L-carnitine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) that is naturally produced from the amino acids lysine and methionine in the body. L-carnitine plays a crucial role in the production of energy by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria where they can be burned up and used as fuel. For this reason, many take carnitine as a weight loss supplement to help bump up fat burning.
A deficiency in carnitine can be caused by an inadequate intake, excess loss through diarrhea or dialysis, liver disorders, the use of certain medications, and some genetic disorders. Additionally, because it is primarily found in animal products, vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk of deficiency.
Although many people take L-carnitine as a way to speed up weight loss and fat burning, carnitine benefits include enhancing brain function, preventing muscle damage, regulating blood sugar and increasing endurance as well.
- Increases Endurance
- Enhances Weight Loss
- Prevents Muscle Damage
- Amps Up Fat Burning
- Boosts Brain Function
- Regulates Blood Sugar
1. Increases Endurance
Because L-carnitine plays a central role in energy production, many athletes begin taking it as a way to enhance endurance and boost athletic performanc.
2. Enhances Weight Loss
Many people look to L-carnitine as a way to help lose weight fast. When combined with diet and exercise, some studies have found that supplementing with it can, in fact, be an effective way to enhance weight loss.
3. Prevents Muscle Damage
Besides increasing endurance and amping up weight loss, this amino acid also makes a useful supplement for athletes looking to prevent and protect against muscle damage.
4. Amps Up Fat Burning
Besides increasing weight loss, this amino acid also helps kick up fat burning as well. In one study conducted in Germany, overweight participants received a regular diet, either with or without the addition of L-carnitine. After 10 days, L-carnitine was found to significantly increase the breakdown of fat (1).
Another study published in the Journal of Physiology showed that increasing the amount of carnitine in the muscles helped prevent fat gain by increasing fat burning and energy expenditure during physical activity (2).
5. Boosts Brain Function
L-carnitine isn’t just good for your body, but it’s good for your mind as well. In fact, promising research has found that it may positively impact brain function and cognition.
One study conducted by the University of Catania in Italy and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of daily L-carnitine supplementation on mental and physical fatigue in elderly participants over 100 years old. Not only was it found to reduce total fat mass and increase muscle mass, but it also helped decrease fatigue and improve cognitive function (3).
Other studies have even found that acetyl-L-carnitine, another form of L-carnitine, could help reverse cognitive decline and improve memory in patients with Alzheimer's disease (4,5).
L-Carnitine Food Sources
Animal products are the best natural sources of L-carnitine, with foods like grass-fed beef packing in the highest amount per serving. It can also be found in small amounts in some sources like vegetables and grains.