L-Carnitine, also known as levocarnitine, is a biosynthesized compound in the human body formed by two amino acids, lysine & methionine. Though it's often categorized as an amino acid, L-Carnitine technically isn't an amino acid. It is considered a "vitamin-like" & "amino acid-like" compound related to B-vitamins.
L-Carnitine is produced in the liver & kidneys & it gets stored at various places throughout the body such as skeletal muscles, heart & brain.
Role Of L-Carnitine & It's Working
L-Carnitine plays an essential role in boosting your body's metabolism. It does this by enhancing the mitochondrial function & energy production in the body.
L-Carnitine helps transport long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burnt for energy.
A study in Scotland found out that L-Carnitine also enhances insulin actions on muscle cells in addition to its fat-transportation work. It means that even after a high carb meal, it keeps the blood glucose level in check. It also helps in replenishing the glycogen levels in the body.
Benefits Of L-Carnitine
Helps In Recovery
Bodybuilders & athletes incorporate a lot of high-intensity training in their workout routine. This results in impairment of muscle sarcomeres, soreness and diminished training capacities. Supplementing with L-Carnitine is beneficial in this case as it reduces the magnitude of exercise-induced soreness, hypoxia and muscle injury.
Increases The Muscle Oxygen Supply
Supplementing with L-Carnitine results in forming of new mitochondria in muscle cells, leading to the breakdown of glucose into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) to fuel better athletic performance. It also helps in forming more myoglobin & oxidative enzymes.
Supplementing with L-Carnitine results in an increased blood flow & the production of nitric oxide throughout the body, which results in delaying workout fatigue& failure.
Increases Red Blood Cell Production
L-Carnitine helps with the increased production of red blood cells. Red blood cells help transport oxygen from the lungs to the working muscles, which leads to improved athletic performance.
Aids In Weight Loss
As mentioned earlier, L-Carnitine transports long-chain fatty acids to the cells' mitochondria & then converts them into energy. In this way, your body uses fat as the primary source to fuel your training & workouts, resulting in more fat loss.
L-Carnitine supplementation helps with better cognition & brain functioning. It acts as a precursor amino acid to maintain a healthy neurotransmitter activity. It results in better focus while training & improves your performance.
Is There A Need To Supplement L-Carnitine?
The answer to this question is - It depends. It depends on various factors such as your physical activity, your fitness goals & your lifestyle. Your liver & kidneys produce enough carnitine to sustain a simple lifestyle & also you get carnitine from various food sources, mainly consisting of animal products:
1 cup milk - 8 mg
Cooked chicken breast (100g) - 3 to 5 mg
Cheese (100g) - 4mg
Adults whose diets are rich in animal products consume around 60 - 180 mg of carnitine per day. A vegan diet typically provides between 10 - 12 mg per day. Therefore, if you follow a vegan lifestyle, you might consider supplementing carnitine to avoid its deficiency.
For athletes and bodybuilders, supplementing carnitine in their daily diet becomes essential.
It is because their recommended dosage is much higher than other people. Supplementing L-Carnitine enhances an athlete's overall performance as well as helps with recover and it is suitable for both men and women.
Best Time To Take L-Carnitine & How Much To Supplement?
Because it is fast-absorbing, the best time to take L-Carnitine is in the morning or right before your workout. The recommended dosage is 2-4g per day, varying upon the person's physical activity levels. Pro athletes and bodybuilders may consume up to 3-4g per day, whereas intermediate & beginner athletes' and bodybuilders can consume between 1-2g every day.
How To Take It?
To experience the best results, take your L-Carnitine dosage with carbohydrates. It is because carbohydrates spike insulin levels that helps L-Carnitine to enter muscle cells & do its job. Elevated insulin levels also help deliver more glucose to the muscle cells resulting in boosting your energy & better workout performance. You can also have L-Carnitine with caffeine before your workout session resulting in better focus & stimulation. It is not advisable to take L-Carnitine in an empty stomach. There is no necessity to cycle L-Carnitine. Long term consumption and regular supplementation does not reduce efficiency and has no side-effect.
L-Carnitine is a compound that our body naturally produces. But to perform at the highest competitive levels, an athlete or a bodybuilder needs to supplement it to reap the maximum benefits.