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When is the best time to take CLA?

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Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally sourced fatty acid, often referred to as a ‘good’ fat. It is most commonly sourced from meat and dairy produce.

The benefits of CLA

CLA is related to the omega 6 fatty acid group, one of two types of essential fatty acids the body needs for vital human functions. These include boosting the immune system, regulating cholesterol and helping to keep joints supple to prevent conditions such as arthritis. But one of the main uses for omega 6, and therefore CLA supplements, is its benefit to the metabolic function. CLA reduces body fat by increasing basal metabolic rate, turning food into energy more effectively.

The dosage for CLA

Unfortunately our bodies do not produce CLA so it must be sourced from our diet, or through a supplement. The average diet provides around 100-300mg of CLA per day, providing you don’t follow a meat or dairy free diet. But in order for it to be fully effective, it is recommended your body has 3,000mg or 3g of CLA per day. Most CLA tablets are produced and sold in this dose.

When to take CLA

For the body to get maximum results from the properties of CLA, including body fat reduction, experts advise the supplement is taken three times a day either 30 minutes before eating or during a meal – ideally at breakfast, lunch and dinner times.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analysed a range of studies related to reducing fat mass and CLA. They found studies where participants took the CLA supplement produced a modest loss in body fat (i).

Although there is some evidence to suggest CLA is effective in the metabolism of fat, it cannot be achieved through supplementation alone. In order to see results you must follow a healthy diet plan that includes protein, fruit and vegetables. Exercising for a minimum 30 minutes a day is also important.

Before you begin taking CLA, consult your GP or health practitioner for advice.

Caroline Lilley is a health journalist specialising in nutrition, diet and fitness. More from this expert.

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No statement or article should be understood as providing treatment advice. If you have a health problem consult your GP and check compatibility of new supplements with your GP or Pharmacist if you are taking any prescription medication.

Nutrition Expert sources the latest information and advice from a range of qualified doctors, nutritionists and coaches. We always endeavour to have the most up to date information possible and publish new content weekly. However with the constant research in this field sometimes some of our older articles can become out of date. If you see anything that you believe needs to be updated please let us know via our Contact Us page