Dr. George Redmon
At first stimulants gently remove awareness – remove tiredness and actuate (excite) the mind and body. It should be obvious to reasoning minds that borrowed activity must be paid for sooner or later. --Dr. John H. Tilden, M.D., Early Pioneer of Drugless Therapy (1851-1940)
This article can be seen in the October 2008 issue of Muscle & Body magazine. Click the picture at right to be linked to Muscle & Body archives
Energy Building L-Carnitine: Energy’s Perpetual Workhorse
As a hard working body builder, you are aware of what it takes to generate the energy you need to pursue your performance goals. While many bodybuilders tend to utilize a variety of energy enhancing supplements that are caffeine based or are central nervous (CNS) stimulants. This borrowed energy as described above by Dr. John H. Tilden may not be your best option. These types of energizers will give you a quick burst, but will quickly send that borrowed energy south of the border. Contrary to what supplement regimen you have been utilizing, you have the ability to naturally generate what is referred to as biological energy. By tapping into this pure form of energy as nature intended, you can improve your workout performance two-fold. The best part of this scenario is that nature already has a compound to help you generate biological energy. In fact, you have about 20-25 grams of this compound in your system of which 95% is found in skeletal muscle. However, stress, exercise, aging, and other factors can reduce levels of this dynamic nutrient. It’s role in human bioenergetics is so profound, researchers contend that:
L-Carnitine is unique, essential and that no other compound can replace it in initiating and regulating the production of biological energy.
Dr. Edmund Burke, the well known sports physiologist states that ‘L- carnitine is essentially energy’s workhorse.”
Energy is an elusive entity that you can’t see, hear or touch. You however know when you are energized, when your energy levels are waning, and when you are again re-energized. Somewhere within your cells, something drives energy toward its continuous physiological function. That somewhere energy and fat burning takes place is in the body’s internal furnaces known as the mitochondria. When you consume various food stuffs, it is L-carnitine that drives fatty acids into the mitochondria, that serves as energy’s metabolic rocket fuel, initiating and perpetuating energy’s recycle and dynamic force. L- carnitine also assist in the disposal of deadly ketones , by- products of insufficient carbohydrate metabolism. Additionally, without adequate amounts of L- carnitine present , the door to theses energy factories can’t be opened efficiently, thus hampering the production of energy and fat-burning processes..
Energy’s Rocket Fuel
The mitochondria provides the platform for the conversion of fats into energy, while L-carnitine drives the energy cycle by sparing the supply of glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue. Energy stored in carbohydrates are converted to glucose, but can be exhausted rather quickly. L-carnitine helps spare glucose during intense workouts, thus switching to fat allowing for its use at a rate of 75% to 80% of your exerted efforts. This is a extremely important fact as your preserved supply of glycogen can be spared for use during periods of heavier workloads and or exertion.
Other Performance Benefits
L-carnitine also prevents delayed onset muscle soreness(DOMS). Present data has shown that when untrained subjects were supplemented with 3 grams daily of L-carnitine for 3 weeks, exercise induced muscle pain and damage were greatly reduced. Researchers contend that this occurs via L-carnitine’s ability to transport more blood and oxygen to tired muscles. L-carnitine also acts like an internal hammer, breaking up toxic-by-products that perpetuate low-grade muscle inflammation. In fact, researchers at the University of Connecticut studying catabolic markers in exercised muscle tissue, reported that L-carnitine reduced levels of hypoxanthine, xanthine-oxidase and uric acid, all catabolic markers found in damaged muscle tissue. Additionally, L-carnitine lowers blood levels of testosterone via its interaction with androgen receptors in muscle tissue following heavy resistance training. In practical terms L-carnitine acts like a anabolic steroid by naturally regulating the flow of circulating testosterone into muscle tissues at post-workout. This is evidenced by the fact that when anabolic steroids combined with resistance training, the number and activity of the androgen receptors you have increase. In similar fashion, L-carnitine has the same effect on androgen receptors.
Suggested dose and usage:
Take ½ hour before eating or a couple of hours after eating to improve absorptions. For performance enhancing, take right before your workout, starting with 500 mgs daily, gradually increasing your range to 1000 to 3000 mgs daily as your workload and body mass composition increases.
Abruamuvicz, W.N., Galloway, S.D. Effects of acute versus chronic L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on metabolic responses to steady state exercise in males and females. Internal Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2005 Aug; 15(4): 386-400.
Bacurau, R.E., Navarro, E., et. al., Does exercise training interfere with the effects of L-carnitine supplementation? Journal of Nutrition. 2003 April; 19(4): 337-341.
Broad, E.M., Maujhan, R.J., et. al., Effects of four weeks L-carnitine L-tartrate ingestion on substrate utilization during prolonged exercise. Internal Journal of Sports Nutrition Exercise and Metabolism. 2005 Dec; 15(6): 665-679.
Bruce, C.R., Brolin, C., et. al., Overexpression of carnitine plalmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT1) in skeletal muscle in vivo increases fatty acid oxidation and reduces triacylglycerol esterification. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2006 Dec; 10: 1152.
Crayhon, R. The Carnitine Miracle. New York: M. Evans and Co, 1998.
Giamberardino, M.A., Drajani, L., et. al., Effects of prolonged L-carnitine administration on delayed muscle pain and CK release after eccentric effort. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 1006; 17: 320-324.
Kraemer, W.J., Volek, J.S., French, D.N., et. al., The effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance exercise and recovery. Journal of Strength Conditioning and Resistance. 2003; 17: 455-462.
Kraemer, W.J., Spiering, B.A., et. al., Androgenic responses to resistance exercise: effects of feeding and L-carnitine. Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise. 2006 July; 38(7): 1288-1296.
Kraemer, W.J., et. al., Effects of L-carnitine tartrate supplementation on testosterone and muscle androgen-receptor content after resistance exercise. Presented at Experimental Biology Conference, Washington, D.C. 2004.
Leibovitz, B. Carnitine: The Vitamin B Phenomenon. Dell Publishing: New York, 1984.
Muller, D.M., Seim, H., Kiess, W., et. al., Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on in vivo long-chain fatty acid oxidation in healthy adults. Metabolism. 2002; 15: 1389-1391.
Redmon, G. Energy For Life. Vital Health Publishing: Bloomingdale, IL, 2000.
Rubin, M.R., Volek, J.S., et. al., Safety measures of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation in healthy men. Journal of Strength Conditioning Research. 2001 Nov; 15(4): 486-490.
Stephens, F.B., Constantin-Teodosiu, D., et. al., An acute increase in skeletal muscle carntiine content alters fuel metabolism in resting human skeletal muscle. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2006 Dec; 91(12): 5013-5018.
Stephens, F.B., Constantin-Teodosiu, D., Greenhaff, P. New insights concerning the role of carnitine in the regulation of fuel metabolism in skeletal muscle. Journal of Physiology. 2007 June; 581(Pt 2): 431-444.
Tilden, J.H., Toxemia: The basic Cause of Disease. Chilcago, IL. Natural Hygiene Press, 1974.
Volek, J.S., Kraemer, W.J., et. al., L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2002 Feb; 282(2): E474-E482.