Does CLA or safflower oil help you lose Fat-body weight? 
By Walter Sorochan

Posted January 30, 2018; Updated October 2021.Disclaimer 

There is a lot of hype about CLA losing body fat and the hype adds to confusion. This article endeavors to provide reliable information to help readers make informed decisions about CLA claims.

What is CLA? CLA is short for Conjugated Linoleic Acid, an oil derived from the safflower plant. It is a brand name and most marketers use it on a different image label. When they use it then this makes it appear as though they are all talking about something different but selling the same substance.  But such is not the case.  Go on the internet and type in the CLA. Then click on the name or image and you will see a display of the many, many company sellers promoting their special brands. Most advertisers do not give any research evidence for their claims; good documented information about what their product does is missing. Reviewers of CLA imply that they are reviewing all CLA when they are really presenting a front to sell their products. These reviewers are not independent third party researchers. With this kind of unregulated hype, it is difficult to trust their CLA product or review.

Incidentally, Ray Sahelian, MD, points out that: "Most dietary CLA in humans [not CLA supplements], is obtained from dairy products, accounting for the cis-9,trans-11 CLA isomer, also known as rumenic acid, for more than 90% of the total CLA intake. Commercial CLA supplements industrially produced, contain trans-10,cis-12 and cis-9,trans-11 CLA isomers in diverse proportions. Different companies making these products may have slightly or moderately different fatty acid compositions."

Research studies: There are numerous articles claiming to be research reviews. This author found these reviews scanty, lack referenced research documentation, often biased and very misleading. So this author-researcher did his own, as an independent third party, review of CLA articles posted on the internet.

Safflower oil and weight loss has mixed reviews from even experts. Some reviews found the safflower oil very helpful, others were somewhat satisfied and a number of them found it to be completely ineffective. It seems that safflower oil does not generate the same result twice. Not everyone will benefit from ingesting CLA and those that do apparently lose very little body fat and weight.

One marketer had the entire cast of TV Shark Tank entertainment approve their CLA product as an endorsement technique to imply best product status.   Shark tank had not done their homework! Did Shark Tank personnel invest and approve? 

Good research on humans is lacking. The double-blind studies sited had flawed research designs. They failed to mention the kind of diet those participating in the research were eating, caloric intake or their lifestyles. All studies neglected to state whether the participants were controlling their addicted eating habits. Thus, many factors in the research designs were neglected or overlooked, making the conclusions of these studies unreliable and useless. 

Purported health benefits of CLA Safflower Oil:  Lewis: CLA side effects 2017

  • Help you burn fat easier

  • Decrease your appetite

  • Increase the metabolic rate

  • Improve energy levels

  • Sustain lean mass formation

  • Preserve the already existing muscle mass

  • Prevent new fat from forming

  • Make you feel full for longer

  • Increase serotonin levels

Author Lewis has no research references to substantiate any of the above health benefits.

Side Effects not listed by many sellers:  Lewis: CLA side effects 2017

  • Supplement effects can  affect each person slightly different

  • pregnant women should avoid it, as it can cause miscarriage

  • people suffering from kidney diseases have reported side effects

  • might have a negative influence in patients with diabetes

  • CLA might interfere with blood-clotting drugs

  • Ingesting safflower oil may actually contribute to weight gain

Lewis once again appears to provide testimonials instead of valid research references.  The listed side effects may be valid. 

Safflower oil is regarded as healthy. Specialists recommend it for most people as well as for those affected by obesity.

Dosage: Consumer Survey claims that a good CLA supplement should contain at least 85% standardized CLA derived from safflowers, a minimum 2,000 mg daily dose, and no additional ingredients. Most brands did not pass the above criteria.  The average dose is likely safe for everyone, except for the individuals with an underlying medical condition, pregnant women, young children and those suffering from adverse effects.

Shortcomings of Research:

Although some studies, that are poorly research designed, show that safflower oil really lessens belly fat, other studies concluded that there may not be any fat loss and that fat loss stops when one stops using CLA.

