L-Carnitine for Weight Loss: Fact or Fiction?


Thanks to the efforts of manufacturers of sports nutrition, which have invested huge amounts in advertising, L-carnitine is considered the most popular and safest fat burner. And since the question of how to lose weight, constantly tormenting millions of people around the world, now you can buy L-carnitine not only in the store of sports supplements but even in a regular pharmacy. But is L-carnitine really a fat burner that can help you lose weight, or is it just another dummy? Let’s figure it out together.

What is L-Carnitine?

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This substance is synthesized by our body in the liver and kidneys from food using two amino acids (lysine and methionine). It got its name from the Latin word Carnes (meat, flesh). Although L-carnitine is very similar to B vitamins in its natural qualities, it is not a vitamin, but an amino acid. In appearance – it is a white crystalline powder, very similar to sugar. They produce it, as the name implies, from meat.

It was discovered in the distant 1905 by two Russian scientists: Robert Kimberg and Vladimir Gulevich. But only in 1962, it was revealed that L-carnitine in our body fulfills a special mission – it transports fat molecules to mitochondria for burning and thus obtaining energy.

This discovery lay on the shelf for another 30 years, until in the mid-90s, in the wake of the heyday of the sports nutrition industry, liquid L-carnitine for weight loss was released as an additive. And although L-carnitine is not a fat burner in its function, it is only a carrier of fatty acids to the place of their conversion into energy, but against the backdrop of a general search for answers to the question of how to lose weight, it gained worldwide fame.

L-carnitine is a substance synthesized by our body. It really helps the fat molecules get to the place of disposal. But this is where its participation in the fat burning process ends.

Benefits of L-Carnitine

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In addition to its main purpose, L-carnitine has a number of conditionally positive effects on our body, inflated through advertising to the level of the best sports supplement for weight loss of all time. But if you do not take into account the paid reviews about L-carnitine and try to figure it out yourself, the following picture emerges:

  • Lowers cholesterol. And although many recent scientific studies prove that the harm of cholesterol is greatly exaggerated, this ability makes people around the world buy L-carnitine, as a means to protect the cardiovascular system;
  • Helps antioxidants. L-carnitine maintains a stable high level of certain antioxidants, helping them in the fight against free radicals;
  • Increases resistance to stress. This ability makes carnitine a truly useful sports supplement, as the use of a low-carb diet and fat-burning workout makes stress exposure very high;
  • Increases energy level. Studies conducted in Italy in 2007 revealed that if you take L-carnitine in the amount of 2-6 grams every day for six months, then your mood and vitality improve, and you feel a surge of energy. True, scientists tested this kind of sports nutrition on a group of 66 people aged 100 to 106 years;
  • Stimulates anabolism. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen published a report in which they noted the relationship of L-carnitine with muscle growth. However, they did not find out what the relationship between weight gain and L-carnitine intake is. They also could not answer why this is not happening to all people.

But often, those who want to lose weight decide to buy L-carnitine for another reason – this sports supplement is less dangerous for our health than conventional fat burners containing caffeine and other nervous system stimulants.

With all its charm in the form of increased performance and a slight thermal effect, such dietary supplements have two negative properties:

  • They remove water from the body, which increases the viscosity of the blood and complicates the work of the cardiovascular system;
  • Regular use of a weight loss supplement with caffeine or other CNS stimulants increases irritability and cause sleep problems.

And since L-carnitine used to lose weight is completely devoid of such side effects, it can be attributed to the safest sports supplements. And reviews of L-carnitine, real people who have already used it, only confirm this.

Using L-carnitine is practically safe; it has a number of positive properties with minimal side effects.

Side Effects

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The only negative health factor from the use of L-carnitine is the occurrence of a liver disease called trimethylaminuria. It occurs when using L-carnitine for weight loss in doses exceeding the permissible tens of times. Cases of such a disease are extremely rare and occur only in people who, in search of an answer to the question of how to lose weight, are ready to use L-carnitine without regard to common sense.

