“I’ve been treating eating disorders (ED’s) and obesity for nearly 25 years and have always had good outcomes. My rate of success improved dramatically, however, when I discovered the critical role that processed food plays in causing as well as in preventing recovery from Anorexia, Bulimia, Bulimarexia, (a combination of the two) Binge Eating Disorder (BED,) Emotional Eating and Obesity. To this end, I find it of great importance to provide both my patients and readers with relevant nutrition information to aid in their recovery. You can view all my Nutrition, Fitness, and Health articles here.”
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is both a trans-fatty and cis-fatty acid that is naturally produced in the stomachs of ruminant animals (like cattle, sheep and goats). Wait. I know what you’re thinking, “You said CLA is a trans-fat. Aren’t trans-fats bad?”.
There are some trans-fats that have no place in our foods today. The trans-fats that are detrimental to our health are of the “industrially-produced” variety. Indeed, 80% of the trans-fats consumed in the Standard American Diet are industrially-produced. Maria Emmerich gives a good description of how our bodies process these types of trans-fats:
“Trans-fats in foods are like BIG SUV’s trying to park into ‘compact’ parking spaces of our cells that are reserved for healthy Omega-3 fats (DHA). When this happens, our neurotransmitters responsible for focus, mood and memory have a hard time finding and recognizing their receptors due to the inflammation of the membranes on the brain cells caused by the consumption of trans-fats.”
Naturally-occurring trans-fats, like CLA, are thought to be beneficial to our overall health. Studies show that individuals that include CLA in their diets may:
- reduce their risks of developing certain cancers, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and heart disease
- experience an increase in metabolism
- lower their cholesterol and triglycerides
- lower their insulin resistance (a Penn State study found that CLA mimicked synthetic diabetes medication)
- experience a reduction in belly fat, especially in the overweight and obese
- experience an increase in lean muscle
Although CLA can increase metabolism, including it in one’s diet is less likely to produce weight loss and more likely result in a change in body composition; i.e. a reduction in body fat and an increase lean muscle. CLA appears to reduce body fat because of it’s ability to regulate fat metabolism. In other words, CLA may not reduce the number of fat cells in our bodies, but it does keep small fat cells from getting larger.
So what are the best sources of CLA? I typically use beef, full-fat milk (raw, if available in your area), full-fat raw cheese and butter. I always get organic, grass-fed meat and dairy, it contains 300%-500% more CLA (for more information on choosing healthy dairy products, read this article). There are also CLA supplements available, but these are rarely beneficial. CLA supplements are typically a synthetic form of CLA that is derived from plant oils. I always recommend getting all nutrients in their natural form, when possible.
Currently, the FDA does not require trans-fats to be listed on nutrition labels, if the product contains less than 0.5 g of trans-fats per serving.
If you are really serious about keeping all unhealthy trans-fats out of your diet, be sure to check the ingredients list for “hydrogenated oils” and/or “partially hydrogenated oils”. These ingredients are actually trans-fats. Just because some of your favorite foods contain trans-fats, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these foods. Here are some popular grocery store items that contain trans-fats, with healthy alternatives*….
Not so good choice – Girl Scout Samoa Cookies
Better choice – Homemade “Samoa Cookies”
Not so good choice – Pay Day Candy Bar
Better choice – Homemade “Pay Day” Bar
Not so good choice – Premium Plus Crackers
Better choice – Homemade “Premium Plus” Crackers
Not so good choice – Taquitos
Better Choice – Homemade “Taquitos”
*I prefer using Jay Robb protein powder for recipes that incorporate Whey Protein
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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.
© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.
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