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CLA: The New Miracle Weight Loss Pill?

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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.

They were randomly assigned to three groups. The two groups taking CLA got either the typical off-the-shelf pills (4.5 grams of 80% CLA) daily or the syrup formulation (3.6 grams of 76% CLA disguised in a capsule) daily. The third group took a placebo capsule filled with olive oil daily.

Volunteers were not required to change their diet or exercise habits. However, a nurse did give dietary and exercise advice upon request. Daily calorie intake was similar among the three groups; all volunteers reduced their calorie intake a little during the study, he reports. All got about the same amount of exercise.

"This strongly suggests that the observed effects of CLA on body composition were independent of diet," he writes. The decreased calorie intake may be partly due to the supplements and/or a reduced appetite. Also, because volunteers kept a food diary, they "learned" to cut food intake.

Several times during the 12-month study period, volunteers came to a clinic to have their weight, BMI, and blood checked. They also completed questionnaires on their diet and exercise in the previous two weeks.

At the end of one year:

  • Both CLA groups lost weight -- about 4 pounds; the placebo group stayed the same.
  • The CLA syrup group had a 9% body fat loss; the CLA pill group had 7% loss; the placebo group had no body fat loss.

  • Both CLA groups had similar improvements in muscle mass.

As for the weight loss, "any weight loss is better than no weight loss -- and at least they didn't gain weight," Moore says. "But I'm interested in the fact that CLA is found naturally in certain foods [like beef, lamb, and dairy products]. Do we really need to take a supplement?"

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