Amino acids are the building blocks of the body. You may be familiar with many of them that are necessary for optimal health. But some, like l-carnitine, can sometimes be forgotten. L-carnitine is only found in very small amounts in specific foods like fish, chicken, and beef and it’s very likely that you aren’t getting enough of it in your diet. An l-carnitine supplement can easily fix that by providing you with a consistent amount of this important amino acid that has some pretty awesome benefits.
L-carnitine supplements do exactly what you expect from them – they help you turn fat into energy! Seems to good to be true, right? Now that you’re re-familiarized with the purpose of l-carnitine, let’s learn about it more and have a look at some of the best l-carnitine supplements closer.
What is L-carnitine and what does it do?
This micronutrient derived from lysine and methionine is widely known as a supplement but our bodies also naturally produce this vital nutrient through the liver and kidneys. It is related to the B vitamins and is usually categorized as an amino acid, even though it isn’t technically so.
Most of the l-carnitine in your body will be stored in the muscles but there are also trace amounts in your blood and in your liver. Its role in the body is to produce energy and metabolize fat cells. This means that l-carnitine causes your body to use fat cells for energy, burning them away. This is mostly done through mitochondrial transportation. In fact, this nutrient has earned its nickname, “the ferry”, because it acts as a carrier of fat.
You see, fatty acids cannot permeate the mitochondrial membrane. This is where l-carnitine comes in to save the day. It acts as a shuttle, so to speak, to usher the fat cells into the mitochondria to be used as energy.
Some people can get enough l-carnitine through their diet but others have a lack of l-carnitine. This makes this supplement a “conditionally” essential nutrient. Without enough of this nutrient in the body, serious health problems can occur such as stunted growth for children or muscle weakness in adults.
Sound like something you would like to take advantage of? This article will help you to get all the information you need to supplement with l-carnitine the most effective way.
What are the benefits of L-carnitine?
L-carnitine is a complex amino acid-like compound that has many added benefits. Although most people use l-carnitine as a weight loss supplement, there are many surprising added benefits that come from supplementation of this nutrient.
Because this nutrient boosts the production of energy, l carnitine has been proven to prolong an athlete’s ability to perform. L-carnitine increases the blood flow to the muscle tissue acting as a sort of booster.
This makes it a great supplement for any endurance athlete such as marathoners, swimmers, cyclists, and the like. This could also be useful in athletes of competitive sports such as football or soccer, helping the athlete continue to play at a higher level due to their enduring energy levels.
Helps with weight loss
Many people swear by l carnitine’s ability to help shed fat and overall body weight. Some studies have proved this to be true but other studies didn’t show the same results. It may be a case by case basis, and we will look further into this later on in this article.
Studies show that l-carnitine supplementation can also result in increased growth factors. L-carnitine increases the binding proteins of a certain growth factor that is directly related to muscle growth. This is especially true of the older people where lack of l-carnitine in the body resulted in muscle atrophy. L-carnitine supplementation corrected that deficiency and aided muscle growth and strength.
A study also showed that supplementing with l-carnitine during long low-intensity workouts such as cycling or jogging, the body didn’t deplete the muscle tissues for energy but instead tapped into the fat cells for energy. Many times it can be dangerous to engage in extensive low-intensity cardiovascular exercise because it can lower your metabolism. L-carnitine is proven to prevent such metabolism loss.
Helps with recovery
L-carnitine can help to reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery time because it reduces muscular cell damage and the production of lactic acid. This will help keep athletes performing at their best and have less need for downtime. Being able to get back to workouts quicker will also help the athlete to increase muscle endurance and strength.
Good for the brain
Depression takes shape in all different aspects of life. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are among that list. Supplementation with l-carnitine (specifically acetyl l-carnitine) has been proven to be helpful in treating depression symptoms in the elderly. It has also shown to improve memory and slow the brain’s cognitive decline in those with Alzheimer’s.
Helps to regulate blood sugar
Insulin resistance is an ongoing problem for every walk of life. Some studies have shown that supplementing with l-carnitine can help the body maintain healthy blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity and sugar uptake from the blood.
This can make great improvements in the life of someone who has diabetes. Another study showed that l-carnitine supplementation also helps women who have polycystic ovary syndrome to lower their insulin resistance and glucose levels.
Helps male infertility
L-carnitine was given to 100 infertile men and it showed to improve the motility in the sperm. This may improve their chances of fertility.
It has also been proven that l-carnitine levels in the body are directly related to the amount of testosterone in the body, increasing sexual function. Another study showed that increased l-carnitine levels increased sperm count, concentration, and mobility.
Can help fight fatigue
Help with sleep apnea and narcolepsy
For those who suffer from sleep apnea, their quality of sleep is poor because their breathing stops and starts during sleep, not allowing them to fall into a deep sleep.
With l-carnitine supplementation, the airway is more open and breathing is easier. This results in improved sleep quality, which benefits overall health. Ironically enough, l-carnitine supplementation also improved the narcolepsy symptoms, resulting in less dosing off during the day in patients.
