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Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Supplements for Weight Loss

Frequently Asked Questions


Updated May 28, 2014

by Mary J. Shomon

With all the excitement over Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and it's proven success in helping reduce body fat and balance blood sugar, I've received hundreds of questions from readers interested in finding out more about CLA.

NOTE: For an introduction to CLA, and how it might be useful to you in your weight loss efforts, see: Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Supplements May Speed Weight Loss: News Promises New Tool in Weight Loss Battle for People with Hypothyroidism and Underactive Thyroid Conditions.

Is Any Brand of CLA Good to Use?

The simple answer is, no. Different brands have differing amounts of active CLA. The research studies that established the effectiveness of CLA were using a patented form of CLA known as [link url=http://www.tonalin.com]"Tonalin." Tonalin's patented formula for CLA can be found in a number of brands of CLA, including brands such as Natrol, Jarrow Formulas, and Nature's Way, among others.

Is CLA Safe to Take With My Thyroid Medications?

There's no evidence that CLA, a food supplement, interacts with thyroid medications, or poses any special dangers to thyroid patients. But you should always discuss any supplements you intend to take with your own physician or practitioner before starting.

Is CLA Only for People with Thyroid Problems?

Absolutely not. The studies have shown that it's effective in general for reducing/converting fat. YOu don't have to have a thyroid problem -- you just have to be overweight -- to benefit from CLA.

How Much Should I Take?

The study found that 3.4 grams of CLA was needed in order to get the benefits. That's 3,400 mg. Since the various formulas contain a percentage of other oils as ingredients, it's wise to probably calculate how much each pill is delivering to make sure you're getting the full 3.4 grams a day. For example, if your capsule contains 75% CLA, and it's 1000 mg, then you're getting 750 mg of CLA, and would need 5 per day to get to the 3.4 grams level.

Does CLA Have Soy in It? Should I Take It If It Says It Contains Soy?

Tonalin CLA in the 1000 mg size does not contain any soy or soybean oil. The confusion is because an older version of Natrol's Tonalin CLA did contain soybean oil, but that product has been discontinued. The Drugstore.com website, however, is still carrying the inaccurate information that Natrol Tonalin CLA contains soybean oil. Tonalin's formula contains CLA from safflower oil, and NO soybean oil or soy. Please be advised that some off-brands of CLA may contain soybean oil, or soy products, as fillers, and you would NOT want to take these products.

Where Can I Get CLA?

GNC stores have some products with CLA, and Whole Foods Markets are also reported to have the products. The Tonalin site lists a variety of stores that sell products containing Tonalin CLA.

Online, you can get Natrol's Tonalin CLA -- the brand I personally take -- as well as many other brands, at popular retailers like Drugstore.com and Iherb.com.

How Should I Take It?

The various recommendations differ here. Some recommendations suggest to take it before eating. Others suggest to take it with meals. The Natrol web page for their Tonalin CLA product says to take it preferably with lowfat or nonfat milk for maximum protein absorption. Personally, I'm taking it right before I eat with some 2% milk.

Does CLA Have Any Side Effects?

Some people report feeling slightly green or nauseous after taking their CLA, or isolated cases of gastrointestinal upset or loose stools. These side effects typically are reduced when the product is taken with protein (i.e.,with milk), and usually decrease after about 2 weeks taking the supplement.

Where Can I Read More About CLA's Health Benefits?

For more information about CLA, see: Are You Taking CLA, and If So, Is It Working For You?

I periodically take the Natrol Tonalin CLA. Usually, in the first three weeks, my abdominal fat "pooch" shrinks. Other "fattier" areas (such as cheeks, upper arms, rear end) seemed to be slowly reducing as well. I also notice that my appetite is somewhat reduced. I had two or three days my first week when I felt a bit green after taking my CLA, but I began to take it with a bit of milk, which eliminated that problem. Other than that, I had no other gastrointestinal problems with it. I go on and off the CLA, based on my use of other fatty acids.

Additional ideas regarding supplements are featured in the Thyroid Diet & Weight Loss Success Guide.

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