CLA for Weight Loss

Can You Use Conjugated Linoleic Acid CLA for Weight Loss?

9 min read


04 May 2019

  • What Is CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)?
  • How to use CLA for weight loss?
  • Results from CLA weight loss studies (does CLA work?)
  • Is CLA safe to use for weight loss?
  • What is the best way to consume CLA for weight loss?
  • Alternative options
  • Conclusion

Weight loss supplements come in an astounding variety of forms these days. There are weight loss supplements that are entirely synthetic, herbal supplements that are  extracted from natural places, and nutritional supplements – such as alpha lipoic acid and conjugated linoleic acid – or CLA – that can all be useful for helping you to lose weight.

In general, natural supplements are better for your body than synthetic supplements. However, many people doubt them in regards to how effective they are because they’re used to the immediate, powerful effects of synthetic substances. Using CLA for weight loss is one thing that people might write off before giving it a proper chance.

In this article, we’re going to discuss CLA so you can have a better understanding of how this supplement can – or can’t – help you lose weight.

What Is CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)?

Conjugated linoleic acid is a fat that’s naturally found in a number of different foods. It can be found in dairy products, meats, and eggs, and this is where most people get it from – however, vegetarians need not fear because it can also be found in vegetable oils such as safflower oil, and also in mushrooms. It’s also available in supplement form.

If you’re going to be getting your CLA from meat and other animal products, it’s better that you get your animal products from farms that raise grass-fed livestock. The meat will be healthier overall and be more nutrient-dense.

So what exactly is conjugated linoleic acid? Well, to be truthful, it should actually be said that they are conjugated linoleic acids – CLA can describe a family of different fatty acids that are all slightly different versions of a more basic substance, linoleic acid.

The differences between the different types of CLAs depend on their specific molecular configurations – but we won’t get into that here. (That said, if you’re interested in the more scientific side of supplementation, different types of CLA have different benefits and can be more important for different CLA weight loss plans).

CLAs are actually trans fats. Before you jump at this, remember – not all trans-fats are bad. CLA, a naturally-derived fat that is produced when cows and sheep digest unsaturated fats, has a number of benefits that can be useful for humans.

How to use CLA for weight loss?

While it is possible to get CLA from animal products and foods, you might have better luck using a supplemental form of the nutrient if you’re hoping to experience any CLA weight loss benefits. Vegetarians and vegans will almost exclusively need to use supplements because they are less likely to get enough CLA from their diet – not to mention that foods high in CLA generally aren’t the greatest for people on low-calorie or low-fat diets.

There are many health food stores and natural supplement stores that will be able to provide you with CLA fat burner supplements. Before you jump to go make a purchase, however, make sure you read the rest of this article because the actual results people are getting from this substance are quite mixed.

Results from CLA weight loss studies (does CLA work?)

By now, you’re probably wondering – does CLA work? That depends on who you ask – or rather, that depends on which studies you’d prefer to believe.

A lot of the discussion surrounding the use of CLA as a weight loss supplement began several decades ago in the early 90s, when scientists discovered that pigs, mice, rats, and other animals who supplemented the nutrient had more lean body mass.

Several years after this study was released, researchers decided to figure out whether any of these benefits would transfer over to humans. One of the earliest studies done on humans was published in 2005 followed a group of overweight study subjects.

These subjects were given 3.4g of CLA on a daily basis. As the study followed them over the course of a year, it was revealed that they saw a decrease in their overall body mass. The most significant loss of fat happened within the first half-year after beginning taking the supplement, and it was shown that people who had a higher ratio of body fat were better able to lose fat.

It’s important to note that this study was actually funded by a company that sells CLA supplements. Make of that what you will.

On the flipside, many studies have been done that have revealed no positive link between the use of CLA for weight loss compared to taking a placebo. Studies use a number of markers – values that show things like cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, etc – and many studies have reported increases, decreases, or no changes whatsoever despite all attempting to use CLA for weight loss.

Is CLA safe to use for weight loss?

cla capsules

So it can be hard to determine whether or not the CLA fat burner actually works from the evidence alone. Some people and some studies have shown that it’s quite effective, some have shown the opposite and suggest that it actually puts you at higher risk for developing heart disease, and some studies have reported no change for this.

