L-Carnitine is probably one of the best known bodybuilding and weight loss supplements around. It is found in many amino acid stacks and other supplements and can also be used as a stand alone supplement.
If you’re not sure whether L-Carnitine is right for you, I’m going to shed some light on its benefits, use and side effects here. Specifically, we’ll take a look at Bodybuilding.com’s “Foundation Series” L-Carnitine.
Bodybuilding.com is well known as a leading web site in the field of bodybuilding. What started out as an online supplement store and forum has grown into arguably the largest online bodybuilding and transformation site today.
The site offers not only supplements at discount prices, but also advice, bodybuilding and supplement programs to suit almost anyone’s goals and a discussion forum where you can get advice from experts, as well as from like minded amateurs who know the day to day workings and struggles of transforming your body.
Recently, they’ve introduced their own “Foundation Series” supplement brand to further strengthen their footing in the market.
L-Carnitine: The Basics
As I’ve already mentioned, Carnitine is one of the best known supplements used for bodybuilding. Most supplement users have used it at one time or another in one way or another, either as a stand alone or in a supplement mix.
Traditionally it has been used for fat-loss, but the actual scientific support for carnitine as a fat loss agent is not that strong.
However, there is scientific evidence of carnitine’s benefits in improving recovery and gains from your workouts.
What is it?
L-carnitine is a dipeptide which simply means it is made up of two amino acids. In this case they are methionine and lysine, which are both common ingredients in amino supplements as precursors to, you guessed it… L-Carnitine production.
What does it do?
Carnitine is essential for energy production. It works by transporting fatty acids to the mitochondria in cells so they can be “burned” to produce energy. It also transports lactic acid and other toxins out of cells to prevent them building up during high intensity exercise such as bodybuilding.
Because of these key functions, up to 95% of carnitine is stored in tissues like skeletal and cardiac muscle that utilize fatty acids as fuel.
For bodybuilders, the goal of supplementing with it is to make it available in other tissues for energy and to burn fat as energy therefore, giving you an aerobic and anaerobic boost.
Benefits of Carnitine Supplementation
There are three main types of Carnitine supplements: L-carnitine or free carnitine, L-carnitine fumarate and L-carnitine L-tartrate. I’m not going to bore you with too many scientific facts instead, I’ll concentrate on the Tartrate form because that is the type used in Bodybuilding.com’s Foundation Series.
In Tartrate form, Carnitine is more easily absorbed by your body than in the other two, meaning that as a pre or post workout supplement it’s ideal. Most studies I’ve quoted below, used it pre-workout (usually squat tests) to gauge its benefits to performance.
In tartrate form, at least two very reputable and unbiased studies, have shown that as a recovery supplement and energy booster it is unrivaled by the other two forms. Not as well known is that it also has links to a higher level of testosterone and insulin like growth factor hormone production as well as nitric oxide availability.
When we are working out for muscle gains, these three benefits are stand outs. You can read the full reports here and here.
For weight control and fat loss
Unlike the muscle building and energy benefits of Carnitine, studies on its actual benefit as a “fat burner” are less conclusive. While one of L-Carnitine’s roles in the body is transporting fatty acids for use in energy production, there seems to be little proof that supplementing your levels increases this significantly.
One thing most studies agree on is that supplementing with Carnitine AND exercising shows a trend towards better fat metabolism… well, there are no surprises there. Even less surprising is that most of the positive “fat burning” results are from studies conducted or commissioned by diet supplement companies.
Anecdotal evidence from carnitine users seems to show that it does increase fat loss, but we don’t know what other lifestyle changes they’ve made, that may also have an impact on their body.
There are a few side effects you should be aware off before you start using L-Carnitine and some people have an allergic reaction to it. Stop taking it and see your doctor immediately if you develop any of these: Hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
In some extreme cases or in people with a history, Carnitine can cause seizures.
The more common side effects include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea but these usually disappear once your body gets used to the dosage. It may also cause your breath, urine and body odor to have a “fishy” smell.
As with any supplement we review here at SupplementTester.com, we recommend that if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medication, please consult your doctor before taking L-Carnitine.
Label Dosage Vs Dosage Studies
According to the labeling on Bodybuilding.coms product, the daily dosage is 1 to 3 500mg capsules per day. In this regard, I’d advise you to go to the middle ground of 2 capsules per day. This is because most studies I’ve read used a dose of 2g of L-carnitine L-tartrate.
However, some studies aims were to find the optimum dose needed. They compared 1g versus 2g and found that 1g of L-carnitine L-tartrate gave the same effects as with 2g when measuring muscle damage and repair.
This might not sound all that ground breaking, but it is good news for a lot of us, because carnitine is one of the more expensive supplement ingredients.
Taste and Mix-ability
Foundation series L-Carnitine is only available in capsule form, so no mixing hassels or bitter taste.
Foundation Series L-Carnitine comes in bottles of 60 or 180 with recommended retail prices of $50 and $110 respectively. However, being that it’s their own brand, Bodybuilding.com are able to offer their product at a ridiculously low rate compared to competing brands.
At the time of writing this article, they had a buy 1 get 1 free promotion on top of a heavily discounted price. This brought the prices down to $15 and $34 respectively, or around 70% off.
Pros and Cons
- Multiple studies show the benefits of Carnitine for endurance, recovery, growth and general health.
- In Tartrate form, L-carnitine is more readily absorbed by the body.
- Bodybuilding.com is a trusted name in the business.
- Easy to use capsule form.
- Boosts Testosterone and Insulin like growth hormone.
- Discounting and “home branding” make it very affordable.
- Lacks scientific evidence to fully back up its weight loss claims.
- Negative side effects when beginning use and allergy issues.
Although there is no “real” evidence to back up its weight loss claims, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence and testimonials from users who swear by L-Carnitine. I don’t think they can all be mistaken.
Added to that, is the fact that it improves growth hormone and testosterone levels as well as increasing your energy level. These pluses make it a worthy supplement and I have no problem recommending Foundation Series L-Carnitine to your regimen.