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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