L-Carnitine: Beyond Weight Loss
Getting in shape is not always motivated by good factors. Sometimes, the chime of social media plays a huge role in it, too. Every day as you pose hundreds and thousands of photos and videos of yourselves in the social media world, you subject yourselves to the ruthless, harsh and sometimes, heartless comments of people who wide behind the anonymity of the world wide web.
This generation has coined the psychological bullying terms of fat-shaming and body-shaming, which are both verbal or nonverbal acts to belittle, humiliate and insult a person because of his or her look and weight. It affects both men and women and is not at all a new phenomenon. Decades and decades have passed that media has portrayed unrealistic perceptions of the picture of the perfect female and male body.
You see in television, movies, and magazines, girls with legs longer than the magazine could cover, abs on men that look like bricks or bread scrunched up together or ethereal perfection of porcelain skin and shiny hair that does not show the hours and number of people who were present to make that look the way it is: seemingly perfect.
Body Shaming: Are you part of the statistics?
An Oxford study has reported that nearly 95 percent of teenage girls have admitted to being body-shamed at least once in the past month. Teenage boys are also falling victims into body shaming with almost 70 percent of them reported being subjected to thoughtless opinions of their bodies and comments that they did not call for.
On the other hand, a government-funded report discovered that an estimated 60 percent of American adults felt ashamed of how they look and did not know how they would present themselves in public.
What seems like harmless banter regarding physical features are hurtful and considered derogatory, but most people just do not admit to it. This practice has been multiplied and magnified a hundred times over by social media where keyboard and keypad courage is used the wrong way. Body shaming comes in different forms: skin shaming, weight shaming, height shaming, hair shaming, sometimes, people go down as low as shaming another person’s lifestyle or personal choices. It just has to stop!
In terms of weight shaming, another study conducted and published in the medical journal of Obesity researched the effects of body shaming on obese women. The results were quite shocking as those women who eventually viewed themselves negatively because of body shaming and weight issues also translated to physiological illnesses, actual diseases. These women now have thrice the likelihood to acquire heart problems, diseases, and stroke.
Besides that, they have subjected themselves to mental torture and begin to question their self-worth which eventually leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
Getting in shape need not be because of the pressures from society but a distinct call from within yourself to get fitter, eat healthier and develop a sound state of mind. One way of reaching this optimum standard of well-being is through the help of a naturally occurring substance called L-Carnitine.
What is L-Carnitine?
L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is vastly used for the enhancement of brain functions as well as the promotion of weight loss. Its name is derived from the Latin word carnus which means flesh as this compound is isolated from meat particles. Carnitine was first discovered in meat during 1905 and was only recognized as an actual amino acid compound by the DFA in 1985. L-Carnitine is also the colloquial term used for several compounds like acetyl-L-carnitine and propio-L-carnitine.
It is both a nutrient and a dietary supplement that has a critical role in the transportation of fatty acids to the internal chambers of our cell which is called the mitochondria. The mitochondria, on the other hand, is the burning engine of the cells which uses the fats transported by L-carnitine and use it for energy.
Your body is a natural producer of L-Carnitine through the amino acids lysine and methionine. The only requirement for this production is lots and lots of Vitamin C. However, the L-Carnitine your body produces is still not enough for optimum weight loss so you are advised to find other sources in the form of proteins in fish or meat.
L-Carnitine has a huge role in energy production in our bodies. Not only does it transport fat to the mitochondria, but it also moves waste compounds that are being secreted by cells to stop accumulation. As L-Carnitine has this vital role to play, this amino acid can be found in concentrated amounts in both the skeletal and muscular tissues or in channels that utilize fat acid as a source of energy or fuel.
Scientifically, Carnitine or β-hydroxy-γ-N-trimethylaminobutyric acid, 3-hydroxy-4-N,N,N-trimethylaminobutyrate is an ammonium compound that deals largely with the food metabolism of almost all mammals, plants and some bacteria. It can exist as two isomers namely D-Carnitine or L-Carnitine. It takes the form of a purely white powder material at room temperature which is water-soluble has very low levels of toxicity.
