When it comes to supercharging your workout, carnitine has your back. It’s a no brainer that diet plays an impactful role in the outcome of exercise and that certain nutrients can help yield profound results. Carnitine has been well utilized in the bodybuilding and fitness community for years, but you don’t have to be an elite athlete to reap the metabolism benefits. Carnitine has been shown to increase fat loss, build muscle and help the body become fat adapted. This has been seen in populations ranging from healthy young adults to the elderly.
What is Carnitine?
Carnitine is a conditionally essential amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein (think muscle growth). Conditionally essential means under the right conditions, it's produced in the body to some extent. Carnitine is stored in the muscles, cardiac tissue and the brain. Most known for fatty acid metabolism (ie- fat burning), carnitine has several functions in the body and improvements are seen systemically when levels increase.
When it comes to carnitine, unless you have a genetic disorder, the body produces enough carnitine to survive- but then the question is posed, does it provide optimal levels? We also get carnitine from the our diet. It's found primarily in red meat, with trace amounts in vegetables and fruits such as asparagus and avocado. Despite this, the research says, many people have suboptimal carnitine levels. So, how does this play into exercise?
Carnitine and Performance
Improvements in both body composition and performance with carnitine supplementation have been known by the natural health and body building community for years. Thanks to the recent advances in carnitine as a nootropic and the biohacking movement, mainstream science has caught up and here’s what is has to say
The ability of carnitine to burn fat is its hallmark feature. This is because carnitine is the only molecule that can take fat into the mitochondria, where it gets burned and used for energy. Due to this, insufficient carnitine levels can be a rate limiting step when it comes to burning fat.
The fat burning effect of carnitine is seen independent of exercise, but these effects are magnified when paired with high intensity exercise (think HIIT, heavy weights or step class).
One study showed athletes who took 2 grams of carnitine before cycling increased their fat burning capacity by 55% compared to the control group. The researchers also found that the athletes who took carnitine had reduced levels of lactic acid and more creatine phosphate, which allows for longer and more intense workouts.
Fat adaptation is when the body uses fat for energy over carbohydrates the majority of the time. This results in increased energy and a leaner body composition.
In the study done with cyclists, they found carnitine blocked the storage form of carbohydrates, glycogen from being used as energy and mobilized fat to be burned instead.
Those in a fat adapted state, have been shown to have leaner body composition and profound mental clarity.
Aside from fat adaptation and increasing the amount of fat burned, carnitine exerts its performance enhancing effect through multiple mechanisms.
- Carnitine increases the amount of oxygen to the muscles during and after exercise. Increased oxygen to the muscles prolongs time to fatigue, allowing for longer and more intense workouts. Along with oxygen, nutrients get delivered to cells for a smoother recovery.
- Evidence is showing that carnitine decreases the amount of muscle breakdown typical in high intensity workouts, potentially reducing soreness and risk of injury
- In addition to preventing breakdown of muscle tissue, carnitine has been looked at for its ability to build and preserve lean muscle tissue. It’s thought that increasing the concentration of carnitine in the muscle has positive effects on muscle physiology and the mitochondria. This is great news, because muscle continues to burn calories long after a workout is complete.
How to take carnitine
There are two types of supplemental carnitine; L-Carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine. What is known about carnitine is that benefits are only seen when it accumulates in the muscle. In order for L-carnitine to enter the muscle it needs insulin (ie- carbohydrates). This means to see the benefits, L-carnitine has to be taken with a carbohydrate rich meal.
On the other hand, Acetyl L-Carnitine(ALCAR) is easily absorbed into the muscles without food or insulin.
Lypo-Spheric® Acetyl L-Carnitine not only provides an advantage of a higher absorption rate into the muscles in comparison to other oral forms of L-carnitine but it's also wrapped in phospholipids that act as messengers, taking ALCAR straight to muscle cells.
Lypo-Spheric® Acetyl L-Carnitine has a higher absorption rate than non-liposomal ALCAR, meaning you need less to get the same effect. One packet a day, and we’re confident in the results you’ll see!
Carnitine isn’t just for elite athletes and bodybuilders. Active individuals from early adulthood on can benefit from carnitine supplementation. Whether you’re looking to drop a couple pounds, crave more intense workouts, build muscle or simply support the body and have more energy through your gym sessions - ALCAR could be right for you!
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.Kin