In this case, the body accumulates carnitine, which causes the formation of a substance called trimethylamine in the body. Excess of it is excreted in urine, sweat, and exhaled air. A sign of the disease is an acute fishy smell that comes from a person. But if you stop using L-carnitine and start taking special restorative drugs in a timely manner, all indicators quickly return to normal.

How to Use It

Answering the question of how to take L-carnitine, experts in the field of sports nutrition call the dose of 2-3 grams per day the safest and correct.

For better assimilation, it is advised to break it into 2 parts, in the morning on an empty stomach and half an hour before training. On a day of rest, L-carnitine should be taken in a similar manner, in the morning and between meals, on an empty stomach. It makes no sense to exceed the dose since no studies have revealed an increase in the effect of taking L-carnitine on the dose.

Even such a safe sports nutrition as L-carnitine can cause health problems when exceeding the maximum permissible doses.

Does Using L-Carnitine Help You Lose Weight?

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Yes, it helps, but only against the background of a diet with a steady calorie deficit and special fat-burning training. I already said in detail about how the process of losing weight occurs in my article: “How to Lose Weight — In-Depth Guide,” so I will not retell it. In my opinion, it makes sense to buy L-carnitine for weight loss only if you need to lose 2-3 pounds, and you are ready to seriously work for this in the gym. If we are talking about more serious weight loss, without the purchase of an additional, more effective supplement for losing weight, alas, it will not succeed.

In fact, L-carnitine is a mild CNS stimulant; it slightly improves performance, improves mood, and reduces stress levels. In theory, the use of L-carnitine as a sports supplement indirectly affects a very smooth reduction in body weight. However, only in theory, because professional athletes who need to lose weight use completely different means for this.

At the moment, the practice of using dietary supplements is such that the effectiveness of any fat burner is directly proportional to the harm to health. The more fat you need to part with quickly, the more health you have to pay.

L-carnitine can help get rid of a couple of kilograms given that you keep a diet and a well-chosen training program. Otherwise, weight loss supplements with a more pronounced effect of fat burning are needed.

The Use of L-Carnitine in Sports

If you distance yourself from the thought that you need to take L-carnitine for weight loss, this sports nutrition may well find other uses. Many athletes in jogging, rowing, and swimming use L-carnitine as a sports supplement to increase endurance in aerobic sports.

If the athlete is not concerned about finding the answer to the question of how to lose weight, the use of L-carnitine and a diet rich in fats helps to achieve some increase in the general energy of the body. But even in this case, most athletes prefer sports nutrition, which goes under the label of dietary supplements, pharmacological drugs with proven clinical activity. You can go to any sports forum and read reviews about L-carnitine to understand why many of them stop taking L-carnitine if you have to pay your own money for it.

It’s enough to recall the scandal with the famous tennis player Maria Sharapova, who was convicted of using the first forbidden, and then, again approved drug called meldonium (mildronate). The list of prohibited drugs is constantly expanding, and on the morning of January 1, 2016, this remedy also appeared there.


The reason for getting Mildronate in the “black” list was that it performs the same functions in the body as L-carnitine. But it only costs several times less and copes with its task much better. Therefore, Sharapova used it. But the manufacturers of L-carnitine could not like it, and they lobbied for the inclusion of meldonium in the list of banned drugs.

You can take L-carnitine as a sports supplement to increase the level of energy, but in this case, you can find a worthy replacement.

The Takeaway

L-carnitine is produced by our body in a sufficient amount and subject to a proper properly balanced diet, there should be no problems with its content. The use of L-carnitine can be justified by people practicing vegetarianism, or in adulthood against the background of regular physical exertion. Otherwise, you can find a more effective alternative, among other sports nutrition or pharmacological preparations.

I hope my story about the use of supplements for weight loss will be useful to you and will save you from unnecessary expenses. May strength be with you.

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