Reviews Supplements

7 Best CLA Supplements in 2024

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski (Certified Nutritionist, S&C specialist, M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology)

If you’re looking to lose weight, you may be considering trying out a CLA supplement. While there is minimal evidence to support the use of CLA for weight loss, as long as your hopes aren’t too high, you may see some benefits from this supplement. While it’s no replacement for a good diet and exercise, CLA may prove to be somewhat beneficial to you!

In this list, we’ll be covering our top picks for the best CLA supplements available. Note that we recommend taking at least 3g a day. While some supplements come in smaller doses, we recommend taking a slightly higher dose to reach 3-4g.

Best CLA Supplements

Top 7 Best CLA Supplements Reviewed

  1. BULKSUPPLEMENTS CLA – Top Pick
  2. Nutricost CLA – Runner-Up
  3. Sports Research CLA
  4. GNC Total Lean CLA – Approved by ConsumerLab
  5. MRM Nutrition CLA 1250
  6. NOW Foods CLA
  7. California Gold Nutrition CLA – Best for Vegans
ProductTotalPrice per
3g of CLA
Nutrition Label
Transparency
Servings
per 3g of CLA
Value
for Money
BULKSUPPLEMENTS39.5109.51010
Nutricost39109.59.510
Sports Research38.59.59.59.510
GNC Total Lean389109.59.5
MRM Nutrition389.59.59.59.5
NOW Foods37.5109.58.59.5
California Gold35.599.58.58.5
TOP PICK

1. BULKSUPPLEMENTS CLA

BULKSUPPLEMENTS CLA

Starting our list is Bulk Supplements with their CLA supplement. Along with practically every other supplement on the planet, Bulk Supplements is a great place to pick up CLA!

Each serving of this supplement is made up of 2000mg of a CLA Complex, which is 78% pure CLA, or ~1560mg. As a result, we recommend taking 2 servings (4 total softgels) to get a more complete dose of ~3.1g. 

As you’ll see throughout this list, we’ll be prioritizing price and brand reputation when picking the best CLA for weight loss. Bulk Supplements is a great place to buy any supplement, as they have fully transparent nutrition labels, and typically don’t use any unnecessary filler ingredients. 

On top of this, they ensure their products are third-party tested, as well as being manufactured in an FDA-inspected, GMP-certified facility. 

Finally, a major reason BUlk Supplements takes the top spot on our list is that they offer the best value for money on our list. At only ~$0.24 per 3g serving, you can try CLA for yourself without breaking the bank!

39.5 EXPERT SCORE

Bulk Supplements’ CLA takes the top spot for its affordability, brand reputation, and commitment to transparency, making it a standout choice for those seeking a quality supplement.


Price per 3g of CLA:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Servings per 3g of CLA:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Best value for money on our list
  • High-quality manufacturing standards
  • Trustworthy and affordable brand for buying practically all supplements

Could be better:

  • Recommended dose is fairly low (~1.56g)
  • Not vegan-friendly
RUNNER-UP

2. Nutricost CLA

Nutricost CLA
  • Suitable for Vegans: No
  • Price per Daily Serving (3g of CLA): ~$0.26
  • Servings per 3g of CLA: ~1.33 (3.2g)
  • Recommended by Athletes: Paul Maile, Max Tooley, Amari Whiting

Taking the runner-up spot on our list of Conjugated Linoleic Acid supplements is Nutricost’s CLA supplement. Offered at a similarly great price to the top spot, Nutricost’s product is a great alternative. 

Each 3 softgel dose contains 2.4g of CLA. While this may be  slightly more effective dose than Bulk Supplements, we still recommend taking an extra capsule (1.33 servings/4 total softgels) for a more effective total serving size of ~3.2g. 

Like Bulk Supplements, Nutricost is a longstanding, well-respected brand in the vitamin space. As proudly stated on their bottles, their products are third-party tested, GMP compliant, and Nutricost quality guaranteed!

Along with all this, value is still a top priority! Nutricost lives up to its name, being only slightly more expensive than BulkSupplements at ~$0.26 for a 3g serving.

39 EXPERT SCORE

Nutricost's CLA supplement stands out with its competitive price, potent dosage in each softgel, and a commitment to quality and testing, making it a noteworthy choice among Conjugated Linoleic Acid supplements.


