(NaturalNews) With all of the hype flooding the media about natural weight loss supplements, it's difficult to separate fact from fiction. Supplements that contain CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) have been heavily promoted as a powerful natural weight loss supplement, but does CLA live up to its reputation?
Conjugated linoleic acid is a natural component found in foods such as whole dairy products, beef and safflower oil. Original research done with rodents showed CLA provided strong benefits in regards to losing fat weight and building lean body mass. It has been difficult, though, for studies to duplicate such concrete results in humans.
A controlled study performed by the Uppsala University in Sweden did show promising results, however. Half of the members of the study were given 4.2 grams of CLA each day, while the other half was given an equal amount of olive oil. After twelve weeks, those who received the CLA showed a significantly higher percentage of fat loss than the placebo group. While this result was positive, neither group showed a notable change in body mass index or overall weight. Several other Scandinavian studies have produced similar conclusions.
The University of Wisconsin conducted a study published in 2004 that examined the safety of using CLA for long periods. The study looked at a number of obese but overall healthy individuals who were divided into two groups. One group received 6 grams of CLA daily, while the other group received a placebo. After one year, the group that received CLA showed no signs of increased health risk. The conclusion was that there are no apparent risks concerning the long-term use of CLA supplements.
Although some advocate increasing your CLA intake though your diet, this may only lead to marginal results. Research has shown a daily dose of 3,500 mg of CLA is the amount associated with health benefits such as reduced of body fat (especially mid-section fat), increased insulin sensitivity, decreased inflammation and decreased tumor growth. To consume this amount of CLA in your diet every day, you would have to eat such a large amount of meat and dairy products it may actually be harmful to your health.
Taking a conjugated linoleic acid supplement seems ideal for those who want to boost their CLA intake. This is the best way to increase your intake of CLA without drastically increasing your consumption of meat and dairy products.
However, if you do consume some beef and dairy products in moderation, it's important to note the amount of CLA found in these foods appears directly related to the care of the animals. Meat and dairy from cows that are primarily range-fed produce far more CLA than those who are fed traditional commercial diets. The amount of CLA found in organic milk is approximately 30% higher than in its non-organic counterpart. So if you already eat these foods, you can easily make an increase in your daily CLA intake by choosing organic, free-range products.
While CLA supplements may not be a magic weight loss pill, it is a nutrient the body uses to facilitate the metabolic process of burning fat in the body while possibly promoting lean body mass growth. Both of these actions can be part of losing weight and becoming a healthier person in general. Future studies on CLA involving more participants may prove to be very enlightening.
Angel, Aubie. (2004) The Role of Conjugated Linoleic Acid in Human Health. Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Volume 79.
Kiefer, Dale. (2005) Weight Loss and Other Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Life Extension Magazine.
About the author
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welcome.html
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