Acetyl L-Carnitine is an amino acid, not a miracle drug. It’s not going to zap love handles while you lie on the couch mainlining soda. It can, however, help you reach your goals if you’re adhering to a smart, balanced, realistic nutrition and exercise protocol. Acetyl L-Carnitine supports weight loss in a multi-faceted manner that is both physical and mental.
Acetyl L-Carnitine & Fat Metabolism
Before it became a social ritual, eating food served a practical purpose: it provided fuel for the body. Food comes in three macronutrient types: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The former builds and repairs muscle. The latter two are sources of energy. The body’s preferred source of energy is carbohydrates. The metabolic system transports broken down carbohydrates from the digestive system to the cells for conversion to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the compound that serves as the body’s fuel.
If carbohydrates are unavailable — maybe because you’re following a low-carb diet — the body uses fats for fuel. That’s what people following the ketogenic diet are aiming for. Getting into ketosis, or a ketogenic state, means that the body is getting its energy from fats instead of carbohydrates. And you get a lot more ATP from fats than carbohydrates, which is why people following low-carb diets are able to perform with the energy levels usually (and often erroneously) associated with high carbohydrate intake. You just need carnitine to make sure that fat metabolism happens.
Acetyl L-Carnitine, converted into its basic form carnitine upon consumption, transports fats to the cell mitochondria where they are turned into energy. Carnitine is the only nutrient that does this, thus having enough of it in your system — in any of its forms, including the acetyl group — is critical for fats to be metabolized.
Acetyl L-Carnitine & Exercise
If you’ve browsed fitness supplements, you’ve likely encountered carnitine. Endurance athletes have been using it for years due to studies that have found a positive correlation between supplementing with carnitine and performance.
Remember how the body naturally turns to fat after burning through carbohydrates for energy? When you’re running a marathon, your body runs out of carbohydrates (that’s why distance runners carry gel packs of simple sugars on long treks) and thus seeks fats for energy to finish the race. Carnitine helps facilitate this process, which is crucial not only to create efficient energy but to stop your body from muscle catabolism. This breakdown of muscle for fuel means less skeletal muscle. And more muscle mass means a higher resting metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories by just existing, which means weight loss.
Researchers found that carnitine supplementation increased work output by 11% during a 30-minute performance trial. The researchers believe that this happened because carnitine helps to spare glycogen stores when exercising at low intensities. If you have been using a fitness tracker, you will often see your heart rate at this low-intensity listed as the “fat burn zone.” Glycogen is the end product of broken down carbohydrates. It deposits into bodily tissues to provide readily available energy. Glycogen sparing happens when your body makes better use of fat — converting it to energy — and is beneficial to people participating in endurance activities because it leaves more potential energy for later in the race. If your body isn’t using fat for fuel, it will burn through its glycogen stores faster, leaving less of an opportunity for longer exercise sessions.
The researchers also found that carnitine supplementation helps to reduce muscle lactate accumulation at high intensities, meaning that you should be able to exercise longer without the dreaded lactic acid buildup that causes premature endurance exercise stoppage. Longer exercise means better endurance adaptations and more calories burned.
Several studies also indicate that carnitine supplementation can help to accelerate muscle recovery after exercise. Researchers found it an effective supplement in this regard for middle-aged men and women, as well as in recovery from high-rep resistance training. Faster recovery can lead to fewer skipped workouts due to muscle soreness, keeping you on track.
Acetyl L-Carnitine & Mental Energy
If you’re restricting calories to lose weight, your body simply isn’t getting as much fuel. That can make you feel drained and less likely to stick to the diet. This is where Acetyl L-Carnitine diverges from standard l-carnitine.
“Acetyl L-Carnitine is able to cross into the brain more effectively than regular carnitine. It therefore enhances brain-cell function much better than regular carnitine,” writes nutritionist and clinician Robert Crayhon in his book The Carnitine Miracle. That means that while all carnitine assists in enhancing cellular energy levels through fat metabolism, Acetyl L-Carnitine specializes in brain cell energy.
How does this role of Acetyl L-Carnitine relate to weight loss? Mental energy means motivation. It means focus. It means all those intangibles that keep you committed to your goals.
Acetyl L-Carnitine Supplementation
Acetyl l-Carnitine is water-soluble, so only a limited amount can be absorbed and used by the body at any given time. That means that when you take oral supplements, you’re probably only absorbing a fraction of the nutrient content listed on the label. That, along with its important function, made us select it for liposomal encapsulation.
Encasing the Acetyl L-Carnitine in micro-spheres made of essential phospolipids (fatty acids composed partly of the cell membrane-protecting nutrient phosphatidylcholine) protects the nutrient from the absorption barriers in the digestive system. The micro-spheres — aka., liposomes — are smart enough to also transport the Acetyl L-Carnitine into the bloodstream and the cells where it can be used to convert fat into mental and physical energy to help you achieve your weight loss goals.