L-carnitine or carnitine is one of the most promoted sports supplements for weight loss. This molecule is made by our own body, containing practically no side effects.
How it participates in the metabolism of fats is one of the main compounds needed to oxidize them, it is common to think that carnitine works to burn fat. However, this is not entirely true.
This article discusses the effects of carnitine on weight loss and its contraindications. Does it work, or is it a waste of money?
L-carnitine – What is it?
L-carnitine ( “ele-carnitine” or “levocarnitine” ) is an amino acid that is produced in the body. In addition, sports supplement is sold within the category of fat burners.
L-carnitine helps the body convert fat into energy. When the body works properly, it can convert L-carnitine into other amino acids.
Carnitine carries fats to the mitochondria, the compartment where you breathe. L-Carnitine works in conjunction with B vitamins. (1) The total stores of L-carnitine in the human body are approximately 20-25 g. Most of which are in the muscles.
Does carnitine work for weight loss?
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of L-carnitine’s weight loss – fat burning effects has not been proven by science. Although it is the molecule in charge of transporting fats in the body, usually, the amount in an average person is enough. Taking an additional amount in supplements does not work for the average person.
The effects of L-carnitine in improving the results in the body have only been proven for high performance athletes. (1,2,3)
L-carnitine in supplement form is taken to increase L-carnitine levels in people whose natural level is too low.
Some doctors also recommend L-carnitine for heart and blood vessel conditions, overactive thyroid, inability to get pregnant (infertility), severe kidney disease, and many other conditions. However, there is still no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
The main proven effects of L-carnitine are a possible improvement in muscle recovery times in high performance athletes.
Studies have made it clear that its effects on burning fat are not significant in losing weight. Even less so for a person who trains moderately to burn fat.
How does l-carnitine work?
Levocarnitine’s primary function is to transfer fatty acids to the mitochondria, where energy in the form of ATP is formed from fats.
Unlike other fat burners, carnitine is not a central nervous system stimulant. Taking L-carnitine in supplement form cannot increase physical activity levels.
Taking L-carnitine applies only to people who perform physical activities at high intensities frequently. In addition, it can have benefits for people who do not consume enough through diet, for example, when starting a vegan diet.
Lack of L-carnitine in the body
Lack of L-carnitine in the body can cause serious health problems. However, this deficiency is extremely rare.
Statistics indicate a lack of L-carnitine between 40 and 100 thousand people. In other words, the chance that you have a carnitine deficiency is a few hundredths of a percent.
L-carnitine is not found in products of plant origin, so in these cases, take more even if you are an athlete; taking l-carnitine in the form of supplements could have positive effects.
When and how to take L-carnitine?
While there is no official carnitine amount, taking about 1000-2000 mg is recommended. The equivalent of 2-3 tablets per day, or 10 mL of the liquid.
To increase its assimilation, it is recommended to take it on an empty stomach. Taking L-carnitine in higher doses will not generate positive effects on athletic performance.
Taking L-carnitine as a supplement can be recommended for people who carry out a lot of physical activity.
Taking L-carnitine as a sports supplement to lose weight does not make sense. It is not natural that it has thermogenic effects, and it will not bring good results to losing weight if it is not complemented with proper nutrition.
L-carnitine – Side Effects and Contraindications
Taking L-carnitine in capsule, tablet, or liquid form is considered safe. No serious contraindications and side effects have been recorded in human health (3) (4). In sporadic cases, the side effects of taking L-carnitine are:
- Allergic reactions
- Abdominal and pelvic pain
- Digestive problems
- L-carnitine or levocarnitine is a molecule that works to transport fats in cells.
- While it is sold and promoted as a sports supplement or fat burner, no scientific studies support its effects on losing weight or burning fat. The amount of L-carnitine that we have in the body is sufficient.
- Taking carnitine in supplements can be indicated for vegans, vegetarians, high-performance athletes, or older adults with memory problems.
- In these cases, it is recommended to take an amount of 1000-1200 mg per day.
- Contraindications and side effects are low; taking L-carnitine is considered safe.