Today, my dear readers, I will talk about the weight losing properties of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (in short, CLA) as well as its other health promoting benefits. This topic is part of our January weigh loss theme.
This molecule is a fatty acid, which means that it is simply a long chain of carbon atoms connected together in a linear fashion, with intervening double bonds between the carbon atoms, and an alcohol group on one end of this chain.
Although this molecule is a fatty acid itself, it has been shown to reduce body fat, particularly abdominal body fat, as well as increase lean muscle mass. The way that it achieves this paradoxical effect is by five separate but closely related mechanisms.
The first one is the inhibition of an enzyme called Lipoprotein Lipase. This enzyme is located on the inner lining of small blood vessels, particularly in fat rich areas of the body (called adipose tissue). It cleaves circulating fat (called triglycerides in this stage) to form free fatty acids and a molecule called glycerol. This cleaving is for the purpose of absorbing the individual components, in contrast to the intact fat molecules which are not capable of being absorbed. Lipoprotein lipase is also necessary for the transport of fatty acids and glycerol into fat cells. This process is also inhibited by CLA.
CLA also increase apoptosis (i.e. programed cell death) of fat cells, leading to their decreased numbers. It also increases the activity of an enzyme called Carnitine-Palmitoyl Transferase, which is responsible for transporting fatty acids into mitochondria (organelles in cells where fuels are burned to produce energy) and consequently increasing the rate at which fats are utilized for energy.
Finally, as far as weigh management goes, CLA has been also shown to inhibit appetite. Due to all of these mechanisms CLA has been shown in numerous studies to decrease body fat, particularly abdominal fat deposits, and increase lean muscle mass. The amount that is necessary to achieve this effect is 3.5 grams of CLA daily in divided doses. Larger doses did not seem to show increased benefit. Furthermore, this weight decreasing effect was much augmented with a proper (weight loss) diet and cardiovascular exercise.
Other amazing benefits of CLA are that it has strong anti carcinogenic properties, especially in the prevention of colon, breast and skin cancers. It also increases immune function (probably one of the ways that it fights and prevents cancers) as well as being an excellent add-on treatment for Crohn’s disease (a form of inflammatory bowel disease). Finally, CLA was also shown to prevent the formation of atherogenic plaques in arteries (the same ones responsible for blocking arteries and causing heart attacks and strokes).
Overall the average fat loss per day was shown to be 90 grams (without adding a weight loss diet and an exercise plan) on a 3.5 gram per day CLA dosing plan. This may not be much, but considering that it eliminates fat in areas prone to fat accumulation (areas where we don’t want fat), and that it increases muscle mass (as well as endowing us with a multiple of other health benefits) it may be a good idea to supplement with this beneficial molecule.