What are the best ways to reduce belly fat?
So far I’ve looked at Green Tea and Electronic Muscle Stimulators. This post is dedicated to Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). It’s a type fat that might be able to help in your efforts to lose belly fat. CLA is found in the highest quantities in meat and milk products from grass fed buffalo, cattle, sheep and goats. And deer is a good source of it too.
Mostly, people who use CLA for fat burning it get it in supplement form.
And it really might help to get rid of belly fat – in fact it might help to reduce all kinds of fat. But like green tea, the question is, how much fat will it get rid of? I guess I really don’t want to spend my hard earned on dollars on supplements, and I don’t advise anyone else to unless you absolutely can’t get the substance you are looking for from food. And with CLA, it might be the case that supplementation works best.
I decided to take a look at what the state of the current knowledge is.
A lot of research has gone into CLA and there has been some controversial discussion about its safety, however in addition to reducing fat, CLA has shown benefits in reducing the risk for cancers, hardened arteries, reducing oxidation in the body, in promoting bone health, improving immune function and for affecting the composition of body fat. That’s the bit I’m interested in right now – not to say the rest isn’t important, but I focused my efforts on body composition.
I wanted to get a feel for where the research might lead so I first looked at a compilation of studies on CLA, aka a meta-analysis. And it did indicate that CLA has a positive effect on reducing body fat. When all the results were compiled and analysed they showed that CLA compared to placebo reduced body fat by about 0.09 of one kilogram per week, or just over 3ounces per week (3.198ounces to be exact). Granted, this doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but over a year this over 10 pounds. What the researchers see as significant is that the trend for Americans is to put on just under a pound per year, so using CLA helps move us in the opposite direction – and at a considerably faster pace.
Individual studies have shown similar results
A 2010 study divided 53 kids between the ages of 6 and 9 into two groups. Both groups got chocolate milk, but the test group got CLA in theirs. The body fat of kids who got CLA was reduced by 0.5% compared to an increase of 1.3% in the control group who just got the chocolate milk. The test group also had reduced abdominal obesity. The amount of CLA given was 3grams per day. If we translate that into adult figures: say for example you weigh 180 pound, then if the 0.5% converts to pounds that’s about 9 pound.
It’s doubtful if it is possible to get enough CLA from your foods.
Unless you really want to gorge yourself on meat and milk every day. It depends to some extent on the type of animal if it was grass fed, but a recent 2011 study concluded that a diet of 1.7g of CLA from grass fed animals did not show any differences in the health benefits or risks including insulin sensitivity or body composition.
Supplements and natural CLA are a little bit different.
If you want to get into the science of this have a look here, but supplements carry an additional trans12, cis10 isomer. What the research does show is that the supplemental kind of CLA works better for body fat in general, and for belly fat too.
If you want to give it a go the recommended amount is 3.4grams per day
But the average amount of CLA in a typical diet is only 15-174mg CLA per day according to the Natural Medicines Data Base. Clinical trials have used the amounts of between 1.8grams and 7grams to reduce obesity but more doesn’t mean better. There hasn’t been any extra benefit for using over 3.4grams per day, so stick with that.
BEWARE if you are diabetic or have metabolic syndrome
The Natural Medicines Data Base warns it may cause an increase in blood sugars and may also decrease insulin sensitivity. If you suffer from metabolic syndrome there are concerns that it might push you over the edge into diabetes.
Also, in the study where kids took CLA, it was found that they didn’t develop bone mass at the rate of the other kids. This is quite the opposite of what some other studies have found with adults but I don’t think giving it to kids is a good idea. As with any supplement you want to err on the side of caution. And most definitely isn’t recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
As with all supplements it is likely to be safe in the amounts found in food and is possibly safe when taken in larger amounts as supplements (per the Natural Medicines Data Base). Side effects seem relatively minor such as upset stomach, diarrhea, some nausea and tiredness although accumulation of excess vitamin A can occur in the breast and the liver.
The bottom line that I would recommend is: don’t give it to kids, and absolutely do not take it if you are diabetic or have metabolic syndrome, pregnant or breastfeeding. If you do want to give it a try, then stick with the amount of 3.4grams.
Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y does not prevent weight or body fat regain. Larsen TM, Toubro S, Gudmundsen O, Astrup A. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Mar;83(3):606-12.
Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation, insulin sensitivity, and lipoprotein metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Moloney F, Yeow TP, Mullen A, Nolan JJ, Roche HM. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;80(4):887-95.
Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans1,2 Leah D Whigham, Abigail C Watras and Dale A Schoeller American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No. 5, 1203-1211, May 2007
Nutritional Supplementation With trans-10, cis-12–Conjugated Linoleic Acid Induces Inflammation of White Adipose Tissue. Hélène Poirier1, Jennifer S. Shapiro2, Roy J. Kim2 and Mitchell A. Lazar2 Diabetes June 2006 vol. 55 no. 6 1634-1641
Diets high in conjugated linoleic acid from pasture-fed cattle did not alter markers of health in young women. Nutr Res. 2011 Jan;31(1):33-41.
Six months supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid induces regional-specific fat mass decreases in overweight and obese. Gaullier JM, Halse J, Høivik HO, Høye K, Syvertsen C, Nurminiemi M, Hassfeld C, Einerhand A, O’Shea M, Gudmundsen O. Br J Nutr. 2007 Mar;97(3):550-60.
The role of conjugated linoleic acid in reducing body fat and preventing holiday weight gain. Watras AC, Buchholz AC, Close RN, Zhang Z, Schoeller DA. Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Mar;31(3):481-7. Epub 2006 Aug 22.