Price per 3g of CLA:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Servings per 3g of CLA:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Excellent value for money
  • Good large package size
  • Plenty of quality certifications

Could be better:

  • Not quite effectively dosed
  • Not vegan-friendly

3. Sports Research CLA

Sports Research CLA

For the third spot on our list, there’s a notable jump in price, costing nearly twice as much as the top 2 supplements on our list. With that being said, you can be confident Sports Research is still delivering a high-quality product!

The recommended serving size for this product is only 1 softgel, which contains 1187mg of CLA. As a result, we recommend taking 3 softgels, for a total dose of ~3.5g of CLA.

It’s worth noting that Sports Research isn’t as recognizable a brand as many of the other options on our list. However, they still provide a high-quality product with plenty of quality certifications. This product is both Third-Party tested as well as being cGMP compliant.

Finally, as mentioned, there is a noticeable jump in price here. Each 3 softgel serving will cost you about ~$0.48. While this still isn’t too expensive, if you’re planning on taking CLA every day, it will add up quickly!

38.5 EXPERT SCORE

Price per 3g of CLA:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Servings per 3g of CLA:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Plenty of quality certifications
  • Slightly smaller package size may be ideal for trying CLA for the first time
  • Manufactured in the USA

Could be better:

  • Significant jump in price from the last 2 products
  • Not vegan-friendly
APPROVED BY CONSUMERLAB

4. GNC Total Lean CLA

GNC Total Lean CLA

Next up is another widely recognized brand, let’s take a look at GNC’s CLA supplement. Although there is another significant jump in price here, you can be confident you’re getting a solid product. 

First, in terms of dosage, the recommended serving is 2 capsules, totaling 2g of CLA. We recommend taking a third capsule to reach an exact CLA dose of 3g. 

GNC Total Lean CLA instagram
Photo by @marcbuckner

As mentioned, GNC is one of the most recognizable supplement brands around. On GNC’s site, they ensure that their products meet industry quality standards, with over 150 tests being performed during the manufacturing process. Another vote of confidence for this product is that it’s approved by ConsumerLab!

Although delivering a high-quality CLA supplement, this is one of the most expensive products on our list at ~$0.60 per 3g serving size.

38 EXPERT SCORE

Price per 3g of CLA:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Servings per 3g of CLA:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Approved by ConsumerLab
  • GNC quality guaranteed
  • Smaller package size may be ideal for trying the supplement out

Could be better:

  • High price point
  • Some potentially misleading claims on the label (encourages lean muscle tone, improves body composition, etc.)

5. MRM Nutrition CLA 1250

MRM Nutrition CLA 1250

Up next is MRM Nutrition’s CLA 1250 supplement, which earns some bonus points on our list for being the only supplement covered that’s dosed at 3g per serving!

A major issue with most of the other products on this list is that inaccurate doses may cause confusion about how much CLA should be taken for best effects. However, this isn’t an issue here with doses being clear and accurate! MRM recommends taking 3 softgels which works out to an optimal dose of 3g of CLA.

MRM, similar to Sports Research, is one of the lesser-known brands on our list, not having the solid reputation of GNC or Nutricost for example. Beyond saying their product is manufactured in the USA, MRM also does not explicitly provide much info about any third-party testing or manufacturing certifications, even on their website. If these certifications are important to you, you may want to choose a different product. 

Finally, in terms of price, MRM falls right around the same price as Sports Research’s product at ~$0.49 per serving. While not the most expensive option on our list, it certainly isn’t the cheapest either.

38 EXPERT SCORE

MRM Nutrition's CLA 1250 stands out with a clear dosage, though from a less-known brand and lacking detailed information on testing or certifications, it is priced similarly to Sports Research's product.


Price per 3g of CLA:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Servings per 3g of CLA:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Only product dosed at 3g on our list
  • Effective dosing helps prevent confusion surrounding the use of CLA
  • Made in the USA

Could be better:

  • No explicit third-party test results or quality certifications
  • Not vegan-friendly

6. NOW Foods CLA

NOW Foods CLA

Next on our list is another one of the most recognizable supplement brands around, NOW Foods. Let’s see how their CLA stacks up with the rest of our list!

In terms of dosage, NOW Foods is essentially identical to Nutricost which we covered earlier. Each serving is 3 softgels containing a total 2.4g of CLA. As we also recommended for Nutricost, 4 total softgels will likely be ideal to get a slightly higher dose of 3.2g per serving. 

If you’re after a high-quality brand, NOW Foods is one of the most reliable options out there. Not only are they GMP and UL-certified, they also sponsor Vitamin Angels, a non-profit dedicated to providing underprivileged communities with proper nutrition and vitamin supplements. 

