Here’s the Truth about L-Carnitine

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As a personal trainer in London, I often get a lot of questions about not only workouts and dieting routines, but also the supplements that can help to support these fitness solutions. Today, L-Carnitine is finding its way into increasing numbers of supplements, and you may be wondering why that is.

If you’ve heard the hype, then you may think that L-Carnitine is a versatile supplement capable of offering a number of benefits, including muscle gain and fat loss, as well as better post-workout recovery, and enhanced cognitive performance.

But, what’s the truth?

The reality is that L-Carnitine isn’t actually a wonder supplement, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be effective for a number of different things. In this article, we’re going to break down the basics that you need to know about L-Carnitine, from how it works, to how it can give you multiple benefits for your health and fitness.

Let’s begin.

What’s L-Carnitine?

First of all, L-Carnitine is a form of naturally-occurring amino acid most frequently found in dairy products and meat. It’s considered to be „conditionally essential“, which means that your body is able to produce this substance so long as you’re eating enough methionine, and lysine too.

L-Carnitine is great for a number of vital functions in the body, often related to the production of cell-based energy. It’s not much of a surprise, then, that most of the L-Carnitine in your body can be found in the muscles, which are able to generate a huge amount of energy at any given time.

The „L“ in the name helps to differentiate L-Carnitine from the other form of carnitine „D-Carnitine“, which doesn’t actually have any known benefits, and can also reduce your body’s ability to absorb L-Carnitine too.

What are the Benefits of L-Carnitine?

So, why should you bother using L-Carnitine when you’re trying to improve your body composition? In most cases, a person’s body is healthy enough to maintain reasonable levels of this substance, but studies show that people who don’t eat meat, and the elderly might struggle to get enough L-Carnitine in their system.

However, if you can boost your L-Carnitine then you might find that you reach your goals faster thanks to a range of positive outcomes, including:

  1. Reduced muscle damage and soreness

One of the most reliable benefits of L-Carnitine is reduced muscle soreness and damage. Studies indicate that this substance helps to reduce muscle damage both after and during periods of intense exercise, thereby improving the rate at which your muscles repair themselves.

  1. Better fat loss

L-Carnitine is an essential element in the process of fat oxidation, which is why many supplemental marketers claim that it’s capable of helping to speed up fat loss. While it’s true that carnitine deficiencies could make losing fat harder, most people aren’t deficient, and studies indicate that boosting above normal levels doesn’t increase fat-burning.

  1. Exercise performance

The majority of research suggests that L-Carnitine doesn’t improve performance for low-intensity, or long-duration exercise. However, some studies have shown that the substance can reduce both physical and mental fatigue during exercise in the elderly.

  1. Muscle Growth

It’s often claimed that L-Carnitine can deliver better muscle growth and strength, similar to creatine. However, the only case that has been reported of this muscle growth is connected to muscle development in the elderly. In other words, you may not see the same effects in people who have normal levels of L-Carnitine.

  1. Cognitive Enhancement

Studies indicate that L-Carnitine can help to improve concentration and reduce feelings of fatigue in people with carnitine deficiencies, and chronic fatigue syndrome. There’s also some evidence that this substance may be effective at limiting the negative effects of ADHD.

  1. Insulin Sensitivity

Some studies have shown that L-Carnitine might be effective at increasing insulin sensitivity in individuals with diabetes, however, it’s unknown whether the same effects are true for healthy people.

  1. Fertility

Finally, a range of studies have found that L-Carnitine can be effective at improving male sperm quality. This is particularly true among men who have infertility issues or low sperm quality.

What Can You Expect from L-Carnitine?

The kind of results you can expect to gain from L-Carnitine depend on your personal circumstances. If you eat a nutritious diet and are relatively young and healthy, then you might find that the most you get from L-Carnitine is faster recovery and reduced muscle soreness.

However, if you’re middle-aged or older, then you could find that supplementation with L-Carnitine helps to improve your muscle gain and fat loss efforts. Additionally, if you don’t eat meat, boosting your L-Carnitine levels can benefit you in much the same way.

So, what are the side-effects?

Most studies indicate that L-Carnitine is safe and doesn’t cause any major side effects. However, those results may be controversial, thanks to a study that was published back in 2013, which suggested that carnitine in meat might increase the risk of heart disease.

However, the truth is that this research didn’t actually show that eating red meat increased a risk of heart disease. Instead, it showed a small increase in a substance called TMAO, which has been associated with heart disease but hasn’t been proven to cause it.

In other words, there’s nothing to suggest that eating meat might increase your risk of heart disease. This is further supported by the fact that studies have been unable to find any significant link between eating red meat and the development of cancer, stroke, diabetes, or heart disease.

Of course, that being said, there is some evidence that consuming too much processed red meat like hot dogs, salami, and bacon, might increase your risk of heart disease, though we’re unsure if this observation is related entirely to red meat or simply unhealthy habits.

What’s the Deal with L-Carnitine

When it comes to getting results-driven success from your diet and workout routines, it can be tempting to try almost any supplement that appears to be successful. However, it’s important to be realistic. L-Carnitine is a good supplement for some reasons, but it’s often not the reasons that people give it credit for.

Though this substance will not help you gain muscle or strength faster in most cases, it can help you to push yourself harder during workouts, and recover faster, which could lead to better results over time.

Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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