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L-Carnitine: Energy’s Rocket Fuel

As a hardworking bodybuilder, you’re fully aware of what it takes to generate the energy you need to meet your performance goals. While many bodybuilders use a variety of energy-enhancing supplements that are caffeine based or are central nervous system stimulants, “borrowed energy” may not always be your best option.

Energizers like that can give you a fast burst but will quickly send the borrowed energy south—plummeting. Luckily, you can naturally generate what’s referred to as biological energy. By tapping into that pure form of energy, as nature intended, you can improve your workout performance twofold. The best part of the scenario is that nature already has a compound to help you generate biological energy—L-carnitine. In fact, you have 20 to 25 grams of it in your system, of which 95 percent is found in skeletal muscle. Stress, exercise, aging and other factors, however, can scuttle this dynamic nutrient.

Carnitine’s role in human bioenergetics is so profound that researchers contend that it is unique and essential and that no other compound can replace it in initiating and regulating the production of biological energy. Dr. Edmund R. Burke, the well-known sports physiologist, calls L-carnitine “energy’s workhorse.”

Energy is an elusive entity that you can’t see, hear or touch; however, you know when you’re energized, when your energy is waning and when you’re reenergized. Somewhere within your cells something drives energy toward its continuous physiological function. That “somewhere” is in the body’s internal cellular furnaces, known as the mitochondria.

When you eat, L-carnitine drives fatty acids into the mitochondria. It also assists in the disposal of deadly ketones, by-products of insufficient carbohydrate metabolism. Additionally, without adequate amounts of L-carnitine present, the door to the energy factories can’t be opened efficiently, hampering energy and fat burning.

The mitochondria are the platform for the conversion of fat into energy, while L-carnitine drives the energy cycle by sparing glycogen in liver and muscle tissue. Energy stored in carbohydrate converts to glucose but can be exhausted rather quickly. L-carnitine helps spare glucose during intense workouts, switching the fuel system to fat. That makes for a 75 to 80 percent uptick in use, depending on the type of activity, which is extremely important. Your preserved glycogen can be used during periods of heavier workloads and/or exertion.

L-carnitine also prevents delayed-onset muscle soreness, a.k.a. DOMS. Data show that when untrained subjects supplemented with three grams daily of L-carnitine for three weeks, they experienced a good deal less exercise-induced muscle pain and damage. The mechanism is 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 found that L-carnitine reduced hypoxanthine, xanthine oxidase and uric acid, which are catabolic markers of exercise-damaged muscle tissue.

L-carnitine forces free testosterone to better interact with androgen receptors in muscle tissue following heavy resistance training. It acts like an anabolic steroid by naturally regulating the flow of circulating testosterone into muscle tissues after you train.

Suggested dose and use: Take L-carnitine half an hour before eating or a couple of hours after eating to improve absorption. To enhance performance, take it right before your workout, starting with 500 milligrams a day, gradually increasing your range to 1,000 to 3.000 milligrams daily.

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