The proper way to use conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, as a supplement to help lose weight is in a program that also emphasizes regular exercise and a healthy diet, reports About.com. CLA may also be effective in reducing rectal and colon cancer risk in women, adds MedicineNet. People with metabolic syndrome who are at risk of diabetes or who already have diabetes should not take CLA.
As of 2015, research is conflicting about whether CLA is effective in helping with weight loss, explains About.com. Those seeking to lose weight should consult their health care providers before using CLA, as it may have a negative effect on blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Other possible side effects include fatigue, upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea, warns MedicineNet. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid using CLA. The use of CLA supplements may also damage the liver, increase inflammation and react negatively with other medications, cautions WebMD.
Although some people take CLA as a bodybuilding supplement, to help fight cancer, to reduce cholesterol levels and for other reasons, insufficient research evidence exists to justify these uses, according to MedicineNet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates supplements such as CLA as foods instead of medicines, so they are not subject to the rigorous testing of medicines before marketing, states WebMD. People can also get CLA naturally in foods such as beef, other types of meat, milk, and safflower and sunflower oil.