Fans of the nutritional supplement CLA believe it does. Here’s the skinny on how CLA works and how you can best incorporate it into your fitness regimen.
“LOSE FAT WITH FAT!” Yes, it sounds like yet another dubious infomercial promise. But a growing number of American dieters who take nutritional supplements containing the fatty acid CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) believe this latest weight-loss trend has real substance. They have found that, when used in conjunction with a regimented plan of diet and exercise, CLA not only reduces body fat but also increases muscle strength and exercise endurance. Now science has stepped in to explore CLA’s too-good-to-be-true health claims — and CLA has stood up to the skeptics.
CLA is related to the omega-6 fatty acids, one of the two types of essential fatty acids that help the body increase metabolic rates, boost the immune system and keep cholesterol levels in check. CLA is found in dairy and animal fats, such as beef, lamb, whole milk, and eggs, but cannot be produced by the human body.
Interest in CLA began in the late 1980s when Michael W. Pariza, a professor in the Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, discovered an isolated agent in fried hamburger that reduced the incidence of cancer in mice. A few years later his team unmasked the mystery element: a chemical form of linoleic acid they called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA.