Carnitine is an amino acid composite that is made from lysine and methionine. It’s a fairly potent fat burner because it is responsible for the transport of fats into the cells to be used for energy in the body. By raising the level of muscle carnitine, you support the fat burning process, and because your body becomes more efficient at processing fuel, it will increase your energy levels. Elevating carnitine will also improve physical performance by burning more fat, sparing glycogen, clearing muscle lactate, and increasing anabolic hormone response.
For carnitine to be effective, you need to ensure you have adequate levels of omega-3 fish oils in the body. In order for your body to actually load carnitine that you take in supplement form, and get it into the muscles where you want it, it has to be accompanied by insulin.
Omega-3 fatty acids come into the equation because they will improve the health of every cell in your body if you get enough of them. The cells are made up of two layers of lipids or fats, which will be composed of good fats or bad fats depending on the type you eat. If the cell lipid layers are made up of omega-3’s, the cell will be generally healthier, and it will also make them more sensitive to insulin. Having your cells be more sensitive to insulin allows your body to get the most energy production out of supplemental carnitine.
I mention this relationship between omega-3’s and carnitine because you won’t optimally benefit from taking carnitine unless you already are taking omega-3’s. Omega-3’s increase metabolic rate by increasing cell activity and fat burning. Carnitine is the delivery system for long chain fatty acids. This means that the less carnitine you have in the body, the fewer fatty acids that get into the cell, resulting in less fats being used for energy. Instead, the fatty acids go into a depository and are stored as fat. By elevating carnitine, fat burning increases and you give the cell the fuel to assist the already present genetic machinery needed raise metabolism. You’ll have more energy, feel more motivated, and the excess fat will begin to come off.
A study in The Journal of Physiology, showed that taking carnitine with carbs is effective for elevating muscle carnitine levels and improving athletic performance. But carbs aren’t necessary as long as you get adequate omega-3’s. Another study in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism showed that combining carnitine, omega-3’s, and polyphenols resulted in lower blood lipid levels and better cellular energy production, which has the implications of greater fat loss.
Researchers found that triglycerides were lowered by 24 percent and free fatty acids decreased by 29 percent. This was compared to a placebo group that had no changes. These changes indicate healthier markers of cholesterol, better energy use, and fat usage which will result in fat loss. Additionally, genes that increase fat burning in the body were activated, which indicates a better metabolic profile.
Polyphenols were included to raise antioxidant levels and fight oxidative stress that leads to chronic inflammation and poor cardiovascular health, among other things. They are not necessary for the carnitine effectively load. Therefore pairing carnitine with carbs is one option, but as shown in this study carnitine can also be paired with omega-3’s, which may be more appropriate for individuals whose primary goal is to lose fat.
One of the best fat loss combinations in my opinion is a 5 to 1 ratio of omega-3’s to carnitine. If you’re taking 20 grams of omega-3’s, you’d pair it with 4 grams of carnitine. If you’re more conservative with your omega-3 supplementation you can start with 1 to 2 grams of carnitine and work up to 4 grams, which was the dose was that was used in this study.