Apr 14th, 2014
Carnitine is Key for Fat Loss & Health
By, Mark Wine CSCS; USAW; NASM PT, PES, CES
Is there a supplement, or anything for that matter, that can burn fat? Build lean muscle? Increase athletic performance? Improve health? Enhance cognitive function? Well I have good news for you; the super powered Carnitine can.
Carnitine is an amino acid that is derived from lysine and methionine. Its primary responsibility is to transport fat into the cells to be used as energy, which is an extremely efficient energy source. Individuals whom utilize fat as energy acquire higher cognitive function; increased fat burning; glycogen sparing; and muscular lactate clearance.
In my blog Fish Oil is the Key to Fat Loss and Muscle Growth, I discussed the importance of supplementing with organic cold water fish oil and how it relates to cellular health. Omega-3 fats, especially from marine source, create an outer cellular layer that is comprised of omega 3 fats that make the cells more sensitive to insulin. Insulin sensitivity results in fat loss, health and longevity. Omega 3 levels play a major role in the effectiveness of carnitine and without omega 3 fats carnitine is not nearly as effective.
High dosages of omega 3’s, in conjunction with carnitine, significantly enhance fat burning. One major reason for this is its effects on the metabolism. Omega 3’s increase cellular activity (i.e. insulin sensitivity) and thus increase metabolic flexibility. This is a critical component in weight and fat loss. Carnitine plays a major role in this as well. Its primary purpose is to transport long chain fatty acids into the cells to be used as energy. This provides a steady energy source that aids in metabolic flexibility, along with blood sugar stabilization. Inadequate carnitine levels result in lower amounts of fatty acids being delivered into the cells and thus being transported into a depository to be stored as fat.
Carnitine is a proven weapon in the fight against visceral belly fat as well. Visceral belly fat surrounds the liver, organs, heart, muscles and is often considered the worst type of fat (2). Carnitine, coupled with fish oil, results in the removal of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides. Each of the two lead to liver disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and so many other ailments due to atherosclerosis and high cholesterol. LDL is often laced throughout visceral belly fat.
Carnitine metabolizes fat and reduces oxidative stress because of its natural antioxidant makeup. However, this cannot be something that is taken one time or even for a short period of time. Triglyceride levels and muscle carnitine levels are not altered for months so consistent supplementation is critical to achieve noticeable results from carnitine. Hormonal changes have sometimes begun within a few weeks into supplementation because of the activation of the androgen receptors.
Effective dosages start at 2 grams of Carnitine per day; you can gradually worked up to 3 grams per day. Omega 3’s must be supplemented with carnitine to enhance fat burning due to insulin sensitivity. Some studies suggest supplementing carnitine with carbohydrates because of the insulin response (1). Carbohydrate intake with Carnitine is great to gain muscle but it is not the best for fat loss. Omega 3’s, at adequate levels, seem to produce equivalent results with greater levels of fat loss. A good ratio between Carnitine and Omega-3’s is 1:4.
- Wall, B., Stephens, F., Constantin-Teodosiu, D., Marmuthu, K., Macdonald, I., Greenhaff, P. Chronic Oral Ingestion of L-Carnitine and Carbohydrate Increases Muscle Carntine Content and Alters Muscle Fuel Metabolism during Exercise in Humans. The Journal of Physiology. 2011. 964-972
- Mark Wine. Belly Fat Facts – Are All Fats Created Equal? www.functionalmusclefitness.com. 2011.
- Kraemer, W., Volek, J., et al. The Effects of L-Carnitine Tartrate Supplementation on Hormonal Responses to Resistance Exercises and Recovery. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2011. 17(3), 455-460.
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Disclaimer: this blog is an educated opinion piece based off of previously attained knowledge through practical application and scientific research (i.e. case studies).