The essential GLA (gamma linolenic
acid) is not just your ordinary Smart
Fat. Distinctively different than thyroid-targeting
coconut oil, GLA is a multitasking
essential fatty acid that activates
brown fat to effortlessly burn calories from heat.
Our bodies need to get GLA from foods because we
cannot manufacture this essential fatty acid without
an outside source. GLA has proven benefits to ignite
a slow metabolism and is a healer for PMS, bloating,
depression, diabetic neuropathy, morning stiffness,
and skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
As far back as the 1980s, many studies focused
on GLA as a natural aid to weight reduction. They
were published in prestigious medical journals such
as the New England Journal of Medicine. These reports
documented GLA's definite promise in the battle of
GLA regulates metabolic functions all the way down
to the cellular level, helping the cardiovascular,
immune, and reproductive and central nervous
systems through its prostaglandin pathways.
Prostaglandins are short-lived hormone-like
substances that regulate metabolic processes
throughout the body. They were discovered over 60
years ago in the prostate gland, hence the name
"prostaglandins." Today, prostaglandins are included
in a larger group of hormones known as eicosanoids.
So profound is the ability of the essential fats
to transform themselves into these substances that
the 1982 Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to
scientists in prostaglandin research.
Prostaglandins can only be made from two
essential Smart Fats, GLA, an omega-6, and EPA, an
omega-3 fat. These two are the direct prostaglandin
building blocks. Together they form an unbeatable
combination and ideally should be consumed
in a one-to-one ratio since so many overweight
individuals are GLA deficient based upon essential
fatty acid testing.
All That And Fat Burning, Too!
Our Smart Fat produced prostaglandins have far
reaching implications. They control inflammation,
blood clotting, blood pressure, tumor growth, brain
function and allergies. They soothe skin, promote
healing and regulate water loss. Their natural anti-inflammatory
properties reduce pain, swelling and
redness. They are burned off much more quickly
than other fats and their biochemical structure easily
permeates cell walls, making them flexible and less
rigid and stiff, thereby inhibiting overeating because
of more rapid satiety. Other GLA attributes include
stellar skin protection to moisturize internally
and diminish symptoms of eczema and psoriasis;
reduction of excess inflammation and alleviation of
morning stiffness; support of healthy cholesterol
and relief of PMS, perimenopause, and menopausal
symptoms; and alleviation of hangover and substance
The series one prostaglandins created from
GLA are believed to regulate many aspects of
metabolism. GLA-induced prostaglandins regulate
brown fat by acting as a catalyst to either turn it on to
trigger calorie burning or turn it off to trigger calorie
conservation. Prostaglandins are also connected to
a metabolic process referred to as ATPase. ATPase
is also known as the sodium pump, a biochemical
process necessary to keep the right amount of
potassium inside cell walls and too much sodium
out. GLA-rich substances like black currant seed
oil, by means of prostaglandin activity, control the
sodium pump, which in turn revs up metabolism.
When GLA is in the diet, it operates as a remarkable
fat-burning agent when it triggers brown fat calorie
burning and the sodium pump. Brown fat is also known as
brown adipose tissue or BAT. It gets its color from the
many fat-burning mitochondria it contains. It only
comprises 10 percent or less of total body fat, yet it
can burn one-fourth of the calories burned by all other fat tissues combined. In a
similar way, GLA can stimulate the sodium pump to use up
to nearly 50 percent of the body's total calories.
In 2009 a flurry of new studies about fighting fat came
out that were heralded as the "newest obesity theory,"
claiming that brown fat was a potent regulator of metabolism
and weight. The research said that brown fat was deficient
in overweight people and was primarily activated by cold.
I remember shaking my head about this new obesity
theory because I had written about brown fat back in 1988 in
connection with GLA. Since the new research, the scientists
completely overlooked the role of GLA, which stimulates
brown fat activity, through its prostaglandin pathways.
And while omega-6s as a whole have gotten a bad rap,
their reputation is not quite justified. The issue is that
GLA's raw materials, the linoleic-acid containing safflower,
sunflower, soy and corn oil, are possible, but not always
probable, precursors. Possible—because under ideal
conditions they should easily be converted into the powerful
prostaglandins that have all the healing and metabolic
The problem is these typically refined and processed
oils are further blocked from converting into the biologically
potent prostaglandin, which make them biologically
worthless to the human body. A number of dietary and
lifestyle conditions like a lack of enzymatic cofactors such
as niacin, B6, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc as well as the
presence of transfats, excessive saturated fats, or alcohol
in the diet, impairs the delta-6-desaturase enzyme charged
with the transformation process. (The same metabolic
suspects, by the way, are in play, which can impair the
transformation of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid into
Since food sources cannot always convert into GLA
on their own, you are much better off taking GLA in
supplemental form from borage, evening primrose or black
currant seed oil with two exceptions: hemp seed oil (not
marijuana but from the same plant) and spirulina, a blue
green microalgae. Hemp seed oil contains "pre-formed"
GLA with a perfect blend of omega-3s.
