Woman outside stretching legs for excercise

Can CLA help you lose weight?

Sadly, there’s no magic formula for losing weight, but you can give your weight loss efforts a helping hand. One supplement that’s gaining ground is CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, but can it really help you maintain a healthy weight?

Handpicked content: How long does it actually take to lose weight?

What is CLA?

CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid found naturally in meat and dairy, especially from grass-fed varieties. It comes from the linoleic acid (LA) in the grass and grains eaten by animals such as cows and sheep.

CLA supplements are usually made from the LA found in safflower oil or sunflower oil. LA is altered using chemicals, enzymes, or ‘good’ bacteria during the manufacturing process to convert it into CLA.

How does CLA work to burn fat?

CLA is thought to trigger a series of chemical reactions that stimulate fat-burning in the body. It may work in a number of different ways:

  • by speeding up metabolism
  • by increasing insulin resistance
  • by helping the body ‘mobilise’ stored fat
  • by killing white (‘bad’) fat cells

How CLA benefits weight loss

One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 found that a group of overweight men and women who took CLA for a year lost, on average, 9% of their body fat without changing their diet or lifestyle.1

Handpicked content: How to get results with a weekly diet plan

But combining CLA with a healthy lifestyle could see even greater results. In 2001, Norwegian scientists followed 20 healthy adults who exercised for 90 minutes three times a week, for 12 weeks. The ones who took CLA every day lost more body fat than those who only exercised.2 CLA could even aid weight loss while you catch some zzzs. Research by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found CLA enhanced fat burning during sleep.3

Hit the spot?

We’ve been taught that we can’t spot-reduce fat – reducing fat in specific areas such as our stomach – but a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2007 noted that taking CLA seemed to shift fat stored around the legs and hips.4 Another study carried out on 60 men and women by researchers in Barcelona found that CLA was shown to target ‘trunk fat’ – in other words, fat around the middle.5

Keep it lean

Lean muscle burns more calories than fat at rest, so increasing your lean muscle mass could help you lose weight.

In 2007, a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that people with obesity taking 6.4g of CLA a day increased their lean body mass by 0.64kg over 12 weeks.6
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
Shop our Vitamins & Supplements range.


1. Gaullier JM, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15159244
2. Thom E, Wadstein J, Gudmundsen O. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat in healthy exercising humans. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11725826
3. Close RN, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation alters the 6-mo change in fat oxidation during sleep. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17823448
4. Gaullier JM, et al. Six months supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid induces regional-specific fat mass decreases in overweight and obese. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17313718
5. Laso N, et al. Effects of milk supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid (isomers cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12) on body composition and metabolic syndrome components. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17623486/
6. Steck SE, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for twelve weeks increases lean body mass in obese humans. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17449580

Related Topics

Weight Loss