Conjugated linoleic acid is a compound derived from linoleic acid, which is a type of fatty acid. Now you might be thinking that while the body needs fat to generate energy, overall, they’re a danger. And why would you want to supplement your body with even more fat?

On the contrary, CLA, commonly found in beef and dairy products, has the power to actually provide weight loss results. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular weight loss supplements on the market. How exactly does this type of fat work to eliminate… well, fat?

CLA is technically a trans fat, but unlike artificial trans fat, which are used mainly to provide taste and texture to fast food items, naturally-occurring trans fats actually provide benefits to your health. It takes the replaces the urge to consume other unhealthy fats and programs the body to instead burn already existing calories and fats stored.

It can be used to treat obesity, achieve weight loss, help with muscle mass and bodybuilding, as well as addressing other health issues like atherosclerosis and food allergies.

A study with 53 participants showed that taking 4.2 grams of CLA daily resulted in a 3.8 percent loss of body fat, compared to those who didn’t supplement with it.

For those people who are overweight and obese, a study that ran for 12 weeks found that it was essential to take 3.4 grams of CLA daily to see a significant decrease in body fat. These results, of course, are in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Overall, scientists and researchers have identified CLA to be a strong anticarcinogenic compared to other fatty acids. What made its name blow up was the fact that even low concentrations and doses of CLA could prevent the growth of cancer cells.

How Does It Work?

CLA helps the body convert food into energy, instead of simply storing them as sugar or fat. It increases the body’s basal metabolic rates and prevents the body’s fat cells from getting larger. When fat cells increase in size, they change the body’s fat-to-muscle ratio.

A study found that those who lost weight by taking CLA supplements with a healthy diet eventually gained back the weight they lost when they stopped taking the supplements or following the strict diet. The body fat percentage peaked at 75 percent with only 25 percent of muscle.

On the other hand, those who stopped dieting, but kept regularly taking CLA pills, also gained weight, but at a balanced 50-50 ratio.

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In 2004, a study called CLA supplements as a great contender for the title of the miracle weight loss pill. This is after atrial of giving women the supplement to take, with no other changes to their lifestyle or habits. Nothing but taking the supplements regularly.

The result? A loss of 9% body fat in a year. The study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was headed by Jean-Michel Gaullier, Ph.D., and was conducted in coordination with the Scandinavian Clinical Research Group.

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It’s not just weight loss CLA can help you with. Apart from muscle mass and a better fitness and physical endurance, a study found that it can also lower your risk of getting cancer.

Okay, let’s hold the brakes and tread slowly on this one. The University of Chicago’s Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine has reviewed hundreds of published research and clinical studies on the benefits of CLA. A prominent finding was that it lowered the risk for breast cancer in women, as well as colon and prostate cancer.

It’s also been linked to a better immune system function, a lower risk for cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Since CLA is also sourced from safflower oil, it can also act as an antioxidant. In terms of preventing heart diseases, it prevents plaque from building up in the arteries. If this is left untreated, it can play a key factor in the development of a serious heart condition.

CLA has had positive effects in maintaining a healthy balance in the body’s cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. In terms of helping manage diabetes, these supplements can lower your body’s insulin resistance. And if you’re not suffering yet from diabetes, then it can definitely prevent its onset.

In terms of osteoporosis, studies show that these supplements can help the body retain its bone density. It can also have uses for rheumatoid arthritis and periodontitis, but not enough data is available to prove these claims.

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Who Should Be Taking CLA Supplements?

If you are overweight or obese, then you can definitely benefit from CLA. But like all other weight loss supplements, don’t expect to see results without doing the work. Make changes to your lifestyle and your eating habits to maximize the health benefits of the supplements you take.

An athlete that wants to gain more muscle and get rid of body fat can make use of CLA. Not only does it offer health benefits for your heart, but it’s going to fast-track the road to your dream body.

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Potential Side Effects

Like anything else, taking something in excess can lead to something bad. In the case of CLA, taking too large doses can actually increase the number of fats that are stored in the liver. When this happens and is left untreated, it will lead to diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

Other reported side effects from those who supposedly tried CLA pills include diarrhea, nausea, and flatulence. There are also reports of inflammation, and CLA targeting the good cholesterol instead of the bad ones (LDL cholesterol).