Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplements are generally touted for their fat burning properties, but the most recent data published in the Journal of Sports Sciences shows that CLA is far more than just a weight loss aid.
In a recent placebo controlled, cross-over trial, scientists from Taiwan reported that subjects who took CLA for 8 weeks (3.8 g/day) had a 75% greater increase in glycogen storage after a single (60 minute) bout of high intensity cardio exercise followed by a high carbohydrate reloading meal. This finding was supported by a 79% increase (over placebo) in the immediate post-exercise insulin response and a 150% increase in immediate post-exercise muscle glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT 4) expression—GLUT 4 expression remained elevated by 56% over placebo at 3 hours post-exercise.
What does this mean for bodybuilders? Well, first, CLA seems to boost the insulin response after exercise—insulin is a key regulator for transporting glucose and other nutrients into muscle cells. Second, elevated GLUT 4 combined with high insulin will ensure heighted glycogen storage in fatigued muscles. This sets up a condition for faster recovery. Finally, these data suggest that CLA might enhance carbo-loading strategies commonly used during bodybuilding contest preparation.
ACTION POINT: In line with this study, we generally prescribe taking up to 2 grams of CLA, 3 times daily with meals. On training days take 1 dose immediately after training with your protein shake and 25-60g of fast sugar like dextrose.