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Ranking the best conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplements of 2022

Written by John Davis

Last updated: September 21, 2022

Conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA for short, is a weight loss and health-promoting supplement that’s derived from a type of protein that’s in dairy and meat.  

It’s an all-natural supplement that’s perfectly suited for burning fat, building muscle, and improving cardiovascular health. CLA is widely used both among athletes and bodybuilders as well as regular people looking to shed some weight.

Looking for a great CLA product to add to your supplement stack? We’ve researched the best conjugated linoleic acid supplements on the market–here’s what our research team came up with.

Why You Should Trust Us

    Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.

At A Glance
our top picks for conjugated linoleic acid
  1. Best Overall: Essential Elements CLA
  2. Best for weight loss: VitaBalance CLA 2000
  3. Best for bodybuilding: NatureWise Elite CLA 1300
  4. Best for vegans: Sports Research Max Potency CLA 1250
  5. Vitamorph Labs CLA 3000

Rankings

Last updated: September 21, 2022
CLA supplements considered: 24
Hours of research: 45
Experts reviewed: 21
Scientific papers referenced: 44

IMAGE PRODUCT
1. Essential Elements CLA
  • Derived from the most premium, non-GMO safflower oil in the world
  • 3000mg per serving
  • One of the most potent CLA supplements on the market
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2. VitaBalance CLA 2000
  • It is an all-natural formula
  • It gives you a full 2,000mg of conjugated linoleic acid from safflower seed oil
  • No harmful additives and no impurities
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3. NatureWise Elite CLA 1300
  • Pure CLA supplement
  • Delivers 1300 mg of 95% pure conjugated linoleic acid per capsule
  • It’s certified non-GMO
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4. Sports Research Max Potency CLA 1250
  • It’s got 95% pure conjugated linoleic acid per capsule
  • Derived from non-GMO safflower oil
  • Comes in a veggie cellulose capsule
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5. Vitamorph Labs CLA 3000
  • Highest-dose CLA supplement out there
  • Each serving has 3000 mg of fatty acids
  • It’s 80% pure
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6. NatureWise CLA 1250
  • Each capsule contains 780 mg of conjugated linoleic acids
  • Has other fats like (unconjugated) linoleic acid and oleic acid
  • Gluten-free
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7. Sports Research PLant-Based CLA 1250
  • Standardized to 80% CLA
  • It is 100% vegan
  • Non-GMO verified
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8. Nature’s Design CLA
  • Each capsule delivers 780 mg of CLA
  • 100% Natural
  • Excellent purity
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9. MusclePharm CLA Core
  • It reduces fat mass without reducing muscle mass
  • Combination of conjugated linoleic acid, olive oil, and avocado oil
  • Each capsule delivers 1000 mg of oils
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10. The Vitamin Shoppe Tonalin CLA
  • Provides 780 mg of actual CLA per soft gel
  • Easy-to-take
  • Supports healthy weight management
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1. Essential Elements CLA

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CLA boosts muscle strength and stamina while lowering rates of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Trouble is, your body doesn’t produce CLA on its own, which means you must take a supplement to enjoy all these benefits. Enter Essential Elements CLA.

Essential Elements CLA is derived from the most premium, non-GMO safflower oil in the world to help melt fat like butter in a microwave. At 3000mg per serving, it is also one of the most potent CLA supplements on the market.

Free of most common allergens, and third party lab tested for purity, this is Alpha XR’s all-around CLA winner of 2022.

3. NatureWise Elite CLA 1300

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If you want a pure CLA supplement you can trust, NatureWise is the way to go.  The NatureWise CLA supplement delivers 1300 mg of 95% pure conjugated linoleic acid per capsule, so it really packs a punch.  

It’s certified non-GMO, so it doesn’t use genetically modified ingredients, and is guaranteed to be free of common food allergens.  It uses a gelatin softgel, so strict vegetarians and vegans will have to look elsewhere.  

The amount of capsules per bottle is only sixty, so you’ll have to reorder often if you are regularly taking multi-gram doses.

3. Sports Research Max Potency CLA 1250

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Sports Research offers two forms of CLA, but the kind you want to get is the Max Potency version. It’s got 95% pure conjugated linoleic acid per capsule, derived from non-GMO safflower oil, and it comes in a veggie cellulose capsule.  

Each serving provides 1187 mg of actual CLA (95% of 1250).  It also has no extraneous oils or fillers; you are getting pretty much pure conjugated linoleic acid, save for a few binders and stabilizers.  

If all you care about is high-dose CLA, this is one of the best products on the market.

4. Purity Labs CLA 4500

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Purity Labs packs a serious punch: this CLA supplement delivers 1500 mg of conjugated linoleic acid per capsule, with nothing in the way as far as extraneous ingredients.