Companies selling CLA fail to mention that CLA may have little affect on fat-weight loss when you bring snacking and eating addicting junk and processed foods under control. If you did, then you may not need to continue using CLA safflower oil to lose weight. Also, as long as you continue eating addicting junk foods, you will need to continue buying CLA to keep body weight down. It is business as usual.

Safflower oil is assimilated quickly, replenishing the body with essential fatty acids omega-6 and omega-9, protein, minerals and vitamin E, all with a significant role in maintaining healthy cells and reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body. Some claim to notice differences in fat mass and muscle mass while taking CLA while others just can't tell if there is a difference between when they are on CLA and when they're off CLA. It's a fact that there have been numerous times when CLA has been inconsistent and not very reliable and there are many people that can back that up, not to mention the human clinical trials.

The business CLA model regards safflower oil as healthy.

An Alternative to CLA

There are better ways to lose belly fat than this CLA supplement.  Stop eating processed-snack-junk foods and bad foods.  Cut calories by eating high fiber veggies and fruits. Research shows that most persons do not lose body fat/weight by exercise.  Exercise burns some calories off but this is insignificant.

The best way to lose body fat is to correct one's lifestyle as follows:

1. You do this by eating alkali - good foods. According to scientists, this is the number one pre-requisite to weight loss. And it is probably the most difficult to attain.

2. Change the colon bacteria so the bowel movement is soft and has about 80% good bacteria and 20% bad bacteria as a ratio. You do this by eating good foods. You may have to help the good diet by also ingesting a good probiotic capsule each day for about 5 days.

3. Regular exercise does facilitate the movement of body wastes.

4. You might want to explore motivational incentives for losing weight. What does an obese person find exciting or what does she/he respond to as a reward? It would be similar to Pavlov's psychological experiments.

Below is information about good vs bad foods.

Table A Common Alkaline Producing Good Foods

Almonds,                     Amarantha                       Apples
Apricots                       Asparagus*                     Avocados
Bananas                      Beet greens                    Beets
Broccoli*                      Brussels sprouts            Canola Oil                     
Carrots                        Cauliflower                      Celery       
Chard leaves               Cherries (Sour)              Chestnuts                      
Cucumbers                  Parsnips                          Dates (Dried)        
Figs (Dried)                 Flax oil                             Garlic*                         
Grapefruit*                  Grapes                             Green beans              
Green peas                 Green tea                        Herb teas *            
Honey (Raw)                Kiwi                                 Lemons*                      
Lettuce                         Lima beans                      Limes*                            
Mangoes*                     Maple syrup                    Milk (Goat’s)           
Millet                             Molasses                         Mushrooms      
Musk melon                 Olive oil*                           Onions*                          
Oranges                       Papaya*                           Parsley*                          
Peaches                       Pears                               ineapple                     
Potatoes(Sweet)          Potatoes (White)            Quinoa                            
Radishes                      Raisins Raspberries       Rice syrup                  
Rice (Wild)                   Rutabagas (Green)         Sauerkraut                   
Soy beans (Green)      Spinach (Raw)*               Strawberries  (Raw)                
Sugar                           Tangerines                       Tomatoes                        
Watercress                  Watermelon*
                          Source:   Murphy: Acid-Alkaline Balance  


