Conjugate Linoleic Acid: What Is It and What Is The Science Behind It?
CLA is a large molecule consisting of at least 28 isomers(versions) of Linoleic Acid strung together with alternating double bonds separated by a single bond resulting in what is known as a "conjugated" system. This is important in organic chemistry as this results in delocalized electrons within the system, meaning the electrons are not associated with one molecule in the bond and can undergo what is known as resonance. This is the shifting of electrons, forming bonds that results in more stable structures. CLA can be what is known as either a cis-fat or trans-fat depending on how the structure around the bonds arranges itself. In a cis structure, functional groups on a molecule are on the same side of the double bond while in a trans structure they are opposite:
These structures occur in the presence of double-bonds as there is no "free" rotation around the bond (compared to single bonds) which results in the two isomers being formed; trans- on the left and cis- on the right.
Trans fats typically receive negative press as they are seen to increase the risk of coronary artery disease, however these "trans fats" are different then CLA. Trans fats referred to from processed foods are artificial that results from a process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oils to make them more solid. However, trans-structure CLA are naturally occurring compounds that have a beneficial role in our diet.
Linoleic Acid, the molecules that make up this long chain, are directly responsible for the synthesis of many elements within the body such as cell membranes and a compound used to make immune system cells such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes; arachidonic acid. CLA is a "good fat" as it is made up of omega-6 fatty acids, and is most common in dairy and beef products. Proper dosage of CLA daily, typically around 1.4g-3.0g, has been shown to improve skin condition, aid in fat loss, and improve muscular development. The problem however, is that we typically do not receive enough CLA from our diets, especially with those who avoid dairy./meat products which is why supplementing is vastly popular with athletes. Here we will look at the science as to why this type of healthy fat has weightloss benefits.
How Is CLA Linked to Fatloss and Other Benefits?
CLA has been linked to various benefits from weightloss, muscle development, improved skin conditions, improved immune function, preventing the growth of cancer, and improving cholesterol. CLA has been understood to improve physique by suppressing cravings from regulating appetite, improving the metabolism of lipids and carbs, and increasing the amount of energy your body consumes. CLA in one study also showed serious muscle developing properties as though supplementing with CLA had increases in arm size, leg press output, and overall muscle mass.(2) While the science behind this isn't fully understood, the major link between CLA has been it's proposed ability to act on the PPAR system within the human body. Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors (PPAR) are transcription factors that are directly responsible for the expression of genes involved in lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. This link occurs from the PPAR's ability to activate certain ligands to improve the consumption of these macromolecules (3). These receptors are activated by certain, unique fatty acids, CLA being one of them. The PPAR system has links to being involved in steroid signalling which improves regulation on inflammation linking it to improving skin and other inflammatory conditions.
CLA has many benefits that are not taken advantage of as we do not receive enough from our diets. In order for you to consume to recommended 1.4g-3.0g daily you would have to consume around 100 ounces of milk or 2 pounds of beef. This leads many top athletes to supplement with CLA which is why we developed our CLA containing a potent dose of 1000mg extracted from Safflower Seed Oil.
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