Good for heart-related issues
A review done by the Mayo Clinic showed a remarkable reduction of heart-related issues by studying 13 different trials. The information studied showed that l-carnitine supplementation reduced ventricular arrhythmia and a 40% reduction of angina.
These are significant numbers. Not only did this study show that it helped with heart-related issues, but it also showed to reduce all causes of death by 27%.
L-carnitine vs acetyl l-carnitine
These two amino acids are very similar as the names suggest, however the way the body processes these nutrients lead to different final benefits. They can both be used to support the cardiovascular and nervous systems, as well as protect the muscles. But choosing between supplementing with l-carnitine or acetyl l-carnitine, depends on your main concern.
L-carnitine is a supplement that helps the body burn fat into energy more efficiently than acetyl l-carnitine. It will also help muscle endurance and physical performance.
Acetyl l-carnitine is more known for its cognitive healing. Because it has acetyl added to its chemical makeup, it can cross the blood-brain barrier and be used in this manner.
The question has been asked whether you can supplement with both l-carnitine and acetyl l-carnitine simultaneously to benefit from both aspects of the spectrum. The short answer is that you can but in reality, it won’t do you much good. If you are looking for a supplement to help sculpt a strong body, opt for l-carnitine because this will help you the most. If you need more memory support and brain protection, opt for acetyl l-carnitine.
How should I take L-carnitine?
L-carnitine can be taken in many different forms. The average consumer prefers capsules. These capsules usually contain between 200-500 mg of l-carnitine per capsules.
It can also be found in powder form which is a favorite for athletes because they can add it to their workout shake whenever it is convenient and it is believed to be absorbed more rapidly. Usually, one scoop contains about 500 mg but each product is different. Make sure you check the label if you choose this type of l-carnitine.
You can also find liquid forms of l-carnitine sold as a metabolism booster. These usually have high doses of l-carnitine. Many contain over 3000 mg per bottle. At this dosage, you likely will be feeling some negative side effects.
When to take L-carnitine?
When and how to take l-carnitine is almost an exact science. Absorption of l-carnitine can be tricky so it’s important to take it at the right time and with the right helpers that aid the body in allowing l-carnitine to be absorbed into the bloodstream and muscle tissue.
Because l-carnitine greatly helps reduce muscle soreness many people add it to their post-workout supplementation. It should always be consumed with high glycemic carbs because the insulin spike helps the body to absorb the l-carnitine. Many people also like to add protein in this stack to improve muscle growth.
It can also be consumed at any time of day with a high carb meal if you want to break up your l-carnitine supplementation throughout the day.
How much L-carnitine should I take?
The recommended dosage of l-carnitine is 2 or 3 grams. It is important that you take this with about 35 grams of high glycemic carbs and about 20 grams of protein. This should preferably be a meal, as taking l-carnitine on an empty stomach can cause upset stomach.
If you are wanting to supplement with acetyl l-carnitine as well, you can take this between meals on its own as its uptake is easier through the blood into the muscles and brain.
L-carnitine and weight loss
L-carnitine was THE fat burner before stimulant, thermogenic fat burners came on the market. Many people found these to be more effective in burning fat, however, they also come with many risky side effects. Some people just can’t handle the heart pumps these sometimes scary fat burners leave behind.
L-carnitine is back as one of the most popular and non-stimulant fat burners available on the market. This supplement is not only making a comeback but it is more understood and the products are more pure and easier absorbed into the body.
It is better to label l-carnitine a fat loss than a weight loss supplement. Because it will help in the intensity and endurance of your workouts, it will help you gain muscle so you may actually gain weight but it will be a clean bulking period where all your weight gained will be muscle and no fat. Of course, don’t forget to take your BCAAs as well which are scientifically proven to incite muscle growth.
So if you are looking to get “cut”, want those hard to get chiseled abs, and defined muscles, l-carnitine should be added to your supplementation.
As listed in the benefits of l-carnitine, there are so many factors that l-carnitine plays in the energy-burning process that will help the body cut fat. It helps you perform better during your workouts for longer periods of time, resulting in more calories being burned.
Because it protects the muscle tissues and transports fat into the mitochondria, it ensures that those calories burned are all fat calories.
L-carnitine side effects and risks
It is very rare that people suffer from negative side effects when taking l-carnitine in the correct dosage, however, some people decide to overdo it and suffer the consequences. When taken in higher than recommended doses, you can have stomach issues such as cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Those who suffer from seizures and uremic patients should not take l-carnitine.
One study showed a possible link between l-carnitine consumption from red meat and atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular disease caused by plaque buildup in the artery wall but this study was criticized because of the chronic amount of l-carnitine given to these subjects.
What to look for when buying L-carnitine?
No matter what form of l-carnitine you decide to buy, capsules, powder, or liquid there are a few guidelines you should use before making the purchase.
First and foremost, your product should list the type and amount of l-carnitine in each serving. Sometimes you can find l-carnitine products that include other ingredients. If these ingredients aren’t something you recognize or need, this product isn’t for you.
