Professor Earl Mindell believes that our nation's obesity can be partly traced to our diet's lack of conjugated linoleic acid, a lacking that is ironically caused by our obsession with dieting. Professor Mindell calls this the "American Paradox": "Although dieting is the national pastime, Americans are actually getting fatter. In fact, one out of three Americans is obese, which is defined as 30 percent above their ideal body weight.
Some scientists believe that in our quest to lose weight, we are not eating enough fat, or at least not the right kind of fat. The fat that is missing from our diet is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is found in red meat, lamb, and dairy products. Although these foods contain some of this good fat, they do not get a clean bill of health, since they are very high in calories and are also packed with saturated fat, which can promote cancer and heart disease. In other words, people who are struggling with obesity have to add more CLA to their diets, otherwise they will be, in Dr. Howenstine's words, "trapped with an inability to lose weight despite their best intentions to diet."
In addition to America's preoccupation with dieting, our abundance of processed foods also leads to our nationwide lack of CLA. The processing techniques manufacturers use strip the CLA right out of the foods we eat. Without CLA, many aspects of our metabolism fail to operate efficiently, as Mark Stengler explains in Natural Physician's Healing Therapies. "It (CLA) helps glucose get into muscle cells more effectively, thus preventing glucose from being converted into fat. It also helps fats enter the cell membranes of muscle and connective tissue, where the fat is burned for fuel."
Why do we need CLA so badly? According to Dr. Howenstine, human beings are not able to convert enough linoleic acid into conjugated linoleic acid. If we do not have enough CLA in our bodies, all our dietary fat will be stored as the physical fat that you see on your problem areas, rather than converted into muscle.
Animal studies have long demonstrated the connection between CLA deficiency and obesity, but many people were not ready to believe the link until it could be verified by human studies. Finally, at the 2000 national meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists unveiled the long-awaited results of the first human studies and declared that CLA supplements may help overweight adults lose weight and maintain that loss. However, it is important to note that in one such human study, for example, each person only lost an average of two to four pounds per year. Those results are not exactly astounding, so do CLA supplements actually help you lose weight?
The Health Ranger posed that very question in his August 2004 article on CLA supplements. His conclusion was no, not enough weight: "You can lose far more weight than that on a monthly basis by simply altering your lifestyle choices: avoiding refined carbohydrates, getting natural sunlight, engaging in regular physical exercise and supplementing your diet with superfoods and other forms of outstanding nutrition. In fact, most people will lose one to two pounds of body fat per week by making these changes. So two to four pounds of body fat loss in a year is hardly something to get excited about."
Now, you could just increase your intake of CLA-rich foods – red meat, lamb and dairy products – to lose weight, but then you would fall back into the American paradox and also experience an increased risk in colon cancer, heart disease and other diseases associated with these foods. You could also take CLA supplements and lose a meager two to four pounds per year, but your best bet is to take the Health Ranger's advice and make some lifestyle and diet changes. CLA supplements are not a magic pill and they are never, ever a substitute for exercise and a healthy, balanced diet, but they can certainly complement healthy lifestyle decisions and offer some small amount of assistance in weight loss.
The fat that is missing from our diet is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is found in red meat, lamb, and dairy products. Although these foods contain some of this good fat, they do not get a clean bill of health, since they are very high in calories and are also packed with saturated fat, which can promote cancer and heart disease.
Earl Mindell's Supplement Bible by Earl Mindell RPh PhD, page 32
Hyperinsulinemia also causes obesity. Overweight individuals are trapped with an inability to lose weight despite their best intentions to diet. Nothing will be accomplished until their conjugated linoleic acid levels or hyperinsulinemia are corrected, so that fat can be burned instead of stored.
A Physicians Guide To Natural Health Products That Work By James Howenstine MD, page 145
Food processing partly responsible for lack of CLA
Human beings are unable to convert linoleic acid into the needed amount of conjugated linoleic acid. Decreased intake of conjugated linoleic acid and alterations in the manner of production and processing of the foods that contain CLA have led to people being overweight. Here's the problem: if there is inadequate intake of CLA, dietary fat cannot be moved into cells or used as energy. The end result is that the body stores this fat. You get, and will remain, fat.
