Fat can be a controversial topic when it comes to your diet. The truth is that your body needs fat to absorb essential vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E, to store energy, and for other various health benefits. Essentially, your body needs fatty acids, the building blocks of fat, to function properly.
There are three types of fatty acids your body needs: omega-3, omega 6, and omega-9. Your body can make most of them, with the exception being omega-6 fatty acids. The only way to get omega-6 fatty acids is through diet or supplements. The most common omega-6 fatty acid is linoleic acid. Recently due to major stressors (some good such as welcoming my daughter into our lives and some bad such as mold exposure) I gained weight for the first time in my life. In addition to finding ways to destress and adjusting my diet, I looked for the nutrients I knew I must be missing to encourage fat burning and weight loss.
I’m going to tell you what I discovered about CLA’s extensive benefits, what foods contain it, and how it can support your weight loss goals. Before I do that, let’s discuss the difference between CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and linolenic acid and why the prefix “conjugated” is important.
What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid?
As I mentioned, linoleic acid is the most common omega-6 fatty acid. It’s found in industrial trans fats such as hardened vegetable fats found in most baked goods such as margarine, butter, or ghee.1
The prefix “conjugated” has to do with the double bonds that occur in natural trans fats, which are very different from industrial trans fats. Think of it this way: linoleic acid is manufactured while conjugated linoleic acid occurs naturally. This is important.
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a polyunsaturated, omega-6 fatty acid. Technically, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a trans fat. You might be wondering, isn’t trans fat bad for you?
Industrial trans fats are different from natural trans fats because they are artificial and can be damaging to your health. Natural trans fats such as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) are essential to your body and have numerous benefits. I’ll talk more about the benefits later in this article. First, let me tell you about where you can find CLA.
Sources of Conjugated Linoleic Acid
CLA is a naturally occurring fat found in beef that has many health benefits, which I’ll go more in-depth about later.2
The primary foods containing conjugated linoleic acid include the meat and dairy from cows, goats, and sheep. I advocate giving up dairy for several reasons. When I was a vegetarian, I realized that dairy, as well as grains and legumes, was a big contributor to my leaky gut and resulting health issues. I encourage everyone to eat organic grass-fed beef as the main source of protein in their diet.
However, there is no way to know how much CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) LA is in the beef you are eating because it varies greatly depending on farming techniques and can be nearly impossible to get enough from diet alone. For example, the conjugated linoleic acid content is 300-500% higher in beef that comes from grass-fed cows rather than grain-fed.3
When choosing beef, I always recommend choosing grass-fed beef. Not only is grass healthier for cows than grains, it’s natural and healthier for you. I recommend everyone buy organic vegetables and meat, however, I understand that it can be expensive. At the very least, your meat should always be from organic sources, such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught seafood, and cage-free chicken.
Even if you choose grass-fed beef, it is near to impossible to get enough CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) from your diet alone. Consider that the average daily consumption is 151 milligrams for women and 212 mg for men.4 It’s recommended you consume at least 3,000 mg, or 3 grams, of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) daily to get all of its benefits.5
So, you could eat meat for every meal and not get enough of this essential fatty acid.
Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how you can ensure you’re getting enough conjugated linoleic acid in your diet later. Before I let you in on my secret, let’s discuss the benefits of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).
Benefits of CLA
More and more research is being done on conjugated linoleic acid, yet there’s already plenty of research that suggests there are several benefits it provides. Notably, one study found that conjugated linoleic acid helps regulate blood glucose levels. CLA also helps facilitate fat metabolism, which helps your body utilize food for energy.6
Let’s get deeper into the benefits of CLA, including facilitating fat metabolism.
CLA Facilitates Fat Metabolism
This is by far its most known benefit. Clinical evidence shows linoleic acid helps modulate the metabolism of fat. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) has also been shown to support healthy levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream — in other words, it blocks your body from building fat stores.
By increasing fat metabolism, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) helps your body burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest, and helps you utilize energy more efficiently. So if you’ve been frustrated by “miracle” solutions or have been dieting and watching what you eat for years with no results, it may be as simple as you not getting enough conjugated linoleic acid.
As I mentioned earlier, even if you ate beef for every meal, you’re likely not getting enough conjugated linoleic acid. The good news is that you can supplement this powerful fatty acid to ensure you’re getting enough. I will tell you how later.
CLA Regulates Blood Glucose Levels
Another popular benefit of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is that it has been shown to regulate blood glucose levels. In one study, it was found that high levels of conjugated linoleic acid lowered leptin, a hormone that plays a role in obesity, a risk-factor to type 2 diabetes. However, there are conflicting studies with CLA’s effect on insulin resistance and we just don’t know enough yet.7 I recommend talking to your doctor about taking CLA supplements if you have type 2 diabetes. 8
CLA Supports Your Immune System
One of the newly discovered benefits of conjugated linoleic acid is that it supports your immune system and helps promote a healthy inflammatory response.9
A 2004 study examined the effects of CLA supplementation on immune cell function in healthy men. The study found that CLA supplementation facilitated healthy immune system function, especially in situations such as allergy and inflammatory disease.
