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October 21, 2014


Taking carnitine with omega-3 fish oil is one of the simplest things you can do to lose weight and raise your energy levels. The cool thing about carnitine is that by elevating the amount of carnitine stored in your muscles, you will see improvements in your quality of life. Fat loss and more energy are two of these benefits, but taking carnitine is known to improve all of the following:

•    High-intensity work capacity
•    Increase athletic performance
•    Speed your recovery from intense exercise
•    Make your brain work better
•    Prevent oxidative stress that leads to longer term health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic inflammation

A recent study in The Journal of Physiology provides groundbreaking evidence that carnitine supplementation can improve athletic performance, something that researchers have had trouble proving for years. Emerging research on the benefits of carnitine for health in conjunction with evidence that clarifies the best ways to take carnitine (insulin must be present in the body for carnitine to be delivered into the muscle), make it time to revisit this amino acid. Let’s look at top 7 health benefits of elevating your carnitine levels with a focus on achieving optimal body composition.

1)    Take Carnitine to Burn Fat: The Basics
Carnitine is an amino acid composite that is made from lysine and methionine. There are a couple of different forms of carnitine, such as acetyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine tartrate, and we’ll look at which forms you should be taking and when. In this article, unless otherwise stated,  “carnitine” will be used to refer to L-carnitine tartrate.

Carnitine is a potent fat burner because it is responsible for the transport of fats into the cells to be used for energy in the body. By raising the level of muscle carnitine, you support the fat burning process, and because your body becomes more efficient at processing fuel, it will increase your energy levels. Elevating carnitine will also improve physical performance by burning more fat, sparing glycogen, clearing muscle lactate, and increasing anabolic hormone response.

2)    Pair Carnitine and Omega-3 Fish Oils For Fat Loss
For carnitine to be effective, you need to ensure you have adequate levels of omega-3 fish oils in the body. In order for your body to actually “load” carnitine that you take in supplement form into the muscles where you want it, it has to be accompanied by insulin.

I mention this relationship between omega-3s and carnitine because you won’t optimally benefit from taking carnitine unless you have already attended to your omega-3s. In working with obese clients, I’ve found that using high doses of fish oil with carnitine tartrate will allow the fat to start to come off.

Omega-3s increase metabolic rate by increasing cell activity and fat burning. Carnitine is the delivery system for long chain fatty acids such that the less carnitine you have in the body, the fewer fatty acids that get into the cell, meaning you don’t burn them for energy. Instead, the fatty acids go into a depository and are stored as fat. By elevating carnitine, fat burning increases and you give the cell the right genetic machinery to raise metabolism. You’ll have more energy, feel more motivated, and any excess fat begins to come off.

3)    No Need For Carbs: Carnitine with Omega-3s for Fat Loss
The new study in The Journal of Physiology, which we will highlight below starting with #5, showed that taking carnitine with carbs is effective for elevating muscle carnitine levels and improving athletic performance. But carbs aren’t necessary as long as you get adequate omega-3s. Combining carnitine, omega-3s, and polyphenols resulted in lower blood lipid levels and better cellular energy production, which has the implication of fat loss if the study had been of longer duration—it was only 12 weeks.

Researchers found that triglycerides were lowered by 24 percent and free fatty acids decreased by 29 percent compared to a placebo group that had no changes. These changes indicate healthier markers of cholesterol, better energy use, and fat burning that will lead to fat loss. Additionally, genes that increase fat burning in the body were “activated” indicating a better metabolic profile. Take note that the polyphenols were included to raise antioxidant levels and fight oxidative stress that leads to chronic inflammation and poor cardiovascular health, among other things. They are not necessary for the carnitine to work its magic.

4)    Carnitine Fights Visceral Belly Fat
Visceral belly fat is one of the toughest fats to lose once you’ve got it, and it causes numerous health problems. Once you begin to gain visceral fat around the belly, it will lead to fat gain within the organs such as the liver, the heart, or even in muscle. Fat gain in the liver leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, while epicardial fat is a type of visceral fat that is deposited around the heart and is considered a metabolically active organ, altering heart function.

Raising your carnitine levels will fight this visceral fat gain because it increases fat burning, which has the effect of taking triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins out of the system so that they don’t build up causing high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.

5)    Increase Work Capacity With Carnitine
Another benefit of raising carnitine levels is that you’ll have a greater work capacity, but it will not feel as physically difficult.  You’ll be able to lift more weight, complete more reps, or run faster and longer, but with more ease. This is because higher muscle carnitine levels help decreases pain, muscle damage, and markers of metabolic stress from high-intensity exercise by decreasing lactic acid production.

A higher level of carnitine increases energy production, but it also has the effect of accelerating muscle buffering by maintaining the pH of the muscle and minimizing the accumulation of hydrogen ions.  Basically, carnitine helps eliminate the byproducts of intense exercise that cause pain and muscle damage (the burning you may feel when training hard), allowing you to work harder.

6)    Improve Cognitive Performance with Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Increase Motivation
A form of carnitine called acetyl-l-carnitine will give you superior brain function and increase motivation, meaning it’s a great supplement for people who want to lose weight but feel unmotivated to exercise. Acetyl-l-carnitine helps DHA omega-3 fish oils work their magic on the brain—just like carnitine tartrate, this form needs to be taken with omega-3s in order to facilitate fat burning for energy in the brain.

Acetyl-l-carnitine is a powerful antioxidant and can detoxify the brain of heavy metals we suggest pairing it with Alpha Lipoic Acid along with DHA because all together they support dopamine levels, while increasing attention span and motivation. For depressed people or those who need to lose weight, it works wonders on motivation and self-initiative, both with training and work-related tasks. And by taking acetyl-l-carnitine, you’ll still benefit from improved energy, physical performance, work capacity, and a speedy recovery, all benefits to help you achieve a lean physique.

7)    Prevent Type 2 Diabetes and Improve Insulin Health With Carnitine
Carnitine is emerging as a supplement that can prevent type 2 diabetes because of how it improves fat metabolism. It can counter the diseases of metabolic syndrome by preventing  atherosclerosis, and supporting cardiovascular health, while inducing fat loss.

Plus, raising carnitine levels will fight related type 2 diabetes factors because it has antioxidant properties, meaning it abolishes free radicals and reduces oxidative stress.  The key to improving your insulin health and losing fat with carnitine is to understand that the following interrelated factors must be present for this method to be effective:
A)    Take carnitine with omega-3 fish oils. Remember, a 1 to 5 ratio is suggested.
B)    Adopt this supplementation protocol as a lifestyle habit, not a one time thing. Research shows androgen receptors are up-regulated after three weeks, triglycerides are improved after three months, but muscle carnitine level isn’t elevated for close to six months.
C)    A high-protein diet and exercise will make it much more effective

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