L- Carnitine: The Brain Boosting Supplement? (2019) 5/5 (2)

Best known as a fat burner and a performance enhancer, L-Carnitine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in animal tissue or meat products and milk to a degree. Also taken as a dietary supplement, L-Carnitine enjoys an extended history and a laundry list of benefits for athletes, gym rats and even for weight loss purposes. And as a nootropic, a specific form of carnitine known as Acetyl-L-Carnitine shows support for boosting brain power. But do the claims go hand in hand with the science? That’s what I will help you figure out today.

Improves cognitive function

Burns fat and builds muscle

Effective for weight loss


May cause some nausea

May present minor digestive symptoms

Can worsen hypothyroidism symptoms

1. What Is L-Carnitine?

L-Carnitine is the standard biologically active form of carnitine which is a derivative of the amino acids lysine and methionine. Carnitine is present in every cell of the body and has a pivotal role in energy production. It is found in different forms, with the most prominent being L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine, often known as ALCAR. This form has been processed to enable it to pass the blood-brain barrier.

L Carnitine ALCAR

L Carnitine ALCAR

Among the two, L-carnitine helps transport fatty acids into the mitochondria where they can be processed for energy. As such, it is known for enhancing physical performance. Acetyl-L-Carnitine, on the other hand, is best known for benefitting people with neurodegenerative diseases. [1]. It is used primarily to benefit brain health and memory.

Other forms that you may have heard about include D-carnitine, propionyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine L-tartrate. Of these, D-carnitine is biologically inactive and not sold as a supplement.

So our concern here today is primarily with L-carnitine and ALCAR. Here are some of the things these two supplemental forms of carnitine can do for you.

2. L-Carnitine Benefits

  • L-Carnitine boosts brain power

ALCAR, the supplemental form of L-carnitine, is present all over the central nervous system. There it is responsible for producing energy. It also produces a crucial neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.  The acetyl group linked to the carnitine molecule upgrades its potential to cross the blood-brain barrier and get into the brain.

L Carnitine

L Carnitine

Here it acts as a powerful antioxidant and achieves its potential as a protective agent against aging and neurodegeneration. Its blood-brain barrier crossing ability lets it support healthy blood flow to the brain. In addition, ALCAR’s role in supporting healthy acetylcholine levels in the brain is very important. This is because acetylcholine is crucial for learning, healthy memory, computation, perception, analysis and a number of other cognitive functions.

Along with supporting healthy acetylcholine levels, ALCAR’s antioxidant activity is helpful by reducing the signs of oxidative stress and removing toxins from the brain.

  • Improved physical performance

When taken in the recommended dose, L-carnitine can improve your training, and by extension your physique. It regulates energy by assisting the movement of fats across membranes within muscle mitochondria. This happens in the case of both aerobic energy production, as well as recovery between anaerobic efforts.

L Carnitine Benefits

L Carnitine Benefits

Muscle carnitine helps transport fatty acids into cellular mitochondria, but the pace at which this happens is based on carnitine availability in the muscles. So the more carnitine there is, the more fat gets used during exercise as well as at rest. At the same time, this mechanism saves muscle glycogen stores thus prolonging endurance.

This carnitine derivative is also considered beneficial for athletes who want to prevent and protect against muscle damage.

On the flip side, a deficiency can mean that without sufficient L-carnitine, most dietary fats are unable to get into the mitochondria to be burnt for fuel.

Should this happen, which is fairly rare, it can potentially bring about muscle weakness, and a host of other problems.

  • Weight loss

One of the benefits that make L-carnitine weight loss a success story is that carnitine is a potent fat burner. Among other things, it transports fats to cells where they can be used for energy around the body. With higher levels of carnitine stored in the muscles, the fat burning process is fuelled resulting in rapid fat loss and increased energy levels.

ALCAR benefits

ALCAR benefits

However, for L-carnitine weight loss to take effect it is important that there are adequate supplies of omega 3s in the body.  When partnered with omega 3s in the system, carnitine performance is boosted and the fat begins to come off faster. As omega 3s are already responsible for expediting metabolic rate by accelerating cell activity that results in burning fat, when carnitine levels are increased in the body, the mechanism results in greater energy, and faster fat burn.

Another benefit of L-carnitine is that carnitine also targets visceral belly fat. This type of fat which starts to gather around the belly is not only the precursor of many health conditions but is also one of the most difficult types of fat to get rid of. Fat accumulation around the belly will eventually lead to overall weight gain that impacts the performance of various organs like the heart, liver and different muscle groups.

To counter this, increasing carnitine levels can help promote fat burning and lowering cholesterol levels.

And since exercise is an important component of every weight loss regimen, it is important that individuals who want to lose weight and keep it off have the strength and stamina to work out regularly. This is another area where L-carnitine is very handy.

Carnitine can improve high-intensity performance and enhance athletic performance. Both practices enable individuals to work out harder and longer without too much physical difficulty. Basically, it means that one can raise the bar for physical activity with a lot more ease when following an L-carnitine weight loss plan. Carnitine will not only improve work capacity but also allow muscles to recover better and faster.

