CLA: FIGHTING FAT WITH FAT - Ironman Magazine 2006
I recently found an article in an older issue of the Australian Ironman magazine about CLA. I use it myself as well when I prepare for a contest, and I think it is amazing stuff.
That’s why I’m sharing this article with you.
“Fat cells work like bathtubs. Fat enters through a faucet and exits through a drain. I have found the secret for slowing down the faucet”
– Michael Pariza, Ph.D.
For all you basketball fans -sorry, but the titular chant isn’t Beat L.A., a.k.a. the Los Angeles Lakers. Televised Lakers games are punctuated by wide-lens pans of the audience and glimpses of stars and diplomats in attendance – celebrity fat cats rooting for the fat cats of the court.
The scientific community has its Lakers-style fat cats too. Throughout the medical and natural-healthcare community the CLA! CLA! CLA! chant is growing stronger. Short for conjugated linoleic acid, CLA is now recognised as the missing link in our ability to remain lean, reduce body fat and modulate healthy weight- and fat-loss efforts. It seems researchers have been looking in all the wrong places for a drug to fight the epidemic of obesity we presently face.
THE SCIENTIFIC STUFF
Conjugated linoleic acid is a chemical compound having a variety of isomers, or molecular configurations, and is found primarily in dairy and meat products. At the molecular level CLA resembles linoleic acid, though
biologically, the two fatty acids have opposite effects on human physiology. Linoleic acid appears to promote tumor growth, while CLA inhibits it.
Twenty-eight CLA isomers have been identified, each with a slightly different chemical-bond structure. Scientists refer to the most researched form as cis-9-trans CLA, or rumenic acid. The cis-9-trans-11 form was believed to be the most biologically active isomer in promoting human fat loss. New evidence out of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, however, suggests that cis-10-trans-12 isomer may produce even greater fat-loss-to-lean-muscle ratios.
CLA has a variety of effects on human health:
1. reduces bodyfat,
2. improves insulin sensitivity,
3. inhibits growth of prostate cancer
4. prevents the initiation, development and spread of breast cancer
5. lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels
6. has powerful antioxidant and anticancer capabilities
FIGHTING FAT WITH FAT
It’s ironic that one of our most potent naturally occurring fat burners is itself a fat. Thanks to research led by Michael Pariza, director of the University of Wisconsin Food Research Institute, we now know that a reduction of CLA has turned us into fatties. America is one of the fattest nations in the world.
The prevailing theories concerning CLA’s role in fat reduction center on dietary habits and past guidelines. Current dietary recommendations focus on eating less animal fat, red meat and dairy products. CLA naturally occurs in dairy products, meat, sunflower oil and safflower oil. Grazing cows and sheep have internal microorganisms that make CLA. Human beings, however, must get it from food sources.
Some health care professionals contend that there is a direct correlation between lower consumption of CLA’s most abundant sources and rising U.S. obesity. Deficiencies of CLA in our diets may also be the result of changes in the feeding of cattle. Artifically fattened via feed cycles, cattle now produce reduced amounts of CLA, thus changing the content of meat and milk – an idea confirmed at Utah State University by Tilak R. Dhiman’s team. Data conclusively show that pasture-fed cattle have up to 500 per cent more CLA in their milk and 300 to 400 per cent more in their meat. Today’s dairy products typically contain only about one-third as much CLA as similar products did in 1960. That’s why researchers are suggesting that CLA supplementation is the key to reaching and maintaining weight- and fat-loss goals, as current dietary regimens don’t provide adequate amounts. For example, to get enough of the compound to do any good, you’d have to eat three pounds of hamburger, 25 slices of American cheese or a half gallon of ice cream.
