count package will last you slightly more than 20 days. However, you can also choose 180-count for a more prolonged supplementation.
The main issue with the Vitamoprh supplements is typical for almost all softgels: they contain gelatine and therefore aren’t suitable for individuals with specific dietary needs.
What Is CLA and Why Do You Need It?
The term ‘conjugated linoleic acids’ refers to a group of compounds (at least 28, to be precise) which are the isomers — or structural variations — of the linoleic acid molecule.
Linoleic acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that belongs to the Omega-6 type and naturally occurs in many products; however, the amounts of this compound are usually meager.
Some variations of CLA are considered trans-fats. However, unlike industrial trans-fats that can clog your arteries and blast the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, conjugated linoleic acids are natural and do much good to your body. Especially when it comes to changing your body composition and preventing the risks of coronary heart disease.
“Women who are trying to lose weight need to incorporate various healthy fats into their diet because fats are crucial for the production of women sex hormones.”
Dietary Sources of CLA: Where Can You Find It?
Naturally, conjugated linoleic acid occurs mostly in animal-based products that are rich in polyunsaturated fats. Beef and milk, no matter whether it’s cow, sheep, or goat, are the most common conjugated linoleic acid foods in the Western diet.
And here comes a couple of potential limitations for those who decided to obtain their daily intake of CLA from food.
The first limitation lies in the products themselves:
The total amounts of CLA in natural sources depend on many factors, including the animal’s diet, age, and even breed. For example, grass-fed cows typically have higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid in their milk and meat compared to grain-fed cows.
Given the fact that grass-fed, organic products are usually more expensive, maintaining such a diet may be challenging for those on a budget.
Here’s the second limitation:
Although certain foods are rich in CLA, its amount is still pretty low in them. For example, 240 ml of 3.2% cow’s milk has 8 g of fat. The amount of CLA in cow’s milk is 5.5 mg per gram of fat, so you will get about 44 mg of CLA in total.
Given the fact that you need about 1 g of CLA or more to make it work as a weight-loss supplement, turns out you’d have to consume at least 20 glasses of milk daily.
This is not only challenging but really unhealthy because you have to maintain a diverse diet in order to feel strong and function properly.
Which is why it makes sense to take supplements along with your diet.
Benefits of CLA for Weight Loss and Overall Health
Now, let’s see what functions and benefits CLA has, starting from its role in weight loss and following with its lesser-known advantages.
So, CLA is believed to have a positive impact on body weight and body composition.
But is that exactly true?
Well, animal studies report promising results between the consumption of conjugated linoleic acid and fat mass reduction.
However, when it comes to human studies, the reality is a bit different.
For example, in a 2015 review of 18 different clinical studies, only 9 showed the reduction in either fat mass or body weight.
The dosage of CLA, which participants of the studies took as a fat burner, varied from 1.7 to 6.8 grams per day, so it’s difficult to define the correlation between dosage and percentage of weight loss.
Plainly speaking, you may lose some weight when taking CLA supplements, but no one will tell you exactly how many pounds you will shed. Such factors as gender, age, other nutrients in a diet, etc. may influence the effect in your particular situation.
Speaking of other benefits of conjugated linoleic acid, some studies on the topic have found that:
- CLA may help relieve asthma symptoms. 2010 research published in the Clinical and Experimental Allergy Journal reports that taking CLA as an adjunct to usual therapy may increase the airways hyperreactivity.
- CLA may help regulate high blood pressure. According to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, taking conjugated linoleic acid as part of the therapy may increase the antihypertensive effects of ramipril, a medication used to treat high blood pressure.
- CLA may help individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive bone degenerative condition that manifests in acute pain and swelling. A study published in 2016 in the Lipids Journal states that CLA may have beneficial effects on people with rheumatoid arthritis and may prevent osteoporosis. Also, conjugated linoleic acid may affect the levels of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that triggers the inflammation and the following painful symptoms.
“Since most natural sources of CLA are animal-based foods, individuals who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may also benefit from taking CLA supplements.”
Getting the Most Out of Your CLA Supplementation
So, now that you know that the overall effects of conjugated linoleic acid on weight loss may not be as impressive as you expected, you might feel a bit disappointed.
The thing is, you still can make the most of your supplementation and have a great result. But you need to follow the complex approach:
- Stay hydrated. Water is essential for all of us, but when you’re trying to lose weight, it will help maintain fluid balance and flush out the byproducts of fat metabolism, thus helping fat leave your body.
- Be active. Physical activity will force your body to use fat deposits for energy. And here’s where CLA can help you speed up weight loss even more.
- Eat clean. Avoid overly processed foods and unhealthy industrial fats. Make sure you create a calorie deficit so that you would make your body burn more fat mass and keep muscles.
Note that your initial level of physical activity, metabolism, and the presence of chronic conditions will also affect the speed of your weight loss.
Dosage, Recommended Intake, and Side Effects of CLA
Since the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, there’s no exact conjugated linoleic acid dose. The amount of CLA you may need will depend on your goals and conditions, which is why it’s essential to discuss your dosage with your nutritionist or healthcare practitioner.
According to the information obtained from the studies, here are the suggested doses for different situations:
- for weight loss: 1.8 to 7 grams for different periods;
- for reducing blood pressure: 4.5 g for eight weeks;
- for asthma: 4.5 g for 12 weeks.
The best time to take CLA also varies depending on your goals. Overall, it’s recommended to take supplements either before or after the meal so that they won’t provoke digestive problems.
Researchers suggested that higher doses of CLA supplements are typically well-tolerated by healthy individuals. However, such CLA side effects as nausea, stomach aches, and fatigue are possible if an individual consumes a high dose at once, without gradual increasing, or if the supplement is taken on an empty stomach.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to take CLA, depending on my goals?
There is no universal guidance for everyone, as every human is unique. The best way for you personally to take CLA supplements is by following the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations of your healthcare provider.
Does conjugated linoleic acid increase muscle mass?
Not really. It can only slightly speed up the metabolism of body fat, causing you to lose less muscle while slimming down.
When your body gets energy from fat (i.e. through fat metabolism), it will prevent the muscles from breaking down and improve their recovery rate.
Is CLA safe in the long-term perspective?
Yes. If you do not have health conditions that may alter fat metabolism — such as liver or pancreas issues — then taking CLA is completely safe for you.
Still, you should address this question to your doctor if you want to know for sure.
Does conjugated linoleic acid curb appetite?
The information is a bit controversial here. In animal studies, conjugated linoleic acid showed a significant impact on appetite-regulating genes and hormones, especially in rodents. However, when it comes to human studies, only some investigations showed similar results.
Researchers link this inconsistency to the type of CLA isomers used and the initial parameters of the participants, such as body weight and metabolic status. In other words, more data on the evaluation of the appetite-suppressant properties of CLA is needed.
How long does it take for CLA to work?
It depends, again, on your body. Some individuals may notice the effects over the first couple of weeks, while others may need a couple of months to see the difference.
Conjugated linoleic acids belong to a group of Omega-6 fatty acids and are important for many aspects of your health.
While CLA is totally safe for taking as a weight loss supplement, the actual efficacy on this topic remains controversial. Plainly speaking, your initial level of metabolism and activity will define how much weight you’ll lose.
It’s better to use a holistic approach to make the most of your CLA supplementation. Don’t rely on pills alone — clean your diet and do some physical activity to see better results.