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1. What is it and where does it come from?
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), is a naturally occurring free fatty acid found mainly in meat and dairy products, in small amounts. CLA was discovered by accident in 1978 by Michael W. Pariza at the University of Wisconsin while looking for mutagen formations in meat during cooking.
CLA is research proven to build muscle, reduce body fat, and induce an optimum cellular environment for improved health!
CLA occurs naturally in foods such as milk, cheese, beef, and lamb as well as many processed foods. One processed food in particular that’s high in CLA is Cheez Wiz®. But getting enough CLA from your diet for the preferred benefit would require considerable intake of these types of foods. This is not only impractical, but would also have a seriously negative impact on your metabolism due to the high caloric penalty you would pay.
2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
Since this research has surfaced, a more economical and efficient way to get the required CLA has been devised. Through advanced lipid technology, a CLA synthesizing process allows for precision intake through premeasured softgel capsules. This allows for precise CLA intake at determined time intervals without the high calorie food consumption. Not only has CLA been shown to increase muscle mass while reducing body fat, studies have also shown remarkable anti-catabolic, antioxidant, immune enhancement, and anti-cancer benefits. Several other studies have even revealed dramatic cholesterol reducing effects. All this from a structured lipid. A designer fat if you would.
For many years, performance nutrition experts basically dismissed fats, assuming they didn't have any useful role in nutrition. Instead, experts focused on the protein-sparing and energy-producing effects of carbohydrates, and studied how amino acids and various proteins might affect nitrogen retention, anabolism, and catabolism. Perhaps "inquiring minds" were influenced by the mass media's "all-fat-is-bad" campaign. But now the scales are tipping toward the contrary. Nutritional geniuses like The Zone author, Dr. Barry Sears have shown us how fatty acids are not only essential for proper health but also how the proper use of such compounds may have numerous positive effects. Dr. Sears is certain that fatty acids directly influence the body's growth-promoting hormones.
Although all the intricacies of CLA are not fully understood, it is widely accepted in the research community that CLA counterbalances the negative effects of linoleic acid and regulates fat and protein metabolism in animals. Pariza, director of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin said, "A growing body of data indicates that CLA is a newly recognized nutrient that functions to regulate energy retention and metabolism." CLA can best be described as a Growth Factor.
Food intake efficiency! CLA has been shown in animal studies to increase growth rate through increased feed efficiency. In controlled studies, animals that had their diets supplemented with CLA increased their body protein (muscle tissue) while at the same time, had a significant decrease in body fat. This all occurred in the CLA supplemented animals while their food intake was decreased. Their lean mass increased even though they were eating less! This indicates that CLA increases feed efficiency and also points to a potent nutrient repartitioning effect.
This significant change in body composition can also be attributed in part to CLA’s effect on immune function. When CLA levels fall, interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor-a are involved in the accumulation of body fat. CLA has been shown to inhibit the lean tissue wasting caused by high levels of these cytokines.
Actual human studies are on the way with anticipation of similar outcomes. CLA may be the most significant bodybuilding nutrient discovered in this decade. With anti-catabolic effects rivaling even the strongest pharmaceutical compounds, CLA is a naturally occurring nutrient with the ability to help you pack on lean muscle, reduce body fat and at the same time possesses health promoting properties.
CLA May Promote Muscle Over Fat Gain
By Nicolle Charbonneau
TUESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthSCOUT) -- If you're sick of the drastic swings of dieting, where fat drops off at first but returns with a vengeance, a new study may give you some hope.
Combine your diet with a popular supplement called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), say researchers, and while you'll still regain weight once you stop dieting, it will be more muscle than usual.
Found naturally in cheese, beef and ground turkey, CLA is considered an antioxidant and anticarcinogen that stimulates immune activity.
While it may not be a magic weight-loss pill, experts say CLA could provide some help for the 97 million Americans struggling with obesity.
The study, by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was presented yesterday at the American Chemical Society Meeting in Washington, D.C., by one of its lead researchers, Michael W. Pariza.
Eighty people were placed on a diet, coupled with a moderate physical exercise program. Half received about 3 grams of CLA daily, while the others took a placebo of sunflower oil. After six months, all had lost roughly 5 pounds.
About one-third of those taking CLA actually gained muscle and lost fat, Pariza says. While those taking the sunflower oil regained their weight at a ratio of about 75 percent fat to 25 percent muscle once the study finished, which is typical, those taking CLA who regained weight put on equal proportions of fat to muscle.
"CLA appears to be very helpful in helping people control weight," says Pariza. "It's not going to cause you to lose fat, but once you have achieved the weight loss that you want from a traditional diet, then at that point you could use CLA to control your weight, so you don't gain it all back -- the old yo-yo syndrome."
How does it work?
"In a general sense, what it's doing is keeping little fat cells from getting big," says Pariza, perhaps by blocking certain enzymes that let fat cells swell.
There appeared to be no side effects from the supplement, says Pariza. At the same time, questionnaires done every two weeks during the trial revealed that those taking CLA were less depressed, had fewer stomach problems and could concentrate and sleep better.
Pariza's was not the only study dealing with CLA at the meeting.
Ola Gudmundsen, chief executive officer of Scandinavian Clinical Research AS, presented a study that suggests CLA could help people lose weight overall, primarily by reducing fat mass.
Sixty overweight people who were not allowed to diet were randomly assigned to take either a 9-gram placebo of olive oil or 1.7 grams, 3.4 grams, 5.1 grams or 6.8 grams of CLA daily for 12 weeks. Their body fat composition was measured at the start, middle and end of that time.
"We saw that they had a significant reduction in weight in the CLA group," says Gudmundsen. "It was about 2.2 pounds in 12 weeks."
However, the researchers found that overwhelmingly, this loss was from body fat, and didn't affect overall weight or body mass index. The 3.4-gram dose appeared to be the most effective, safest dose.
And there were some side effects. The supplement, given in oil, produced mild gastrointestinal upset.
The participants were not followed once they stopped taking the supplement; something Gudmundsen believes should be looked at in future studies.
3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
To the athlete looking to add more muscle and drop body fat, CLA is a unique discovery that will make accomplishing this feat easier and faster, all the while having positive effects on immune function and antioxidant status, as well as cholesterol lowering effects.
4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
CLA is typically found in capsules or softgels between potencies between 600mg and 1000mg. All preliminary evidence shows that CLA is nontoxic and safe at recommended dosages.