CLA – does it work?

Diet supplements which contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) are often used as a support of body fat reduction. Such products receive various opinions, but they are rather perceived as being safe and contributing to slim shape and health. It turns out, however, that CLA has some disadvantages worth remembering about.

CLA – what is it?

Conjugated linoleic acid is an organic chemical compound, which belongs to the omega 6 family of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Although this compound is mainly known as an ingredient of supplements, which support losing weight, it is also present in food we eat. Its natural source is milk fat and beef.

The use of CLA in supplementation

In recent years CLA has been advertised as “the fat that slims down”, and it's easy to find multiple products containing this fatty acid. Various people, such as inactive physically ones, those who believe in “the magic power of pills”, amateur sportsmen and highly-qualified ones, expect positive influence of supplementation with this compound on the body fat reduction process. Additionally, CLA is sometimes presented as a compound, which “prevents from gathering spare fat” during excessive energy period. You can also hear about some pro-health properties of this fatty acid, which include positive influence on the lipid and glucose economy.

Efficiency of CLA in body fat reduction

Unfortunately, the evidence for the slimming properties of CLA have been poor so far, and it is mainly based on the results of experiments done on animals. Those done on people, where such effect was shown, are rather individual and their methodology is far from precise (small attempt, inacurate assessment of body composition), and the results achieved from those studies barely achieve the statistical significance threshold. In fact, the only experiment, which could show an interesting slimming potential of CLA, worth our attention is the one linked below:

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v31/n3/full/0803437a.html

That experiment lasted for half a year and tested 40 healthy people with excessive body weight. The participants were divided into two groups: the first one received CLA (3.2g), the other received placebo. At the end, the intervention group lost 1 kg of spare fat more than the control group. Perhaps the final result is not shocking, but it is worth noticing. It's good to know that when you want to assess the potential of particular substance, as well as its influence on human body, there is the necessity of doing more than one attempts, which may be considered as more reliable, because:

  • they have higher cardinality,

  • they last longer than six months.

The example of an experiment, in case of which the supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid caused no positive results within body mass and composition, is the study linked below:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/3/606.long