Another study found that conjugated linoleic acid not only decreases inflammatory cytokines, but it also increases anti-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are small proteins involved in cell signaling during the immune system response.
CLA Supports Bone Health
Our bones are constantly changing, growing, and developing. Your bones are basically made up of collagen and calcium. Throughout your life, your body updates the composition of the collagen and minerals that keeps your bones strong.
Until the age of 25, your bones are very dense with minerals. Your body adds more new bone than it takes away. Between the ages 25 to 50, your bone density stays fairly steady with equal breakdown and formation. Yet once you reach the age of 50, your bones begin to break down faster than they reform.
CLA Supports Heart Health
There isn’t a whole lot of research done on how CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) supports your heart, however, most of the studies done on CLA and heart health are promising. One study found that CLA reduces plasmatic triglycerides and cholesterol, two of the key measurements in determining your risk for heart disease.
Keep in mind that obesity and uncontrolled diabetes are modifiable risk factors for heart disease. The two most well known benefits of CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) is that it helps regulate blood glucose levels and facilitates fat metabolism. So it makes sense that it can also support your heart health.
Now that you know the benefits of conjugated linoleic acid, I’m going to tell you about the easiest and best way to supplement to ensure you’re getting optimal amounts of this powerful fatty acid.
The Best CLA Supplement
As I mentioned earlier, getting enough CLA from your diet is near to impossible. That’s because you need 3 grams, or 3,000 mg, of this powerful fatty acid to get its benefits. I, too, have been frustrated looking for a high-quality CLA supplement, so I decided to make my own.
As a licensed medical doctor, I take my supplements seriously. Every single one of my formulas features the most bioavailable nutrients that are of premium pharmaceutical-grade quality. You’ll find my CLA is standardized to 80% from safflower oil — most other products out there deliver far less.
CLA is my first ever supplement clinically formulated for healthy weight management. Since omega-6 fatty acids are hard to obtain through diet alone, my CLA supplement is packed with 1,000 mg (1g) in each softgel. I recommend taking 2 softgels twice a day to get optimal amounts of conjugated linoleic acid for maximum weight control benefits and elevated metabolism support. For best results, take with Lean Metabolism Support. When taken together, CLA & Lean work synergistically on your gut-brain axis to accelerate fat metabolism and stop cravings in their tracks.
The Myers Way® Optimal Weight Breakthrough™ Program
What if I told you that you can get all of the benefits of CLA and an abundance of other resources to help you achieve an optimal weight? Well, I have good news for you.
After working with thousands of patients and helping hundreds of them meet their weight loss goals, as well as tackling my own stubborn weight gain problem, I created The Myers Way® Optimal Weight Breakthrough™ Program, which includes CLA, Lean, and Double Chocolate Paleo Protein, as well as a comprehensive program and all the resources you need to get you on track towards achieving optimal weight.
In addition to these supplements, this program includes tools to help you on your path to optimal weight including:
- Program guide: A walkthrough of the program with step-by-step instructions on how to get started and guides to your supplements and how to tame the toxins that can sabotage your weight loss efforts.
- Meal plans: I included two 30-day meal plans – a standard and a keto plan – that include a variety of delicious meals and snacks.
- Recipes: Simple and delicious recipes to nourish your body and enjoy on your weight loss journey.
- Sleep guide: Tips to help you optimize your sleep and avoid some of the common pitfalls that will keep you from tossing and turning all night.
- Goal setter: Weekly tracker for you to write down your goals and track your amazing progress throughout the program – you’ll track increased energy, inches off your waist, better digestion, and of course pounds lost.
- Activity tracker: A 30-day tracker to keep you motivated as you work towards your movement goals (regardless of where you’re starting out) while following the program.
Your weight is a key factor in your risks for heart disease and diabetes. You can take the steps to achieve an optimal weight. CLA, Lean, and The Myers Way® Optimal Weight Breakthrough™ Program were created to help people like you to take back their health and get on the path to your optimal weight!
- WHO plan to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from global food supply. World Health Organization. 2018.
- Conjugated linoleic acid is a potent naturally occurring ligand and activator of PPARalpha. S Y Moya-Camarena, et al. Journal of lipid research, vol. 40. 1999.
- Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets. T R Dhiman, et al. Journal of dairy science, vol. 82. 1999.
- Estimation of conjugated linoleic acid intake by written dietary assessment methodologies underestimates actual intake evaluated by food duplicate methodology. K.I. Ritzenthaler, et al. The Journal of nutrition, vol. 131. 2001.
- Pros and cons of CLA consumption: an insight from clinical evidences. Sailas Benjamin, et al. Nutrition & metabolism, vol 12. 2015.
- Conjugated linoleic acids reduce body fat in healthy postmenopausal women. Marianne Raff, et al. The Journal of nutrition, vol 139. 2009.
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). Melinda Ratini, DO, MS. WebMD. 2021.
- Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation, insulin sensitivity, and lipoprotein metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Fiona Moloney, et al. The American journal of clinical nutrition, vol. 80. 2004.
- Effect of CLA supplementation on immune function in young healthy volunteers. H-J Song, et al. European journal of clinical nutrition, vol. 59. 2005.