The main downside to this product compared to options at the top of our list is its price. While it’s a solid product from a reputable brand, it’s fairly pricey at about $0.49 per serving.

37.5 EXPERT SCORE

NOW Foods' CLA earns its place in our lineup, boasting a dosage similar to Nutricost, delivering quality as a GMP and UL-certified brand.


Price per 3g of CLA:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Servings per 3g of CLA:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Certified from multiple third-party organizations
  • Partnered with non-profit Vitamin Angels
  • Made in the USA

Could be better:

  • Fairly pricey option
  • Not vegan-friendly
BEST FOR VEGANS

7. California Gold Nutrition CLA

California Gold Nutrition CLA
  • Suitable for Vegans: Yes
  • Price per Daily Serving (3g of CLA): ~$0.74
  • Servings per 3g of CLA: 3
  • Recommended by Athletes: Kota Miura, Honoka0106, Saachi_10

Closing off our list is another product from a lesser-known brand, California Gold Nutrition. The main reason this earned its spot on our list is that it’s the only product we’ve covered not to contain any gelatin, making it completely vegan-friendly. Let’s take a closer look. 

First, this is one of the lowest-dosed supplements on our list containing only 1g of CLA per recommended serving. However, this also makes it easy to get a more effective dose by simply tripling the recommended amount for a 3g serving. 

California Gold Nutrition is certified by “itested” which is iherb.com’s in-house lab-testing that guarantees a high level of quality in the products it tests. As mentioned, this is also the only 100% vegan product on our list, which will make it ideal for anyone looking to use CLA on a plant-based diet. 

While this product is the best option for vegans, it also comes at a price, being the most expensive product on our list. At ~$0.74 per serving, we only recommend this product if you’re vegan as this is still the best choice available for a plant-based CLA supplement.

35.5 EXPERT SCORE

California Gold Nutrition's CLA concludes our list as the exclusive gelatin-free and fully vegan-friendly option, making it the preferred choice for plant-based diets.


Price per 3g of CLA:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Servings per 3g of CLA:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Only vegan-friendly supplement on our list
  • “Itested” quality-guaranteed
  • Manufactured in a GMP-compliant facility

Could be better:

  • Most expensive option on our list
  • Low recommended dose may cause confusion

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What Is Cla?

CLA stands for “Conjugated Linoleic Acid”. Linoleic Acid is an essential omega-6 fatty acid, with CLA being a mixture of different forms of linoleic acid. It’s worth noting that there’s an unreasonably high ratio of omega-6 intake when compared to omega-3’s in the average American diet, making extra intake through supplementation likely unnecessary. 

CLA is commonly marketed as a fat-loss supplement. Unfortunately, as with most supplements with purported “fat-burning” effects, CLA appears to have minimal effects on actual weight loss.

Overall, you’re likely much better off prioritizing diet and exercise as opposed to relying on a supplement like CLA. With that being said, you may notice some minor benefits to this supplement – just don’t get your hopes up too high.

CLA Supplement in Hand

Does Cla Really Work for Weight Loss and Through What Mechanisms?

As mentioned above, the effectiveness of CLA for weight loss is debatable at best. While you may be interested in giving it a try, keep in mind it should not be used as a replacement for diet and exercise.

There are no supplements that will help you lose weight if you’re not also putting the effort in yourself! With that being said, what does the research say about CLA? 

First, in terms of the use of CLA in resistance-trained athletes, research suggests that supplementation will have no significant effects on training or body composition. 

One meta-analysis on the use of CLA for women found a small/moderate effect on reducing body weight over 6-16 weeks of consistent supplementation. While this shows there is the possibility of CLA being a beneficial supplement for fat loss, there is little other research with results this positive. 

A second meta-analysis determined that although CLA appeared to have minor effects on body weight and body fat reduction, results were not significant enough to be “clinically considerable”. While further research was recommended, there is some existing research that shows why CLA supplementation may not be ideal for obese individuals. 

Kettlebell Workout

One of the main concerns surrounding the use of CLA is that the use of this supplement appears to increase insulin resistance with consistent use. However, this was shown in an isomer-specific type of CLA, which is different from a standard supplement. Still, this risk factor makes it difficult to fully recommend the use of CLA for obese individuals without a doctor’s supervision. 

