Is There a New Fat Loss Miracle on the Horizon?

For the past several years one subject has been coming up quite often and has really started to be quite a hot topic. The subject is a fat known as CLA which stands for Conjugated Linoleic Acid. According to the rumors this stuff will cure cancer, lower your cholesterol and decrease your body fat especially around the middle all at one time. Kind of like the superman of fats.

It was about 1990 when I first heard about the benefits of CLA, but there were much more pressing matters at the time. Several years later I read some short articles in a couple of Natural Health Journals. It seems that CLA was being tested in the treatment of certain cancers and that the side effect was a loss of weight. The studies then were far too small to be considered acceptable proof of much of anything other than the stuff warranted further study. At that time most people were wondering what would happen to ephedra, so little attention was paid to CLA.

What is CLA?

CLA, Conjugated Linoleic Acid is actually a mixture of positional or geometric isomers of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid. Apparently there are a number of different isomers and most studies have used mixed isomers. The fact that these studies used mixed isomers may have contributed to the differences in results of the various studies. Certain isomers seem to be more active than others.

Some problems in verifying the research may also lie in the possibility that different isomers of CLA have different physiological effects on the body and may react differently in obese as opposed to "normal" weight individuals.

CLA has been said to be useful in weight loss, cardiovascular disease prevention, diabetes, and cancer treatment. For our purposes here we will only discuss whether or not it works for weight loss and especially fat loss.

Does it work?

It would appear that there is some validity to the claims that CLA reduces body fat and that CLA can be a good supplement to assist in fat loss for the overweight and obese person. More and more studies have been done and are being done and it would seem that CLA comes out on top each time. In fact I haven't yet seen a study which disputes the claim of earlier researchers that CLA reduces bodyfat. It also would appear from many studies that it appears to help most with abdominal bodyfat.

I have seen such noted names as Josh Bezoni, and Dr. Williams write articles in favor of CLA, and I have to agree with their opinion at this point.

The most common method of obtaining CLA is by purchasing it as a supplement, however blue, brie, Edam, and Swiss Cheeses are also good sources of CLA. I read that beef from Australia contain a higher level of CLA since these cattle graze on open range. If this is true then it may follow that the beef from Arizona and New Mexico would also have higher levels since there is more open range in that area of the US. I have not seen any data that would indicate that.

CLA can be purchased at most health food stores and on line at VitaCost and other online stores. Be sure to get the highest quality from a company you know and trust.

Below are the results of some studies I found in the Micromedix files at the hospital where I work.

A. IMPORTANT NOTE

1. The dosing of dietary supplements is highly dependent on a variety of factors such as quality of raw materials, manufacturing process and packaging. Since no official standards have been established to date to regulate the production of dietary supplements in the United States, dosage ranges must be employed as guidelines only.

B. ORAL Dose

1. WEIGHT LOSS: 1.4 grams to 6.8 grams daily. The average dose is 4.2 grams daily (Mougios et al, 2001; Riserus et al, 2001; Smedman & Vessby, 2001; Blankson et al, 2000).

a. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) 0.7 grams daily for four weeks followed by 1.4 grams daily for four weeks reduced body fat percentages by 5% to 6% in 22 adult volunteers during the higher dose supplementation period. A significant decrease in the sum of thickness of ten skinfold measurements and percentage body fat and fat mass was observed during the period of 1.4 grams CLA daily as compared to placebo (p less than 0.001). None of these parameters changed significantly during the entire study period, nor were any significant differences in any anthropometric parameters found between the treatment and control groups. A significant decrease in HDL-cholesterol (p = 0.0056), as well as a trend toward lower triacylglycerols and total cholesterol, was observed during the low CLA period (Mougios et al, 2001).

b. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) significantly reduced sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD) as compared with placebo in a double- blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 24 abdominally obese men. Subjects received 4.2 grams CLA daily or placebo (olive oil). After four weeks of supplementation, a significant reduction in abdominal adipose tissue was seen in the subjects treated with CLA (p = 0.041). Other measurements of anthropometry or metabolism showed no significant differences between the two groups (Riserus et al, 2001).

c. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) decreased body fat by 3.8% in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Body weight, body mass index (BMI), and sagittal abdominal diameter were unchanged. Fifty-three nonobese, normolipidemic subjects received CLA 4.2 grams daily or placebo (olive oil) for 12 weeks. No differences were noted in serum lipoproteins, nonesterified fatty acids, or plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1). A trend toward increased glucose levels was seen in the CLA-treated group as compared to the control group. The diverging results of this study, as compared to others, could be due to the use of different isomers or differing effects of CLA on obese as compared to normal weight individuals (Smedman & Vessby, 2001).

d. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) significantly reduced body fat mass in a twelve week, randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled study of 60 overweight or moderately obese individuals. Subjects received placebo (9 grams olive oil daily) or CLA 1.7, 3.4, 5.1 or 6.8 grams daily in addition to olive oil to bring the total fatty acid intake to 9 grams daily. After twelve weeks of treatment, no group showed a significant reduction in weight or body mass index (BMI). However, a significant reduction in body fat mass (BFM) was seen with CLA 3.4 grams (p = 0.05) and 6.8 grams daily (p = 0.02). A trend in all CLA groups was seen toward increased lean body mass (LBM) but this was only significant with CLA 6.8 grams daily (p less than or equal to 0.05). Since subjects were exposed to either light or intensive exercise training during the course of the study, the authors point out that it is difficult to distinguish if the increase in LBM was due to CLA or training activities (Blankson et al, 2000). References:

Basu S, Riserus U, Turpeinen A et al: Conjugated linoleic acid induces lipid peroxidation in men with abdominal obesity. Clin Sci (Lond) 2000; 99(6):511-516

Blankson H, Stakkestad J, Fagertum H et al: Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans. J Nutr 2000; 130(12):2943-2948

Mougios V, Matsakas A, Petridou A et al: Effect of supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid on human serum lipids and body fat. J Nutr Bio 2001; 12:585-594.

Smedman A & Vessby B: Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation in humans-metabolic effects. Lipids 2001; 36(8):773-780

Conclusion:

CLA appears to be an effective supplement to assist in the loss of bodyfat. It could be a good addition though not a substitute for a quality nutrition and exercise program.

Disclaimer:

This report should in no way be considered medical advice. The suggestions and/or techniques described in this report are for informational purposes only. If you are ill or injured you should see your primary healthcare professional immediately.

About the author:

Jerry Goodwin has been certified as a Medical Technologist since 1977. He is also certified as a Personal Trainer, Cardiovascular Trainer and Medical exer-therapist. He is a Veteran of the US Navy having served during the Viet Nam era. Jerry also served in the Army National Guard in Ohio, Texas, Kansas and Georgia as a field medic with Infantry, Armored Cavalry, Artillery and Mechanized Infantry Units. He has earned several medals including the Army Commendation Medal. Jerry is the editor of Body Mind and Goals Ezine and the owner of BMG Services Fitness and Nutrition at http://www.bmgfitness.com

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