L-Carnitine: Weight Loss Fact or Fiction?

Posted on August 20 2019

L-Carnitine FeatureAre you looking for a weight loss solution that will help you get results FAST without torturing yourself with restrictive fad diets, crazy cardio sessions, or ‘slim’ teas? Let’s face it; all those options are both unenjoyable and undesirable.  But what if there was a supplement YOUR BODY ALREADY NATURALLY MAKES that could help you burn fat by converting it into energy?


That superstar supplement is called L-Carnitine , and has been shown to do everything from accelerating weight loss, to improving athletic performance, to boosting brain function.  Here we’ll talk about everything you need to know about this powerful amino acid, and what it can do to help you reach your weight loss goals.

What is L-Carnitine and How does it aid-weight loss?

L-Carnitine is a conditionally essential nutrient that occurs naturally in the body, and is often taken as a supplement.  It plays a vital role in the production of energy by transporting fatty acids into your cells’ mitochondria.  The mitochondria then act as engines within your cells to burn these fats to produce energy.  Due to this “burn fat for fuel” mechanism, many use L-Carnitine as a weight loss supplement to kick up their fat burning.

 L-Carnitine Word Graph

Without adequate levels of carnitine, most fats cannot get into the mitochondria and be burned for fuel.  This can lead to serious medical conditions for those with a carnitine deficiency, which include muscle weakness, an enlarged liver, and other problems. 


Though it is formed in the liver and kidneys, L-carnitine is stored primarily in the muscles (including the heart) and the brain.  In a natural diet, it mainly comes from meat and other animal products, but smaller traces can also be found in foods like avocado and soybeans.  Here are the foods that contain the most L-carnitine per serving (according to the National Institute of Health):


Food Milligrams (mg)
Beef steak, cooked, 4 ounces 56-162
Ground beef, cooked, 4 ounces 87-99
Whole milk, 1 cup 8
Codfish, cooked, 4 ounces 4-7
Chicken breast, cooked, 4 ounces 3-5
Ice cream, 1/2 cup 3
Cheddar cheese, 2 ounces 2
Whole wheat bread, 2 slices 0.2
Asparagus, cooked, 1/2 cup 0.1


By analyzing the chart above, it’s safe to say that most of us aren’t getting enough L-carnitine in our diets to take advantage of all its benefits.  Fortunately, its widely available in supplement form for a fast, delicious, and concentrated dose of carnitine. 

 L-Carnitine Meat Source

Now that we know what this powerful amino acid is.  Let’s highlight all the benefits L-Carnitine offers our body overall:

Fat Burner: Research has shown L-carnitine consumption can increase the breakdown of fat and help prevent fat gain by increasing fat burning and energy expenditure during physical activity.

Weight Loss Accelerator:  Many people look to L-carnitine as a tool to kick start their weight loss and lose weight fast.  Because of its non-stimulant profile, supplementing with L-carnitine will not make you jittery and shaky like other leading pre-workout supplements.

Heart Health:  L-carnitine has been linked to improvements in heart health including reducing blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and chronic heart failure.  In fact, one 12-month study observed a significant reduction of heart failure in a group that supplemented with L-carnitine vs one that was given a placebo. 

Exercise Performance Aid:  Studies in athletes have shown that carnitine supplementation may foster exercise performance.  With the ability to increase oxygen flow to the muscles, L-carnitine may help to delay discomfort and reduce fatigue DURING exercise while improving recovery and reducing muscle soreness POST workout.

Type 2 Diabetes:  L-carnitine helps to increase glucose oxidation, uptake and storage.  Therefore, people who have Type II diabetes can very much benefit from supplementing with L-carnitine as it will help to reduce glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

Improved Brain Function: Since L-carnitine levels decline with age, older adults and those who struggle with cognitive functions such as poor memory and focus may greatly benefit from increasing their L-carnitine intake.  Evidence suggests that L-carnitine supplementation may not only improve cognitive function, but improve memory as well.


Who Should Take L-Carnitine?

If you’re looking to improve on any of the health benefits above, you may be an ideal candidate for added L-carnitine in your overall diet.  Not only are the levels of L-Carnitine your body produces influenced by how much and what you’re eating, but there are also groups that are more susceptible to L-carnitine deficiencies than others which include:

Vegans and Vegetarians: often have lower levels due to their restriction of animal products

Breastfeeding mothers:  breastfeeding can lead to a deficiency of L-carnitine

Older Adults: research shows that L-Carnitine levels decrease with age

Liver and Kidney Disease: Risk for L-carnitine deficiency is higher for people struggling with diseases like cirrhosis or kidney disease


How Much L-Carnitine Should I Be Taking?

Recommended doses have varied from study to study.  But overall, studies have suggested that anywhere from 500mg - 2,000mg (.5-2g) daily to be both safe and effective.  L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, a form typically used for athletic performance, can range all the way to 4,000mg.  Start with a low dose and work your way up to ensure your body will tolerate it without adverse side effects. As with any supplement, you should consult with your doctor prior to taking L-Carnitine.


When Should I Take L-Carnitine? 

L-Carnitine is known to absorb quickly into the body, ESPECIALLY in liquid form.  To ensure your body is making the most of the supplement, especially for weight management, the best time to take it would be first thing in the morning and prior to workouts. 

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