The Number of Pounds You Will Lose if You Take CLA

Research provides guidance about the amount of weight you are likely to lose

woman taking a pill
Find out how much weight you will lose before you take a supplement. Dimitri Otis/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

If you’re thinking about taking a CLA supplement to lose weight, there are a few important things you should know.  Of course, you should understand the risks and the costs associated with conjugated linoleic acid pills.  But before you open your wallet to pay for the supplement, you should find out if CLA is really effective for weight loss.

Many ads for CLA supplements say that there is scientific proof that conjugated linoleic acid helps you burn body fat and slim down.

The ads aren’t necessarily incorrect.  But the sources usually don’t tell you how much you’ll lose. And that’s where things get tricky.

How Much Weight Can I Lose with CLA?

There have been some very promising studies indicating that CLA can improve body composition and weight loss.  But many of the early studies were done on mice.  When researchers tried the same experiments on people, the results were not as clear. 

In the studies that demonstrated weight loss in humans, the amount of weight lost with CLA is usually fairly small.  For example, a study done in China demonstrated that over a 12-week period, people taking CLA lost about one pound more than those not taking CLA. That’s less than a tenth of a pound per week. The decrease in body fat percent was very small as well. People taking a CLA supplement saw a decrease in body fat that was less than a half percentage point lower than those not taking the pill.

Other studies had similar results.  In another recent report, researchers evaluated the results from eighteen studies where participants took the supplement for a longer period of time (6 months to 2 years).  The scientists reported that on average, the people who took a CLA supplement lost more fat than those not taking CLA, but the amount averaged less than a quarter of a pound per week.

  

Of course, that is just the research with positive results.  There are also many studies that demonstrate no weight loss and no fat loss in human participants taking conjugated linoleic acid.

Should I Take a CLA Supplement?

Whether or not you take a conjugated linoleic acid supplement is up to you. But make sure you understand the real facts before you buy.  There is a possibility that conjugated linoleic acid will help you lose weight, but there is also a chance that it will make no noticeable difference at all.  Always talk to your doctor first to make sure the pill is safe for you, then make a decision based on the facts.

Sources:

Henrietta Blankson, Jacob A. Stakkestad, Hans Fagertun, Erling Thom, Jan Wadstein,Ola Gudmundsen. "Conjugated Linoleic Acid Reduces Body Fat Mass in Overweight and Obese Humans." Journal of NutritionDecember 2000.

Smedman A, Vessby B. "Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation in humans--metabolic effects." LipidsAugust 2001.

Wahle KW, Heys SD, Rotondo D. "Conjugated linoleic acids: are they beneficial or detrimental to health?." Progress in Lipid ResearchNovember 2004.

Arion Kennedy, Kristina Martinez, Soren Schmidt, Susanne Mandrup, Kathleen LaPoint, Michael McIntosh. "Antiobesity mechanisms of action of conjugated linoleic acid." The Journal of Nutritional BiochemistryAgust 2009.

Shama V. Joseph, Hélène Jacques, Mélanie Plourde, Patricia L. Mitchell, Roger S. McLeod, Peter J. H. Jones. "Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplementation for 8 Weeks Does Not Affect Body Composition, Lipid Profile, or Safety Biomarkers in Overweight, Hyperlipidemic Men." The Journal of NutritionMay 18, 2011.

Allison Dilzer, Yeonhwa Park. "Implication of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) in Human Health." Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition Volume 52, Issue 6, 2012

gho J. Onakpoya, Paul P. Posadzki, Leala K. Watson, Lucy A. Davies, Edzard Ernst. "The efficacy of long-term conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplementation on body composition in overweight and obese individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials." European Journal of Nutrition March 2012.

Chen SC, Lin YH, Huang HP, Hsu WL, Houng JY, Huang CK. "Effect of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation on weight loss and body fat composition in a Chinese population." NutritionMay 2012.

Continue Reading