There are different forms of CLA, and some forms seem to be more beneficial than others. Beneficial CLA uses include helping people lose body fat and preventing certain types of cancer (including colon cancer and possibly breast cancer). However, there is some evidence that CLA may increase the risk of diabetes, lower "good" cholesterol, and increase inflammatory proteins.
What Is CLA Used For?CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in dairy and meat products of cows, sheep, and various other animals (although CLA supplements often contain CLA made synthetically from plant oils). Although CLA is a trans fat (a type of fat that is usually considered a "bad" fat), CLA may have beneficial effects. CLA shows promise in helping people lose body fat and may be useful for cancer prevention.
CLA and Weight Loss
With obesity on the rise (see Obesity Statistics), many people are searching for "quick fixes" to help with weight loss. Although the ideal weight loss plans focus on gradual weight loss by eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity (see How to Lose Weight), many people have difficulty following such plans (or feel they need extra assistance in their efforts). Before turning to drastic measures, such as weight loss surgery, many people consider using weight loss pills, especially if they have unsuccessfully tried to control their obesity (and exercise and diet have been ineffective).
There is some evidence that people who are dieting may be especially prone to consuming a diet that is low in CLA (because CLA is found in dairy and meat). Although more research is necessary, it is thought that a lack of CLA may send signals to the body to store fat. However, it is important to note that there is some evidence that certain forms of CLA can make the body more resistant to insulin (and may therefore increase the risk of diabetes), especially in people with "central obesity" (weight gain around the midsection). Additionally, some forms of CLA may lower HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol") and may increase inflammatory proteins, both of which are especially undesirable in people who are obese.