If you prefer to take a supplement, my recommendation
is the GLA from black currant seed oil. Because of all the
pre-formed GLA sources, it is the best balanced with
omega-3s as part of its makeup. Perhaps most interesting
of all is the hypothesis that GLA, like other fatty acids, has
the potential to elevate levels of serotonin, the "feel good"
brain chemical which contributes to the feeling of fullness.
By elevating serotonin, you will feel calmer and satiated
sooner. So not only does GLA have the ability to increase
the body's metabolism and burn fat, but it may also work as
an appetite suppressant as well.
Smart Tips: GLA
Want to know how to get more GLA in your life for a
1. Nibble on hemp "hearts" (seeds) and drizzle hemp seed
oil. Hemp is a great tasting source of balanced omega-6
and omega-3, and also contains vitamin E. Nutty and full
of flavor; the hemp seeds are great snacks and make a
smoothie nice and creamy. The oil is perfect over veggies
and salads. Besides spirulina, which can be taken as a
supplement or sprinkled in powder form in a smoothie or
green drink, hemp seeds and oil are the only direct preformed
food sources of thermogenic GLA.
2. Take supplements of ready-made GLA. Found in black
currant seed oil, borage or evening primrose oil for stronger
GLA power, I recommend 360 to 900 mg daily.
CLA – The Tummy Fat Blaster
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) has profound fat loss and
healing benefits. CLA helps reduce body fat while retaining lean muscle mass, a ready-made innate
calorie burner. It is also considered a necessary fatty
acid for both cell growth and as a building block for
To date, there are over 500 published studies
on this previously unrecognized nutrient. The first
human clinical trial using CLA was conducted in 1997
in Norway. It was a 90-day double-blind clinical study
that showed a stunning 20 percent decrease in body
fat, with an average loss of seven pounds of fat in
the group taking CLA. These results were achieved
without a single change in dietary habits, establishing
CLA supplementation for the first time as a simple,
effortless weight loss tool.
In addition to the ability to reduce body fat, CLA
has also been shown to increase lean muscle mass.
In this same study, although participants lost body
fat, they experienced very little change in overall body
weight due to the increase in lean muscle mass. The
end result was a stronger, healthier body.
CLA is also a powerful tool for anyone who finds
themselves with weight gain over the holidays. In
2006 researchers studied 40 healthy but overweight
subjects over a period of six months. Over the holiday
season, the placebo group displayed a greater rate of
weight gain; while the CLA group showed significantly
reduced body fat of around 2.2 kg over the six month
Cellulite be gone! Did you know that biopsies of
cellulite demonstrate that unlike fat in most other
areas, the fat within cellulite is actually inflamed? This
type of inflammation speeds up the breakdown of
collagen and contributes to that puckered-up, orange
peel look we all dread. Studies also show that CLA
increases strong and healthy collagen and prevents fat
cells from accumulating even more fat and swelling
up. And, both ultrasound and visual examination has
proven that CLA can markedly reduce the appearance
CLA occurs naturally in grass-fed dairy foods—especially cream, butter and full-fat cheese. It is also
found in beef and lamb. Before the 1970s, Americans
got plenty of CLA by eating these Smart Fat-filled
foods. Today we are getting next to no CLA because
livestock is rarely grass-fed anymore, which decreases
CLA levels by about 80 percent.
To compound this deficiency, over the past 70
years many misguided Americans on low- or no-fat
diets have stopped eating these dietary sources of CLA.
While adding grass-fed dairy and meats back into your
diet is highly recommended for a variety of health
reasons, there are other ways to get more potentized
CLA into your body. Science has been able to create
CLA from the linoleic acid found in sunflower and
safflower oils. Today CLA is available as a convenient
Smart Tips: CLA
Want to increase your CLA to rev up metabolic rate?
- Eat CLA-rich grass-fed beef and pastured butter and cream. Also be on the lookout for grass-fed, non-denatured whey.
- Consider CLA supplements from conjugated safflower or sunflower oil. I recommend 3,000 mg daily. But, just be careful. With many of my clients, you lose weight so quickly you will go down a pants size or two in no time!
GLA vs. CLA: What's the difference you ask?
GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and CLA (conjugated
linoleic acid) are both important fatty acids that will
help burn fat to promote weight loss, and help control
appetite to prevent weight gain.
They can be taken individually or as a duo to help
break down fat.
- GLA raises your metabolism by stimulating brown fat (adipose tissue) in the body to burn calories for energy.
- CLA especially targets visceral fat (found deep within the abdominal area) and is helpful for burning belly fat while increasing lean muscle mass.