L-carnitine has seen a resurgence in popularity among athletes lately as further benefits to this fat-burning supplement have been discovered. But what does L-carnitine do for you, and how can you get the most out of it?
L-carnitine was originally described as a vitamin and now is often called an amino acid but the truth is that it’s neither. Carnitine is an amino acid derivative formed of lysine and methionine that exists in two enantiomers, chemical compounds that are the mirror images of one another. While D-carnitine is biologically inactive and has no use as a supplement, L-carnitine helps transport long-chain fatty acids across cell membranes and into the mitochondria, where they can be used as fuel for the creation of ATP, a source of energy for your muscles.
It fell out of favour for a while when newer stimulant-based supplements were found that help aid weight loss but has once again become an essential supplement since its role in increasing athletic performance was discovered. No longer just a fat-burner, we now know that the right dose of L-carnitine taken in the right way can help you to exercise harder and recover faster.
Helping make more of those long-chain fatty acids available as a fuel source doesn’t just mean you’re burning more fat, it also helps to preserve the glycogen in your muscles. When glycogen is metabolised one of its byproducts is lactic acid which builds up in the muscles and causes that unpleasant burning sensation you might feel during exercise, this happens when you’re using up oxygen faster than your muscles can replenish it. When your muscles are having to burn glycogen they’re working anaerobically and at these times they can only keep going at their full potential for a few minutes before your body needs to slow down and catch up on its oxygen deficit.
It seems from the results of recent studies that L-carnitine also helps to improve the effects of IGFs, proteins that have insulin-like actions in certain tissues. IGF-1 has an anabolic effect in the body which encourages muscle growth.
The best ways to take L-carnitine is about an hour before or after exercise, ideally with a meal high in carbohydrates. Even 1g a day can be effective but you’ll likely see bigger benefits with 2g per day, the amount provided in each of AMSPORT L-carnitine shots.
L-carnitine doesn’t just mean less fat. If you take it in the right way it also means more muscle, enhanced performance, and faster recovery.