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There are a lot of effective methods to shed a few pounds, but most do not result in long-term weight loss. Among the many supplements promoted, conjugated linoeic acid (CLA) has received a lot of attention. Two recent studies showed evidence for favorable effects of CLA on body composition that were independent of diet and exercise. The effects were relatively small, but arguably of important clinical significance. Small changes in fat and lean body mass are important, and pave the way to big changes over longer periods of time. In the April issue of The Journal of Nutrition, a follow-up report of subjects that consumed CLA or placebo for 1 year was extended an additional year to test whether CLA maintained the benefits in the subjects who were originally assigned to CLA and whether CLA would stimulate weight loss in those originally assigned to placebo. The results showed that CLA supplementation (3.6 g/day) during the second year resulted in maintenance of weight and fat loss in the CLA group and significant weight and fat loss in the group previously taking a placebo. No adverse side effects were reported. Lean body mass was maintained while subjects lost body fat and the effects were not influenced by diet or exercise habits. This study shows that long-term maintenance of weight loss and body composition is possible with CLA supplementation. This is important because most subjects regain lost weight within 2 years.

Gaullier JM, Halse J, Hoye K, Kristiansen K, Fagertun H, Vik H, Gudmundsen O. Supplementation with conjugated linoleic Acid for 24 months is well tolerated by and reduces body fat mass in healthy, overweight humans. J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):778-84.