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L Carnitine and Weight loss

L Carnitine has been regarded as a substance that helps aid weight loss due to it’s role in the transport of fatty acids during lipid breakdown. In animals L Carnitine can be biosynthesised in the liver and kidneys from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It’s therefore not surprising that foods that contain high quantities of amino acids have high levels of L Carnitine;

  • Beef Steak – 95mg
  • Bacon  – 27.7mg
  • Chicken – 3.9mg

Long been dubbed a fat burner a paper which was published in 2011[1] goes into detail about the effects of many substances dubbed as fat burners, e.g. CLA, Caffeine and green tea extract. It’s worth checking it out if you have access to the journal.

L Carnitine Weight loss

L Carnitine Weight Loss Mechanism

L Carnitine is responsible for transporting long chain fatty acids that contain an acyl group. An acyl group is derived from a carboxylic acid and has the formula RCO-. These molecules are then processed in the matrix of the mitochondria. If you have no idea what I’m talking about think back to your school years, these are the cells responsible for producing Adenosine triphosphate, the bodies energy source. Once there they are broken down by oxidation so that they can be used in the citric acid cycle. The citric acid cycle is also known as the krebs cycle[2] and involves the oxidation of acetate from fats, proteins and carbohydrates into carbon dioxide.

Have you worked out how L Carnitine can help with weight loss yet? The clue was in the first sentence of the paragraph above. Having a higher concentration of L Carnitine in your body allows for a more effective transportation of fats. This increases the rate of fat deposit breakdown which in turn raises your energy levels because more fat is burned as opposed to glycogen supplies.

Different forms of L Carnitine

L Carnitine comes in two forms the first being L Carnitine Tartrate and the second Acetyl L Carnitine. The cheapest, most available type is the tartrate while the acetylated version claims to have advantages because it has a higher bioavailability (a term coined in drug design[3]). This essentially means that it is less absorbed by the muscles and is present in the blood for use when needed. The majority of references to affects throughout this article are to do with the tartrate as it’s the most studied.

Other ways L Carnitine helps Weight Loss

As you may know there are other indirect factors to accelerate weight loss. The first is that having more muscle burns more calories, which as long as you don’t change your diet weight loss will begin to occur. Muscle growth is stimulated by testosterone but the real truth is it’s far more complicated than ^testosterone=increased muscle. This is slightly more focused on the males than females because it talks about androgen receptors. While women do have them and they have been proved to be vital for female fertility[4] increasing the AR receptors has a bigger impact on men. Androgen Receptors regulate gene transcription, which is a key factor in growth! L Carnitine has been shown to increase the number of AR and this coupled with the effect on increased free testosterone at a muscle fiber level increases the rate of growth of muscle tissue[5]. This increased growth of tissue will occur from supplementation alone, which results in an increase in metabolism and thus a loss in weight.


By now I hope you can appreciate how effect such a simple cheap substance can be.

L Carnitine helps reduce the ‘bad’ fats

There are two types of fat that you should be aware of visceral and subcutaneous. Visceral is fat stored deep within the body around your organs and subcutaneous is stored under your skin[6], this is what callipers measure. Fat stored around your organs as you can imagine isn’t very healthy for you. A study was conducted using mice supplemented Carnitine tartrate and the results were quite remarkable. The group, which had no supplementation, developed fatty liver disease and built up lots of fat deposits. The group supplemented Carnitine withheld substantially less visceral and subcutaneous fat and lived longer than the control group[7].

visceral fat

I hope this has helped demonstrate how useful L Carnitine is a supplement and if you’re looking to lose weight then I thoroughly recommend trying this substance. I’ve added two other interesting facts below one aimed at men and one at women

L Carnitine, Skin and Fertility

L Carnitine reduces the secretion of oils and this reduces oily shiny skin. If you are an adolescent then this may help reduce breakouts. It has also been shown to increase the fertility of mens sperm, so if you’re planning a family add this to your list.


[1] A. E. Jeukendrup, R. Randell, Obesity Reviews, 2011, 10, 841-851

[4] Yueh-Chiang Hu, PNAS, 2004, 101, 11209-11214

[5] Kraemer WJ, J Strength Cond Res. 2003, 17, 455-62.

[7] Kang, J., Lee, W., et al. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2011. 49, 2453-2458.


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