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  • You Ask, I Answer: L-Carnitine

    reflex_l_carnitine_120capsI have a dental practice, and one of my patients is a competitive bodybuilder.

    The other day he and I were talking about weight loss and he told me to buy L-Carnitine.  He said that if I took some an hour before working out, I would lose more fat more quickly.

    Have you heard this before?

    – Laura (last name withheld)
    Annapolis, MD

    I have heard indeed heard this myth before.  More times than I’d like to admit, to be frank.

    L-Carnitine is an amino acid  involved in fat metabolism (meaning it helps break down fats so they can later be used for energy by the body).

    It is not essential (we do not need to get it from food) since we  make carnitine from other amino acids in our diets that are essential.

    Manufacturers of ergogenic aids are quick to point out that L-carnitine helps speed up fat loss while providing more energy and helping increase lean muscle mass.  In other words, it’s yet another “miracle pill.”

    Alas, studies relating to sports nutrition have found no benefit from L-carnitine supplementation. 

    What many people forget is that they already consume a fair share of this amino acid from food if they eat  meat and dairy products.

    Remember, since carnitine is not essential, you do not need to get it from the diet.  A diet that does not include meat and dairy does not make one “carnitine deficient.”

    As with many other supplements, I say:  keep your money safe in your wallet.


    One Comment

    1. Brandon said on October 6th, 2009

      Does it help break down fat or does it just help fat get to where it needs to go to get broken down (mitochondria)? AND it only really applies to long chain fatty acids right?

      I don’t see why/how taking something that only deals with transport would effect the regulation of fat metabolism.

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