L-carnitine has slowly gained popularity as an efficient pre-workout supplement since the ‘80s. However, in recent years it has increasingly been substituted by various types of pre-workout drinks and fat burner containing caffeine. Even though it’s been regaining its place in the fitness world, it has yet to overcome other more popular pre-workout products well established on the market.
For anyone interested in maintaining their health, there are lots of reasons why you need to give L-carnitine a second chance and experience its benefits.
What is L-carnitine?
First things first, let’s delve into the basics of what L-carnitine really is and what its functions are in the body. It is an amino acid derivative created in the kidneys and liver. Even though it’s naturally produced by the body, not all the variations of carnitine can be utilized by our bodies.
D-carnitine is the inactive type and L-carnitine is the active type of the amino acid derivative. So what does it do in our bodies that would make its use worthwhile?
1. Fat metabolism
Stimulant supplements function the way the increase the method in which the body burns excess fat. It instructs the adrenal gland to release epinephrine in order to speed up the metabolic rate. This scenario, however, will almost certainly create a number of issues. One of those issues is that the adrenal gland is put under a lot of stress, which increases our brain’s subjective perception of stress. And even worse, it places a big burden on the heart and makes it work harder.
What is it then that makes L-carnitine different from pre-workout containing stimulants? L-carnitine utilizes long chain fatty acids and converts them into energy. That energy is then transferred into the cell’s mitochondria, the cell’s “energy factory”. Increasing L-carnitine levels in our bodies can ultimately help us lose fat.
2. Increases athletic performance
The demographic group that uses pre-workout supplements the most are athletes. Because they stimulate the adrenal gland, they help athletes to train harder during demanding and intense training sessions. Unfortunately, the effect only lasts between 5-15 minutes at best.
L-carnitine has a different method. First of all, it can increase muscle mass. How exactly does it do it? It’s been proven that around 98% of the testosterone in the body has no effect whatsoever on muscle gains. The only effective and useful component is free testosterone. That means that only the remaining 2% of our body’s testosterone can help with muscle gains.
How does L-carnitine help in this regard? It basically increases the utilization of testosterone in our bodies. The supplement increases the number of androgen receptors in the body that can form binding links with free testosterone molecules.
Besides the fact that it helps with building muscle mass, L-carnitine also gives you extra energy which in turn saves your muscle glycogen reserves. And when you are training intensely, L-carnitine can help get rid of the lactate acid build up in the muscles a lot faster. That means less discomfort for you during your training. It has also proven itself to be useful when increasing the workload, which means you can train with higher intensity.
3. Aids in recovery
The most commonly used supplements by bodybuilders when it comes to recovery are whey protein and BCAAs. However, L-carnitine can you with increasing both the short and long term recovery of your body. As we previously mentioned, it can help you clear the buildup of lactate acid in the muscles. It is also capable of giving the muscle fibers a shorter time to recuperate especially after intense training sessions.
And taking into account that it is also capable of increasing free testosterone utilization, it can help your muscle fibers recover at a faster rate after a hard workout.
4. It keeps you motivated
Drinks containing caffeine are the first choice for athletes looking to boost their performance. However, after some time the body get used to the initial dose and will require higher ones as time goes by. Acetyl-L-carnitine, which is another carnitine version, does this in a different manner. It actually helps you to get rid of the buildup of heavy metals in the brain, instead of increasing your adrenaline to keep you motivated and awake.
So, carnitine is capable of not only motivating you and boosting your energy during workouts. It is also helpful in protecting the brain from aging and damages induced by stress. That’s also one of the reasons why it also helps you battle depression. It reduces anxiety and helps improve your mood too.
5. It improves cardiovascular health
Since L-carnitine breaks down long chain fatty acids, it can help you with an improved cardiovascular health and it can also boost your metabolic rate. Studies have shown that supplementing with carnitine lowers the risk of developing atherosclerosis. It also helps with removing the bad cholesterol from your body which can clog the arteries.
6. It improves your skin
One of the less known benefits of L-carnitine is the benefits it gives to your skin. Supplementing with carnitine reduces the amount of oil created by the skin tissue. Because consuming carnitine increases the levels of fat that are getting into the mitochondria of the cells, the skin releases less oil.
7. Burns visceral fats
Visceral fats are extremely hard to burn off. As soon as you start accumulating them in your body, chances are that you will start experiencing a number of conditions including heart conditions or fatty liver. Increasing the amount of L-carnitine in your body can counteract these conditions.
Studies were done on mice where they were put on a high-fat diet in order to see what the effects are of creatine when it comes to lowering visceral fats. The group taking carnitine had no indications of atherosclerosis or fatty liver.
How to consume more carnitine?
Since we have established all the benefits carnitine supplementation provides, next would be to list all the food products that contain carnitine. The best carnitine sources are low fat pork and lean beef. Ingesting carnitine from whole foods or relying on your body’s own production might not be the best method to experience its benefits optimally. It’s always a good idea to consume it in a supplement form and that goes double for athletes.
The fat loss supplement industry is currently a several billion dollar businesses. People are looking to lose weight in increasing numbers. The industry itself is estimated at around 20 billion dollars a year. However, not all of the fat burning supplements are as effective as they are advertised. In fact, some of them can harm you in the long run.
That is why supplementing with carnitine has been proven as a viable alternative on the market. It shares a lot of potential benefits with stimulant based supplements, but with improved pharmacokinetics. It does not target the adrenal glands making them increase adrenaline production. Instead, it transfers the stored fast into the cell’s mitochondria.
And on top of it all, it’s not just a regular fat burner supplement. It increases your metabolic rate and can even build muscle mass at the same time. If you are planning on using carnitine, in the long run, it is definitely a good idea.