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Can CLA Help You Lose Weight?

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

New research published in the International Journal of Obesity reveals that losing weight and reducing body fat could be as easy as taking a daily CLA supplement.

The US study set out to investigate whether conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – a type of fatty acid that’s sometimes used in over-the-counter slimming pills – could reduce body fat in overweight adults.

The study included 40 overweight adults aged between 18 and 44 years with a BMI of 25-30. For six months, the adults either took supplements of CLA or a placebo (a pill that contains no active ingredient). During this time, the adults were asked not to change their diets.

The researchers found that over six months, those adults taking CLA lost significantly more body fat and weight than those taking the placebo.

Overall, those taking the CLA lost 0.6kg in weight and dropped one percent of fat whereas those taking the placebo gained 1.1kg in weight and gained 0.2 percent of fat.

That’s not all. During November and December (the US holiday season), those adults taking the placebo gained more weight than those adults taking CLA.

The researchers conclude that CLA supplements may help to prevent weight gain associated with the holiday period and over a six month period may help overweight adults to lose weight and body fat.

WLR says:

This is certainly an interesting study but it only included a small number of people so the results need to be interpreted with caution. It would be interesting to see if the results are repeated with a much larger group of people.

Conjugated linoleic acid is a type of fatty acid that’s found in meat and milk.

In the last decade, many studies have looked at the role CLA may play in aiding weight loss. So far, studies on animals have revealed that CLA does reduce body fat. But to date, studies on humans have been inconsistent. Nevertheless, CLA is available in supplement form and is often an ingredient in over-the-counter slimming pills.

It’s particularly interesting that this study looked at weight gain during holiday periods. Research shows that small amounts of weight gained on holiday often stay with us and are never lost. Over time, these extra few pounds gained every holiday add up to a considerable amount of excess weight. Furthermore, overweight and obese adults seem to be particularly susceptible to gaining weight during holidays.

It’s unlikely that CLA supplements will ever take the place of eating a reduced-calorie diet and taking more exercise when it comes to losing weight safely and sensibly. However, it’s certainly worth watching this space to see what future research reveals.

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