How Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Benefits You To Lose Weight? (Overview, Uses, and Side Effects)

Conjugated Linoleic Acid is an omega-6 fatty acid found in various weight loss and bodybuilding supplements; what benefits does it offer?

If you are one of those diet looking to lose weight, you may be told to eat less, remove fat from your diet, and exercise more.

The truth is that not all fat is wrong and that certain fats can positively affect people with their efforts to lose weight.

CLA is a natural fatty acid found in meat and dairy products. It has been shown to aid in weight reduction and body fat loss effect.

Should you use CLA supplementation for to get in shape? What can other health benefits be experienced when utilizing a CLA supplement?

Read on to understand more information about the beneficial effects of CLA.


What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)?

CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid naturally produced by grazing animals.

Animals such as cows, goats, and deer have a unique enzyme in their digestive system that helps convert the omega-6 fatty acids found in the green plants they eat and convert them into CLA.

This CLA is stored in the muscle tissue and milk of the animal. Milk fat is one of the richest dietary sources of CLA, with an average of 4.5 mg of CLA fatty acids found in every gram of fat.

It is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is technically a trans fat. Fear not; the trans fats naturally found in meat and dairy products are different from the artificially produced trans fats.

Artificially produced trans fats have a solid link to heart disease, while naturally produced ones like conjugated linoleic acid have been shown to improve heart health (1).

As CLA is an essential fatty acid humans cannot produce, so must obtain it either through the food they eat or via CLA supplements.

How Does CLA Work For Weight Loss?

CLA has long been touted as a miracle weight loss ingredient, yet the reality is less flattering.

Even though it does not contain any caffeine or other stimulants that can boost your metabolism, Conjugated Linoleic Acid can still increase the rate at which you can burn calories.

As you well know, the key to achieving your weight loss goals and reducing your body fat percentage is increasing the number of calories burnt while reducing the number of calories you consume.

What Does Conjugated Linoleic Acid Do For The Body?

CLA works by interacting with PPAR, a molecular signaling receptor that helps with fat burning, steroid signaling, inflammation, and glucose/lipid metabolism.

In simple terms, conjugated linoleic acid can break down and burn more fat cells while helping to prevent fat mass storage. It does this by interacting with the subcutaneous fat (the fat found between the skin and muscle) on a molecular level.

There is plenty of research available, especially animal weight loss studies, that have shown that using CLA can lead to impressive weight loss results, reduces body fat, and overall improvements in body composition (2, 3).

Unfortunately, despite the effectiveness of CLA being shown in animal studies, studies on people overweight and obese have been less impressive, with only a modest reduction in weight being seen.

In a review of 18 human studies, it was revealed that the group of people who took 3.2 grams of CLA daily lost an average of 0.11 pounds (0.05 kg) per week compared to a placebo. This works out at less than half a pound in a month (4).

What Are The Benefits of CLA?

Why should you consider using CLA supplementation? Science has found that this one particular ingredient offers a range of health benefits.

Let’s look at the potential benefits of conjugated linoleic you may experience when using it in supplements.

Weight Loss and Fat Burning

Losing a few excess pounds can make a world of difference to your health and will make you feel better too.

A high BMI and body fat percentage can increase the likelihood of developing numerous health conditions.

Studies have shown that losing body weight can reduce the pressure on your knees and your lower body’s joints. The extra weight can lead to inflammation and damage to your joints. Over time this may result in arthritis being experienced later in life.

Weight loss can also help reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. If you already have the condition, then the fat loss can ensure less medication is needed and better control of your blood sugar levels.

Fat loss can also help bring down the number of triglycerides in your body. These are the particles that help transport fat for storage and energy. If you have high levels of triglycerides, then you are more likely to suffer a heart attack.

Finally, studies have found that weight loss can help improve your mood. Losing bodyweight can help improve your body composition and improve your overall sleep patterns.

Bodybuilding and Performance Enhancement

While the benefits of CLA to lose weight are well-known, another lesser-known benefit is its muscle building and performance-enhancing effects. These effects make it a perfect supplement choice for bodybuilders.

Bodybuilders know how difficult it is to build muscle without gaining body mass or to lose those last few pounds of fat without losing that hard-earned pure muscle weight gain.

Supplementing with CLA could be the answer to these problems since it mainly reduces body fat.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid is made up of isomers shown to have beneficial effects on body composition. Firstly, it can help raise your basal metabolic rate while preventing muscle catabolism, which is the process whereby your body breaks down muscle mass for energy.

It has also been shown to catabolize fat. You will experience enhanced gym performance as you will experience an energy boost, allowing you to train harder and longer in the gym.

CLA has been shown to increase muscle mass through 2 main methods.

Firstly, it helps to synthesize protein, with a study showing a 700% increase in lean muscle mass when using CLA supplementation compared to those in the placebo group (5).

It can also boost testosterone production with research available, showing that CLA supplements could increase testosterone synthesis (6).

Looking at a human study on CLA supplements and muscle development, using 7.2 grams of CLA daily alongside a bodybuilding regime resulted in an increase in arm size, leg press gains, and overall body mass in the control group compared to those in the placebo group (7).

Lowers Risk of Various Diseases

Increasing your daily intake of CLA through your healthy diet or CLA supplements offers a vast range of health benefits.

