GLA vs. CLA – What’s the Difference?

GLA vs. CLA – What’s the Difference?

With so many different “weight loss” supplements out there it isn’t always easy to determine what you really need and why.

For many people, it can be truly overwhelming. Our team fields lots of questions every day, and one of the most common is the difference between “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 linolenic 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 favorite is the GLA-90 formula which contains 90 mg of GLA from cold pressed black currant seed oil.


CLA is especially good at burning visceral fat, the kind hiding in between muscles and organs, and 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 previously lost weight. When the group gained weight while taking CLA, half of them gained weight back it 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!

Posted in: Body Tagged: , , , , 67 Comments

About UNI KEY Health

The team at Uni Key Health Systems is committed to helping others take control of their health and wellness. We practice what we preach and believe health is one of the greatest gifts. We are led by founder James Templeton who founded UNI KEY in 1992 after he used alternative health modalities to heal himself from a terminal cancer diagnosis. He has since dedicated his life to helping others achieve optimum health and wellness.

Comments (67)

  • Sierra January 9, 2013 - 8:50 pm Reply

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

  • Irene January 10, 2013 - 7:30 am Reply

    This really answered my drawback, thanks

  • Salome January 11, 2013 - 2:42 pm Reply

    Major thankies for the article!

  • Deborah January 30, 2013 - 2:29 am Reply

    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 Reply

      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 Reply

    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 Reply

      Yes you can, if you wish.

  • Rossini January 30, 2013 - 4:49 am Reply


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

    Thank you,

    • liz January 30, 2013 - 8:37 pm Reply

      You certainly can if you wish.

      • liz January 30, 2013 - 8:39 pm Reply

        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 Reply

    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 Reply

    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 Reply

    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 Reply

      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 Reply

    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 Reply

    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 Reply

    Are there side effects with either one of these?

  • liz January 24, 2014 - 8:31 pm Reply

    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 Reply

    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 Reply

      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 Reply

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

  • Alisha April 24, 2014 - 9:59 pm Reply

    Thank you for this article!

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

    • Admin April 25, 2014 - 3:10 pm Reply

      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 Reply

    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 Reply

    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.

  • STACY July 23, 2014 - 2:42 pm Reply

    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 Reply

      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.

  • Debra Lupinacci February 20, 2015 - 7:05 pm Reply

    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 Reply

      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.

  • Veronica January 29, 2016 - 8:20 pm Reply

    Hi I was wondering do any of these interfere with Leptin?

    • UKadmin July 6, 2016 - 9:02 pm Reply

      Many people have found that these may help improve leptin levels!

  • LP March 20, 2016 - 4:05 am Reply

    Would it be beneficial to rub either of these directly on the belly? Just curious…thanks.

    • UKadmin April 5, 2016 - 11:41 pm Reply

      Hi LP – You wouldn’t get the same benefits externally as you would internally.

  • Darrin Jones April 4, 2016 - 1:51 pm Reply

    Wanting to try both of these products if I do how many of each should I take and for how long should I take them and could there be any possible side effects after a long term use.

    • UKadmin April 5, 2016 - 11:40 pm Reply

      Hi Darrin – Great questions! We aren’t aware of any side effects of long term use for either GLA or CLA. Many individuals take both daily – the recommended dosage for CLA is one 1000 mg softgel 3x daily with meals and for GLA, take two 90 mg softgels twice daily. You can find both products here>> and


  • Janice May 10, 2016 - 9:07 pm Reply

    Thanks for the article. How long do you have to take both CLA and GLA to see results. Is there a waiting period for them to be absorbed into your system,example, two months?

    • UKadmin May 25, 2016 - 11:24 pm Reply

      they should start working immediately, but some people may notice results faster than others!

  • lynne pratley May 26, 2016 - 7:32 pm Reply

    How long does it take before you notice weight loss with taking these two products? Thanks Lynne

  • Lisette Tujaka August 6, 2016 - 3:58 pm Reply

    Hello, I have been taking CLA for a few months now and have see only a minimal weight loss. I have been diagnosed with leptin resistance and have also tried GLA but fear the side effects. Please advice.

    • UKadmin August 14, 2016 - 7:20 pm Reply

      Thank you for your comment. We are not sure which GLA side effects you are referring to as the only side effect we have noted over the years is with GLA-rich evening primrose oil which we no longer recommend as it has been known to precipitate spotting in menstruating and pre-menopausal women. We might also suggest that along with your CLA, you should try to curtail carbs to 30 grams and use more slimming fats like avocado in your regimen.

  • victoria langan August 12, 2016 - 12:07 pm Reply

    is taking the Evening Primrose GLA 135mg OK instead of what you recommended?

    • UKadmin August 14, 2016 - 7:20 pm Reply

      The evening primrose oil is a potent source of GLA but it can have estrogenic effects in sensitive women. We would aim for 360 mg daily of GLA from black current seed oil, ideally for health and wellbeing.

