Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

CLA: The New Miracle Weight Loss Pill?


WebMD Health News

May 20, 2004 -- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a contender for the weight-loss miracle pill. One group of overweight women lost 9% body fat in one year's time. Not bad, since they didn't change their lifestyle or eating habits.

"We really believe this is promising," lead researcher Jean-Michel Gaullier, PhD, with the Scandinavian Clinical Research Group, tells WebMD. His study appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"It is the first time we have looked at the effects of CLA on body composition to get unequivocal results," he says.

But here's one concern: The volunteers taking CLA had changes in certain heart disease risk factors. But Gaullier tells WebMD that the changes seen in cholesterol level and blood sugar levels were not significant.

However, the findings warrant further investigation, says Cindy Moore, MS, RD, director of nutrition therapy at The Cleveland Clinic and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She agreed to comment on Gaullier's findings.

"The impact [of CLA] on heart disease and diabetes needs to be investigated further," Moore tells WebMD. "This is what science is all about, piecing together studies that provide the bigger, broader picture."

What Is CLA?

CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in meat and dairy products. It is also a popular dietary supplement that is sold with claims of helping people lose fat, maintain weight loss, retain lean muscle mass, and control type 2 diabetes -- the type of diabetes that is often associated with obesity.

In health food stores, CLA is sold as a pill or as a syrup. The syrup tastes pretty good and can be mixed with food, Gaullier tells WebMD. "But if you break the capsules apart and try to mix it with yogurt, it tastes very bad. It has a very bitter taste."

CLA comes in varying concentrations. Be sure to buy a product containing 80% CLA to get maximum weight-loss results, he says.

In small studies involving animals, CLA has been shown to prevent heart disease and several types of cancer, Gaullier says. It also appears to enhance the immune system.

Smaller studies of CLA's effectiveness in weight loss have shown some contradictory results -- possibly because they used body fat scales to measure improvements, and those scales are not very accurate, he tells WebMD. In his study, Gaullier used a body-scanning technology called DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry). "It is very accurate in measuring body fat," he tells WebMD.

His is the first long-term study of CLA's safety and effectiveness in weight loss.

Some Weight Loss, Excellent Body Fat Loss

Gaullier's study involved 180 overweight men and women, all between 25 and 30 BMI (body mass index). A BMI -- an indicator of body fat -- over 25 has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other medical problems, such as diabetes. The volunteers were mostly female -- 149 women and 31 men.

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
Woman trying clothes / dress
Assessment
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens
 

Special Sections