To start, fat loss and, in particular, adipose tissue will undoubtedly improve your overall health.

A study has found that CLA supplements can help with the management of diabetes, with the research finding that people with diabetes who added CLA to their diets saw a reduction in lower body mass and lower blood sugar levels (8).

It is believed that the higher levels of CLA in the blood resulted in lower leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that regulates fat levels, with scientists in the belief that higher leptin levels could lead to an increased risk of obesity and, ultimately, diabetes.

CLA also has anti-atherosclerotic properties that can help improve blood lipid profiles. Reduced total cholesterol levels, along with triacylglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol, will be experienced (9).

These anti-atherosclerotic properties also help improve HDL cholesterol, which is a good type of cholesterol that has been shown to improve heart health.

One of the most impressive health benefits of CLA is its ability to fight cancer. Animal studies have found that CLAs could help decrease skin, liver, and colon cancer.

Most impressively were the results shown when fighting breast cancer, with CLA shown to prevent the disease and decrease tumors in another study (10).

A lesser-known health benefit of CLA supplements is that they could be beneficial for bone health. Research has found that CLA could help maintain bone mass during weight loss (11).

How To Take CLA For Weight Loss

Let’s look at how you should use CLA to lose body weight, its dosage, the best available form, when it is best taken, as well as how long it takes to work.

When used for weight loss, it is recommended that you choose a dosage above 3 grams daily (12).

It would be best if you always stuck to the recommended dosage. If you exceed this amount, you run the risk of encountering side effects.

You can find CLA supplement in various forms, including capsules, pills, powder, liquid gel, gel, and liquid forms.

If you struggle to take a capsule or a pill, then choosing a powder or liquid form may be the better option for you.

For some, a capsule or pill would be more convenient as they can be carried about with you as you go about your daily activities.

When Should You Take CLA Supplement?

It is recommended that you take any CLA supplement with food for best results, either or during any meals.

The reason you should take Conjugated Linoleic Acid with healthy food is that it is better utilized at this time.

Unlike other ingredients, such as caffeine or other stimulants, you should not expect to see overnight results with CLA supplementation.

It can take a few weeks to start to see any results, with these weight loss effects typically more pronounced in the first six months of use.

What Are The Side Effects of CLA?

Research suggests that consuming a small amount of CLA is beneficial. However, it should be noted that CLA consumption is found naturally in food rather than the chemically altered linoleic acid found in vegetable oils.

If you are considering increasing your CLA intake, perhaps through your healthy diet or the use of CLA supplements, you avoid consuming too much.

There are reports that a dosage of up to 6 grams a day would be safe, with no adverse effects (13). While a small amount of this fatty acid has its health benefits, too much can be detrimental to your health.

Studies have shown that large doses may increase fat accumulation in your liver. Further health problems may be experienced, including metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Another issue that may arise from consuming too high a dosage is increased inflammation.

Using CLA supplements was found to increase C-reactive protein in the body, which indicates inflammation.

This increase in inflammation can cause insulin resistance and may lead to a lowering of HDL cholesterol levels. HDL is the “good” type of cholesterol.

While inflammation is not always a bad thing as it can help fight off harmful pathogens. Chronic inflammation can be a serious issue and may cause various problems, including obesity, cancer, and heart disease.

Other issues have been reported by users who have taken a more reasonable dosage, including diarrhea and oxidative stress.


CLA supplements offer a positive effect on your health. CLA not only excellent to reduce body fat but also has other health effects.

If you are looking at CLA purely to lose body fat, you may come away disappointed. However, due to the number of other health benefits of conjugated linoleic available, people will likely come out happy with their decision to use these products.

If you choose to use CLA supplementation, you also consider a proven weight loss program and look at your lifestyle choices and fitness in general.

Unfortunately, there are no miracle weight loss supplements available to reduce body fat to such a degree without your efforts.

Looking at your diet and overall energy expenditure is still the most effective way of achieving your fat loss goals and ideal body shape.

Remember that products like CLA are only meant to supplement your efforts.


Does CLA reduce belly fat?

Yes, CLA supplement can help to reduce belly fat by increasing your metabolism. This will help burn through your fat stores more efficiently.

Can I take CLA with a fat burner?

Yes, you can take Conjugated Linoleic Acid supplements with a fat burner such as caffeine or guarana, for example.

If you have any known interactions with these or other ingredients, it may be best to avoid them.

It would be best if you always spoke to your doctor or health care professional before taking a new supplement.

Does CLA work without exercise?

CLA supplements can work without exercise.

However, if you want to see the best possible weight loss and fat loss results, you should make changes to your current diet and activity levels.

The best way to lose weight is by reducing your overall calorie intake and increasing the amount of exercise you do.

How much weight can you lose with CLA?

Based on research, supplementing with 3.2 grams of CLA can help you lose an extra 0.11 pounds (0.05 kg) per week compared to a placebo.

Does CLA interact with any medications?

Unfortunately, conjugated linoleic acid has been found to lower blood pressure, which is why you should avoid any medication that also reduces your blood pressure and slows clotting.

Failure to do so could result in dangerously low blood pressure being experienced, increased risk of bruising and bleeding.