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CLA and Weight Loss

Whenever a new weight-loss product arrives on the scene, it invariably creates a lot of interest because, although many of us would like to lose weight, we seem to have a great deal of trouble in achieving that elusive goal. One of the latest headline-gathering products is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a naturally occurring fatty acid found preferentially in the meat and milk fat of animals such as cows, goats, and sheep. The compound is also available as a dietary supplement. But, the question is: does it work?

The general consensus among those who have researched the efficacy of CLA for weight loss is that it does actually work. A lot of scientific studies have been conducted-both on animals and humans-and it appears that CLA improves body composition by reducing the amount of fat while preserving muscle tissue.

An early study on mice, conducted by Louisiana State University, fed four different groups varying amounts of CLA for twelve weeks-with the largest dose being 1% of the total diet and the smallest 0%. At the end of the trial, the results showed a steady decrease in body fat as the percentage of CLA in the diet increased.

A randomized, double-blind study conducted in Sweden on 25 abdominally obese men found that, at the end of four weeks, the men taking CLA supplementation had a significant reduction (average 1.4cm) in abdominal diameter compared to the placebo group.

Another study, conducted over a two-year period, demonstrated that CLA may help dieters overcome the "yo-yo" effect, which is common to many weight-loss schemes. The research, published in the Journal of Nutrition in April, 2005, started out as a twelve-month randomized, double-blind trial but was extended by a further twelve months to evaluate the safety and efficacy of CLA over a longer period. The results confirmed the weight-loss benefits of earlier studies; it also showed that people taking CLA supplementation did not regain the lost body fat; and, furthermore, it demonstrated that CLA is well tolerated over a significant period.

Scientific research and anecdotal evidence indicate that CLA can be an effective part of the total weight management program for many people.