With all this being said, what are the mechanisms behind CLA’s use as a fat-loss supplement? Ultimately, the mechanisms behind CLA’s functions are based on its potential to increase basal metabolic rate. However, current research suggests that this is not true. Below we’ll be covering why CLA is thought to be beneficial as a fat-loss supplement, and whether this is accurate.

What Is the Function Behind CLA?

The way CLA appears to function on the body is quite complicated and is not fully understood. However, current research suggests that certain CLA isomers appear to increase lipolysis in adipocytes – or, in basic terms, increase the breakdown of stored fats in the body. 

It’s worth noting that much of the research done on CLA’s effects on fat loss was done in animals. Although many of these studies found significant changes to lipid metabolism, this cannot be extrapolated to humans. 

With all this being said, it’s unlikely that simply ingesting CLA without making any other significant lifestyle changes will result in significant amounts of fat loss. As a result, we recommend tempering your expectations if you choose to use CLA.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

How to Choose the Best CLA Supplement?

As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, CLA is certainly not a “miracle pill” for fat loss. While it may have some minor effects on fat loss, it likely won’t make a significant difference if you’re not also putting effort into proper diet and exercise. Especially considering some of the health risks associated with the supplement, it’s difficult to fully recommend. 

However, if you do choose to take a CLA supplement, there are a few things you should keep in mind which we’ll be covering below.

1. Look For Actual CLA Content

The first thing you’ll want to consider with any CLA supplement is how much actual CLA you’re getting per serving. Most of the products on our list source their CLA from Safflower Seed. Keep in mind that the amount of CLA will be lower than the total amount of CLA per serving. 

While most of the brands on our list show both of these numbers, be sure you’re aware of the difference so you know exactly how much CLA you’re taking. 

On top of this, we recommend avoiding supplements that contain CLA in a “proprietary blend”. It’s often difficult to know how much of a certain ingredient you’re getting in these blends. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any supplements that aren’t completely upfront about their ingredient doses.

2. Chose a Supplement From a Reputable Brand

Regardless of what supplement you’re buying, we always recommend choosing a reputable brand. Not only will longstanding brands typically have better quality-testing protocols and third-party certifications, they also often deliver better prices than smaller competitors.

While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, it’s usually a good idea to choose products from brands with an established reputation for delivering high-quality supplements to their customers.

Female Takes CLA Supplemental

3. Note That for the Potential Fat Loss Effect, a Daily Serving Should Be at Least 3g of CLA

CLA is unlikely to have a major effect on fat loss, regardless of dose. With the study done on resistance trained individuals using 6g/day, there was no noticeable effect. As a result, it’s difficult to recommend any specific dose.

However, if you’re interested in using CLA, some of the minor positive results mentioned above were shown with a dose of 3-4g. This is important to keep in mind, especially considering only 1 supplement on our list is effectively dosed at 3g.

There’s nothing wrong with supplements that come in lower doses, just keep in mind you will need to take more if you want to use CLA properly. Typically, taking 1 or 2 extra capsules will be enough to hit 3g depending on the product you choose.

How to Take CLA?

Before covering how to take CLA, we want to make it clear that this supplement is not for everybody. Beyond not being fully backed by scientific research, CLA has some side effects that may make it somewhat dangerous.

Before using this supplement, we strongly recommend consulting with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you. Especially with CLA potentially doing more harm than good, it’s important to exercise caution when trying this supplement out. 

Stretching Before Training

With that being said, if you are planning on using CLA, it is fairly straightforward. CLA typically comes in capsules or soft gels, so you can simply take them alongside a glass of water at some point in the day. Splitting up your dose throughout the day doesn’t appear to be necessary. 

Some of the products on our list suggest taking CLA alongside a meal. This is likely recommended to help with absorption, although it’s unlikely this will make a major difference.

If you experience minor side effects from CLA such as an upset stomach or nausea, taking it alongside food may help. We recommend ceasing use if you experience any serious side effects.

Be Aware of Potential Side Effects

Beyond standard mild CLA side effects associated with most dietary supplements (stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, etc.), there are a few major side effects associated with CLA you should be aware of before use. 

First, as mentioned earlier, isomer-specific CLA is associated with increased insulin resistance in obese people, which may lead to prediabetes. However, because this is a differnt form of CLA than standard supplementation, this shouldn’t be a major concern. 

Beyond this, another concerning side effect of CLA is that it may increase the risk of cardiovascular health problems mainly because of its effects on endothelial function. Similar to the above point about diabetes, obese people already have an elevated risk of cardiac issues, so they should exercise serious caution when using CLA. 

