CLA: Conjugated Linoleic Acid (aka, my fatty pills)


Conjugated Linoleic Acid is one of the few mainstay supplements in my diet. I affectionately call it my fatty pill, partially because it is all oil, and partially because it helps reduce fat.

I stumbled upon this supplement last year when I was researching something that might help me shed some pesky belly fat and tone up a bit more at the gym. I didn’t want to take anything with caffeine in it, so that eliminated a lot of options. I also wanted something simple that didn’t have 9,000 ingredients on the label.
Enter: CLA

There are mixed reviews and studies out on CLA and its benefits for weight loss and muscle growth. I have personally had a positive experience with it, specifically this brand:  Nature’s Way CLA 1300 mg softgel.
I get them from Amazon because the subscribe-and-save price is great, and I don’t have to actually go to a store and buy anything (or forget to buy anything). One bottle will last me about a month.

The CLA comes from safflower seed oil, which contains about 70-80% CLA. Since all 1300 mg is the safflower oil and not the CLA, the CLA from each pill is approximately 1000 mg. Many CLA bottles will list the mg of oil in them, and frustratingly, not the actual CLA mg content. This is important, because CLA only becomes effective at certain amounts, but from what I’ve read, it seems that for CLA to be effective, a person needs to take at least 3,000 mg per day (So, MRM brand might not be a bad pill to try either, when looking at the CLA per pill and cost per pill, I’ve just been using the Nature’s Way brand for a while and like my results on it. Hmm, maybe I will try this MRM brand, now…). At any rate, you can find studies for and against CLA, like pretty much any supplement out there.

I’ve been taking these steadily since about May/June of 2012. Albany John started taking them some time in the fall after we started noticing my results, and wow, his body really took to using CLA. He has a real mesomorph body type, though, and tends to react very quickly to exercise, diet changes, and supplements like this. Sadly, my body type leans more toward that of an endomorph and it takes me quite a while to see even minor changes in my body. Oh, and Albany John tends to take all of them at once instead of spacing them out during the day, and that hasn’t affected his progress. So I’m not so sure how much timing comes in to play with these supplements as opposed to, say, caffeine.

Ladies, CLA may have mixed results for you, so here are my experiences with CLA (in no particular order):

  • Take it for a month before you expect to see results. This isn’t a fast-acting supplement, but it helps curb appetite a bit and my muscles seem a bit more defined after using it. That said, if you forget a day or are too sick to take any supplements for a day or two during a month, that won’t set you back.  Just don’t take less than 3 g/day and don’t take them only a few times per week.
  • My first month or two I took 4 g of CLA per day (4 pills, usually 2 with/after lunch & 2 with/after dinner), but now I have cut down to 3 g of CLA per day (usually 1 with lunch & 2 after dinner).
  • My belly fat has been reduced a bit, and the definition in my muscles seems a bit clearer. I mainly started taking CLA after getting definition in my arms and legs, yet being frustrated with not being able to change the belly fat despite much gym-going and diet-changing. I still have some lower abdominal fat, but I’ve got a bit of definition up top, which I’m pretty happy with and wasn’t something I had really even considered within my realm of possibility before this. Now I want to see how much more I can define my abs.
  • CLA has helped me lose weight and belly fat. I want to stress that it is a supplement that has helped, but certainly has not been the sole cause of my weight/size loss. Diet and exercise to play a huge role in this, but it certainly helped me move from a plateau.
  • Do not take it at the same time you take echinacea/goldenseal. Oh my gosh, this will give you such horrible, burning burps.

Any way, I hope this may help you in your quest for looking and feeling great in the new year, and giving you a bit more insight on this supplement and my experiences with it. Other than the horrible burps I get when I take it at the same time as echinacea/goldenseal I have experience no negative effects when taking this supplement.

Have you tried any supplements that have made a difference in your life? Raspberry ketones? Green tea extract? African mango? I think whey protein has also helped my body, so that might be another later post.

Sickly Sweet

I like candy. I like desserts. I love sweets. I like being able to chose the sweets I eat, and when I eat a massive amount of sugar.

I don’t like all of the sugar in so many of the foods on our shelves now. Albany John already has me reading ingredient labels for high-fructose corn syrup (a no-no in our household on his request). I have some foods I don’t consider “sweet” (nut butters, yogurt, cottage cheese…), so I’ve been checking the labels for their sugar content lately, too. I’ve found I don’t really like to eat too much sugar at night (at least not regularly) because I process it way quickly, get a ton of unnecessary energy (the “sugar high”) and have trouble getting to sleep when I want to. Well, scratch that. I like to eat that much sugar, especially at night, but the after effects lately have made me not want to deal with it. Is this what aging is like?
I generally have trouble sleeping/staying asleep, and the nights I sleep entirely through the night without waking or getting up are few and far between (like, maybe 10 days a year, tops). The past few months I’ve been fairly decent about not snacking at night, and not eating foods that are quickly processed. I’ve noticed that when I do eat highly-processed and/or sugary foods at night, ugh, it is just not that great for me.

So, in the desire to eat a bit healthier, while nodding to my after-dinner snacking tendencies, I try to eat foods that digest slowly overnight instead of foods that the body processes quickly. Think: sweet potatoes, yogurt, cottage cheese. The diary is great for casein, which will feed your muscles slowly overnight and potentially help curb massive hunger cravings in the morning. Sweet potatoes are also great for slowly feeding the body, and have a fantastic amount of potassium to help keep muscle cramps at bay.

This brings me to yogurt. I was at Hannaford one night (thank goodness they are open 24/7, ’cause it’s great for my anti-crowd self), perusing their store-brand greek yogurt section. I like greek yogurt at night because it feels fairly substantial, but also really creamy, so I can barely eat a pot of greek yogurt at a time. I usually opt for plain yogurt, but on this night I was thinking “Hey, why not get one of the flavors. Go a little crazy.” (har har)

Well, crazy is the sugar content of the flavored yogurts. Hannaford’s plain greek yogurt has a sugar content of 4 grams. That’s respectable. Dairy does have some sugar in it, after all. Hmm, maybe Raspberry would be good. Not with 19 grams of sugar, it’s not. Peach? 20 grams. Honey came in with a respectable 15 grams of sugar. For some reason I thought honey would have topped the sugar content.

So, skip the flavors, go for plain. And top it with some pecans from Hannaford’s bulk/Organic aisle which retail for $7.99/lb, one of the lowest prices in the area (if not the lowest).