CLA supplements may help dieters keep weight off

August 22, 2000 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, Weight Management

CLA supplements may help dieters keep weight off

Dieters who agonize over losing weight only to gain it back when they stop the diet may soon get a break in their battle of the bulge. Results from the first human trials of the popular dietary supplement conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) suggest that it may reduce the amount of fat dieters regain after they have lost weight by promoting muscle gain over fat.

"Fat cells want to get big, what CLA appears to do is block this step," said Dr. Michael Pariza, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. CLA forces fat cells to stay small, perhaps by inhibiting the key enzymes that cause fat cells to grow. Dr. Pariza presented the results of his research on CLA here at the American Chemical Society meeting.

Researchers put 71 obese individuals on a reduced-calorie diet and a moderate exercise program. One group of 35 people took about three grams of the dietary supplement CLA daily--one gram at each meal--while the other group took a sunflower oil placebo. Not surprisingly, both groups lost weight after six months, about five pounds total.

CLA did not contribute to weight loss. Instead, when the dieters stopped dieting and gained back weight, those taking CLA were more likely to gain muscle and not fat. Unless you are a serious weight lifter, most people who put on pounds generally gain about three times more fat than muscle.

Those taking the CLA supplement, however, added fat to muscle in nearly equal proportions. The results suggest that CLA may prove most beneficial as a weight management aid. There were no adverse side effects measured in those taking the supplement. In fact, the researchers noted that those taking CLA experienced less depression, and upset stomachs.

CLA, which occurs naturally in dairy products and meat but not in the amounts the researchers used in their study, grew in popularity in 1996. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements and Pariza and other researchers at the chemical society meeting say it's 'buyer beware' when it comes to CLA. Previously, researchers that looked at 27 brands of "CLA" found that at least two did not contain any CLA. Buy products that contain TONALIN, a branded, high quality form of CLA.

In another study conducted at Purdue University in Indiana, CLA was shown to help control type 2 diabetes. Insulin levels in people with this type of diabetes are often excessive as the body loses its sensitivity to the hormone, which processes glucose. In the study, 64% of 22 patients with the disease showed improvement in their insulin levels over an eight-week test. Patients who took CLA showed a moderately reduced fasting blood glucose level.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.