WHAT IS CLA?
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a polyunsaturated fat found in linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid found mostly in plant oils. Naturally, CLA is a product of digestion by microbes in the first stomach (rumens) of grass-eating animals such as cows, so is found mainly in grass-fed beef and dairy products. Not only is CLA easy to find on the Bulletproof Diet, it’s also connected to fighting cancer, and helping your body build muscle rather than store fat.
Conjugated linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid. Diets high in omega-6 tend to be inflammatory, which is why you may have heard to avoid omega-6 rich foods. Your body needs some omega-6 from food sources, but in a much smaller dose than the standard American diet dishes out. Fortunately, the anti-inflammatory properties of CLA cause it to behave more like an omega-3 in the body. The two main active isomers, or types, of CLA are the 9,11 isomer, and the 10,12 isomer, both naturally found in CLA-rich foods.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CLA?
Say it with me: Butter burns fat! The most well-established benefit of CLA is its fat-fighting power. Successful human studies show that doses of 3 to 4 grams daily build muscle mass and promote body fat loss in healthy, overweight, and obese participants. Conjugated linoleic acid can affect your weight loss through several pathways. Several studies show that the 10,12 CLA isomer acts on PPAR-gamma receptors to inhibit the genes responsible for fat storage and adipocyte (fat cell) production, preventing weight gain from the start. (Bonus points: reducing fat storage also boosts your liver performance and can reduce the fatty deposits behind atherosclerosis.)
At the same time, CLA increases your body’s energy expenditure, helping you to burn fat faster than you build it. Human studies also show that CLA can increase satiety (your feeling of fullness) — part of the reason grass-fed butter is so perfect in Bulletproof Coffee. The theory here is that 10,12 CLA decreases the expression of certain hunger-signaling factors in the hypothalamus area of your brain.
FIGHTS INFLAMMATION AND BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM
The anti-inflammatory functions of conjugated linoleic acid, like other inflammation-busting foods, help it support nearly every system in your body. Studies show that CLA plays a role in regulating your body’s inflammatory and immune responses, as well as boosting liver health to support detoxification. Conjugated linoleic acids bolster the immune system and helps build resistance to infections, inflammatory disorders and other immune system imbalances like autoimmune disease and allergies.
In one study from The Journal of Nutrition, the anti-inflammatory properties of both CLA isomers successfully reduced inflammation in arthritic mice. It may also benefit people suffering from asthma and allergies by reducing over-responsive airway inflammation. These results suggest that consuming CLA could benefit other chronic inflammatory conditions.
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