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A Good Fat to Lose Fat

Written by: Tom Nikkola – Director of Nutrition & Weight Management

Recently, the type of fat that has received the most attention has been Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Another healthy fat sometimes overlooked is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Unfortunately, the average diet today contains a very small amount of, if any CLA. The best dietary source of CLA in the diet from beef and dairy products. However, commercial beef and dairy contains very small amounts. Cows fed commercial diets such as grains and soy produce meat and dairy with minimal amounts of CLA. Although grains and soy are a much cheaper way to feed cattle, they are not their natural diet. When cows are fed their natural diet of grass, they produce three to five times as much CLA. As the fear of consuming some dietary fat has begun to fade, more people are understanding the nutritional value in consuming higher-fat dairy products and some red meat. The key to getting the nutritional value, though, is ensuring the meat and dairy comes from grass-fed cows.

Does this mean you have to consume animal products to get your daily CLA needs met? Not necessarily. Some nutritional supplements such as LeanSource do contain CLA. They can be a great way to help ensure you are consuming enough CLA on a daily basis.

CLA Benefits

Studies have shown some positive results from CLA supplementation. In human and animal studies, it has been shown to support the reduction in body fat. CLA has been used for reducing body fat since the mid-90's. While supporting fat loss, it also appears to help in maintaining lean body mass, which is a great benefit for those looking to "tone up" or look more defined. It supports fat loss without affecting the nervous system, so it will not leave you feeling jittery the way some "fat burner" ingredients might.

Another benefit of CLA may be the reduction in the risk of cancer. Research on animals has provided very favorable results. While it is not as practical to do a study on humans to compare its effect on cancer, the animal studies are very promising.

The common dosage for CLA is about four grams per day. It would be easier to attain the suggested daily amounts by regularly selecting meat and dairy from grass-fed cattle instead of commercial cattle. Supplementation can be another way to help increase daily CLA intake. Most studies show it takes about three weeks of use to begin seeing a reduction in body fat.

Of course, CLA is not "the" answer to reducing body fat or losing weight. It is another tool to support weight loss. It can enhance the results of a proper diet, but cannot make up for a poor diet. In the end, choosing the highest-quality food, and ensuring you regularly take high-quality core supplements such as your multivitamins and fish oil, is the best way to support weight management. In choosing the best-quality food, you will likely increase your daily CLA intake as well. Once you are on the right track, it may be worth considering a CLA-containing supplement to help support faster changes.


Life Extension Media. Disease Prevention and Treatment. Life Extesion Media. Hollywood, FL. 2003

Eat Wild. What is CLA?

Thom E, Wadstein J, Gudmundsen O. Conjugated Linoleic Acid Reduces Body Fat in Healthy Exercising Humans. Jour In Med Res. 2001;29:392-396

Riserus U, Berglund L, Vessby. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduced abdominal adipose tissue in obese middle-aged men with signs of the metabolic syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Aug; 25(8):1129-35

Gaullier J, Halse J, Hoye K, Kristiansen K, Fagertun H, Vik H, Gudmundsen O. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79:1118-25

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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