As mentioned earlier in the article, CLAs are actually a family of fatty acids, each of which can affect the body in different ways. One of the reasons that these studies may have conflicting results is because they’re not actually all using the exact same type of CLA.

Regardless of what the case is, you should still know whether or not it’s safe to use a CLA weight loss supplement before you start taking it. There are a few things that you should be aware of if you plan on using CLA supplements, and remember to tell your doctor before you decide to start taking them.

  • CLA may cause some side effects, though these are generally rather mild and only occur in higher doses or if a lactose-intolerant person attempts to get their CLA from dairy products. Side effects can include things like nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

  • CLA can affect insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that your body produces to help regulate and process glucose, and if you develop a resistance to it you can become more at risk for developing diseases like diabetes. Pre-diabetics and diabetics should especially avoid using CLA.

  • It may lower HDL cholesterol. Not all forms of cholesterol are the same – the two most commonly discussed are HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Some evidence suggests that CLA reduces HDL cholesterol, and considering the fact that HDL cholesterol helps to sweep out unhealthy LDL cholesterol, this certainly isn’t a good thing.

  • Other side effects: CLA may interfere with the liver and contribute to fatty liver disease and it may have an effect that causes the body to become more prone to inflammation.

  • Medical interactions. If you’re taking any medications, talk to your doctor before beginning to use CLA. If you’re taking natural medicines, talk to a naturalist before including CLA in your diet. It may interact negatively with something that you’re taking.

What is the best way to consume CLA for weight loss?

The best way to use CLA for weight loss, or to experience any significant effects whatsoever, is to use a supplement. Most of the studies that we’ve linked to are using dosages in the range of several grams, and even if you’re eating a few eggs and drinking a couple glass of milk every day, you’re unlikely to get that much CLA simply from your food.

It’s important to talk to a doctor before beginning to use CLA because there are a number of health risks associated with it. This is especially important when you consider that some of the studies proving CLA’s apparent benefits were directly funded by companies that sell the stuff.

If you’re still going to use it, start small – use half of a recommended CLA weight loss dosage for starters. Wait this out for a week or so and if you don’t notice any adverse effects, you will probably be alright if you continue using it.

However, given the frequent studies that have attributed unhealthy issues associated with higher doses of CLA, you might want to ensure that you regularly check in with your doctor if you continue to use it.

Alternative options

If you’re not into using CLA to lose weight, don’t worry – there are lots of other alternatives that are available. Many of these alternatives have a lot more scientific evidence to back up their effectiveness, so you might get more bang for your buck using something like:

  • Glucomannan. Glucomannan is a fantastic substance for inducing weight loss. This high-density fiber supplement has been shown to help people lose weight because of the way that it bulks up in the stomach. Simply mixing glucomannan with water causes it to turn into a thick paste, and the reason that it’s useful for helping people lose weight is mainly due to the fact that it can make you feel full quicker after a meal, preventing overeating and resulting in less overall calorie consumption.

  • PhenQ is a product that we’ve developed that has proven to be very effective for helping people lose weight. PhenQ contains a number of compounds that are useful for helping to improve metabolism, increase fat loss, and reduce appetite. The combination of these ingredients makes it a highly effective supplement for helping anyone on a weight loss plan.

  • Raspberry ketones are another popular substance that are used for helping people lose weight. Raspberry ketones influence metabolism and are known to help prevent high-fat diets from causing as much damage. They are included in a number of popular weight loss supplements and many people consider them effective for helping to burn calories.

All of the above suggestions are capable of providing at least as much fat-fighting power as conjugated linoleic acid, without any of the serious side effects.


In this article, we’ve outlined the conjugated linoleic acid supplement. Some people have reported using this substance to help them lose weight, whereas others have had no luck.

Evidence on the subject is mixed, but no matter which way you look at it, there’s good reason to be wary: CLA has been known to cause fairly serious side effects in some people. Hopefully, this article has helped you decide whether or not you want to include this supplement in your weight loss plan.


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