L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring substance found in food which may help you to raise energy levels or lose weight. It is found mostly in red meats but also to some extent in milk and some plants. Normally, around 75% of your body’s store of L-Carnitine comes from your diet, whilst your body synthesises the rest on its own, mainly in your liver, brain and kidneys. The muscles, kidneys and livers of animals you eat are the primary dietary source, so naturally vegetarians tend to have lower stores of L-Carnitine than meat eaters. Most people get enough L-Carnitine from their diet to lead an ordinary life but recent studies show that supplementing L-Carnitine can increase athletic performance.
What does L-Carnitine do?
L-Carnitine is classified as an amino acid and occurs in all living cells. It assists in the production of the energy your body needs to function. Since it helps your cells to turn fatty acids into energy more efficiently, it ensures that fewer fatty acids are stored as body fat and that more of them are turned into energy. Medical evidence suggests that people with lower levels of L-Carnitine have heart muscles which are less able to produce energy. It is also an important substance for brain function, muscle movement and many other body processes.
How much L-Carnitine should I take?
L-Carnitine should be supplemented daily. Meat-eaters obtain between 100mg and 300mg from a standard diet and vegetarians will usually get less than this. Some multi-nutrients contain only small quantities of perhaps 50mg whereas a specialist L-Carnitine supplement may recommend up to 2g per day. Most users looking for physical performance, power output or weight loss take between 500mg and 2g each day although the body can safely tolerate up to 4g daily for periods of up to a year. Additionally, the effects of L-Carnitine are magnified if you take it alongside Omega-3 fish oils. Without these, much of the L-Carnitine you take will often be wasted. For the maximum effect you should take a daily dose of Omega 3 fish oils that is around five times stronger than your daily intake of L-Carnitine.
When should you take L-Carnitine?
If you are aiming for fat loss, you should take L-Carnitine with your largest meals of each day. However, if you plan on muscle growth or otherwise improved physical performance, then you should take it before and after your workouts. It is also important to note that the benefits of taking L-Carnitine only become apparent after you have been taking the supplement for a relatively long time. The most promising scientific studies suggested that you should take it for between three and six months before you notice any pronounced improvement.