Overall, the combination of these potentially very serious side effects along with the lack of solid research backing CLA for fat loss makes it difficult to recommend the use of CLA, especially for obese people.

Bottle of CLA Supplemental

FAQ

Is CLA Supplement Worth Buying?

In our opinion, you’re likely better off saving your money rather than buying a CLA supplement for weight loss. While there does appear to be some very minor fat-loss effects associated with CLA, there are also numerous health risks associated with its use as well. 

At the end of the day, there are no supplements that will act as a substitute for good diet and exercise. Remember, the only way to lose weight is to eat in a consistent caloric deficit. 

Before trying any fat-loss supplements, we recommend putting in the effort to dial in your diet and commit to an exercise program.Your fat-loss results will likely be significantly better and more sustainable than what you’d get by just taking CLA.

Is CLA Better Than L-Carnitine?

Both CLA and L-Carnitine supplements are commonly marketed as fat-loss supplements, although neither is fully backed by science for this purpose. L-Carnitine, however, does appear to have some genuine benefits for athletes including improving recovery and improving exercise performance. 

While there are likely more effective supplements out there, L-Carnitine likely has more genuine applications for athletes when compared to CLA. For fat loss, however, neither supplement is likely to make a major difference.

Does CLA Help Burn Belly Fat?

While there is some minor evidence to suggest that CLA may help people lose total body fat, it is not likely to make a significant difference in weight loss when compared with a proper diet and exercise regimen. Especially if you’re planning on using a CLA supplement for belly fat reduction, you’re unlikely to notice any significant change. 

After all, there is no way to spot-reduce belly fat. The only way to lose belly fat is to lower your total body fat percentage, and the only way to do this is to eat in a consistent caloric deficit.

Conclusion

Overall, we don’t fully recommend the use of CLA as a weight loss supplement. There just isn’t enough evidence to support its use, and considering some of the health risks associated with its use, it appears it may end up doing more harm than good. 

With that being said, there is some minor evidence to suggest that CLA is beneficial for fat loss.  Keep in mind that these effects on fat loss will likely be small at best. If you are interested in trying this supplement, consider consulting with your doctor beforehand to make sure you’re being safe.

When buying CLA supplements, be sure you’re also purchasing from a high-quality brand. Our top pick for a solid and affordable CLA supplement comes from Bulk Supplements. We hope these CLA supplement reviews can help you make a more informed choice about whether CLA is right for you!

Have you ever tried CLA? Are there any other supplements you’ve tried for weight loss? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Also read:

References:

  1. Richard B Kreider, et. al, “Effects of Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplementation During Resistance Training on Body Composition, Bone Density, Strength, and Selected Hematological Markers,”  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 16(3):p 325-334, (2002).
  2. Handy Hamdallah, et. al, “Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Effect on Body Weight and Body Composition in Women (Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis).” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 79 (2020).
  3. Nazli Namazi, et. al, “The effects of supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid on anthropometric indices and body composition in overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 59(17): 2720-2733 (2019).
  4. Ulf Riserus, et. al, “Treatment with dietary trans10cis12 conjugated linoleic acid causes isomer-specific insulin resistance in obese men with the metabolic syndrome” Diabetes Care 25(9): 1516-21 (2002).
  5. Tatiana Ederich Lehnen, et. al, “A review on effects of conjugated linoleic fatty acid (CLA) upon body composition and energetic metabolism” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12; 36 (2015).

Why Trust Us?

With over 20 years in Olympic Weightlifting, our team does its best to provide the audience with ultimate support and meet the needs and requirements of advanced athletes and professional lifters, as well as people who strive to open new opportunities and develop their physical capabilities with us.

All products we select are primarily approved and tested by the Olympic Weightlifting Champion Oleksii Torokhtiy. Under his guidance, we provide honest and reasonable assessments of the products we review by checking their characteristics, packaging, design, comfort and durability features, and general product rating. We select products from only high-quality and trusted sports brands, thus vouching for their quality.

The product testing process is described in more detail here

Camila Parente Santos

Author: Camila Parente Santos
Nutrition and Sport Nutritionist

Experience: 7 years

Camila has worked as a Nutritionist for 7 years. In addition to being a nutritionist, she is an amateur weightlifting athlete for 2 years. Camila has experience at Flamengo’s football base and in a food supplement company and currently provides services at a clinic. At the moment she is coursing a postgraduate study in Sports Nutrition.

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Jacek Szymanowski

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance architect
,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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