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Acetyl l carnitine - the facts

From treating Alzheimer’s disease to obesity, acetyl l carnitine has received much attention in recent years. Its ability to enhance the transport of fatty acids for energy production (ATP) has got us fitness fanatics on the edge of our seats. Let's face it, whether we're training for a marathon, looking to build lean muscle, or aiming to improve our health, using some of our unwanted fat stores as energy wouldn't go a miss.

So, how does acetyl l carnitine work?

Naturally produced in the body, acetyl l carnitine is converted to provide a more "available" form of the amino acid, l carnitine. This can help fatty acids - as well as carbohydrates - cross the barrier of our muscle cells more easily. Fat can then be transported into the site of energy production, where it is used as energy. And, the fat burning begins!

Is acetyl l carnitine all sizzle?

L carnitine plays an important role in fat burning. But, given that our body can naturally produce l carnitine and the fact meats - especially beef - contain high amounts, it does make us question whether supplementing with acetyl l carnitine can increase our natural ability to burn fat. Despite conflicting evidence, there is research to suggest that supplementing with acetyl l carnitine may:
  • Reduce mental fatigue
  • Reduce physical fatigue
  • Reduce lactic acid and post exercise soreness
  • Increase fat loss
  • Increase lean muscle mass

What else is there to know about acetyl l carnitine?

Acetyl l carnitine has been shown to slow the deterioration of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This is linked to the research claiming that acetyl l carnitine can improve cognitive function and slow the ageing process. One cause of ageing is the build-up of free radicals, which attack the DNA of our energy production sites. This may result in a lack of energy and an increased rate of ageing. Supplementing with acetyl l carnitine may increase our ability to transport carbohydrates and fats into our energy production sites, which can help us to feel more energised. [caption id="attachment_3135" align="alignnone" width="647"]Aacetyl l carnitine may help us utilise fat as an energy source more efficiently Aacetyl l carnitine may help us utilise fat as an energy source more efficiently[/caption]

Who could benefit from supplementing with acetyl l carnitine?

With acetyl l carnitine potentially helping to reduce body fat and increase energy production, supplementing with acetyl l carnitine may be particularly beneficial for individuals looking to:
  • Increase endurance performance and recovery - this is due to the reduction in mental and physical fatigue and post exercise soreness. There is evidence that three high carbohydrate feeding days followed by one high fat meal prior to an endurance event increases performance and utilises higher amounts of fat for energy than simply eating one high carbohydrate meal prior to an endurance event. It could be beneficial to use this method and supplement acetyl l carnitine to increase the utilisation of fats further.
  • Increase energy production whilst cutting the body fat - as we look to decrease body fat and get "beach ready", it is usual for our carbohydrate intake to slowly decrease. Supplementing with acetyl l carnitine may help us utilise fat as an energy source more efficiently. Given the ability of acetyl l carnitine to increase the transport of carbohydrates and fats into our energy production sites, we may feel more energised and maintain our training frequency and/or volume of training despite the lowered intake of carbohydrates. This could help us maintain / build lean muscle whilst losing body fat.

Personal experience

In September 2014, I entered my first natural bodybuilding show and qualified for the NPA British Finals, which I later came runner-up in. I supplemented with acetyl l carnitine during my preparation and was the leanest and most muscular I have ever been. I am by no means saying that the supplementation of acetyl l carnitine solely responsible for this. I had 100% dedication to my nutrition and training. However, it could be argued that the acetyl l carnitine supplementation helped me maintain the frequency and volume of my training, despite the slightly lowered intake of carbohydrates. This may have led to me maintaining muscle mass whilst decreasing body fat.

The verdict

Supplementing with acetyl l carnitine may provide us with health benefits, whether it is through slowing the ageing process or increasing our utilisation of fat. To maximise the impact of acetyl l carnitine - or any supplement for that matter - it needs to be treated as a "supplement". If you're relying on acetyl l carnitine alone to reduce body fat then be prepared to be disappointed. That said, should your nutrition and training be in sync, the supplementation of acetyl l carnitine may well help you get the most out of your body. Grab your acetyl l carnitine today in powder or pill form to boost your training.
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