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GLA vs. CLA – What’s the Difference?

Contributed by Liz

GLA and CLA supplementsWith so many different “weight loss” supplements out there on the market, it isn’t always easy to determine what you really need and why.

For many people, it can be truly overwhelming. Here at UNI KEY, our Customer Service team fields lots of questions every day, and one of the most common is the difference between two of our signature Fat Flush supplements, “GLA” and “CLA.” And, with only one letter apart, the confusion is understandable!

So, should you take one or both of them? How are they similar and how are they different?

GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) are omega-6 fatty acids which help burn fat, promoting weight loss. Both are good for preventing weight gain after you’ve lost weight, and both help to control appetite. However, they accomplish these goals differently.


GLA raises your metabolism by making brown fat (adipose tissue) in the body burn calories for energy and to keep your body warm. Usually, brown fat is not as active in overweight people and that’s where GLA comes in. It can help activate brown fat and burn off the ugly “white” fat that accumulates under your skin all over your body. GLA is also a good appetite suppressant since it raises the levels of serotonin so you feel full and eat less. A study at the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff, found that participants lost between 9 to 11 pounds in 6 weeks while taking GLA.

In addition to its “interior” affects, GLA also has exterior benefits! The prostaglandin it produces is an anti-inflammatory and diuretic, and helps the skin maintain tone and stay moisturized so it’s not saggy after and during weight loss.

Our GLA-90 formula contains 90mg of GLA from cold pressed black currant seed oil.


CLA is especially good at burning visceral fat, which is fat in between the muscles, and is especially helpful for belly fat. Research published in the International Journal of Obesity (August 2001) found that a group of overweight men taking CLA lost mostly belly fat and reduced their waistlines by 1 inch without making any diet or lifestyle changes. In a similar study, women lost mostly belly and thigh fat with CLA and reduced their waistlines by 1.2 inches.

While CLA helps burn fat, it helps gain lean muscles at the same time. A year-long research study performed by the Scandinavian Clinical Research Group found that overweight people lost 9% of their body fat and increased their lean muscle mass by 2% just by taking CLA with no changes in their diet or lifestyle. And, a University of Wisconsin-Madison study concluded that CLA helped to prevent weight gain in people who had previously lost weight, when they did gain weight while taking CLA, half of the weight gained back was lean muscle! How does it work? CLA inhibits an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase which is involved in the storage of fat into fat cells. It keeps little fat cells from getting big, according to Michael Pariza, director of the Food Research Institute who conducted the University of Wisconsin Study.

CLA also helps reduce your appetite, especially when you are not getting enough sleep. It lowers levels of leptin when is raised with sleep deficiency and makes you hungrier.  Another study showed the leptin levels dropped 20-35% in 24 months in those taking CLA.

Available at the study-backed dose of 1000 mg per softgel, our CLA-1000 formula is derived from safflower oil.

So, should you take one or both of these amazing omega-6s? You decide.

I’ve taken both of them for years to help maintain my weight and have a flat stomach in my 60s. They work!

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  • Sierra
    January 9, 2013 - 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Love these both! The GLA is especially helpful for my skin and hair and fingernails :)

  • Irene
    January 10, 2013 - 7:30 am | Permalink

    This really answered my drawback, thanks

  • Salome
    January 11, 2013 - 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Major thankies for the article!

  • Deborah
    January 30, 2013 - 2:29 am | Permalink

    I am following the fat flush plan and do not want to consume more than 1200 calories/day. Do I need to include calories from GLA and CLA and if so, aren’t the calories mainly fat calories?

    Would so appreciate a response.

    • liz
      January 30, 2013 - 8:36 pm | Permalink

      No, you don’t have to count these. The Fat Flush Plan is about food qualities and what they do.

  • Karen
    January 30, 2013 - 3:29 am | Permalink

    I am 55 and 2 years ago a quit smoking and started workign overnight weekends so I work Thur-Sunday from 10pm to 8am. Also at the same time menapause started. I have gained 25lbs and I have lost about 10 of that. I do take the fat flush vitamins GLA and CLA after reading this can I increase the CLA due to sleep deficieny?

    • liz
      January 30, 2013 - 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes you can, if you wish.

  • Rossini
    January 30, 2013 - 4:49 am | Permalink


    if i decide to take both how should I take them?

    Thank you,

    • liz
      January 30, 2013 - 8:37 pm | Permalink

      You certainly can if you wish.

