Conjugated Linoleic Acid Benefits

CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid naturally present in meat, dairy products, and other animal food sources. CLA has been shown to have many benefits for weight management due to its ability to suppress appetite, increase metabolism, reduce body fat mass and improve insulin sensitivity. So what are the most popular foods high in this nutrient?

CLA is a fatty acid found in dairy products, meat, and eggs. It has been proven to have many benefits, such as reducing body fat, boosting the immune system, and improving skin health. However, CLA also has some negative side effects like increased cholesterol levels, so it should be used with caution.


While many people associate “butter and beef” with heart attacks and weight gain, the fact is that all kinds of natural fats are harmless and even advantageous when consumed in moderation and high-quality forms. The term “conjugated linoleic acid” (or “CLA”) refers to a collection of compounds contained in the fatty acid linoleic acid.

Full-fat dairy products, beef, and grass-fed butter are some of the best sources of CLA in the diet. Although most people consider these items as “unhealthy” saturated fat sources, they also include important CLA, a form of polyunsaturated fat that we need to get from our diets.

For optimal health, the body needs all three kinds of fats, which serve a variety of activities ranging from pregnancy to digestion to brain function. Not only is it true that fat does not make you fat, but specific kinds of healthy fats are also among the most effective fat-burning meals available. However, fats, particularly those derived from animal sources, must be of high quality.

What effects does CLA have on your body? CLA is almost solely found in high-quality beef and butter from healthy, grass-fed cows or other animals, and it’s recognized for preventing cancer, limiting weight gain, and helping build muscle.

What Is Conjugated Linoleic Acid?

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, especially an omega-6 fatty acid. It’s a kind of linoleic acid, the most prevalent omega-6 fatty acid in diets. Although there are 28 distinct types of CLA, including 16 naturally occurring CLA isomers, just two seem to be the most significant. “c9, t11” and “t10, c12” are the terms for these.

The following are some of the advantages of conjugated linoleic acid, according to research:

  • Assisting in weight reduction
  • Muscle-building and strength-increasing exercises
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Bone-building advantages
  • Support for development and growth
  • Atherosclerosis reversal (hardening of the arteries)
  • Enhancing digestion
  • Food allergies and sensitivities are being reduced.
  • Assisting in the normalization of blood sugar levels

Although there is no set daily recommended amount of CLA, research suggests that non-vegetarian women and men consume between 152 and 212 mg daily. Vegans and vegetarians have reduced amounts of CLA since it is present in animal products.

But aren’t Omega-6 fatty acids considered “inflammatory”?

CLA may be present in dairy products, ruminant animal flesh, and other synthetic items such as industrially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Certain bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tracts of ruminant animals such as cows, sheep, and goats are thought to convert linoleic acid into various forms of CLA through a biohydrogenation process. The location and shape of the fat’s double bonds are changed during this process, resulting in a single bond between one or both of the double bonds.

Fatty acids are found in all forms of fats (lipids), including those found in animal products, eggs, dairy, oils, nuts, seeds, and coconuts. Some fats are regarded as necessary because the body cannot make them on its own, while others are considered non-essential since they may be synthesized from other nutrients. Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, seafood, eggs, and some nuts or seeds) and polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids (found in fish, seafood, eggs, and some nuts or seeds) are two necessary fats we need to acquire from our diet (mostly found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds).

Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, but omega-6s are thought to be inflammatory. The fact is that we need both kinds of important fats to maintain proper immunological, hormone, digestive, and brain system functioning, which is why there are so many low-fat diet hazards associated with failing to consume enough healthy fats.

Omega-6 oils are often overconsumed by persons following a regular Western diet and are therefore harmful, owing to their presence in vegetable oils used to produce processed junk foods. In an ideal world, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid consumption would be equal, but the ordinary American diet is significantly richer in omega-6s, which is why it’s so “inflammatory.” Most chronic illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, autoimmune disorders, and dementia, are caused by inflammation.

Both kinds of necessary fats must not only be acquired from the foods we eat but they must also be consumed in the proper proportions. For example, conjugated linoleic acid is one sort of omega-6 fat that we can afford to consume more of since it acts in the body like an omega-3 diet, reducing inflammation and promoting other health benefits. It also aids in the suppression of appetite (by regulating the hunger hormone ghrelin) and may increase food absorption.

Health Advantages

1. Assists with fat-burning and weight loss

You may be surprised to learn that butter is a fat-burning food! CLA has been found to aid fat reduction in numerous animal and human tests, which is why it’s one of the most popular weight loss supplements on the market in its concentrated form. In addition, several studies have revealed evidence that CLA helps improve lean mass in various animals and decreases body weight and fat mass.

What role does CLA play in weight loss? CLA is thought to lower adiposity (fat) because of its effects on 1) energy metabolism, 2) adipogenesis, 3) inflammation, 4) lipid metabolism, and 5) apoptosis, according to a 2009 study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. In animal experiments, CLA (particularly types 10 and 12) has also been shown to boost energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and browning of subcutaneous white adipose tissue (aka white fat).

