April 21, 2022 / by Emma Jones

When it comes to bodybuilding, many turn to protein supplements to meet the required daily protein requirement. Although protein plays an important role in strength, performance and body composition, there are other supplements that can be equally beneficial in helping you achieve your fitness goals. CLA is one option you can turn to. Studies have shown that CLA can be very helpful at reducing body fat mass and increasing lean muscle.

What are CLA Supplements?

Basically saying, CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a fatty acid. It’s a naturally occurring substance composed of good fat that can be obtained from natural sources including dairy products or cheese, meat, etc. Why should you get it from supplements if you can obtain it from your diet, you may ask? The answer to this question lies in the benefits that CLA supplements can bring to your bodybuilding journey.

Reduced Body Fat

CLA supplement
Source: express.co.uk

For many bodybuilders, CLA supplements are a must-have due to their ability to reduce body fat. CLA promotes body fat loss by causing a number of biochemical reactions within the body. These reactions boost your metabolism by burning stored fat, and therefore, helping you lose the excess weight.

Improved Lean Muscle Mass

Another great reason to supplement with CLA is to improve the lean mass to body fat ratio. This effect can be clearly noticed through a reduced-fat deposition on the abdomen and enhanced muscle growth. In order to understand how a fatty acid can build more muscle, you need to learn the CLA reaction to body fat when you consume the supplement.

CLA improves insulin sensitivity, which in turn helps you lose weight faster. Insulin is a hormone that keeps track of your blood sugar or glucose levels. In order to determine the level of glucose metabolism in the cells, an increase in insulin sensitivity is required. When insulin sensitivity is elevated, fatty acids and glucose are better regulated, staying away from the fat tissue in the muscle cells rather than getting deposited as stored muscle fat. This leads to an improvement in the muscle to fat ratio. By regulating fat metabolism, CLA dietary supplements make it easier for you to lose weight.

Faster Muscle Recovery

Muscle Recovery after training
Source: farmaboom.com

They also induce anabolic effects. After a hard workout, your muscles are deprived of energy and in a continuous state of repairing the damaged tissues. The process of regenerating the damaged muscle tissue is called anabolism. During this process, existing tissues are maintained and new cells are created. The CLA supplements can help stimulate anabolism, benefiting your post-workout muscle recovery mechanism. CLA also prevents muscle tissue metabolising, therefore reducing muscle waste by preserving the muscle mass you’ve built.

Improved Immunity

Strengthened immunity is another benefit of CLA supplements. Immunity is especially crucial during the cutting period when the body is under constant stress from exercising and dieting at the same time. An immunological boost aids in the channelling of positive energy and the maintenance of fitness and muscular mass.

A Powerful Antioxidant

CLA is a power antioxidant
Source: iherb.com

CLA is an antioxidant that is both natural and effective. Reduced oxidative stress, or cell damage caused by free radicals, is one of its advantages. By eliminating free radicals, the supplement protects your muscle cells from damage (free radicals). You might not consider oxidative stress to be a big issue in bodybuilding. However, it should be carefully examined, especially if you engage in vigorous exercise or endurance training.

Excessive exercise tends to cause oxidative stress to reach dangerously high levels, well beyond what is considered healthy. This high level of oxidative stress means your cells and tissues are constantly being damaged, raising your risk of catastrophic medical illnesses including heart disease, cancer, and even death. So, while oxidative stress may not appear to be a major worry for bodybuilders at first look, it is in a holistic sense, and so it is included in my list of CLA advantages.

Who Should Use CLA Supplements?

CLA Supplements
Source: bodybuilding.com

Anyone interested in improving their overall health and body composition can benefit from supplementation with CLA. However, some people will have more grain from this supplement than others. Best candidates for CLA supplementation include those who are in good general health, are looking to lose body fat or improve their body composition, don’t have any kind of liver disease and are not taking any blood-thinning medications.

Those who don’t eat meat or dairy products can also benefit from this supplement because CLA is most abundant in these foods and the human body cannot produce CLA on its own. As for can you take CLA without working out, studies have shown that CLA reduces fat mass in particular areas of the body without any additional exercise.

What Are the Side Effects of CLA?

Like other supplements, CLA may cause upset stomach, nausea, diarrhoea, and fatigue. In rare cases, a CLA dietary supplement may worsen insulin resistance, or how the body absorbs sugar in people with diabetes. CLA isn’t recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.