Not everyone can tolerate the stimulants found in thermogenic fat burners. And those who can, can’t use them indefinitely.
A natural alternative that can offer significant support, both from a physique enhancement and a health perspective, is an amino acid called L-carnitine.
It’s a natural fat burner
This effective supplement can deliver physical, psychological, cognitive and general health benefits.
Your body already naturally produces L-carnitine in the liver and kidneys. L-carnitine’s main role is to transport fatty acids into muscle cells where they are metabolised for energy within structures called mitochondria – the so-called metabolic powerhouses of our cells.
How L-carnitine helps
The rationale for including an L-carnitine supplement in your approach is that the amount of fat burned during exercise is directly related to our muscle L-carnitine levels.
As such, a well-stocked reserve should help us convert stored fat into expendable energy more effectively and efficiently.
In other words, an adequate supply of L-carnitine should increase your body’s use of stored fat as an energy source. This can assist with weight loss and improve body composition.
While more research is needed, there is some clinical evidence that supports these claims.
For example, a meta-analysis of nine randomised controlled trials revealed that subjects who received a carnitine supplement lost 1.33kg more and decrease their body mass index compared with the control groups.
A review of L-carnitine by researchers at Tufts University highlighted a range beneficial effects on recovery and performance, which is why it is often included in various sports supplements.
The study, published in the journal Nutrients, showed that L-carnitine intake “can lead to increased muscle mass accompanied by a decrease in body weight and reduced physical and mental fatigue.”
Additional benefits highlighted in the study include:
- Increased energy efficiency.
- A rise in maximum oxygen consumption due to enhanced blood flow and oxygen supply to working muscles.
- Higher power output.
Findings also shown a positive impact on post-exercise recovery, with the ability to aid recovery from injury and reduce markers of cell damage from oxidative stress and free radicals, which can also reduce next-day muscle soreness.
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Additional health benefits of using L-Carnitine
There are also other health benefits to consider. For instance, through its ability to improve fat metabolism, carnitine can also improve, to some degree, the various other energy metabolism pathways within cells, such as glucose metabolism.
The need to supplement
Most people will produce enough of this amino acid through their diet alone by eating natural food sources such as red meat, dairy, poultry, fish and avocados. Trace amounts can also be found in whole-wheat bread, asparagus and tempeh.
Those who train hard or follow vegetarian diets could benefit from additional supplemental sources. Evidence also suggests that carnitine levels decrease significantly as we age.
In this regard, there are four common forms of carnitine supplements available:
- Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR)
- L-Carnitine L-Tartrate
L-carnitine and its closely related ALCAR form are the most common compounds available on supplement store shelves, with ALCAR growing in popularity in recent times as a nootropic supplement and a powerful antioxidant with a range of purported benefits.
Through the function of certain enzymes, the body can readily convert carnitine to acetyl-carnitine and visa versa, according to the metabolic needs of the cell.
The major difference between ALCAR and L-carnitine supplements is that ALCAR is more easily absorbed from the gut, and more readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Through its antioxidant action, ALCAR can also help to decrease inflammation in healthy adults. Part of its antioxidant function is linked to ALCAR’s ability to increase levels of glutathione, which is your body’s master antioxidant.
Researchers also looked at the role of L-carnitine in female infertility in 2018, with a focus on how its antioxidant properties can improve conditions that affect female fertility, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and amenorrhea, or pain during sex.
The review, which was published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, found that ALCAR showed some promise in helping treat female fertility issues.
With such a broad range of benefits, coupled with the fact that this is a naturally-occurring substance, it makes sense to include a well-formulated, high-quality carnitine product in your supplement plan.