According to animal research, supplementing with a CLA combination (equal concentrations of the 10,12 and 9,11 isomers) or the 10,12 isomer alone reduces body fat mass. The anti-obesity actions of CLA seem to be mediated by 10,12, one of the two primary isomers.

The effects of CLA on weight reduction have been inconsistent in human research, but they are nonetheless encouraging. For example, in one research, supplementing a CLA combination with three to four grams of CLA per day for 24 weeks reduced body fat mass while increasing lean body mass in overweight and obese persons. In addition, CLA had no negative impact on total blood lipids, inflammatory levels, or insulin response in healthy, overweight, and obese people.

Some persons may have greater benefits than others owing to variables such as CLA isomer combination vs. individual isomers, CLA dosage and treatment duration, gender, weight, age, and metabolic state of the participants. One of the processes by which CLA reduces body fat mass is that it lowers calorie intake or raises energy expenditure. One research found that mice treated with a CLA combination for four weeks lowered their food consumption and improved their liver function, while human trials have yet to show the same impact.

Is CLA effective for reducing belly fat? No one meal or substance will precisely target belly fat or fat in other parts of the body. However, since CLA may assist in weight reduction and blood sugar homeostasis in general, consuming more CLA may likely help you shed some belly fat.

2. Helps to improve insulin function by regulating blood sugar

There’s considerable evidence that the amount of CLA in a person’s diet affects their risk of getting diabetes. CLA may have a role in insulin control, according to the theory. We also know that the finest dietary sources of CLA, such as healthy fats like butter or grass-fed beef, may help people maintain a low-sugar, low-carb diet, which is excellent for diabetes management.

3. Enhances immune function and may aid in the fight against cancer

In various animal investigations, conjugated linoleic acid has been demonstrated to have immune-enhancing and anticarcinogenic properties. CLA in saturated-fat meals may help with anything from blood sugar management to hormone regulation to natural cancer prevention by counteracting the negative effects of saturated fat.

According to research, conjugated linoleic acids (particularly rumenic acid) have been shown to be health-promoting in numerous ways, including decreasing inflammation. Decreased inflammation indicates less free radical damage (oxidative stress), which is associated to a lower risk of cancer.

CLA seems to increase bone density while also modulating immunological and inflammatory responses. Although research on the benefits of conjugated linoleic acid in preventing breast cancer is mixed, some preliminary evidence shows that greater consumption of CLA from natural sources is connected to a decreased risk of breast cancer. Other research findings show that it may help fight cancer of the digestive organs and enhance detoxification by improving liver function.

4. Allergies and Asthma Symptoms are Reduced

Eating foods rich in CLA or taking CLA supplements for 12 weeks appears to enhance symptoms and general well-being in those with seasonal allergy symptoms. According to a study, CLA may also be a natural therapy technique for asthma-related symptoms for patients with asthma, owing to its potential to help regulate inflammation. In addition, supplementation for 12 weeks seems to increase airway sensitivity and exercise capacity.

5. Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms are Improved

According to a preliminary study, CLA seems to help reduce inflammation and autoimmune illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis. Conjugated linoleic acid, taken alone or in combination with other supplements like vitamin E, helps people with arthritis reduce their symptoms, such as pain and stiffness in the morning.

Adults with arthritis who took CLA had better pain and inflammatory indicators, including swelling than their pre-treatment symptoms or persons who did not take CLA, suggesting that CLA can naturally treat arthritis.

6. It Has the Potential to Increase Muscle Strength

Although results have been mixed, some study suggests that consuming conjugated linoleic acid alone or in combination with other supplements such as creatine and whey protein may help boost strength and lean tissue mass. This is why several bodybuilding supplements, protein powders, and weight reduction solutions include CLA.

Sources of the Best Food

The main dietary sources of CLA, according to a research published in The Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, are:

  • Beef from grass-fed cows is used to make butter (ideally organic)
  • Full-fat dairy products, ideally raw, such as cream, milk, yogurt, or cheese
  • Grass-fed beef is a kind of beef that has been raised on grass (ideally organic)
  • In addition to cows, it may be present in dairy products from sheep or goats, such as goat milk.
  • Smaller levels may be found in grass-fed lamb, veal, turkey, and shellfish.

What an animal consumes and how they have grown impacts how much CLA (and other fats and nutrients) its meat or milk contains.

The amount of CLA present in dairy products varies from 0.34–1.07% of total fat (making it the greatest source), followed by roughly 0.12–0.68% of total fat in raw or processed beef products (the second-best source). When it comes to animal goods, however, the breed and, more importantly, the quality of the animal’s food and lifestyle significantly impact the fat content. In other words, when it comes to providing us with good fats like CLA, not all beef or dairy is made equal.

The CLA content is affected by the season, the quality of the soil on the farms, and the animal’s age. According to one research, the CLA content of beef and dairy from grass-fed cows is 300–500% greater than that of grain-fed animals!

Grass-fed beef has greater amounts of CLA (as well as more omega-3 fats and vitamins) than meat reared on industrial farms. The same is true of dairy products derived from cows, such as cream and butter. Buying grass-fed beef directly from small farms, whether at farmer’s markets, via a community-sponsored agricultural organization, or even online, is one of the greatest ways to locate high-quality grass-fed beef. If you can’t obtain the ideal product, such as 100 percent organic and grass-fed beef, do your best while also avoiding industrial and artificial fats in your diet.

