When most people think about amino acids, they either think about the double helix of DNA, or they think back to science class and remember how amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.
If you didn’t think of either, that’s OK too, no judgment here, I’m just going off general perceptions.
But enough about what people think, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about what we know about a very important amino acid called L-carnitine or “carnitine” for short.
Carnitine is one of the most well-known and best-studied amino acids out there, and what researcher have been able to learn about carnitine is pretty inspiring.
Take a look.
The Incredible Health Benefits of L-Carnitine
Surprisingly, the people who use this amino acid the most are body builders.
Thats because carnitine is wonderful at increasing performance during exercise which allows people to work out longer and get “bigger.”
But it’s those same properties that also make it perfect for daily use by anyone of any age…but especially those who worry about their heart.
Carnitine is capable of doing some amazing things for the heart. Studies have shown that with appropriate levels of carnitine in the diet it will help protect people from developing potentially deadly conditions. The National Institute for Health observed, “Several studies have examined the effectiveness of supplemental carnitine in the management of cardiac ischemia (restriction of blood flow to the heart) and peripheral arterial disease (whose most important symptom is poor circulation in the legs, known as intermittent claudication) [17-18].
As they noted, there are several studies to support these claims. One of the most promising was a study in Italy where they followed 2,330 patients in a double-blind study and gave them carnitine after a heart attack.
They found when the patients were given “(9 g/day intravenously for 5 days, then 4 g/day orally for 6 months)” it helped them live longer.
There was also a meta-analysis which was able to show that treatment with carnitine reduced total mortality from a wide range of heart specific conditions including acute myocardial infarctions, ventricular arrhythmias, and angina by 40%.
All this to say supplementing with carnitine is though to be quite effective at protecting the heart.
Carnitine Can Also Help You Lose Weight
Before I go any further, I’m not advocating carnitine as a silver bullet for rapid weight loss.
However, if you’re carrying around more pounds than you should (think 10 or more pounds extra) then you really could stand to lose the weight for health reasons.
Especially if you have belly fat.
The good news is carnitine is especially helpful at getting rid of belly fat.
And honestly, it’s OK if you want to lose belly fat to look better. But at the end of the day, you’ll want to lose it because belly fat is pretty much the worst kind of fat you can carry on your body.
That’s because belly fat leads to weight gain elsewhere, including on internal organs.
Does fat on your liver sound good…?
Carnitine works to burn this fat in a few different ways.
The first way is through boosting your metabolism. Carnitine takes fatty acids and moves them into the mitochondria of your cells. The mitochondria is basically the cell’s engine, and when it receives fat (one of the most potent nutritional sources of energy) it leads to fat loss.
The other way carnitine works is it actually switches your body to burn fat as opposed to burning glycogen or sugar. I’ve written about this before, but your body is better at using fat for energy than it is at using sugar based fuel sources.
And when fat is burned as a fuel source, you can guess what happens. You lose weight!
The University of Michigan posted a meta-analysis of several studies on fat loss with carnitine in the diet.
One of the most notable stated, “when people with diabetes were given DL-carnitine (0.5 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight), high blood levels of fats—both cholesterol and triglycerides—dropped 25 to 39% in just ten days in one trial.”
Those findings are exciting.
There’s also a correlation between carnitine use and Omega-3 fatty acid use.
Here’s what the Poliquin Group writes about this (click the image for their article):
Bottom line is if you’re working out to lose weight, carnitine is a great addition to your diet.
It’s also great if you’re not working out but are just eating well and want to combine the fat-burning properties of carnitine with a healthy diet.
Probably the best thing about carnitine is you can find it both naturally in your diet or add it in supplemental form.
The Best Places to Find Carnitine
Like I always say, food is our medicine.
That means if you’re trying to get more carnitine naturally, then eating things like fish, poultry, and milk are some of the best sources.
Obviously, I don’t recommend dairy, as you can tell from my writing on the subject, but if you do drink dairy, I recommend grass-fed milk.
Here’s a chart showing the breakdown of carnitine in foods.
|Beef steak, cooked, 4 ounces||56–162|
|Ground beef, cooked, 4 ounces||87–99|
|Milk, whole, 1 cup||8|
|Codfish, cooked, 4 ounces||4–7|
|Chicken breast, cooked, 4 ounces||3–5|
|Ice cream, ½ cup||3|
|Cheese, cheddar, 2 ounces||2|
|Whole–wheat bread, 2 slices||0.2|
|Asparagus, cooked, ½ cup||0.1|
And, of course, if you can’t get enough from food sources or you want to get even more carnitine for athletic purposes then supplementation is key.
Depending on your goals, you can safely supplement up to 3,000 mg a day.
Just be sure to chug water so it’s easily absorbed and to minimize the effect on your kidneys.
Hope you learned something here. I enjoyed getting to share this exciting information with you.