Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a fatty acid, primarily found in beef and dairy products, that is being shown to promote long term fat reduction and health management. Lab and clinical studies have also revealed that CLA also promotes muscle tone as well as reducing cholesterol levels and boosting metabolism.
Discovered by Drs Michael Priza and Mark Cook at the University of Wisconsin, Madison it has been the subject of much study into it’s ability to act as an anti-carcinogen.
The benefits of CLA go some way to countering the negative publicity surrounding red meat consumption due to saturated fat content. Grass fed beef and raw dairy products are great sources of CLA. In fact, a large number of diary farmers are switching from traditional grain fed cattle farming methods to a free range, all grass diet in order to enhance CLA content in the meat. The rate of grass fed beef production has been growing by around 20% for each of the last few years.
Grass-fed cattle make CLA out of the fatty acid linoleic acid found in grass, using an enzyme in their digestive systems. Cattle that are not fed on grass will be deficient on CLA. But, other factors have been shown to contribute to reductions in CLA levels. These include:
- Depleted soil conditions
- The processing and refining of the meat
- Modern agricultural practices
As a result of these factors most of us ingest far less CLA than our forebears. That is why researchers have been researching alternative forms of CLA supplementation. A promising initiative involves vegetable based CLA supplementation. That’s because CLA is also able to be produced from plant based sources, such as natural safflower oil. It is important to not, though, that CLA supplements may have a negative effect on the body’s insulin resistance.
CLA is actually present in human breast milk. As we age, however, we need to CLA in from the foods we eat. As mentioned, the best sources for CLA are grass-fed meats. Other good sources include poultry, dairy, butter and eggs.
So, just what can CLA do for your body? The key benefits are listed below:
- Promotes anabolism and the maintenance of lean muscle tissue
- Promotes a reduction in body fat – studies have shown that CLA can actually alter the way that body metabolizes fat – for the better!
- Speeds up the metabolism
- Reduces cholesterol levels
- Possess antioxidant properties – it has the ability to reduce oxidation in the body
- Inhibition of lipoprotein lipase, which further accelerates fat loss.
- Enhances hormone sensitive lipase activity
- Has an antioxidant effect on the body
CLA redirects fatty acids to the bloodstream so that they can be used as a preferred energy source. By protecting against free-radical activity, CLA also helps in warding off the aging process. CLA supplementation is being used by bodybuilders and strength athletes to prevent protein loss and promote lean muscle gain.
Studies shows that the most effective dose is 4-5 grams of CLA a day.
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), PDRHealth.com. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/nutsupdrugs/con_0077.shtml
- Health Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acid, Mercola.com. http://www.mercola.com/beef/cla.htm