Although L-Carnitine is naturally produced by our bodies, certain genetic disorders or acquired medical illnesses, inhibit its production making L carnitine a regular dietary supplement which opens the scene up for sellers in the market today.
Deep Dive: How L-Carnitine Activates and Transports fatty acids to the deepest parts of the cell
This process is pretty straightforward yet very complex. When the adipose tissues release fat acids, they float freely in the bloodstream. These fatty acids then are bound by a carrier molecule known as serum albumin. This carries the fatty acids to different parts of the body like the bones, muscles, heart and other tissues where they will be used for energy.
At this point, the fatty acids must be ‘activated using the 14 carbon chains to be transported into the mitochondria. This is where L-Carnitine comes in. The carnitine shuttle has 3 major steps to fulfill from this point onwards:
First is the process of catalyzing of acyl-CoA synthetase for the transfer of adenosine monophosphate group from an ATP molecule to the acyl-adenylate intermediate and a pyrophosphate group. A lot of words to take in there. But this is two energy bonds forming a hydrolysis state and drives the whole process deeper to the mitochondria.
The second phase is the oxidation of fatty acids. The acyl-CoA which has been hydrolyzed in the first step will now attach itself to the hydroxyl group of carnitine to form the fat: acyl-carnitine. This formation was brought on by an enzyme in the outer part of the mitochondria called the carnitine acyltransferase.
The Final process involves the fatty acyl group to be moved back from the outer membrane of the mitochondria into the intramitochondrial coenzyme matrix. This is processed by another enzyme called acyltransferase with the help of the carnitine shuttle.
This is the whole scientific process of turning fat into energy which ultimately aids in weight or fat loss. It happens as a rate that cannot be monitored by the human eye or intervention.
Type of Carnitine
L-Carnitine is only one form that is naturally occurring and producing in your bodies. It is mostly found in food that you eat, and most supplements in the market. However, there are several types of carnities still worth mentioning for the complete appreciation of L-Carnitine, some of these may have already been mentioned in the processed of carnitine shuttle:
- D-Carnitine is an inactive form of carnitine which may stop the body from absorbing nutrients, fats, and energy, promoting carnitine deficiency in your body
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine which is more known as ALCAR is the most potent form of carnitine for your brain. Studies have shown that it has positive benefits on diseases of neurological degenerative.
- Propionyl-L-Carnitine is a form that addresses issues on blood circulation such as high blood pressure, vascular diseases and any blood-related diseases. It promotes the regulation of nitric oxide which is essential for good blood flow
- L-carnitine is probably the most household name amount the 4. L-carnitine is best known for its properties that burn fat and convert fat into energy which is a scenario best for athletes, bodybuilders as well as those who are simply aspiring to lose the extra weight.
What does L-Carnitine do for your body?
More than it’s already obvious benefit to your body in terms of weight loss, L-carnitine has a lot of benefits to the body and has many ways which it can warrant its help on different kinds of ailments. Here are most of the conditions:
Even as a naturally occurring amino acid, some illnesses get in the way of L-Carnitine production, that’s why the FDA has already approved usage L-Carnitine boosters to supplement the need
Severe Kidney Conditions
During the process of hemodialysis as part of the treatment for kidney problems, taking L-Carnitine orally or through injections can help in the production of red blood cell counts as many studies have suggested. Furthermore, the FDA has already given its go signal to use L-Carnitine to treat L-carnitine deficiency for people with serious kidney diseases.
A specific product with L-carnitine coupled with a Q10 coenzyme is one of the most effective combinations to improve the symptoms of heart problems and failure. The best advice was to take L-Carnitine regularly even without symptoms of heart ailments for the health benefits of it.
For chest aches, oral L-carnitine is highly recommended. Studies have shown that together with treatments, other medications, and L-carnitine, pain in the chest area seems to have significantly reduced. People who have cardiac problems have experienced that they could now exercise and run longer without feeling pressure or pain in their chest areas. It is important to note that this pertains to people who experience some sharp pains in the chest and must not be mistaken for blockage in the arteries.
