Take L-Carnitine to improve performance and speed recovery, while decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation. L-carnitine is a potent antioxidant that can increase your work capacity by sparing muscle glycogen when exercising. Plus, elevating your levels of carnitine will decrease oxidative stress and inflammation from training to help you recover faster and get better results.
New research shows that giving carnitine to rats who were exposed to radiation from wireless devices protected their cardiovascular systems from damage due to oxidative stress. Another study shows that rats supplemented with carnitine who are submitted to an exhaustive swimming trial had less of an inflammatory response than those who took a placebo. The carnitine group had lower MDA, and higher glutathione, the most powerful internally produced antioxidant, which indicates that the body is more effectively dealing with the waste byproducts of intense exercise.
Less inflammation post-workout means you’ll recover faster and be able to train hard sooner. It also means less wear and tear on the body, which is a serious concern for extreme athletes, especially those doing endurance training since this type of exercise has concerned coaches and exercise scientists looking for ways to reduce the repetitive oxidative damage on the heart and immune system. Carnitine supplementation is one solution.
Both of the rat studies mentioned were short-term (7 and 14 days), which is encouraging since the data indicates that to get performance enhancement benefits from carnitine, a longer supplementation period is needed. Last year, a study published in the Journal of Physiology found that taking 2 grams of carnitine with 80 grams of carbs a day for 6 months resulted in glycogen sparing at moderate intensity exercise (50 percent of maximal) in trained athletes, and a 35 percent increase in work output over a placebo group. There was also less muscle lactate accumulation in the carnitine group—remember, muscle lactate buildup is a limiting factor that inhibits performance—which is one reason for greater work output.
A second reason for better performance in the carnitine group is that the carnitine increases the athletes use of fat for fuel during exercise because canitine transfers fats across the mitochondrial membrane into the cell to burn it for fuel. Research shows that the less carnitine you have in your body, the fewer fatty acids that get into the cell, meaning you don’t burn them for energy and they remain as fat.
Take away from these studies the understanding that for athletes, the benefits of taking carnitine are threefold:
• You will burn more fat for use as fuel, helping you stay lean
• You will spare muscle glycogen, allowing for greater work capacity and time to exhaustion
• You will protect the body against inflammation and be able to recover faster.
Best results come from taking at least 2 grams a day (3 to 6 grams have proved very beneficial) with omega-3 fats or with carbohydrates because the additional macronutrients are necessary to help the carnitine “load” in the muscle.
Bucioli, S., De Abreu, L., et al. Carnitine Supplementation Effects on Nonenzymatic Antioxidants in Young Rats Submitted to Exhaustive Exercise Stress. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2012. 26(6), 1695-1700.
Wall, B., Stephens, F., Constantin-Teodosiu, D., Marmuthu, K., Macdonald, I., Greenhaff, P. Chronic Oral Ingestion of L-CArnitine and Carbohydrate Increases Muscle Carnitine Content and Alters Muscle Fuel Metabolism During Exercise in Humans. The Journal of Physiology. 2011. 589, 963-973.