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CLA holds promise as an effective supplement to enhance body composition. In one of the largest and best controlled studies of CLA, researchers from Norway examined the effects of CLA supplementation (3.4 g/day) on whole body and regional composition in overweight men and women. The study used a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design in over 100 subjects. The study lasted 6 months during which time subjects were instructed to maintain their normal diet and exercise patterns, the only major change being to supplement with either CLA or placebo. After 6 months, the CLA group lost significantly more body fat (-3.3 pounds) compared to a gain of 1 pound in the placebo group. Further, the CLA group gained 1.3 pounds of lean body mass, whereas the placebo group had little change (+0.4 pounds). A number of safety measures were assessed, and all markers were not affected by CLA indicating it is not associated with any adverse side effects. In summary, the placebo group had little change in body composition as expected, but simply taking 3.4 g/day of CLA without making any other lifestyle changes resulted in simultaneous fat loss and gain in lean body mass. Although the verdict may still be out, more and more studies are showing positive effects of CLA on body composition.

Gaullier JM, Halse J, Hoivik HO, Hoye K, Syvertsen C, Nurminiemi M, Hassfeld C, Einerhand A, O'Shea M, Gudmundsen O. Six months supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid induces regional-specific fat mass decreases in overweight and obese. Br J Nutr. 2007 Mar;97(3):550-60.