Some research has also suggested that taking L-Carnitine on its own or with another supplement containing acetyl-L-Carnitine will increase the production of one’s sperm count. It will also encourage the movement of the sperm in the testes as well as help with fertility problems.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
PCOS is an ovarian disorder that affects a lot of women and their ability to conceive. The only other way to treat it is by giving hormonal supplements and Clomiphene. However, researchers suggest that taking L-carnitine is a way to help women affected by PCOS to increase their chances of ovulation as well as improve their blood sugar levels.
Athletic Performance Levels
Although the data and research for L-Carnitine improving energy levels and overall performance is inconsistent, many researchers have tried to make sense out of L-Carnitine property of turning fat into energy and have concluded that this is the same property that allows better athletic performance for individuals.
The common misconception on the effect of L-Carnitine on a diabetic’s body is that it will help lower blood sugar levels or help improve the control of sugar levels in the body, but this isn’t so. L-Carnitine does not guarantee to do all of these, but will certainly aid in the weight management of these individuals which will eventually help regulate their cholesterol levels and sugar levels among other things. These would allow improved overall well-being.
Some studies also deduced that the intake of L-Carnitine for 60-90 days will significantly reduce and inhibit the development of ammonia for people with declining brain functions.
Fatigue Caused By Sclerosis
Sclerosis has been found in correlation with decreased levels of L-Carnitine in the blood. Taking a daily dose of L-Carnitine will significantly increase L-carnitine levels, therefore, increasing the energy levels of a certain individual.
Of course, this will be included in this list as L-Carnitine has been strongly marketed as one of the most potent fat burners in the market. However, as you may know by now that L-Carnitine is not responsible for fat burning but allows the conversion of fatty acids to energy. Experts have recommended that this should be taken with other weight-loss supplements similar to Orlistat as well as Sibutramine.
Some Risks Associated With L-Carnitine
Similar to any product, precautions must always be taken when pondering on taking L-Carnitine supplements in the form of oral medication or injection. It is said to be safe to be taken consecutively for 12 months orally or intravenously as long as approved by your healthcare provider. Also, there is not much-done research on how L-Carnitine will affect a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, so it is advisable to veer away from them.
However, some continue to argue that if taken orally, L-Carnitine is harmless to breastfeeding mothers and their breastfed babies. A study conducted testing on the possible effects of L-carnitine on babies by including it on their breast milk and formula milk. The study reported no side effects. For children, L-Carnitine is recommended only for the short term of 6 months.
Proper Dosage of L-Carnitine
Due to its property of increasing adenosine triphosphate production and oxidative respiratory, L-Carnitine is usually partnered with an antioxidant. There are many different doses of L-Carnitine given depending on the kind of sickness it is addressing. For example, for cardiovascular diseases, and oral prescription is from 2 to 6 grams per day for a period of up to six months. On the other hand, for the same sickness, injections or IV doses should be given at 6-9 grams daily for only 5 not exceeding 7 days.
For male infertility, 2 grams of L-Carnitine per day for up to twenty-six weeks is highly recommended.
Some Side Effects Of L-Carnitine include:
- fishy body odor color
- muscle pain and weakness
- higher or lower blood pressure
- disruption in sugar levels
- psychosis for those who already have mental illnesses
- fishy urine odor
Some Tips On How To Maximize The Weight Loss Effects Of L-Carnitine
- Take an L-Carnitine Supplement early in your day. Make sure that you are consistently drinking it at the same time daily because this will help set your body clock and allow you to reap the full benefits of your supplement
- Exercise at least two hours after you have taken your L-Carnitine
- Drink L-Carnitine after your workout
- Assuming that you have a surplus of energy in your body being that you are taking your L-carnitine supplements, make sure that you spend it off by doing some cardio, high-intensity interval training, circuits and the like to burn off all your energy
- No one can outwork a bad diet, so make sure that you are picking out healthy food as your menu. No need to skip meals as L-Carnitine will help regulate your metabolic rate. You need to eat more frequently at this point because you’ll feel hungrier for shorter amounts of time.
- Rest allows your muscles to recuperate and restore. Make sure you’re getting enough rest and sleep for at least 6 hours a day. If possible, try to get some power naps here and there as this will surge more energy into your body.
The Takeaway For L-Carnitine
Be it for weight loss or addressing a certain illness, seeking the recommendation of your physician is always the best way to go.