If all of this information on getting different fats sounds overwhelming, remember that eating various natural fats in their natural forms is the greatest thing you can do for your health. Butter, steak, and cream are nothing to be afraid of if consumed in the best quality possible, as traditional people have done for thousands of years.

Is It Necessary to Take CLA Supplements?

CLA may also be obtained via supplements, although, like with other nutrients, supplemented CLA does not always provide the same health benefits as CLA obtained from natural, whole foods.

It’s conceivable that the CLA available in supplements isn’t the most efficient; real foods have c9, t11 CLA, but many supplements include t10 and c12 CLA.

While CLA supplementation has shown some promise in reducing disease risk and symptoms, most people lack high amounts of rumenic acid, which is the most common type of CLA found in natural sources. This is the most physiologically active form of CLA, accounting for around 90% of the CLA contained in ruminant meats and dairy products (9,11 and 10,12 isomers).

On the other hand, CLA in supplements is often created by chemically modifying linoleic acid from harmful vegetable oils.

How to Take CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid):

  • A dosage of 1.8 to 7 grams of CLA per day has been utilized effectively for some advantages, such as decreasing body fat in obese people. However, quantities in the lower end of that range may be sufficient, as recent studies suggest that more than 3.4 grams per day do not usually seem to provide any extra advantages. According to another study, a daily dose of 3 grams of CLA may be required to show results. According to the manufacturer’s recommendations, daily dosages should be divided into 2–3 divided doses.
  • CLA doses of 3 to 6.5 grams per day have been employed in the majority of investigations. For most individuals, taking 6 grams per day is regarded to be safe.
  • Most research has looked at the effects of taking CLA for periods ranging from 8 weeks to around 7 months.
  • CLA seems to be most effective when taken before or during a meal.
  • When it comes to CLA supplements, how quickly do they work? In terms of body composition changes, it might take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to see the benefits. However, other benefits, like decreased appetite, may be seen sooner, as early as a few weeks after starting CLA.

Side Effects and Risks

Before starting to take CLS, it’s vital to think about what we know about the advantages and risks of CLA. In the United States, CLA has been accorded “Generally Recognized As Safe” certification for use as a dietary supplement. However, not every piece of evidence supports the use of large supplementary dosages.

What are the negative consequences of CLA? When consumed as part of a whole, natural foods or taken by mouth in modest doses that are nevertheless higher than those found in foods, CLA is deemed safe. However, taking CLA supplements may produce transitory adverse effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and exhaustion in some individuals.

There’s also some indication that large amounts of CLA may lead to more significant health issues, particularly those involving the liver. Conjugated linoleic acid has been demonstrated in animal and human research to increase fat buildup in the liver (also known as hepatic steatosis) and cause inflammation. Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and reduced “good” HDL cholesterol are all possible side effects of this. However, there have been mixed results on whether CLA is mostly inflammatory or not.

Because it plays such a significant role in energy balancing and converting excess dietary glucose (from carbohydrates and sugar) into fatty acids, a high intake of conjugated linoleic acid may greatly influence the liver. According to research, CLA’s effects on liver health are influenced by variables such as the amount of CLA in one’s diet and the kind of CLA consumed, the length of time one takes high dosages, and one’s general health and physiological state.

When it comes to conjugated linoleic acid for kids, it’s recommended to avoid providing them CLA supplements since there isn’t enough research to tell whether long-term usage is safe at this time. Food sources like butter and beef, on the other hand, are both safe and recommended since they include not just CLA but also critical nutrients for growth and development, such as fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and protein.

Supplementing with CLA may not be safe if you have surgery or have a history of poor liver function or bleeding issues. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may reduce blood coagulation and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding, although consuming CLA-rich foods poses no danger.

Last Thoughts

  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, especially an omega-6 fatty acid.
  • Natural sources of conjugated linoleic acid include full-fat dairy products and meat from cows, sheep, and goats. CLA may also be used as a supplement.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid seems to have the ability to reduce body fat, boost lean muscle mass development, normalize blood sugar, improve digestion and immunological function, reduce allergies, and protect against specific heart disease risk factors, according to studies.
  • An upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and exhaustion are all possible CLA adverse effects. However, if you take excessive amounts, you may have more significant side effects, such as fat buildup in the liver and increased inflammation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are CLA supplements good for?

A: CLA supplements are good for fat loss, muscle growth, and overall health benefits.

What foods contain CLA?

A: There are many different types of CLA, but the most common one is conjugated linoleic acid. Many foods contain this type of CLA, and it can be found in beef, lamb, butter, and dairy products at various percentages.

How can I get CLA naturally?

A: CLA stands for Chromium-Lithium-Aluminum, which is the essential mineral that gives humans their energy. You can see your overall health improve when you take it in sufficient quantities and with a healthy diet as well.

Related Tags

  • cla supplement side effects
  • cla before and after
  • cla side effects hair loss
  • conjugated linoleic acid vs. linoleic acid
  • what is cla supplement

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)