L-Carnitine is a substance that is synthesised naturally in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. While the body produces l-carnitine naturally however, many athletes still choose to take more in a supplement form to help them pursue their fat loss, muscle building and performance goals. But just how exactly does it work? Is it effective? And is it worth adding to your own ‘stack’?
Carnitines work by carrying fatty acids to the mitochondria so that they can be burned for fuel. The mitochondria meanwhile are the little ‘organelles’ found in all the cells in our body and also provide us with energy by burning ‘ATP’ or ‘Adenosine Triphosphate’. Carnitines are also antioxidants, helping to protect the cells from oxidative damage and thus combating cancer and the effects of ageing. Through these mechanisms then, l-carnitine manages to offer many potential benefits.
1 Fat Loss
L-Carnitine works by transporting long chain fatty acids – such as triglycerides or fats – to the mitochondria to be oxidised for energy. This then means they can help to improve your body’s energy efficiency and thereby prevent the body from storing unused energy as fat.
As an added benefit, this increased energy efficiency means you don’t feel low on energy so quickly. This makes it an effective appetite suppressant.
2 Muscle Gain
Like creatine, l-carnitine can help you to last longer in the gym and thus perform a higher volume of repetitions on various exercises. In turn, this will lead to more muscle and strength gain.
The improved function of the mitochondria results in better energy efficiency, helping the body to get more use of glucose in the system. This may make it a useful supplement for those suffering from type 2 diabetes.
4 Immune System Strengthening
L-Carnitine is an antioxidant which means it can help your body to protect its cells from damage by free radicals. This helps to protect against mutations leading to cancer, and can also prevent age-related cognitive decline in the brain.
So there you have it, a number of potential benefits from and reasons to supplement with carnitine. If you’re looking to get a little more energy in your workouts or to burn more fat the rest of the time, it might just have a place in your stack.
Remember though, all these sorts of supplements and super-foods can probably boost your efforts by about 1-2% maximum. While they can offer the competitive edge to an athlete and help maybe to nudge you a bit further along your weight loss goals, they should never be the focus and certainly aren’t ‘required’ as such. If you have some spare cash and you’re passionate about your training, consider l-carnitine. Otherwise, focus on your diet and training first and foremost.