Weight loss can often be a frustrating battle resulting in constant yoyo’ing between weight loss and weight gain. In order to conquer this, you need to take a multifaceted approach to your weight loss goal, you need to adapt your day-to-day habits so that they complement the end goal you want and guide you there in an educated way, which over time becomes effortless as it forms a new way of life. A well rounded weight loss approach factors in exercise (calorie expenditure), a diet plan (calorie intake) and to complement both of these, there are weight loss supplements available, which many claim will assist you lose weight. One of these supplements is the amino acid, l’carnitine, which is produced naturally within the body and is also found within meat and fish. This often means tat vegans and individuals with genetic issues lack l’carnitine.
What does l’carnitine do?
L’carnitine is primarily stored within the muscles and it plays a key role in energy production within the body, as it shuttles fatty-acids into the mitochondria where is can be metabolized at cellular level to create energy.
Can L’carnitine help me lose weight?
Due to l’carnitine’s role in shuttling fatty acid into the mitochondria, the mind naturally jumps a step leading to the belief that the more l’carnitine you therefore consume, the higher rate at which you’ll burn up fatty acids – effectively speeding up the metabolic process leading to fat reduction and weight loss.
The logic surrounding l’carnitine and the science are somewhat conflicting. One study using a test group of 38 subjects examined the effects of l’carnitine for weight loss. Half of the group supplemented with l’carnitine, whilst the other half did not. The test was conducted over 8 weeks and all subjects had to complete 4 exercise sessions per week. The results found no additional weight loss benefits linked to supplementing with l’carnitine, however the group who supplemented with l’carnitine did experience some vomiting and diarrhoea (1).
Contrary to this, one meta-analysis on l’carnitine did find there were weight loss benefits linked to l’carnitine supplementation, however only within elderly and obese populations (2).
Although, logically, l’carnitine should serve as an effective weight loss aid, more research is certainly necessary to confirm the reality of using this supplement.
Are there any other health benefits of l’carnitine supplementation?
Studies suggest that l’carnitine supplementation may have long-term benefits for heart health. One study (3) examined the effects of oral consumption of l’carnitine with regards to hypertension, insulin resistance and glucose tolerance over the course of 24 weeks and a 1g daily dose. The results indicated positive effects for all 3 of these variables, suggesting that l’carnitine supplementation may also have cardiac and other metabolic benefits.
Other studies (4) have also linked l’carnitine supplementation with cognitive benefits, including reversing the ill effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Villani RG, Gannon J, Self M, Rich PA. L-Carnitine supplementation combined with aerobic training does not promote weight loss in moderately obese women. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000 (2):199-207
2. Pooyandjoo M, Nouhi M, Shab-Bidar S, Djafarian K, Olyaeemanesh A. The effect of (L-)carnitine on weight loss in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obesity Reviews. 2016 (10):970-6
3. Ruggenenti P, Cattaneo D, Loriga G, Ledda F, Motterlini N, Gherardi G, Orisio S, Remuzzi G. Ameliorating hypertension and insulin resistance in subjects at increased cardiovascular risk: effects of acetyl-L-carnitine therapy. 2009, 54(3):567-74