      • liz
        January 30, 2013 - 8:39 pm | Permalink

        You would take the GLA according to the bottle directions, and the CLA 1-2 with each meal.

  • BB
    January 30, 2013 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t too many Omega 6s bad for you? There are so many Omega 6s in processed foods, especially safflower oil. My natural health doctor told me not to take them as they are inflammatories and I have inflammatory diseases.

  • liz
    January 30, 2013 - 9:53 pm | Permalink

    You do want to have a balance with the other Omega 3, 9 and 7. You should follow your doctor’s advice but they don’t cause inflammation on their own.

  • Carol Span
    May 24, 2013 - 3:33 am | Permalink

    Hi I am 45 years old. I have weighed 120lbs. all my life. Just 8 months ago I started taking herbal iron supplements and B-vitamin complex 100 and have been gaining weight. Now I weigh 135lbs. and gaining but now I have butt and hips I’ve never had before and like it but I also have a gut/belly and want to lose the belly without losing my butt and hips, will taking GLA or CLA or both help lose my belly and not my butt and hips.

    • liz
      May 30, 2013 - 12:36 am | Permalink

      Studies have shown that CLA does target belly fat. So that would be the one you would want to try. Be sure and take at least 3000 mg/day; up to 6000mg is sometimes good when you are just starting. That would be about 5-6 gels of the UNIKEY CLA-1000.

  • Danielle
    January 19, 2014 - 3:17 am | Permalink

    Hi! If I were to take both, how many would I take of each a day and when?

    Thanks for the article!

  • liz
    January 22, 2014 - 1:47 am | Permalink

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I do take both of these supplements. I take 2 GLA-90, and 1 CLA-1000 with each meal.

  • Jennifer
    January 23, 2014 - 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Are there side effects with either one of these?

  • liz
    January 24, 2014 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know of any side effects with GLA or CLA. They are both from natural oil sources. As with any supplement, you want to take them in the doses recommended for best results.

  • Liz
    March 11, 2014 - 1:19 am | Permalink

    I have read that CLA should not be taken if you have arteriosclerosis. That it could cause more problems, so I’ve stopped taking it. Is there any truth to that?

    • liz
      March 13, 2014 - 9:16 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure where you have read that information. My research shows just the opposite- It may have cholesterol lowering effects and can help prevent arterioschlerosis. They have not been able to conclusively prove this yet, but it certainly doesn’t create a problem to take CLA. Thank you for the question!

      • Liz
        March 22, 2014 - 12:50 am | Permalink

        Thank you. I’m definitely going back on them. Thank you for your answer.

  • Alisha
    April 24, 2014 - 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this article!

    Do you know if you can take either of these while nursing?

    • Admin
      April 25, 2014 - 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Hi Alisha! GLA and CLA both are fine while nursing. GLA (2) twice per day and CLA (1) three times per day. It’s also good for the baby for you to take 400 mg of DHA, which would be found in 2 caps of our Super EPA formula or 1 teaspoon of fish oil.

  • Karen
    June 4, 2014 - 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Loved your article…I want help with losing weight especially in the belly and thigh areas. Which is better to help with these areas, GLA or CLA.

  • Liz
    June 4, 2014 - 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad the article was helpful. CLA has been shown in studies to target the belly area, but I haven’t seen any studies connecting it to reduction in the thigh area.

    July 23, 2014 - 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Im taking Norvasc 5 mg a day and 1500 mg of metformin a day for PCOS and insulin resistancy. Do you know if there are interactions with these medications. My Dr. said the metformin could help with weight loss but it has not. Looking to reduce belly and viseral fat.

    • liz
      July 29, 2014 - 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Hi Stacy,

      I’m sorry for the delay in answering your post. There are no interactions with these medications and the CLA or GLA that are known.

  • February 20, 2015 - 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Hi I’m looking to lose about 20 pounds.I have a lot of weight in the belly area.what would you recamend Gla. Or Cla.And how many mgs.I’m 52years old.I’m also an asthmatic . Thank You Debra

    • Admin
      February 23, 2015 - 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Hi Debra! I would recommend that you take both. CLA is especially good for reducing belly fat, but GLA is needed to form brown fat that activates the loss of fat from your adipose tissue. Brown fat is found around our internal organs and has an enzyme that tells our adipose tissue to release fat and burn it for energy. If you don’t have enough brown fat this won’t happen. I also suggest that you look into the Fat Flush Weight Loss Formula. It is loaded with fat burners.

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