British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Conjugated linoleic acid versus high-oleic acid sunflower oil: effects on energy metabolism, glucose tolerance, blood lipids, appetite and body composition in regularly exercising individuals

Estelle V. Lamberta1 c1, Julia H. Goedeckea1, Kerry Bluetta2, Kerry Heggiea2, Amanda Claassena1, Dale E. Raea1, Sacha Westa1, Jonathan Dugasa1, Lara Dugasa1, Shelly Meltzera1, Karen Charltona2 and Inge Mohedea3

a1 UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, PO Box 115 Newlands, 7725, South Africa

a2 Nutrition and Dietetics Division, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

a3 Loders Croklaan Lipid Nutrition, The Netherlands


The aim of this study was to measure the effects of 12 weeks of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplementation on body composition, RER, RMR, blood lipid profiles, insulin sensitivity and appetite in exercising, normal-weight persons. In this double-blind, randomised, controlled trial, sixty-two non-obese subjects (twenty-five men, thirty-seven women) received either 3·9 g/d CLA or 3·9 g high-oleic acid sunflower oil for 12 weeks. Prior to and after 12 weeks of supplementation, oral glucose tolerance, blood lipid concentrations, body composition (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and computerised tomography scans), RMR, resting and exercising RER and appetite were measured. There were no significant effects of CLA on body composition or distribution, RMR, RER or appetite. During the oral glucose tolerance tests, mean plasma insulin concentrations (0, 30, 120 min) were significantly lower (P = 0·04) in women who supplemented with CLA (24·3 (sd 9·7) to 20·4 (sd 8·5) μU/ml) compared to high-oleic acid sunflower oil control (23·7 (sd 9·8) to 26·0 (sd 8·8) μU/ml). Serum NEFA levels in response to oral glucose were attenuated in both men and women in the CLA (P = 0·001) compared to control group. However, serum total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations decreased in both groups and HDL-cholesterol concentrations decreased in women over 12 weeks (P = 0·001, P = 0·02, P = 0·02, respectively). In conclusion, mixed-isomer CLA supplementation had a favourable effect on serum insulin and NEFA response to oral glucose in non-obese, regularly exercising women, but there were no CLA-specific effects on body composition, energy expenditure or appetite.

(Received August 15 2005)

(Revised March 29 2006)

(Accepted May 10 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Professor Estelle V. Lambert, fax +27 21 6867530, email


Abbreviations: CLA, conjugated linoleic acid; CT, computerised tomography; DEXA, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; OGTT, oral glucose tolerance test; VAS, visual analogue scale