      • Pendergrass May 24, 2017 - 8:32 pm Reply

        Actually borage oil is the most potent source of GLA, given its concentration which is around 20-24%

        • UKadmin May 26, 2017 - 4:22 pm Reply

          You are correct Pendergrass! We have corrected our mistake.

  • Shirley August 20, 2016 - 9:19 pm Reply

    What do you think about Calcium Pyruvate? Can it be taken along with the CLA/GLA?

    • UKadmin September 19, 2016 - 8:25 pm Reply

      You can definitely try the calcium pyruvate – which was a weight loss phenomenon years ago. We would wholeheartedly recommend taking it along with CLA and GLA. Thank you so much.

  • varsha September 9, 2016 - 7:20 am Reply

    i am working out for my belly fat and arms fat by exercising…but not working out…i wanna loose 6 to 7 kilos…can u plzzz suggest me what should i take….

  • varsha September 9, 2016 - 5:58 pm Reply

    and is their any side effects of doses….can i take both of them….whether i can discontinue the doses after loosing fat or weight loss…or any precaution while having these doses…

    • UKadmin September 19, 2016 - 6:28 pm Reply

      Varsha, Have you considered Smoothie Shakedown? I think both GLA and CLA are of use, but the Shakedown is an easy to follow 2-week smoothie diet that incorporates GLA.

  • Pamela September 18, 2016 - 5:51 pm Reply

    I have heard about research that states that CLA only helps if you are more than 10 lbs overweight. Is this true?

    • UKadmin September 19, 2016 - 8:24 pm Reply

      We have never found this to be true in the research. However, years ago, GLA was mistakenly believed to be ineffective for weight loss unless there was more than 10 pounds of overweight. This has since been shown to be false.

  • Allyse November 13, 2016 - 1:31 am Reply

    I would love to get them both but can not afford them so I was wondering which one burns torso fat the best

    • UKadmin November 15, 2016 - 3:23 pm Reply

      Hi Allyse – CLA is especially helpful for belly fat!

  • Asma February 1, 2017 - 1:42 pm Reply

    Can I take CLA and omega 3 together.
    Secondly I’m already taking evening primrose oil so is it ok to take CLA along with it.

    • UKadmin February 1, 2017 - 4:44 pm Reply

      Yes, you can absolutely take CLA and omega-3s together. Evening primrose oil is an excellent source of GLA and you can take that along with CLA as well.

  • Gina June 23, 2017 - 4:57 pm Reply

    Hello, I have backfat(I know its not the topic of discussion)and was wondering can either CLA/GLA help with that…which one would you recommend?

    • UKadmin June 27, 2017 - 2:46 pm Reply

      Hi Gina – We would recommend trying the CLA as it helps to burn fat especially around the midsection.

  • Tara August 10, 2017 - 4:31 pm Reply

    I’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and have experienced a total hysterectomy. Will these two products together be harmful. I am currently taking CLA with some results.

    • UKadmin August 10, 2017 - 7:26 pm Reply

      Hi Tara – There should be no problem taking both CLA and GLA together.

  • Deborah April 21, 2018 - 5:12 pm Reply

    I have been diagnosed with lipedema. Will GLA help get rid of the fat in my lower body?

    • UNI KEY Health April 24, 2018 - 8:36 pm Reply

      Hello Deborah – Thank you for your question. GLA-90 helps the body to stimulate metabolically active brown fat for optimum weight loss support. Research confirms deeper brown fat cells burn 3X more calories than surface white fat cells. Brown fat is primarily activated by cold, brown fat triggers the body to burn more calories and generate body heat. These metabolic properties make supplementing with gamma linolenic acid like GLA-90 an invaluable component to the Fat Flush Plan. GLA triggers fat burning instead of fat storage, which will help get rid of fat in the lower body as well. Hope this helps! Please give us a call at 800-888-4353 or email We are here to help!

      -Uni Key Staff

  • Nitu July 30, 2018 - 5:21 pm Reply

    I am taking GLA-M from today as I have gained a lot of weight due to azathioprine. Will it work for me? I am 18 year old boy from assam, india.

    • UNI KEY Health July 31, 2018 - 9:48 pm Reply

      Hello Nitu – Thank you for your comment. Yes, GLA-90 will help you stimulate brown fat activity through its prostaglandin pathways for optimized fat burning! 😉

      – UNI KEY Staff

  • Katherine Munday January 29, 2019 - 5:12 pm Reply

    Can you take to much fish oil?
    I ask because I’m on a prescription fish
    Oil for my cholesterol. Why doesn’t it have the same weight loss effect as GLA?

    • UNI KEY Health May 2, 2019 - 3:45 pm Reply

      Fish oil contains omega-3 in the form of primarily EPA and DHA. GLA is not an essential fatty acid, but is not an omega-3 — it is an omega-6 that has a specific purpose and helps to stimulate brown fat to burn white fat for weight loss support.

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