Safeguard Against Seasonal Weight Gain

November 15, 2012
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Three ways this natural solution triggers fat burning instead of fat storing.

Since the 1980s, numerous studies have focused on the power of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) to serve as a natural weight loss aid. In fact, I broke the story on the slimming benefits of “good” fats in my first book Beyond Pritikin back in 1988.

A flurry of new research has hailed GLA’s major fat-fighting mechanism as a new obesity “theory” (New England Journal of Medicine, 2009) which is exciting news as we head into the holiday season. I’m such a believer in GLA’s abilities that I featured it in my “Worries Solved” Nutrition column in this month’s First for Women Magazine.


Why do I love GLA so much?

Found in seed oils from borage, evening primrose, and black currant seed, GLA is an omega-6 essential fatty acid that triggers fat burning instead of fat storage in three ways:

1. GLA fuels the burning of brown adipose tissue, a type of fat commonly dormant in overweight people. I like to call brown fat your personalized fat burner. Although it only makes up 10% or less of total body fat, it burns ¼ of all the calories burned by the other fat tissues combined.

2. GLA stimulates a metabolic process commonly referred to as the “sodium pump,” helping to use up nearly half of the body’s calories.

3. Like other fatty acids, GLA’s thought to help elevate levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that contributes to the feeling of fullness –which means you’ll feel satisfied sooner, and put the brakes on the urge to overindulge.

BEAUTY BONUS!  Beyond weight loss, a steady supply of GLA helps skin retain its moisture and stay supple and smooth.

Ideally, GLA can be synthesized by the body from linolenic acid, found in certain oils, grains, and seeds. But when you take into account the dietary and lifestyle habits of today’s society, most of our bodies just can’t make that conversion.

Overconsumption of artificial trans-fats, sugar or alcohol, and smoking, aging, and illnesses such as diabetes can act as the main metabolic roadblocks. All of these factors affect the body’s ability to convert linolenic acid into GLA and efficiently burn fat.

Luckily, it’s easy to give your body the GLA it needs to become an efficient fat-burning machine. Supplementing your diet with seed oils provides GLA in a usable form, so the body can bypass the conversion process and get down to the business of burning excess fat.

Years ago, I used to suggest using evening primrose oil, but today I’m hesitant because it can sometimes trigger breakthrough bleeding, as it appears to be somewhat estrogenic in certain women. Instead, I recommend black currant seed oil because it has the best balance of beneficial ingredients—including omega-3s.

Recommended Usage:
The recommended dose of GLA ranges from 300 to 2,000 milligrams per day. I suggest taking two 180 mg dosages of GLA-90—rich in black currant seed oil—for a 360 mg total per day.

Boost the Benefits:

It may take 3 to 6 weeks before you feel the full effects of GLA supplementation. GLA is most effective when taken in two divided daily doses with food to enhance its absorption and minimize the likelihood of digestive upset.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Carol

    I get my GLA from borage oil.Is that OK?

  2. Maria

    interesting comment re estrogenic effect of EPO … I have been taking it over last 3 months specifically for last half of cycle (krill oil for first half of cycle) in an effort to normalize my period and deal with other hormonal problems … on advice of naturopathic doctor. Could the return of sore breasts particularly cystic areas prior to period be due to EPO use? Then trying black currant seed oil would be better? Would appreciate your advice! Thank you once again!!

    • liz

      Black current oil could definiately be better in that department.

  3. Cindy

    Yes I use GLA from Borage Seed Oil as well and would like to know if this type of GLA is just as effective as I have been using it for more than a year and dont want to be using the wrong product .

    • Sierra

      Hi Cindy,
      As stated in the above blog, Ann Louise is more comfortable recommending the Black Currant Seed Oil. You may try switching and see if it makes a difference for you, though it is possible that the borage is working fine for you.

  4. dorothy

    is CLA,just as good,i’ve a gluten problem.

    • liz

      CLA is also good but it works differently. I’m not sure why you are concerned about GLA if you have a gluten problem.

  5. Amy G.

    I order my black currant seed oil online, and even though it is cold pressed, the recent bottles of it I’ve received have been rancid (they are not from Unikey,) so I stopped taking it. Now I have dry itchy patches on my forearms that I get each winter if I’m not taking BCSO.

    • Sierra

      My face gets so dry in the winter, and the BCSO does an amazing job keeping my skin moisturized from the inside out.

  6. Karen

    Hi : I have been reading about Alpha Lipoic Acid – essential nutrient for carbohydrate metabolism and maintaining healthy blood sugar, would you please tell me how it compares to GLA?
    thanks for your help

    • liz

      Both supplements are good for their own effects. GLA is involved in forming brown fat to burn white fat, so it isn’t involved in sugar metabolism.

  7. liz

    Yes Carol you can get it from Borage Seed oil. just make sure you are getting at least 360 mg of GLA per day.

  8. Terri

    Are there any medications that could be contraindicated by this GLA?

  9. Carol Parker

    Is it okay to take GLAs and CLAs at the same time. Anne has recommended both of them and I just want to be sure it’s okay to take both together. ??
    thanks, Carol

    • Sierra

      Hi Carol,
      Yes- GLA and CLA work very well when taken together 🙂


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