Do I need carnitine supplements for weight loss?

Carnitine is a natural fat burner, as it burns fat for energy and improves glucose intolerance. It may help overweight people lose weight fast, decrease body fat percentage, and even protect the lean body mass when following a diet low in calories.

Does carnitine help you burn more body fat?

Carnitine is a compound found in nearly all cells of the body. The human body can synthesize adequate amounts of carnitine. Moreover, we can get it from food. Mainly from animal sources.

Moreover, many people who want to lose weight take carnitine supplements. Carnitine is marketed as a “fat burner”. But, can really carnitine supplements help you lose weight, though?

In fact, carnitine plays a critical role in energy production. It transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned for energy. Furthermore, carnitine is found mainly in muscle tissues. Carnitine is necessary for muscle to burn fat for energy.[1]

Therefore, many studies have been conducted about carnitine’s important role in fat metabolism and energy production.

For instance, according to a 2020 study, carnitine supplementation can help overweight people lose body weight, decrease Body Mass Index and fat mass.[2]

Another recent study showed that L-carnitine supplementation can significantly decrease body weight, and fat mass. But, only obese and overweight people could benefit form carnitine’s anti-obesity effects! Especially, when combined with moderate exercise and a calorie deficient diet.[3]

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Moreover, L-carnitine supplementation may help obese people lose weight because it plays a key role in fat & carbohydrate metabolism, lowers blood glucose levels, improves glucose intolerance in conditions like obesity, decreases insulin resistance, and improves total energy expenditure![4]

High carnitine intake may help obese people who follow a calorie deficit diet to lose more body weight. Consuming fewer calories than those we burn is crucial for weight loss. Without calories restriction, high carnitine intake won’t help you lose more body weight.

In fact, if you want to lose weight, consuming fewer calories is far more important than getting high amounts of carnitine, either from food, or supplements. Above all, you should do moderate intensity exercise, combined with energy restriction to lose body weight and fat mass fast.[5,6]

Carnitine helps preserve lean body mass while dieting for weight loss

Furthermore, carnitine intake when dieting may prevent muscle mass loss! When we lose weight, we want to lose only fat mass. Unfortunately, we lose muscle mass, as well. L-carnitine supplementation could limit the loss of muscle mass.[7]

Additionally, carnitine is necessary for the synthesis of testosterone! High testosterone levels have been linked to decreased percentage of body fat. Moreover, testosterone is necessary for muscle growth and limiting muscle loss when being in a caloric deficit.

How much carnitine can the human body synthesize a day?

The total body content of carnitine is about 20g for a person weighing 155 pounds (70 kg). Almost all of it is in the muscle tissue.

The human body synthesizes about 0.16 to 0.48 mg/kg of L-carnitine a day. So, a 155 lb person synthesizes between 11 and 34 mg of carnitine a day. Furthermore, kidneys reabsorbs about 95% of carnitine. Therefore, healthy people don’t need to eat foods with carnitine or take carnitine supplements. Even people who follow a plant-based diet and vegans can produce enough carnitine.[1,7]

Furthermore, the kidneys efficiently conserve carnitine. Thus, even a diet low in carnitine has little impact on the total carnitine content of the body. People may need extra carnitine doses from supplements only under certain conditions

Should I eat foods with carnitine to lose weight?

Actually, only foods from animal sources contain high amounts of carnitine. Meet, and dairy are the best sources. Adults who follow mixed diets can get about 60–180 mg of carnitine a day. On the contrary, vegans get only about 10–12 mg of carnitine from food a day.

Foods for carnitine synthesis & weight loss!

The human body needs certain compounds for the synthesis of carnitine. We should consume foods with methionine, lysine, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 to help the body produce enough carnitine for increased energy levels and weight loss.[8]

Foods with methionine

Methionine is an essential amino acid for humans. The human body can’t synthesize lysine. We have to get it from diet.

The richest foods in methionine from animal sources are eggs (3.1g per 100g), cod (3g), chicken (2.8g), beef (2.6g), pork (2.6g), and milk (2.5g).[9,10]

But, there are many plant-based foods with high amounts of methionine as well. The richest vegan foods in methionine are rice (2.4g per 100g), corn (2.1g), wheat and oats (1.8g), sesame seeds (1.6g), rye and beans (1.5g), cauliflower (1.4g), Brazil nuts (1.1g). hemp seeds (0.9g), soy protein (0.8g), chia seeds (0.6g), peanuts (0.3g), chickpeas (0.25g), and almonds (0.15g).

Foods with lysine

Lysine is also necessary for the synthesis of carnitine. We must get it from food, as well.

Good sources of lysine are high-protein foods from animal sources, such as eggs, meat, and fish.

On the other hand, beans and legumes are pretty high plant-based sources of lysine. In fact, beans and legumes are among the best foods you should consume regularly to lose weight fast.

Foods with vitamin B6 & C

Last, but not least, we should consume many foods rich in vitamin C and vitamin B6 for helping the body synthesize carnitine.

Moreover, both vitamin B6 and vitamin C are necessary for fast weight loss and increased burn of body fat.

Pistachios, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, hemp seeds, hazelnuts are only a few foods rich in vitamin B6. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes are common foods rich in vitamin C.

Can carnitine supplements help me lose weight?

Carnitine is promoted as a dietary supplement for faster weight loss. But, healthy people can synthesize enough carnitine. Furthermore, we can get high doses from food.

In most cases, carnitine supplements won’t help you lose significantly more weight. On the contrary, a calorie deficient diet and moderate exercise have a much higher impact in your body composition.

Certainly, you should consult your health care provider before taking carnitine or any supplement. Daily carnitine dose higher than 3g may cause adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and bad body odor.

Also, keep in mind that about 54-86% of L-carnitine from food is absorbed, compared to only 5%-25% from oral supplements.[7]