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Does CLA Boost Weight Loss?

There are just so many options out there when you look into fat burning supplements- its difficult to know where to start, and which ones will give you that lean, ripped physique.

Pretty much everyone is looking for that special ingredient to boost their weight or fat loss goals – and one that you see a lot is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), described in marketing as a stimulant-free fat burner.

But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

In this article we analyse it to see whether the science backs up its claims. Read on to learn:

  • What is conjugated linoleic acid?
  • What are the reported benefits?
  • What the science says- is it an effective fat burner?
  • Final word – Does CLA Boost Weight Loss?
  • What can you use for effective fat burning?

What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)?

One of the main reasons supplement companies use this nutrient is that there are claims that it works as a stimulant-free fat burner (we cover the true story on this below) – but first:

What actually is it?

This nutrient is a type of essential fatty acid– so named as you’re body cant make it, it has to get it from the diet. Often referred to as ‘rumenic acid’, it’s essentially a type of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA).

Although the science behind its structure is quite complex, all you need to know is that its a group of chemicals found in linoleic acid.

Not only is it a PUFA, it also has a bonding structure that makes it a trans fat. I know what you’re thinking, typically we tend to avoid trans fats due to their links to poor health, but this fat source is naturally occurring- not industrially formed.

This means it’s much safer than the stuff you’ll find in fast food and ready meals.

You’ll find it primarily in dairy products and meats– and the reason for this is that ‘ruminant‘ animals (sheep, cows, goats etc.)-  have naturally occurring trans fats in their bodies- hence the name rumenic acid.

By eating foods from these animals we’ll typically get ~200mg of CLA in our diets [1], although this changes based on location and food habits.


Key Points:

  • CLA is a type of polyunsaturated fat made up of a group of chemicals found in linoleic acid 
  • When found in supplements it is not naturally occurring- its formed by chemically altering oils
  • Cows that are grass-fed contain up to 4 times the amount of CLA in comparison to grain fed or artificially reared

What are the reported health benefits?

It has been suggested that this nutrient has strong health benefits, but does the research isn’t convincing. 

  • Blood pressure

One study found some benefits on blood pressure [2]. Taking 450mg of CLA per day in combination with blood pressure medication such as ramipril was found help to significantly reduce uncontrolled blood pressure [2]. However a larger number of studies have found no significant changes, even with doses of 470mg [3].

  • Insulin sensitivity

For the most part research on this one is inconclusive. For example a study using 27 overweight men found no difference in insulin sensitivity using 3.5g of CLA per day over an 8 week period [4].

Similar results were found in another study [5] but interestingly not only did it not improve glucose metabolism in diabetic participants, it fared worse than safflower oil. 

There are a number of other benefits that have been linked to conjugated linoleic acid with little to no research evidence. These include:

  • Positive influence on cholesterol levels
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Provides antioxidants
  • Improves bone health
  • Improves strength


Key Point: There are many suggested health benefits but research doesn’t really back them up

But does it burn fat?

So it appears that a number of the health benefits associated with this nutrient just don’t hold up.

But what about its fat burning potential?

The idea is that the acid causes fat loss by how it acts on your body’s PPAR system – these are receptors related to fat burning, steroid signalling, inflammation and metabolism. By influencing them enough, you notice a substantial amount of fat loss.

But the evidence isn’t there.

Although the theory sounds good, the actual results are quite different. Research has shown however, that the fatty acid just isn’t potent enough in itself to influence the receptors to make any significant difference – and the clinical studies aren’t showing good news either.

Notable Studies on CLA

Well, unfortunately its very much the same- some studies say yes, and some say no.

#Study 1: was conducted using 60 overweight volunteers [6] and found that by taking 3.4g of conjugated linoleic acid or above over a 12 week period, fat mass reduced by 1.73kg.

That’s good, right?

Sort of.

There was a high level of individual variance with the volunteers’ results, suggesting that not all benefited as much. There were 8 participants that pulled out of the study due to adverse effects. 

There was also no extra fat mass loss found by taking a higher dose of 6.8g in comparison to 3.4g.

Meaning the CLA may not be the contributing factor here.

#Study 2: 

This study [4] assessed the changes in body fat mass using 27 overweight volunteers taking 3.5g of either safflower oil or CLA per day for 8 weeks. No differences in either lean mass or fat mass were reported, and the only benefit found- a decrease in inflammation- was the same across both groups.

But both of these studies used overweight, sedentary volunteers – could it be more useful in those that are active?

Unfortunately not.

Even in active, regular exercisers, conjugated linoleic acid supplementation has been found to have no significant effects on body composition, energy expenditure or appetite [7] making it pretty useless for regular gym goers who are already at a decent level of physique. 

It’s unlikely that supplementing this nutrient would take your physique to the next level.

Key Point: It has shown small results with obese, sedentary individuals, but even then the results are limited – it doesn’t seem to have any significant effects at all.

The Last Word – Does Conjugated Linoleic Acid Boost Weight Loss?

Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a naturally occurring fat source found in ruminant animals- you’ll find it largely in meat and dairy products.

There doesn’t appear to be any conclusive evidence of any health or weight loss benefits – to date there’s no research to prove it’s supplementation regulates blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, or other health related factors.

Studies have failed to find any additional benefit to taking high doses above that which we already get from our diet

This nutrient appears to be a pretty poor weight loss and fat burner supplement- instead you’d be better obtaining your fats naturally from meats and dairy, and focusing your attention to fat burners with a better evidence base.

What supplements do work?

It is important when you are choosing a fat burner that you go for well-researched ingredients. Instant Knockout contains a range of nutrients, scientifically proven to accelerate your fat loss and get that physique you’ve always wanted.

Containing ingredients such as green coffee bean, here’s what Instant Knockout can do for you:

It’s even been endorsed by multiple MMA fighterswho have seen benefits such as:

  • Increased Calorie Burning – turn yourself into a fat burning machine
  • More Energy – Work harder for longer
  • Appetite Control – Maintain that strict diet with less effort
  • Day-Long Fat Burning – Turn that body thermostat up and throw some coal in the furnace

Learn More About Instant Knockout


  1. Ritzenthaler, KL et al. Estimation of conjugated linoleic acid intake by written diary assessment methodologies underestimates actual intake evaluated by food duplicate methodology. J Nutr. 2001; 131(5): 1548-54
  2. Zhaio WS et al. Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplementation Enhances Antihypertensive Effect of Ramipril in Chinese Patients With Obesity-Related Hypertension. Am J Hypertension2009; 22(6): 680-686
  3. Raff, M et al. Diets rich in conjugated linoleic acid and vaccenic acid have no effect on blood pressure and isobaric arterial elasticity in healthy young men. J Nutr. 2006; 136(4): 992-7
  4. Joseph SV et al. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 8 weeks does not affect body composition, lipid profile, or safety biomarkers in overweight, hyperlipidemic men. J Nutr. 2011; 141(7): 1286-91
  5. Asp ML et al. Time-dependent effects of safflower oil to improve glycemia, inflammation and blood lipids in obese, post-menopausal women with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-masked, crossover study. Clin Nutr. 2011; 30(4): 443-9
  6. Blankson, H et al. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans. J Nutr. 2000; 130(12): 2943-8
  7. Lambert, EV et al. Conjugated linoleic acid versus high-oleic acid sunflower oil: effects on energy metabolism, glucose tolerance, blood lipids, appetite and body composition in regularly exercising individuals. Br J Nutr. 2007; 97(5): 1001-11