Is CLA the cheapest, most effective Fat Loss supplement? What Research Has to Say

Is CLA the Cheapest, most effective for Fat Loss? What Research Has to Say

Fat burners and weight-loss supplements comprise a niche of sports nutrition known as  thermogenics. In short, thermogenics act to increase thermogenesis - a process of transforming calories into the heat that’s vital for body temperature homeostasis (preserving your body temperature within particular limits). Thermogenesis is also responsible for keeping your metabolism healthy and regulating bodyweight.

The concept behind thermogenic nutrients (like conjugated linoleic acid/CLA) is to increase metabolic rate so that you can naturally burn more calories (energy). This speeding up of metabolism results in an increase in core body temperature. Thermogenesis can be achieved by substances that act as stimulants - in addition to promoting thermogenesis - or through mechanisms that do not include central nervous system (CNS) stimulation. Therefore, thermogenics can be either stimulant-based or stimulant-free.

Understanding the Difference between Thermogenics

Per definition, stimulants are compounds that elevate physiological and/or nervous system activity in your body/brain. Stimulants work to enhance awareness, focus, energy, and also elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. The most common example of a stimulant used in thermogenics is caffeine. However, some individuals may be sensitive to lesser-known stimulants found in certain thermogenics, such as yohimbine and evodiamine.

On the contrary, non-stimulant thermogenics boost thermogenesis without significantly stimulating your CNS; thus, this class of thermogenics has much less impact on your cardiovascular function. Stimulant-free thermogenics can be stacked with supplements containing stimulants (such as thermogenic or pre-workout formulas, like Rainmaker) and can be taken at any time of the day, even before bed.

Certain stimulant-free fat burning ingredients can also be bought separately, like CLA Softgels.

In fact, CLA is arguably the most overlooked stimulant-free thermogenic for enhancing fat loss. Naturally, it’s pertinent to look a little deeper at this special fatty acid and why you need to consider adding it to your supplement regimen.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) for Fat Loss

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is technically a trans-fatty acid, albeit without the harsh health ramifications you might experience from consuming large amounts of trans-fats found in processed foods. While being a trans-fatty acid, CLA is thought to increase metabolic rate and enhance fatty acid utilization, which can lead to more fat loss.

Research supports that CLA works to enhance fatty acid utilization by modulating the action of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) in the body. LPL is a rate-limiting enzyme that helps carry out the breakdown of circulating triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, such as cholesterol. Once broken down by LPL, free fatty acids can be oxidized (i.e. burned for energy).

It’s important to note that LPL is not necessarily a “good” or “bad” enzyme, as having too much or too little of it can cause unwanted effects. For example, mice that overexpress LPL have a hard time gaining weight, which seems like a benefit to most people, but they also develop insulin resistance. Contrarily, too little LPL can lead to obesity and elevated cholesterol/triglycerides.

Research Data on CLA to Consider

The results of research studies connecting CLA to weight loss are rather compelling. Some have actually shown that CLA can cause significant fat loss in human beings. A meta-analysis of 18 human studies shows that supplementing with CLA produces “modest loss” in body fat. It’s important to note that these studies were done on humans and not lower species.

Another more recent research review of seven studies analyzed the impact of CLA supplementation over a minimum duration of 6 months; the results demonstrated considerable drops in fat mass, ranging from 1.54 lbs to 2.86 lbs. Bear in mind that these drops in fat mass were “extra” in comparison to placebo/control subjects.

While that may not seem like a whole lot at first glance, losing an extra four or five pounds every year just by adding CLA to your nutrition regimen is pretty damn worthwhile.

Even more promising, CLA might help increase lean body mass and also appears to have potent antioxidant roles in humans., CLA has been studied for other benefits as well, such as its impact on immunity, reducing the risk of cancer, enhancing blood glucose regulation and improving blood lipid profiles.

Take-Home Points

CLA is a rather underappreciated stimulant-free fat loss ingredient based on the available data. Aside from being useful for enhancing fat burning, CLA holds potential as an antidiabetic, anticancer, and antioxidant nutrient.

CLA Benefits Summary:

  • Enhance fat loss without stimulating your nervous system
  • Reduce fat accumulation from high-calorie intake
  • Improve blood lipid and blood sugar balance
  • Reduce oxidative stress and risk of cancer

Since CLA is not typically consumed in large enough quantities through diet alone, it is highly recommended to supplement with 1000 mg to 2000 mg daily for the most benefit. Given the affordability of Axis Labs CLA Softgels, the choice for stimulant-free fat loss is really a no-brainer.


  • Stohs, S. and Badmaev, V. (2016) ‘A Review of Natural Stimulant and Non-Stimulant Thermogenic Agents’, Phytotherapy Research, 30(5), 732-740.
  • Wang, H., & Eckel, R. H. (2009). Lipoprotein lipase: from gene to obesity. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 297(2), E271-E288.
  • Whigham, L., Watras, A. and Schoeller, D. (2007) ‘Efficacy of Conjugated Linoleic Acid for Reducing Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis in Humans’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(5), 1203-1211. 
  • Onakpoya, I., Posadzki, P., Watson, L., Davies, L. and Ernst, E. (2012) ‘The Efficacy of Long-Term Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Supplementation on Body Composition in Overweight and Obese Individuals: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials’, European Journal of Nutrition, 51(2), 127-134.
  • Berg, J. J., Cook, N. E., & Tribble, D. L. (1995). Reinvestigation of the antioxidant properties of conjugated linoleic acid. Lipids, 30(7), 599-605.
  • Pariza, M. W., Ha, Y. L., Benjamin, H., Sword, J. T., Grüter, A., Chin, S. F., ... & Albright, K. (1991). Formation and action of anticarcinogenic fatty acids. In Nutritional and Toxicological Consequences of Food Processing (pp. 269-272). Springer US.
  • Lambert, E. V., Goedecke, J. H., Bluett, K., Heggie, K., Claassen, A., Rae, D. E., ... & Charlton, K. (2007). 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. British journal of nutrition, 97(5), 1001-1011.