Table B Common Acid Producing Bad Foods

Artif sweeteners*            Bacon                              Barley
Beans(Dried)                  Beer*                               Beef*
Blueberries *                   Bran (Wheat)                  Bran (Oat)
Bread (White)                 Bread (Whole wheat)      Butter
Carob*                             Cashews                         Cheese*  
Chicken                           Codfish                            Coffee           
Corn oil                            Corned beef                    Crackers (Soda)             
Cranberries*                    Plums                              Eggs             
Flour(White)*                   Flour (Whole wheat)       Haddock             
Honey(Processed)          Lentils (Dried)                 Lobster                    
Milk (Cow’s)(Homog)      Molasses                         Macaroni
Oatmeal                           Oysters                            Pasta*                             
Pastries*                          Peanut butter                   Peanuts*         
Peas (Dried)                    Pecans                            Pinto beans     
Pork*                                Prunes*                            Pumpkin seeds  
Rice (Brown)                   Rice (White)                    Salmon                          
Sardines                          Sausage                           Scallops                         
Shellfish*                          Shrimp                     
Soft Drinks*                     Soybean*                         Spaghetti                       
Spelt                                 Spinach (Cooked)           Squash (Winter)             
Sugar (Refined)              Sunflower seeds              Turkey                        
Veal                                 Venison                             Walnuts*                       
Wheat germ                    Yogurt                               Source:   Murphy: Acid-Alkaline Balance

95% of Americans have an acidic body.

Correct an overly-acid body: by cleaning up [correcting] your diet and lifestyle. Here is an example of what you can do to get an alkaline body:

 1. Consume 80% alkalizing foods and 20% acid-forming foods [ based on volume ]
  2. Reduce hi protein meats [ beef, pork, poultry, cheese ] 
  3. Drink 6-8 glasses of pure water every day
  4. Drink minimum milk
  5. Eat green vegetables  [ preferably organic ]
  6. Eat lots of fruits
  7. Eat seed vegetables [ beans, peas for protein ]
  8. Eat raw nuts, including ground flax seeds
  9. Stop drinking sodas
10. Get 20 to 30 minutes of sunshine exposure for vitamin D
11. Eat smaller portions of foods
12. Cook and eat more home meals
13. Eliminate fast and processed foods
14. Get fresh air every day
15. Exercise minimum 30 minutes at least four times a week
16. Take plant derived nutritional supplements
117. Improve your 'Mental State'
18. Practice proper deep breathing for alkalinosis 

If you are sick, have the flu' or are recuperating from surgery, you should consider, with your doctor, to eat alkali foods that, in turn, speed up your healing.

According to Merick Medical Manual, acidosis can be temporarily reversed by simply ingesting bicarbonate.   Merck Medical manual home edition  However, this approach does not correct the main cause, that of bad food choices.


Consumer Servey,"2017 Consumers Survey: CLA Weight Loss Guide, 01/25/2018. Which Maximum Strength CLA Supplement Actually Works? Article no loner active.

Lewis Jessica, "CLA Safflower Oil: Uses, Side Effects and Warnings," Healthy Living benefits, Dec 21, 2017.   Lewis: CLA side effects 2017

Merck Medical manual home edition  Merck Medical manual home edition

Murphy Helen, "Is Your CLA Supplement Effective? Consumer Review, 2018.  Murphy: Consumer effectiveness 2018

Murphy David, PhD, ND, CHT, "Acid-Alkaline Balance," Self Growth. Murphy:   Murphy: Acid-Alkaline Balance  [Acid-Alkaline Balance This article does an excellent job summarizing the importance of the acid-alkaline balance in the human body as a measure of overall physical health, and to indicate several steps that can be taken if you need to improve that balance. "Although the cells live in an almost pH neutral environment, they produce acid as they convert food into energy and then perform work. The weak acid that they produce is easily eliminated by the respiratory system. This is the first, and natural source of acid in our bodies. Although we don’t eat a lot of acid food most of the food in the “typical” American diet produces acid ash. Ash is the residue that is left after the body has used what it can of the food that we ingest. Acid ash in solution is a much stronger acid than that produced by the cells and it must be eliminate by the kidneys."]

Rentz Deborah, "The Possible Side Effects of CLA," CLA Report, October 29, 2016.  Rentz: CLA side effects 2016

Sahelian Ray, "CLA supplement benefit, risk, side effects and research study information, review," January 1 2017.  Article inactive.

Superfoodly, "CLA Safflower Oil Weight Loss Reviews That Were Fake," June 20, 2017.  Article inactive.