CLA: A BODYBUILDER’S DREAM SUPPLEMENT
Research has revealed that CLA is intimately involved with fat-loss and lean muscle mass gain, which makes it a highly effective supplement within the bodybuilding community. Pariza, who reported his findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in August 2000, found that CLA not only had appreciable results in reducing the size of large fat cells but that its major mechanism of action was its ability to keep small fat cells from getting bigger, as well as accelerating the rate of fat burning in skeletal muscle. CLA, he said, is more effective as a lean-muscle developer than as an agent of weight loss. In Pariza’s initial studies, among dieters who stopped dieting and regained pounds, those taking CLA actually gained muscle and not fat. In other words, CLA helps gain lean muscle mass.
Additional studies have shown that CLA can decrease body-fat storage (especially around the abdomen) and increase lean-muscle mass relative to body-fat. That’s due in part to CLA’s ability to modulate insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is one of the body’s most anabolic (muscle-building) hormones, and at stable levels it facilitates transport of fatty acids and glucose into muscle cell membranes and away from fat tissue.
The whole process is a bodybuilder’s dream for maintaining a leaner, more muscular look. Imagine for a moment being stuck in a traffic jam, surrounded by cars, trucks, motorcycles, SUV’s – all moving at the speed of a turtle. The congestion is like the state of your metabolism. Supplemental CLA moves it from stop and jump-starts the breakdown of fat in muscle cells for energy while decreasing lipogenesis, or the formation of fat. Incorporating CLA into your daily regimen is like having your foot on the gas pedal out on the open highway, no longer stuck in traffic.
University of Wisconsin research teams found that CLA inhibits the formation of cancer-causing agents, prevents atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and assists in stabilising blood glucose. CLA has powerful antioxidant properties that support immune function and elimination of waste by-products. That aids in both cell and muscle repair. CLA also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can neutralise arachidonic acid, a compound found in red meat that’s linked to tissue inflammation, which can negatively affect recovery time and/or regular workout routines.
CLA also has a positive effect on neurotransmitters for improved mental clarity and focus and reduces the risk of heart attack and storkes by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
It has no known toxicity. Recommended dosage is 3.4 grams, or 3,400 milligrams a day for obtaining beneficial effects on bodyfat. Controlled human trials have shown that 5.6 to 7.2 grams per day increased muscle size and strength in beginning and seasoned weight trainers. Bodyfat has been substantially reduced within four to eight weeks with supplemental CLA use.
FEEDING THE MACHINE
One of the major problems associated with bodybuilding is eating. To both fuel tired muscles and gain size, you have to eat practically everything in sight – huge numbers of calories. You hear of top weightlifters eating a dozen eggs at breakfast and again before going to bed. Many male competitors eat 6,000 to 8,000 calories daily, while their female counterparts may eat up to 4,000 calories a day. Health experts have said that bodybuilders may be putting themselves at risk with such large amounts of high-calorie foods. According to the late Dan Duchane, author of The Underground Steroid Handbook, many bodybuilders get as much as 50 percent of their calories per day from high cholesterol foods.
Foods that are high in calories put a strain on everything trying to digest them as they go from the stomach to the intestines to the lymphatic system to the liver and then to the bloodstream.
KEEPING YOUR EDGE
Whether we’re weekend warriors or world-class competitors, finding and maintaining a sense of direction is often easier said than done. We tend to forget that to gain fat-cat status and build a body our peers would envy is mostly an attribute of our hard work and dedication. Throw in the basics of nutrient timing and proper supplementation, and you’ll find that you’re in total control of attaining and reaching your goals. Still, every so often you find one or two products you can count on that always seem to work for you, helping you shed excess body-fat and maintain that chiseled, muscular look.
There are not many products that research shows will not only reduce body-fat but also regulate immune function, improve glucose levels, fight cancer, prevent atherosclerosis, limit food-allergy reactions, convert fat to lean muscle, block the formation of cancer-causing agents and shrink existing fat cells while preventing new ones from forming. CLA is incredible stuff, clearly warranting the superstar status the health care community is giving it.
CLA is truly a bodybuilder’s dream supplement, good for a lean, muscular appearance and for protecting and preserving the health and well-being of the body’s internal structure. Fat cat or just furball, scamper to your favourite supplement.
AUSTRALIAN IRONMAN MAGAZINE
Vol 13. No. 4. 2006