Wish you could forget all about calories and carbs yet still slim down by Thanksgiving? Experts say it’s 100 percent possible! The secret: Increase your intake of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid in juicy cuts of beef, melty cheeses, even gourmet ice cream. “Research shows that in regions with the highest CLA intake, people naturally stay lean despite rich meals,” reports Radical Metabolism author Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD. “Within two weeks, you can lose a pants size, a dress size and all your bloat.”
Better yet, CLA lets you indulge and still benefit. A University of Wisconsin team found that folks given CLA during the holiday season burned significant fat without dieting, while those given a placebo saw their weight gain spike 600 percent. Says Gittleman: “CLA is the perfect gift to give yourself!”
How does conjugated linoleic acid work?
While there’s still some mystery surrounding how conjugated linoleic acid works, researchers have solid evidence that it slows the production of an enzyme we need to store fat, slashing levels by 66 percent. This at least partially blocks new fat storage, no matter what we eat. On top of that, CLA “speeds the breakdown of stored fatty acids so they can be used to build new muscle tissue,” notes Ronald Klatz, MD of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. We end up instantly burning fat to make muscle, which not only makes us firmer but also raises metabolism permanently. So you set yourself up to keep pounds off long-term. There are short-term benefits too: “CLA acts as a diuretic, quickly flushing away retained fluid,” adds Gittleman.
For those over age 50, CLA “helps offset fattening age-related hormonal changes,” says Gittleman. The effect is so powerful, an Ohio State University study found that non-dieting postmenopausal women spontaneously lost about 10 times more body fat when they were given CLA compared to a separate period when they were given saff lower oil.
Gittleman says she experienced this magic firsthand. “When I started learning about CLA, I was very busy and I took it because it’s a blood-sugar stabilizer and boosts energy. I wasn’t thinking about my weight — until I was about to go on a talk show and realized my pants were so loose, I had to pin them to keep them from falling off,” shares the 72-year-old. “I’ve been a believer ever since.”
To find your perfect CLA dose, talk to your doctor. But as a general rule, “you’ll want to take 1,000 milligrams daily, preferably with a meal,” advises Gittleman, who recommends CLA softgels from UnikeyHealth. (Buy on Unikey Health, $37.98). “If you have over 50 pounds to lose, consider 1,000 milligrams at each meal until you hit your goal weight.”
What are the results like?
Hoping to lower her blood pressure and relieve knee pain, Cathy Reiber tried several of Ann Louise Gittleman’s healthy eating strategies. After slimming steadily at first, she hit a frustrating stall and turned to Gittleman’s blog for help. “I read about CLA and loved that it increases lean muscle. I wanted to get firmer and stronger, not just skinny!” says the Montana mom, 54. Taking a CLA supplement, her fat loss basically quadrupled. When Thanksgiving rolled around, “I had a full dinner and pie and still lost five pounds!” Now down eight sizes, “my blood pressure is excellent, and I never take Advil anymore,” says Cathy. “CLA recharged my weight loss and got me steaming ahead to good health! ”
As always, get your doctor’s okay before trying any new supplement or diet. CLA supplements may not be recommended for those with certain health conditions.
Though CLA is found in delicious foods, most of us still don’t get enough. Why? “We often hear that meat and dairy are fattening or unhealthy, so we shy away,” says Gittleman. In truth, new research tells us women who choose full-fat dairy, for example, tend to be healthier and weigh less than those who go low-fat. Even saturated fat from high-quality sources has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar, nourish the brain, build strong cells and much more.
That said, it’s not simply a matter of giving yourself permission to eat more steak. Gittleman notes that CLA content is up to 500 percent higher in meat and dairy from animals that eat mostly grass. And since the 1970s, livestock in the U.S. eat mostly grain. “That means CLA levels have fallen drastically,” she reveals. If you’re able to switch to grass-fed meat and dairy, that’s ideal. But even if you aren’t, supplements are a great choice. “Since each dose contains the amount of CLA found in 50 slices of cheese, it’s the quickest way to bring levels up,” Gittleman notes. “Studies show as little as 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams a day is incredibly effective.”
What sort of diet should you try?
Want to look fabulous for a holiday party? Supercharge the power of a daily CLA supplement with our seasonal spin on Ann Louse Gittleman’s famous Fat Flush approach. Intended for short-term use, it’s simple, filling “and loaded with nutrients that stimulate fat burn in different ways than CLA,” she says. Women even report losing up to 15 pounds of bloat and flab in just 72 hours!
BREAKFAST: Blitz 1 ⁄3 cup cranberries, 1 banana, optional greens, 1⁄4 cup whey protein powder, 1 tbs. flax oil, 1 tbs. chia, plus nut milk, and ice to taste.
LUNCH: Simmer 1 ⁄2 cup canned pumpkin, 1 cup broth, 1⁄2 cup coconut milk, and 1⁄4 tsp. curry powder. Serve with pumpkin seeds and salad.
DINNER: Enjoy 4 oz. cooked chicken or turkey breast over lots of steamed veggies; top with 2 tbs. olive-oil vinaigrette.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.