Visceral abdominal fat is one of the most difficult places to lose fat once you have it, not to mention it causes numerous health problems. Once you begin to gain visceral fat around your stomache, it will lead to fat gain within the organs such as the liver, the heart, and even in muscle.
Raising your carnitine levels will fight this visceral fat gain because it increases fat utilization, which has the beneficial result of removing triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins from the body so that they don’t build up causing high cholesterol and atherosclerosis. A new research study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology illustrates this very point.
Researchers gave a carnitine supplement to mice who were fed a high-fat diet in order to make them gain weight. This was in comparison to a group of mice fed a placebo, the carnitine group gained substantially less visceral and subcutaneous fat (subcutaneous fat that is right below the surface of the skin that you can pinch with your fingers). A the conclusion of the study, the placebo group were at the beginning stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis. Neither of these two diseases were evident in the carnitine group.
Another benefit of raising carnitine levels is that you’ll have a greater work capacity, but it will not feel as physically difficult. You’ll be able to lift more weight, complete more reps, or run faster and longer, but with more ease. This is because higher muscle carnitine levels help decreases pain, muscle damage, and markers of metabolic stress from high-intensity exercise by decreasing lactic acid production.
A higher level of carnitine increases energy production, but it also has the effect of accelerating muscle buffering by maintaining the pH of the muscle and minimizing the accumulation of hydrogen ions. Essentially carnitine helps eliminate the byproducts of intense exercise that cause pain and muscle damage (the burning you may feel when training hard caused by lactic acid), allowing you to work harder.
In the Journal of Physiology study, results show how higher muscle carnitine levels increase work capacity by reducing lactate accumulation in the muscles. Following the exercise session at 80 percent of maximal, muscle lactate buildup was 44 percent lower in participants that supplemented with carnitine compared to the control group. Following the exercise session at 50 percent of maximal, the carnitine group used 55 percent less muscle glycogen than the control group indicating that they burned more fat for fuel and had improved energy production.
The combination of less lactate buildup and greater fat burning in the two exercise sessions allowed the carnitine group to increase work output by 35 percent, while having a lower rating of perceived exertion. Put another way, taking carnitine is a must if you want to improve body composition by burning more fat and be able to train at a higher level.
Another advantage to taking carnitine is you will speed both short- and long-term recovery from intense training and you’ll have less pain, soreness, and feel more energized. Muscle lactate buildup is a limiting factor that inhibits performance and causes muscle pain, meaning that if you produce less of it and are able to clear it faster, you will have a faster recovery.
Taking carnitine will also support an anabolic response to exercise by up-regulating the androgen receptors, which will help to mediate quicker recovery. Two recent studies tested the hormonal response to taking carnitine tartrate. In one of these studies, supplementing with carnitine for 21 days produced an increase in the resting content of the androgen receptors that bind with testosterone, indicating a better anabolic environment. Following resistance exercise, participants also had increased androgen receptor content that indicated greater cellular uptake of testosterone and increased protein synthesis. Enhanced protein synthesis allows tissue that was damaged during training to regenerate faster and speed recovery.
The second study also had participants take carnitine or a placebo for 21 days and found that after intense resistance training, the carnitine group had reduced muscle tissue damage, assessed by an MRI, and increased IGFBP-3 levels, a binding protein that promotes tissue synthesis. Researchers suggest carnitine supplementation helps promote recovery by producing more undamaged tissue, and a greater number of intact receptors that would be available for hormonal interactions.
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