Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is a compound that slows down the aging of mitochondria, it may also lessen the effects of disease [1].

Increasing the effectiveness of mitochondria in cells can have a whole host of positive effects on the body. Including cognitive function, physical performance, and increased metabolism and fat burning.

ALCAR is often used to fight chronic fatigue, but it could be equally effective at combating regular fatigue. For this reason ALCAR is often used in pre-workout and top weight loss supplements to perk up tired athletes and gym rats.

L-Carnitine is found in red meat, but it can also be found in white meat, fish, and dairy products (but in much lower amounts).

Because of this many vegetarians and vegans find themselves to be deficient.

This is where supplementation can come in handy.

Evidence Backed Benefits of Acetyl L-Carnitine

There are quite a few benefits to supplementing with ALCAR, however it should be noted that a lot of these benefits may only be seen in the elderly or in people who are deficient due to diet.

That does not mean that healthy, young people can’t still see those benefits – just that more studies are done on the elderly.

Benefit #1. Reduction in Muscle Damage

After a workout you can expect some stiffness in your muscles, and most people will have experienced the dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This happens due to muscle damage, which is where muscle fibres are broken down and become inflamed.

Muscle damage is necessary for you to gain muscle size or strength, but too much (particularly when you are starting out) can hinder progress.

If you are in agony for three or four days after a workout then you will not be able to train effectively, in fact most people won’t be able to train at all. Luckily ALCAR supplementation may be the answer, a 2002 study found that taking 2g of L-Carnitine per day led to reduced muscle damage after a weight lifting session [2].

Based on this new knowledge, find yourself a post-workout supplement that contains L-Carnitine (and more) to fight muscle soreness and optimize muscle gains.

Benefit #2. Reduction in Fatigue

There are two forms of fatigue, physical and mental. When you are chronically fatigued you are usually suffering from both. Mental fatigue can affect cognitive ability, mood, and decision making, while physical fatigue can reduce movement and lead to weight gain.

A 2007 that looked into L-Carnitine supplementation found that it significantly reduced signs of both physical and mental fatigue [3].

Benefit #3. May Reduce Body Fat and Increase Muscle Mass

This last benefit is based around the same study as we just looked at [3]. It found that the participants who took L-Carnitine lost body fat and gained muscle. Pretty conclusive. But it is important to point out that the study was done on centenarians.

While this does not mean that muscle gains and body fat losses will not occur in younger men, it is worth pointing out just how different a 100 year old man and a 22 year old bodybuilder are.

If you’re still on the fence, at least consuming a supplement that contains L-Carnitine with be an added benefit, without spending the extra dollars buying the ingredient separately.

Conclusion

ALCAR seems to be a decent supplement ingredient that is well worth buying, particularly if you are new to training. Its effect on muscle damage and fatigue alone make it worthwhile, whether it helps with body fat loss and muscle gain remains to be seen. But think of it as an added bonus rather than a certainty.

References

[1] https://examine.com/supplements/l-carnitine/

[2] Volek, J., Kraemer, W., Rubin, M., Gomez, A., Ratamess, N., Gaynor, P. 2002. L-Carnitine L-Tartrate supplementation favourably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress. American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology, & Metabolism 282(2): E474 – 82

[3] Malaguarnera, M., Cammalleri, L., Gargante, M., Vacante, M., Colonna, V., Motta, M. 2007. L-Carnitine treatment reduces severity of physical and mental fatigue and increases cognitive functions in centenarians: a randomized and controlled clinical trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 86(6): 1738-44

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