All fitness enthusiasts agree on one thing - supplements are highly beneficial for your workout routine. Over time, taking supplements in one form or another became a must, since they provide the body with that little extra help you need to achieve your goals.
One of the most highly sought-after ingredients of today’s nutritional supplements is Carnitine.
Found in many popular supplements on the market, Carnitine offers tons of benefits, including fat loss, muscle growth, better post-workout recovery and increased cognitive performance.
With years of study to prove its case, Carnitine is considered to be safe and efficient, which makes it that much more popular in the fitness community.
To prove it’s really as good as it sounds, we’ll break down the science behind this prominent supplement and tell you everything you didn’t know, but always wanted to ask about Carnitine.
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What exactly is Carnitine?
Carnitine is an amino acid formed naturally in your liver. In order for it to be produced, your body needs another two amino acids called lysine and methionine, found mostly in red meat. Once produced by your body, Carnitine is stored in your heart and brain. Carnitine has two forms: active (L-Carnitine) and non-active (D-carnitine).
Carnitine is essential for many vital functions inside the body, but it’s most commonly related to a production of cellular energy. For this reason, Carnitine is found mostly in muscles, which need a bit of extra fuel to help them to regenerate quickly after intense workout sessions.
The most common forms of Carnitine are:
• L-Carnitine - the same form found in your body
• Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) - this form of L-Carnitine went through a process called “acetylation” which enables it to pass the brain barrier.
• L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT) - helps to improve absorption.
• Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine (GPLC) - in this form, L-Carnitine is bound to the amino acid glycine, which creates an antioxidant effect and accelerates the blood flow while exercising.
Benefits of Carnitine
If you are committed to the fitness lifestyle, Carnitine is likely not fundamental for your health, as you’ve probably designed your diet plan in such way that it enables your body to maintain a high enough level of carnitine on its own.
Those who may have trouble with Carnitine deficiency are usually the elderly and people who don’t consume meat products.
Yet, should you decide that you need an extra intake of Carnitine, you can count on a number of benefits which include the following:
Repairment of muscle damage and soreness
According to a Journal of Strength and Conditioning research, Carnitine helps reduce muscle damage during and after a high-intensity workout. This is one of the major benefits of Carnitine, and it is precisely why it’s often found in high-quality post-workout supplements like True Carnitine, that is also known for being an effective assistant in a weight loss process.
The way Carnitine works is by enhancing the blood flow to the muscles, thus resulting in reduced oxidative stress and improved cellular signalling, essential for muscle recovery.
Because of its beneficial effect on muscle soreness and recovery, it is believed that Carnitine supplementation helps with muscle growth and strength.
Due to its ability to enhance the insulin action on muscle cells, L-Carnitine helps keep glucose levels low.
Another unique trait of this ingredient is that it gives a more “natural bulk look”. In translation, it helps your body grow muscle with a minimal amount of body fat.
Enhanced fat metabolism
Slow metabolism is said to be a modern-age disease which hits people worldwide. Its direct consequence is weight gain, which leads to pilled up fat deposits in problematic body areas.
Weight gain is not only related to problematic metabolism. More often than not, people eat more than their body can spend.
Here’s where Carnitine supplements play an important role. It’s most popular benefit is transporting fats into the mitochondria of cells. From there, the long chain fatty acids are metabolised into ATP for energy. This is how it transforms fat cells into energy and boosts the weight loss process.
What’s even more important is that Carnitine may even help with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Increased testosterone level
Considered to be a very important hormone in the fitness world, testosterone is related to building muscles and cutting fats. A higher level of testosterone means easier time bulking up. Carnitine supplements help increase levels of testosterone in your body, thus leading to a greater amount of androgen receptors found in your muscles.
Increased blood flow to the muscles
Carnitine supplementation has an amazing ability to increase blood flow to muscles. Blood flow is responsible for bringing a large number of materials, but also removing waste, and that is why it increases during a workout. Blood vessels dilate and speed up the blood flow to your muscles. This results in more nutrients, hormones and oxygen essential for your body during intense training sessions.
Studies indicate that Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) helps reduce fatigue and enhances the concentration of people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. It also has a positive effect on symptoms related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
How to implement Carnitine supplements into your diet
Depending on the type of L-Carnitine you are planning to use, the recommended dosage varies:
• Acetyl-L-Carnitine: 630 to 2,500 mg per day
• L-Carnitine L-Tartrate: 1,000 to 4,000 mg per day
• Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine: 1,000 to 4,000 mg per day
• Carnitine: 500 to 2,000 mg per day
In general, carnitine supplementation has the greatest effect when the body’s insulin level is higher, and the most optimal results would be achieved when combined with carbohydrates. That way the supplement can be properly absorbed. When it comes to Acetyl-L-Carnitine, it doesn’t require insulin to be absorbed by muscle. When digested, it can end up in the intestines - even in the brain.
What results can you expect from Carnitine supplementation?
The results differ from one person to another. Depending on your lifestyle, Carnitine intake can manifest in different ways.
For healthy young adults who pay attention to their meal plan, Carnitine supplementation mostly affects post-workout muscle soreness and recovery process. It may also be beneficial to your exercising performance.
For middle-aged and elderly people, Carnitine has the most effect when it comes to fat loss, muscle growth and lowered exhaustion during workouts.
Side Effects of Carnitine supplementation
There are no side effects of Carnitine supplementation. However, a study from 2013 highlights the fact that carnitine found in red meat may increase the risk of developing a heart disease.
To be more precise, the research only showed a temporary increase of a substance called Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), sometimes associated with heart disease, but was never actually proven to be the cause.
Other studies also suggested there is no connection between eating red meat and being affected by a heart condition.
So far, there has been plenty of evidence in support of Carnitine supplementation. Not only is it completely safe, but it also helps improve your overall health and supports other aspects of your physical lifestyle. It adjusts to everyone’s preferences, depending on their goal - whether it is to bulk up or lose weight.
Help your body to help itself. Now that you have all the research at hand, the only thing left to do is figure out which supplement is the best fit for you.