Some supplements are easy to understand, but others, well, it can get a little tricky!

So, if you’ve read, heard about or seen anything about l-carnitine, and are wondering just what it is, then you’ve come to the right place.

What is L-Carnitine?

L-carnitine is considered to be a vitamin and amino acid-like compound associated to Vitamin B. L-carnitine is created in the kidneys and liver from lysine and methionine, however it is stored in numerous locations including muscle tissue and the brain. In your diet, l-carnitine mainly comes from animal sources such as meat, especially beef or lamb. It is also present in vegetables including broccoli, spinach and asparagus.

What does L-Carnitine do?

L-carnitine helps to transport fat into the mitochondria (essentially the engine) of cells where the fat cells can then be oxidised and used as fuel, to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is a vital molecule which, on a basic physiological level, allows your muscles to contract. Studies show l-carnitine is especially effective at this process during exercise, but it does also enact cellular activity during rest too.

In addition to fat cell transportation, a study has shown that l-carnitine also enhances insulin’s action on muscle cells. This means l-carnitine can assist with keeping blood glucose levels low, even after a carbohydrate-rich meal, while also facilitating glycogen replenishment.

Performance and physique benefits

L-carnitine’s role as a fat burner is well established due to its ability to assist the transportation of fat cells. In terms of athletic performance, recent research has shown that subjects who went through a protocol consuming l-carnitine burnt 55% less muscle glycogen than control subjects consuming just carbs. The l-carnitine subjects showed an improved ability for the body to burn fat during low-intensity cycling. This increased ability to oxidise fat cells which also helps improve body composition.

Lead image: Casimiro via Getty Images.

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