Add to that a non-GMO certification and rave reviews from users, and you’re looking at one of the top CLA supplements on the market. It is the perfect choice for people who want a serious, hard-hitting CLA supplement thanks to its best-in-class dosage and purity.

5. BulkSupplements CLA Softgels

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BulkSupplements has long been renowned as the king of loose powder for DIY supplement makers, but they’ve recently branched into pre-packaged capsules and gels, as is the case with their CLA supplement.

The super pure formulation and solid 1000 mg dosage makes it an excellent choice if you want a no-nonsense, ultra-clean conjugated linoleic acid supplement.

6. Vitamorph Labs CLA 3000

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Vitamorph markets itself as the highest-dose CLA supplement out there, but there’s a little more to it than that.  Each serving has 3000 mg of fatty acids in it, but a serving is two softgels, not one.  And it’s only 80% pure, not the 95% that’s the standard among the top-tier CLA supplements.  

Now, all that being said, it’s still not bad—the dose is plenty high enough to get the job done.  But don’t let the number on the label trick you: this isn’t your best bet when it comes to big doses.

7. Sheer Strength Labs CLA 1500 for Women

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Sheer Strength Labs is a decent option if you want a reasonably-high dose CLA supplement with a pretty clean formulation. At 1500 mg per capsule the raw safflower seed oil content is good, though the actual CLA content is only 80% of that. On both the purity front and the quality front, it gets outclassed by some of its competitors.

8. Evlution Nutrition CLA 1000

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Evlution makes a safflower oil-derived CLA that is pretty solid in terms of dosage and purity. It does end up a bit lower in the rankings just because it doesn’t have many strong points that distinguish it from the crowd.

Other products boast independent purity testing, higher dosages per capsule, GMO-free ingredients, or other perks, and Evlution can’t quite match up on these fronts.

9. Horbaach CLA

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Horbaach is usually a pretty reliable source for simple and effective supplements, but their CLA formulation leaves a bit to be desired.

At 1000 mg of CLA per capsule, it’s outclassed by some of its competitors, and the actual CLA content only hovers around 80%, versus 95% in some of our top picks.

This might be fine if it had a super clean formulation, but there’s a touch too many additives to these capsules for our liking, which is why they end up further down in the rankings

10. Nature’s Bounty Tonalin

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Nature’s Bounty makes a simple, fairly low-dose CLA supplement with a proprietary version of CLA from safflower oil that’s around 80% CLA.

Though it’s popular, there are definitely better options on the market both from a purity and a dosage perspective.

Category winners

Best CLA overall: Essential Elements CLA

Packing 1000 mg of CLA per capsule, with zero extraneous ingredients, Essential Elements is a clear overall winner: high dose and high efficacy makes it our top pick.

Best CLA for weight loss: NatureWise Elite CLA 1300VitaBalance CLA 2000

With the highest effective dosage of CLA on the market, NatureWise provides an exceptionally pure form of conjugated linoleic acid that’s well-suited for use as a weight loss supplement. If you need CLA for shedding excess body fat, look no further.

Best CLA for heart health: Essential Elements CLA

For heart health, you want something with a solid dosage and good quality control. Essential Elements is perfect on both fronts.

Best CLA for bodybuilding: NatureWise Elite CLA 1300

Bodybuilders will naturally need a higher dose of CLA. Fortunately for them, NatureWise Elite CLA provides the highest single-capsule dose on the market, making it an easy choice for bodybuilders looking to cut fat.

Best CLA for vegans: Sports Research CLA 1250

Vegans can have a tough time getting enough CLA, given that it’s most often found in red meat and cow’s milk. Sports Research CLA 1250 is a great alternative: it uses vegan-friendly sources to provide a CLA supplement that’s free of animal products, both in the CLA itself and in the capsule. 

Best high-dosage CLA: NatureWise Elite CLA 1300

Looking for the highest-dose CLA supplement on the market? NatureWise Elite CLA 1300 is the way to go. While other supplements achieve a higher per-serving dose by recommending more capsules, nobody packs more CLA into each individual capsule than NatureWise. It’s our pick for rapidly boosting your body’s CLA supply. 

Who should buy CLA?

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is useful for reducing body fat, improving immunity, and reducing certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease (specifically blood lipids). Thanks to these benefits, CLA is a great pick for the following groups: 

Athletes looking to cut body fat. For sports with weigh-ins, or for any athletic endeavor where lean body mass confers an advantage, CLA is a simple and all-natural addition to a supplement stack that can push your metabolism towards shedding more fat and retaining muscle.

Bodybuilders on a cutting cycle. For many of the same reasons, CLA is widely favored among bodybuilders. Even when you are aggressively cutting weight, CLA can help retain muscle and accelerate fat loss. Moreover, since it’s a natural derivative of dairy, it’s less likely to interact with any of the other compounds in your supplementation stack.