The best type of l-carnitine on the market, the caviar of l-carnitine, is Carnipure. Look for the trademark on the label. This type of carnitine is actually l-carnitine tartrate but l-carnitine, l-carnitine tartrate, propionyl-l-carnitine are all very similar in makeup and similarly effective.
As of with any supplement, make sure you are buying from a reputable company known for being trustworthy and takes their quality of product seriously.
10 Best L-carnitine supplements
Below we put together a list of top 10 best l-carnitine supplements in 2018 based on a collaborative effort between ourselves and reviews from fitness experts and enthusiasts.
If you would like to drop a few pounds and get that chiseled physique, l-carnitine is an excellent and convenient choice that can help you meet your goals.Arazo Nutrition used to be called Bioscience Nutrition. If you don’t recognize the Arazo name, be comforted in knowing that it isn’t a new company, it just had a name change. This l-carnitine supplement contains 1000mg of l-carnitine tartrate along with 330mg of calcium which is a nice bonus for good strong bones. It does contain some additives like cellulose, stearic acid and more to keep the amino acid in pill form. Each bottle comes with 60 pills and costs about $20. Now Foods is one of the more popular brands for supplements. Their l-carnitine is half the size of Arazo Nutrition which would make them easier to swallow but of course, they only contain 500 mg of l-carnitine tartrate, which is half what the big pills contain. Their l-carnitine is Carnipure, the gold standard for l-carnitine purity. This product can be purchased in two sizes; 60 pills for about $13 and 180 for $27. It does contain some but few additives such as cellulose, stearic acid, and silica. This product also contains 500 mg of l-carnitine but not Carnipure. It is much cheaper than the first two on this list though, running only about $10 for 60 pills or an even better deal of $18 for double the amount. The additives in this product include gelatin, cellulose, silicon, and magnesium stearate. Even though it’s a cheaper product, RSP is a good brand that delivers quality products. Optimum nutrition decided to add a little more to their l-carnitine cocktail. Each tablet contains 500mg of l-carnitine tartrate, 95 mg of calcium, and 70 mg of phosphorus. Phosphorus is just another mineral that will aid in keeping your bones strong while you lift heavier weights. This added bonus of minerals bumps the price up but not by much. Each bottle comes with 60 tablets and runs about $15. Unlike the first four products, this product comes in powder form. You can add it into your juice, smoothie, or just dissolve it in water. It is suggested that you take this with a juice or smoothie as carbs will help your body to absorb the carnitine better. This is a great choice for those who have a hard time swallowing pills. Each 1/8 tsp contains 500 mg of l-carnitine tartrate. As the name suggests, it is sold in bulk. It actually comes in 5 different sizes and the bigger the size the cheaper it is per gram. The 250-gram bag costs about $23 and delivers a whopping 500 servings. This is a much better value than in tablet form. It comes in a factory sealed foil zip pouch so you can be assured that it is fresh and will stay fresh. This is another great buy costing only about $12 for 120 capsules, each containing 500 mg of l-carnitine tartrate. It has only three additives; gelatin, magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide. This reputable company made one of the purest forms of l-carnitine but it would be even better if it used Carnipure l-carnitine. Nevertheless, this is a great product that has little else but l-carnitine. This product has a long fancy name and comes in a shiny fancy bottle but it is a pure and simple capsule containing 500 mg of l-carnitine tartrate along with additives like gelatin, silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, and talc. Each bottle contains 180 capsules and costs around $16. For all the hype, I would have expected more but I understand their marketing strategy. They claim to have a university studied formula but it isn’t Carnipure. It is still a good product that will deliver the close to the same effects as the others. This product contains 500 mg of patented Carnipure l-carnitine in each capsule. Each bottle contains 120 capsules and runs about $20. You can also save some money in the long run by buying the bigger bottle of 250 capsules at only $30. It contains additives of two different kinds of cellulose, magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide. The use of Carnipure l-carnitine gives it a great advantage as this type of l-carnitine has been proven to be the purest most easily absorbed l-carnitine on the market today. This product is actually a liquid form of l-carnitine. Each tablespoon of this liquid contains a whopping 3000mg of l-carnitine. This is a much higher dose than the other products. It also contains 10mg of pantothenic
acid, or vitamin B5, which gives another boost in converting your food into energy. It comes in seven different flavors: vanilla, berry, blue razz, green apple, cherry popsicle, and sweet and tart. Each bottle contains 31 servings and costs about $19. Users say that the taste is really sweet but good. It is suggested that you dilute it a bit with water to cut a bit of the sweetness. This is another brand that made the right choice and decided to use Carnipure l-carnitine tartrate. This brand is the official bodybuilding.com brand. Each capsule contains 500mg of l-carnitine. It also contains a few additives like rice flour, magnesium stearate, silica, and hypromellose. Each bottle contains 180 capsules and if you take two capsules a day you will have three months’ supply at around $22. That’s not bad. It’s a pretty straightforward product.