The Natural Fat-Loss Pharmacy
By Harry Preuss, M.D., Bill Gottlieb
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
Picture, if you will, a ruminant-an animal that chews its cud, a wad of food regurgitated from the rumen. (This is going to get a lot more appetizing very soon, so hang in there.)
Picture a cow. Or a sheep. Or a goat. The ruminant is probably grazing (ever see a cow do much of anything else?)-munching on grass, hay, or some other extreme-fiber food that is really hard to digest. Ruminants, however, don't have access to Alka-Seltzer. So to make life and lunch a little bit easier, Mother Nature provided ruminants with a four-part stomach.
Part one-the mega-gallon rumen-is populated by billions of microbes, which help out with digestion. In the process, those busy little bacteria break down two fatty acids (building blocks of fat) called linoleic acid and linolenic acid into a unique fatty acid found almost nowhere else in nature but in ruminants: conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA.
Scientists discovered CLA in 1978. And it's been impressing them ever since.
In studies on cells, laboratory animals, and people. CLA has shown it has the potential to:
- Stop cancer from spreading.
- Strengthen the immune system.
- Improve asthma.
- Calm inflammation.
- Balance blood sugar.
- Lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
And-like a dieter's dream come true-studies also show that CLA can melt body fat and build muscle without calorie cutting or exercise.
Sound too good to be truer You won't think so after you read the rest of this chapter.
The Discovery of CLA
Rewind to 1979, the year when an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant almost deep-fried Pennsylvania, Iranians took Americans hostage, and Russians invaded Afghanistan. Some good things happened, too.
One of them was in a laboratory at the Food Research Institute of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. There, a team of researchers, led by Michael Pariza, PhD. were diligently investigating ... grilled beef patties. That's right-guys in white lab coats were dissecting hamburger meat. The)' wanted to confirm (or perhaps disprove) a recent finding that was troubling food scientists-and food eaters-across America and around the world: that grilling beef could produce mutagens, chemicals that can warp the molecules of a cell's genetic material, possibly leading to cancer.
Unfortunately for those who think charcoal briquettes are a food group, the Wisconsin scientists found mutagens in grilled hamburger. But they also found something they didn't expect: a chemical that reduced the formation of mutagens.
They found CLA.
And, they theorized, CLA might help block cancer. They were right. Only it turned out that CLA can do a lot more than tame tumors.
CLA vs. Cancer, Cholesterol - And Body Fat
Thousands of scientific studies have highlighted the health-giving potential of CLA. Many of the breakthrough studies-research exploring previously uncharted areas of CLAs impact on health and disease-were conducted in Dr. Parizas laboratory.
In 1987, he and his colleagues used CLA to stop the development of skin cancer in laboratory animals.
In 1994, they showed that CLA could reduce the inflammation generated by an immune system in overdrive.
That same year, they found that CLA-fed rabbits on a high-fat diet had much lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol than rabbits not fed CLA.
And, in 1997, they showed that mice fed a diet supplemented with CLA ended up with 60 percent less body fat and 14 percent more lean body mass (LBM, which is mostly muscle) than mice not fed CLA. In that same study, cellular analysis showed CLA might stop fat from being deposited in fat cells, help break down fat cells (lypolysis), and help burn up fatty acids in both fat cells and muscle cells.
Well, with that finding, obesity researchers around the world went ape ... or, more accurately, they went mice, hamster, rat. chicken, and pig. In research conducted in Japan, America, Canada, Australia, and Poland (to name drop a few nations), curious scientists conducted experiments on the body fat of various species of laboratory animals, feeding some a CLA - enriched diet, while others didn't get CLA. In most of those studies, the CLA animals ended up with much less body fat and much more lean body mass than animals not ted CLA.
Bad for Fat
It was time for scientists to see if CLA could perform the same fat-busting, muscle-building magic in us humans. CLAbracadabra - it did! Fat loss-in the overweight. Researchers in Norway studied forty-seven overweight people for twelve weeks, dividing them into five groups. (As you'll see, the Norwegians aren't only good at cross-country skiing, raising reindeer, and frolicking on fjords. They're also number one when it comes to proving that CLA is bad for hit.) One group got a placebo. The other tour groups got various levels of CLA per day: 1.7, 3.4, 5-1, or 6.8 grams (g). The researchers measured body fat mass (BFM) at the beginning and at the end of the study.
Over the twelve weeks, the placebo group didn't lose any BFM. (In fact, they added some.) But most of those getting CLA lost a for of fat. For instance, those getting 3.4 g of CLA lost almost 4 pounds of body tat. And all four CLA groups had a small increase in lean body mass.
"The beneficial effects of CLA with regard to body fat mass and lean body mass ... are promising,' wrote the researchers in the Journal of Nutrition in 2000.
Over the next five years, that promise was fulfilled. Bigtime.