Summary

The effects of CLA as a modulator of muscle mass have been given little attention. While there is evidence that CLA may help to increase muscle mass, there is also some evidence that CLA has no effect as an ergogenic aid. In the studies that presented evidence that CLA did increase muscle mass, the increase was slight and only 20 to 30 subjects were tested. A larger subject base along with longer supplementation time could possibly provide more significantly impressive data.

CLA has been found to lower adipose tissue, body fat mass, and body weight in animal and human models. While lowering adipose tissue in mice, it was also found to increase hyperinsulinemia, which was later found to be lowered with a lower concentration of CLA supplementation. More clinical research varying the amount of CLA and the duration of supplementation is necessary because the data with human subjects are not conclusive.

The research regarding CLA's effect on energy intake and expenditure is also variant between research groups. In animal models, CLA has been shown to increase or demonstrate no effect on energy intake. Energy expenditure was shown to decrease and stay at baseline with CLA supplementation. No effect was found in humans. There is good evidence to support that CLA does in fact modulate energy intake and expenditure; however, the mechanisms of this action remain unclear.

Based on ambiguous but suggestive findings, more research examining the effects of CLA on energy expenditure and metabolism is warranted. These studies are clearly required for a better understanding and for making recommendations to the public regarding the practice of using CLA as an ergogenic or performance-enhancing aid (Figure 5.2).

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