QUESTION: How do you feel about CLA? I have a client that may want to use it, and I was just wondering if you recommend it?

ANSWER: CLA, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, has been making a few headlines as a fat burner, and those headlines use to all-too-common words, "research has proven." More accurately, those headlines would suggest "some research leads to maintaining a suspicion that oral ingestion of CLA might play a role in accelerating fat loss." The problem is, that type of approach doesn't sell as much product as "Research Has Proven."

There were a number of studies that indicated there might be some link between oral CLA and fat loss. Most involved animals. One such study did deal with exercising humans and did attempt to measure bodyfat. There wasn't, however, a control group that used another form of linoleic acid, and there isn't any question that EFA's (alpha linolenic acid a linoleic acid) play a role in fat mobilization. Perhaps the CLA filled in an EFA gap in the experimental group's nutrition and that same gap might have been filled in by oral ingestion of flaxseed oil.

Another study actually did a comparison where the control group used an unsaturated fat, olive oil, but in my opinion, that wasn't a revealing comparison. Olive is a good source of Omega 9 fatty acids, but NOT of linoleic acid. If linoleic acid is a contributor to fat release, the research should compare CLA to flaxseed oil for a more definitive conclusion on the actual value of CLA.

The problem with the words "research has proven" is compounded by the fact that supplement sellers will only share research that appears to lend some credence to their offerings. In another study, "Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplementation in Humans," no discernible changes in body composition were noted. Personally I'm not sold on CLA. It's expensive. The preponderance of available evidence seem to suggest that it isn't a bodybuilding or fat loss aid.

Switching the focus away from body reshaping, if your client wants to take it for health reasons, there has been some promising research to suggest that CLA has anti-carcinogenic properties. Other research suggests it might act as an aid for those suffering Type II diabetes.

Why, if it's more proven in other areas is it sold for fat loss? Only because so many people are in quest of precisely that. To capitalize on the want, supplement sellers have learned to strategically create rumors of the ingestion of their products being the great new fat loss salvation. There is in fact one certain path to healthful fat loss and it doesn't come in a bottle. Eat supportively and train effectively.

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