People looking to lose weight to improve heart health. CLA’s weight loss benefits extend to regular people too, and moreover, it doesn’t just help you shed fat–research indicates that CLA can also improve your cardiovascular health, potentially helping to reduce your long-term risk for heart disease.  

How we ranked

CLA is a pretty simple compound. So, to formulate our rankings of the best brands of CLA available, we applied some pretty strict criteria.

Hyper-focused on conjugated linoleic acid. First off, we only included supplements whose primary active ingredients included CLA.

Many generic weight loss pills use CLA, but it’s often positioned far down in a laundry list of different ingredients for weight loss. We didn’t even consider these products for our rankings. Our products had to be CLA-only. 

Effective dosage. We evaluated the remaining products on their dosage, and the ease with which you could use them to match the doses used in clinical research (between three and six grams, or 3000-6000 mg). We dropped supplements with less than 1000 mg of CLA since this dosage was too low to be practically useful. 

High bioavailability and puritySince CLA is soluble in oil, we also looked to see if the capsules supplied a high quality oil as a delivery mechanism for the CLA.

We also accounted for the fraction of CLA in the oil itself: often this could be as low as 70% or as high as 95%. For our rankings, the higher the better.

Clean supplement design. Finally, we applied our usual criteria for purity and clean supplement design: we looked for products that used good manufacturing processes and ideally products that were tested for purity by a third-party independent laboratory.

We penalized or completely eliminated products that had extra binders and fillers, or that leaned on GMO ingredients.

After these stratification and elimination steps, we were left with our rankings of the highest quality CLA supplements available right now. 

FAQ

Q: Is CLA a fat burner?

A: Much of the attention shined on CLA is the result of animal studies which have demonstrated remarkable fat burning effects.

One study published in 2000 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition summarized the results of several experiments (1): animals fed a diet that was high in CLA exhibited an increase in fat oxidation, but no synthesis of new fat molecules.

Inferring from these results, it must have been the case that CLA stimulated a “fat burning” effect in the animals. However, it’s more controversial whether these results translate to humans.

Q: Can CLA reduce your appetite? 

A: Research in the Journal of Nutrition by researchers in Norway, has found that CLA can reduce body fat content in overweight and obese test subjects by reducing feelings of hunger (2).

Other research has been conflicting, with no effects found in another study (3). The jury is definitely still out on CLA’s utility as a fat burner, but compared to many of the other options on the market, it has a pretty attractive safety profile. 

Q: Does CLA help you lose weight? 

A: CLA is a popular weight loss supplement primarily because some researchers believe that it can stimulate fat oxidation and limit body fat gain.

While its effects, even in successful studies, have been relatively small, it’s found a niche as a safe and potentially useful fat burner that is easy to supplement into your diet.

The risk-benefit trade off is pretty good when you compare CLA to other weight loss supplements; in fact, it’s one of our top-rated natural weight loss supplements for precisely this reason.

Q: What is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)? 

A: Conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA for short, is a specific type of fatty acid. Technically, a whole family of fatty acid molecules fall under the umbrella of CLA; these molecules are formed by the slow digestion process that happens in the stomach of grazing ruminants like sheep and cattle.

They all share the same nutritional and biochemical properties, as far as researchers can tell. CLA might be responsible for some of the controversy over whether dairy and red meat consumption is healthy or not.

Some compounds that are found in animal products have been connected with negative health effects like heart disease and cancer, but some nutritionists think that CLA could combat or reverse these negative effects, making red meat and dairy products neutral or even beneficial for your health (4).

Isolating CLA could allow you to take advantage of its ability to help you shed fat, boost your immune system, and improve your blood lipid levels. 

Q: How is CLA made? 

A: CLA is found naturally in dairy and red meat (especially when it’s grass-fed), but the CLA in supplements is more economical to produce by chemically modifying regular fatty acids found in vegetable oils.

While this approach is not as natural as getting CLA from cheese, butter, or grass-fed beef, it does have the advantage of being vegan and vegetarian-friendly (just watch out for gelatin capsules, which are derived from animal products). 

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Recap

CLA is a great supplement for dropping body fat, improving your blood lipid profile, and boosting the function of your body’s immune system.

Most scientific studies use daily dosages of three to six grams of supplemental CLA per day, sometimes split into multiple doses.

In rare cases, larger doses of CLA have been associated with nausea and diarrhea, but for the vast majority of people, CLA is a safe supplement that’s easy to add to your daily routine, whether you’re an athlete looking to cut fat and retain muscle, or a regular person looking to shed a few pounds and get healthier. 

For Alpha XR‘s #1 CLA recommendation, click here.

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