What is L-Carnitine and how do I use it?

L-Carnitine is a dietary supplement commonly consumed by athletes looking to lose weight and improve athletic performance. Popular since the 80s, l-carnitine has over time become a safe benchmark for burning fat while improving endurance capabilities. It is mainly found in meat, dairy products or fish. It is present in muscles and cellular mitochondria. It transports fatty acids and considerably reduces the waste that accumulates in the body. Corn what is l-carnitine, and how do i use it?

What is L-carnitine?

The different types of carnitine

L-carnitine is the “standard” biologically active form produced in our bodies and available in foods and most dietary supplements.

But there are other types of carnitine:

  • D-carnitine : this inactive form can cause carnitine deficiency in our body by inhibiting the absorption of other, more useful forms.
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine : often called ALCAR, it is probably the most effective form of carnitine for our brain. Studies suggest it may benefit people with neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Propionyl-L-carnitine : this form is well suited to circulatory problems such as peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure. It can stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow.
  • L-carnitine L-tartrate : It is commonly added to sports supplements due to its rapid absorption rate.
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The roles of carnitine in the body

The primary role of l-carnitine in our body therefore involves mitochondrial function and energy production. In the cells, it helps transport fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they can be burned to produce energy. About 98% of our l-carnitine stores are contained in our muscles, with the rest found in the liver and blood.

L-carnitine may therefore help increase mitochondrial function, which plays a key role in disease and aging.

Carnitine and weight loss

Considering its role in the body, using l-carnitine as a weight loss supplement makes sense because it helps move more fatty acids into our cells, which are burned for energy.

An analysis of nine studies (mostly in obese people or older adults) found that these people lost an average of 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg) while taking l-carnitine.

Although it can help with weight loss for obese people or older adults, a diet and exercise plan should be put in place first to optimize its fat-burning effectiveness.

Its effects on brain function

L-carnitine can improve brain function. Indeed, some animal studies suggest that the acetyl form, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), may help prevent age-related mental decline and improve markers of learning.

Human studies indicate that taking acetyl-L-carnitine daily helps reverse the decline in brain function associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases. In specific cases, this form can even protect our brain against cell damage.

In a 90-day study, people with alcohol dependence who took 2 grams of acetyl-l-carnitine per day experienced significant improvements in all measures of their brain function.

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Carnitine and heart health

Some studies show potential for reducing blood pressure and the inflammatory process associated with heart disease.

In one study, taking 2 grams of acetyl-l-carnitine per day resulted in an almost 10 point drop in systolic blood pressure. The higher number in a blood pressure reading is an important indicator of heart health and disease risk.

L-carnitine is also linked to improvements in patients with serious heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease and chronic heart failure. A 12-month study observed a reduction in heart failure and death in participants who took l-carnitine supplements.

Carnitine and type 2 diabetes

L-carnitine may also reduce the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and its associated risk factors.

A study of people with type 2 diabetes taking diabetes medications indicated that carnitine supplements significantly reduced their blood sugar levels, compared to a placebo.

It can also fight diabetes by increasing a key enzyme called AMPK, which improves our body’s ability to use carbohydrates.

Carnitine and athletic performance

Several studies report benefits associated with larger or longer-term doses of l-carnitine.

The benefits of l-carnitine can be indirect and take weeks to show. This differs from supplements like caffeine or creatine, which can directly improve athletic performance.

The benefits of carnitine on sports performance:

  • It can improve muscle recovery during physical exertion.
  • It can improve the oxygen supply to our muscle fibers.
  • It can increase blood circulation and nitric oxide production, help delay discomfort and reduce fatigue, which directly increases endurance capabilities.
  • It can reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
  • It can increase the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body and to the muscles.
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When and how to use L-Carnitine?

Thus, it is preferably consumed before exercise:

  • Consume 1 to 2g of l-carnitine (in capsules or in liquid form) approximately 45 minutes before a session.

Its effects on the muscle are also considerable. This is why bodybuilders use it. By burning fat, l-carnitine helps achieve good muscle definition.

To conclude

While l-carnitine is known for its role in fat burning and weight loss, studies also support its use for health, brain function, and disease prevention. Nutritional supplements may also benefit those with lower levels, such as older adults, vegans, and vegetarians.

Among its different forms, Acetyl-L-Carnitine and L-Carnitine are the most popular and seem to be the most effective.

Also read:

Diet to lose weight

Which amino acids for which purposes?

10 tips to speed up weight loss

Diet to dry: 7 theories on the dock


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