Issue #35


by Juan Carlos Lope

2007 Fitness and Bodybuilding Nationals
Photos and Results

2007 Fitness and Bodybuilding Nationals

2007 Kentucky Pro Figure and NPC
Photos and Results

2007 Kentucky Pro Figure and NPC

20 Questions with Cover Model and IFBB Fitness Pro Hollie Stewart

Hollie Stewart, Heather Mae French, Shelly Taucher, April Fortier, Monica Hoyer

Video Interview with Cover Model and IFBB Fitness Pro Hollie Stewart

Making a Dream Come True
by Traci Redding

Video Interview with NPC Bodybuilder Elena Seiple

by Jean Jitomir

Video Interview with NPC Bodybuilder Jamie Buffalari-

Building Hot Curves
by Linda Cusmano

Video Interview
with NPC Bodybuilder Lindsay Mulinazzi

Ask Misty Green
by Misty Green


CLAs by Jean Jitomir

Hey Jean!

I've been intrigued lately by CLA and wanted to know your opinion on it. I've read some very promising reports but also some that would suggest caution. It seems that the verdict is still out, but I thought I'd ask you.



Jean Jitomir

          Thanks for the question about this very interesting, elusive supplement.  I want to start by making it clear that conjugated linoleic acid or “CLA” is not just a single compound—it’s almost as vague as making reference to “steroids.”

          CLA has many different chemical forms; they are called “isomers” of CLA.  There are two different isomers that are commonly found in supplements on the market, cis-9,trans-11 (we’ll abbreviate this CT) and trans-10,cis-12 (we’ll abbreviate this one TC)

            Furthermore, I’ve seen misleading marketing/labeling of CLA, referring to it as a “natural” product of Safflower oil; however, the CLA supplements in stores a chemically manipulated product of safflower oil.  The major known truly natural source of CLA comes from the body fat or milk-fat of ruminant animals.  For most people, cow milk or beef fat is the primary source; however, goats, sheep and deer are also ruminants and their products contain CLA.  The CLA is actually made in these animals by the bacteria in their stomachs and then it is absorbed and added to their own body fat.

            The natural form of CLA is mostly the CT form; the lab created form can be either CT or TC, but is usually roughly a 1:1 ratio of each.

Jean Jitomir

            Without a doubt, the stuff works in animals—rodents and beef have been studied extensively.  With supplementation of CLA, these animals typically may show 1) More lean mass; 2) Less body fat; and 3) Less fat production in milk; lower overall weight.  Some studies have also shown improvements in lab values associated with diabetes, heart disease, and breast cancer.  On the other hand, some animal studies also show increased inflammation and worse outcomes for lab values associated with diabetes and heart disease.  So in terms of general health, the results are highly mixed.

            In humans, the results are even more ambiguous.  Many studies show absolutely nothing, while about 1/3 to ½ show some kind of positive effects, including: slightly reduced body fat, slightly increased lean mass or the prevention of weight gain/regain.  One study in particular gave people a 4g dose of CLA every day throughout the holiday season, which prevented fat gain in the people who took the supplement, so the authors concluded that the supplement may be more useful for prevention rather than treatment.  Many, many factors have made the human studies hard to compare to one another though: 

- CLA is definitely a long-term supplement; there is no significant evidence supporting it’s use for the short term (you need to take it for at least a few months to see an effect, not a few weeks)

            - CLA doses are different in every study and are usually decided pretty arbitrarily

            - CLA isomers (CT or TC) are given in different proportions in many of the studies, or are not controlled for at all.

Jean Jitomir

Some human studies also show potential inflammatory effects and insulin resistance from CLA supplementation—these effects seem to be caused more by the TC form than the CT form.  Remember that TC is only made in significant amounts in the lab, whereas CT occurs naturally in milk products, etc.

          In conclusion, the jury is definitely still out on CLA.  Researchers are pretty sure that the effects are dependent on the type of CLA you take, CT or TC.  Clinical trials do not show significant amounts of weight loss in humans, but is may make you a little leaner and prevent some fat gain.  The impact on health and disease is also important to consider; some studies have shown that CLA supplementation increases inflammation and lowers your “good” cholesterol.

Jean Jitomir

          I don’t think it’s worth taking unless you really need to get super ripped (especially at $20/3-4 week supply).  Your money would be better spent on improving the quality of your diet!  On the other hand, if I decided to take a CLA supplement I would one 1) try to find one that was extracted from dairy fat (if it exists, it’s obscenely expensive) or 2) find one that contains more CT than TC.  As of several years ago, these ratios were not listed on the bottle, but now many manufacturers do include the isomer percentages.  Remember that no one is checking to make sure the label is accurate, so buy only from supplement makers that you trust!

          As with any supplement, research suggests that it works better in conjunction with weight training and a healthy diet, so Happy Lifting!!!


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About the Author...

Jean Jitomir is a registered dietitian, Master of Science in Nutrition and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Exercise Nutrition at Baylor University.  She has experience as a private dietitian and cooking instructor. Jean has competed in figure at the national level and is qualified for national level competition as a light weight bodybuilder.



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