  • Reduces fatigue

This point pertains particularly to patients suffering from some kind of chronic disease that taxes their regular energy levels and brings on disease-related fatigue. For instance, one study involving terminal cancer patients showed that patients receiving between 250 mg and 300 mg of carnitine three times daily improved fatigue and quality of life. [2]

Another study with cancer subjects showed that using carnitine supplementation at 4 grams a day mitigated fatigue in most patients receiving chemotherapy and restored normal carnitine blood levels. [3]

Likewise, one study presented evidence that patients with kidney disease receiving dialysis benefitted from carnitine supplementation. This happened as those with kidney disease often suffer from anemia in which red blood cells (RBCs) can become deformed. This deformity stops the RBCs from transporting sufficient oxygen to the body’s tissues, resulting in fatigue. Study results established that RBC deformity was reduced and RBC count increased after 3 months of carnitine supplementation. [4]

Yet another study on dialysis patients showed that carnitine, when administered in an injectable form, sustained higher oxygen levels. This helped improve endurance during exercise while alleviating overall fatigue. [5]

  • May improve mood

Given carnitine’s energy boosting and muscle fatigue potential, some experts believe that the same could also work to reduce depressive symptoms.

ALCAR has been used in a study to observe its anti-depressive effects in elderly patients suffering from age-associated depression. [6] In another study, fibromyalgia patients were given ALCAR supplementation also showed improvements in depressive symptoms and reduced muscle pain. [7]

L Carnitine mood

L Carnitine mood

  • May help insulin resistance

Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells are unable to use insulin effectively. When this happens, too much insulin in the system can present the risk of developing prediabetes and eventually, type 2 diabetes.

While there are many other factors, in one way, insulin resistance may be linked to the body’s inability to burn fat. When this happens, increased fat levels in lean tissue become an indicator of insulin resistance. Research done in the area suggests that L-carnitine may improve insulin sensitivity by lowering the level of fats in muscle and lean tissue. [8]

3. L-Carnitine Side Effects

While L-carnitine is considered safe for most people, some users may experience side effects like nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, headache, dry mouth, and restlessness.

ALCAR can possibly interfere with thyroid function so should be avoided by anyone with an underactive thyroid. It is also not recommended for anyone using blood thinning medication.

Among more severe or rarer side effects, taking carnitine supplementation may cause muscle weakness or seizures or people prone to heart disease. If you have any such condition, never start using any supplements without consulting with your doctor first.

4. L-Carnitine Dosage

Carnitine supplementation is available in capsule, liquid and injectable form for a quick supply and concentrated dose.

Ideally, L-carnitine should perhaps be taken post-workout. However, you can do the same with any other high-protein, high carb meal during the day. To stack this supplement alongside other fat burning ingredients in between meals, use ALCAR instead.

Your dosage will vary based on your reason for taking this supplement. For instance, to use ALCAR for nootropic benefits, stick with 2 grams a day with 1 gram first thing in the morning and 1 gram in the afternoon.

But if you’re taking it for fitness and fat burning, then keep your daily dose at 2-3 grams a day. Use half the dose 90 minutes before working out to increase muscle endurance and the other half after exercise to speed up recovery.

It’s important to mention here that L-carnitine weight loss results can vary and studies have shown mixed results. To see maximum results, pair up your L-carnitine supplementation with regular exercise and a healthy diet, instead of using it as a quick-fix.

Always start with a low dose and work your way up to ascertain tolerability without side effects.

 5. L-Carnitine Reviews and Feedbacks

I gathered some feedbacks on L-Carnitine from people that take it:

“Take L-carnitine as a part of your losing weight regime and you will see the difference. It definitely gives you more energy. I feel like I can work out more, and be more efficient at it. The more the effective exercises are, the faster you lose weight.”

“Started trying L-carnitine as a way to lose body fat and boy did it work! I take it 3 times a day along exercise and have lost 40%body fat in 8 weeks.”

“I began taking L-carnitine because I am on a low carb diet. It took a little while before I started to feel any different. I think I took almost half the bottle, but WOW! I feel it NOW. A lot more stamina. No more afternoon sluggishness…I get a lot more accomplished.”

6. Where To Buy L-Carnitine?

One of my favorite products that contains L-Carnitine is definitely Performance Lab Energy. You can read more about it & order it here >>

If you, however, want to buy L-Carnitine as a standalone supplement, then I’d recommend ordering it here >>

I’m available for any additional questions.

 7. My Recommendation

I feel that if you are looking for a supplement to help with cognitive functioning, then L-carnitine is something definitely worth trying. It has the backing of sufficient scientific evidence to make a case for its efficacy with no serious adverse effects when taken at the correct dosage.

Other benefits mentioned here also come with credentials, so by all means, if your doctor gives the go-ahead, try out carnitine for other conditions as well. That said, in my opinion, the most noticeable benefits are those when carnitine is used for brain function and cognition.

 8. FAQ

  • What are the benefits of taking L-Carnitine?

It might boost brain power, improve physical performance, promote weight loss, and also reduce fatigue and improve your mood.

  • Is it safe taking L-Carnitine?

It is well-tolerated by most people. However, it is always good to consult your doctor before taking any kind of nootropics or supplements.

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By |2019-02-14T13:36:06+00:00February 7th, 2019|Categories: Nootropics|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !