The connection between conjugated linoleic acids and weight loss

The word ‘fats’ conjures up images of fries and fast food. However, the assumption is applicable to man-made fats only because fatty acids that are obtained naturally are very healthy and can actually promote weight loss. Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLAs) are one of such many naturally occurring trans-saturated fats that are known to have beneficial effects on human health.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid has gained immense popularity over the last few years due to the notion that they may have chemoprotective properties. However, the primary reason for their use remains their ability to promote weight loss.

In this article, we are summarizing the evidence that has been extracted so far from different research studies conducted on humans. These studies provide us an insight into the potential role of conjugated linoleic acids as a part of weight loss programs.

Effect of CLA on Body Fat Mass, Lipoprotein, and HbA1c Levels in Overweight Subjects

A short-term trial was conducted to evaluate the effect of CLA on healthy, but overweight human subjects. 180 male and female volunteers were assigned to three different groups and were given CLA-free fatty acids, CLA-triacylglycerol, and placebo for one year.

Body fat mass was considered to be the primary outcome for the study. On the completion of the study, when body fat mass measurements were done, it was found that individuals who received CLA-free fatty acids and CLA-triacylglycerol lost more fat compared to the individuals who received placebo only. However, concentration of blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin was similar in all three groups.

Daily CLA Supplementation Can Increase Resting Metabolic Rates

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity reports that 13-week daily supplementation of CLA can increase the resting metabolic rate and promote weight loss. The study which was conducted on 54 human subjects who received either low-dose CLA (1.8g) or placebo, or high-dose CLA (3.6g) or placebo.

The results showed that the increase in resting metabolic rate was dose independent. However, it was found that CLA did promote healthy weight maintenance after weight loss.

CLA-Induced Weight Loss — Is It Sustainable?

Maintenance of healthy body weight is one of the major issues faced by obese and overweight individuals. According to this weight loss guide, while many weight loss supplements result in accelerated weight loss in the beginning, their effect may start diminishing with time, resulting in weight regain. The same stands true for conjugated linoleic acids as well.

Research suggests that maximum effects of CLAs are seen during the first 6 months of supplementation, with an average fat loss of 0.1kg per week. After this period, the effects diminish and reach a plateau after 2 years.

What are the Side Effects of CLA?

Conjugated Linoleic Acids that are obtained from natural sources are generally safe. However, many supplements contain CLAs that are synthesized in the industry. These synthetic CLAs may cause different side effects when used in large doses. Some of their side effects include increased accumulation of fat in liver, inflammation, and reduced levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

To conclude, CLAs are an effective weight loss supplement when extracted from natural sources, such as milk and meat. Therefore, one should prefer them over weight loss supplements in order to avoid side effects and achieve maximum benefits.

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