A Physicians Guide To Natural Health Products That Work By James Howenstine MD, page 144
Without CLA, our metabolisms can't operate efficiently
Promoted as a weight-loss promoter, antioxidant, cancer fighter, and immune system enhancer, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found in red meat. It helps glucose get into muscle cells more effectively, thus preventing glucose from being converted into fat. It also helps fats enter the cell membranes of muscle and connective tissue, where the fat is burned for fuel. Most of the claims about this substance are based on animal studies, but human studies exist. Dosage: 1,000 mg three times a day with meals.
Natural Physicians Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler ND, page 159
Conjugated linoleic acid—aids in weight management, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces blood glucose levels
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 676
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has been shown to decrease the volume of adipocytes and thus reduce body fat. However, many overweight people have too many adipocytes. These people need more than CLA to achieve effective weight control.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 1088
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)—helps reduce body fat, promote weight loss, enhance muscle tone; protects against many types of cancer.
Vitamin Bible for the 21st Century by Earl Mindell, page 390
Barbara Quinn, in the Monterey Herald Tribune, points out that some research actually shows that conjugated linoleic acid, a trans fat that occurs naturally in beef and dairy foods, shows promise as a cancer-fighting substance and may even help people on weight-loss diets stay lean.
The Trans Fats Dilemma Gene A Spiller PHD CNS, page 48
Results of human studies correlating CLA and weight loss
According to information released at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in August 2000, the long-awaited first results of human studies evaluating conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a naturally occurring fatty acid, indicate that the supplement may help overweight adults lose weight and maintain the loss.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 676
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a fatty acid that was originally used to fatten cattle and block the negative effect of stress hormones on livestock. When put to the test on humans by enterprising researchers, CLA was shown to reduce body fat while increasing muscle, which suggests that it may negate the effect of the muscle-wasting hormones. It may also be useful for people who want to lose weight. Muscle burns calories; therefore, the more muscle you have, the less likely you are to store excess calories as fat. Take three 600- to 1200-mg. capsules daily before meals.
Earl Mindell's Supplement Bible by Earl Mindell RPh PhD, page 189
Results of animal studies about CLA and weight loss
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid, has anticatabolic properties. This has been demonstrated in laboratory mice injected with endotoxin to produce catabolic response. By 72 hours after feeding with linoleic acid, the mice presented body weights similar to controls. The researchers concluded that conjugated linoleic acid prevented anorexia in endotoxin-injected test subjects. The suggested dose of CLA for a person in a catabolic state is 2 1000-mg capsules taken 2 times a day.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 502
Researchers showed that the 10-year incidence of insulin resistance was lower by more than two-thirds among overweight individuals in the highest category of dairy consumption. Milk is also a source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has shown anti-obesity effects in numerous studies.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 664
Gavino VC, Gavino G, Leblanc MJ, Tuchweber B. An isomeric mixture of conjugated linoleic acids but not pure octadecadienoic acid affects body weight gain and plasma lipids in hamsters.
PDR For Nutritional Supplements by Sheldon Saul Hendle and David Rorvik, page 11
More information about CLA supplements
The essential fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may help in your weight-loss efforts, says Gittleman. In a scientific study, people who took 3,000 milligrams of CLA daily lost 20 percent of their body fat in 3 months without dieting, she says.
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb, page 482
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) aids in weight loss and utilization of beneficial fats; reduces cholesterol and triglycerides; increases insulin sensitivity; and has antioxidant activity; suggested dosage, three 1000-mg capsules taken early in the day.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 487
Conjugated linoleic acid (CIA): Helps reduce the amount of body fat while increasing muscle. Since muscle burns excess calories, the more muscle you have, the less likely you are to become overweight. (CLA may also protect against many forms of cancer.) As a diet aid, I suggest three 600-1,200 mg. capsules before meals.
Vitamin Bible for the 21st Century by Earl Mindell, page 341