Could These Fat Melters Work for You?

By Eva Selhub, MD Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Clinical Associate in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Author of The Love Response and Your Brain on Nature

Posted on | By Eva Selhub, MD | Comments ()

Think of fat melting this way: When you put fat in a frying pan and turn on the fire, what happens? The fat heats up and melts.

From This Episode:

Brand New Fat Melters

This process happens in the body when fat is broken down or lipolysis occurs (lipo = fat; lysis = break down), and energy is made to create heat, or thermogenesis (thermo = heat;  genesis = creating).

That’s how exercise works to melt fat: Exercise expends energy, which creates heat. Nature, in its brilliance, has also provided us with many foods, fruits and vegetables that can help break down fat, instead of storing it, and thus melt fat. These natural ways have been shown to be safe and sometimes work without you having to move – though I do not advocate not moving!    

Fat Melter #1: Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid, found in beef and dairy products. It’s also known as the “good” trans fat. The human body does not make CLA and we need to rely on other sources to get it. Unfortunately, the modern diet, due to processed food intake and changes in farming, has much lower amounts of CLA content.

How does it work?

Despite all the positive research on the benefits of CLA, researchers are still unclear about the precise mechanisms of action. We do believe that it lowers the melting point for fat burning. It appears that CLA blocks fat cells from growing bigger or swelling by influencing enzymes that afect fat growth. CLA also seems to increase the speed of fat burning.

What kind of results should I expect?

Recent human studies have shown that taking CLA, at least 3.4 grams a day, led to a significant decrease in body fat mass and the diameter of the abdomen in obese subjects, but not body weight.

What does this mean? Remember, when you are exercising and weight lifting, you may not actually lose weight, but you will lose inches and increase lean body mass. For instance, if you lose 5 pounds of fat and gain 4 pounds of muscle, the end result is only a loss of 1 pound. 

Article written by Eva Selhub, MD
Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Clinical Associate in Medicine, Massachusetts General HospitalAuthor of The...