Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

about us





L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate restores muscles after training

You've probably heard of L-carnitine a molecule that enhances fat burning. Well, sports scientists at the University of Connecticut are now researching another property of this substance. Their studies show that modest doses of L-carnitine - L-carnitine L-tartrate, to be more specific - speeds up muscle recovery after strength training.

It's not the first study [J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Aug;17(3):455-62.] [Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Feb;282(2):E474-82.] that the researchers have done on the effect of carnitine on recovery, but in the previous study the subjects were well-trained young men. In their new study, published last month in Metabolism, the researchers did an experiment with men and women aged between 40 and 55, who had never done strength training.

The subjects were given 2 g L-carnitine in the form of L-carnitine-L-tartrate every day for 3 weeks, after which they did a weight training session. The men did 4 sets of 15 reps on a squat machine, and the women did the same on a leg-press machine. The subjects continued to take the supplement for three days after the training session.

Then the researchers repeated the procedure, but gave the subjects a placebo.

Judging by the analyses of blood samples from the test subjects, L-carnitine takes effect immediately. The supplement reduced the increase in concentration of myoglobin and creatine kinase. These are proteins that belong in the muscle cells, but which are released when muscle cells are damaged. The less you find in a post-training blood sample, the less the muscles have been damaged.

L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate restores muscles after training

L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate restores muscles after training

The supplement also reduced the increase in hypoxanthine, the enzyme hypoxanthine-oxidase and malondialdehyde after the training session. This indicates that the L-carnitine reduced the damage to cells too.

The subjects also reported less muscle soreness when they used L-carnitine. However, the researchers got their subjects to run up and down 10 stairs as fast as possible, just before the strength training session [D0], 1 day after [D1], 2 days after [D2], 3 days after [D3] and 4 days after [D4], and then there was no statistically significant difference in effect, with or without supplement. Among the men there was no difference at all.

L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate restores muscles after training

"L-Carnitine L-Tartrate supplementation can beneficially affect postexercise markers of metabolic stress, muscle disruption, and muscle soreness in men and women older than 40 years", the researchers conclude.

The results of the Americans' previous study showed that the muscle cells' uptake of androgenic hormones was higher when the subjects took L-carnitine. The same study also showed that eating a meal before the training session had the same effect, but nevertheless recent reports have aroused our curiosity about the effects of long-term use of carnitine in strength athletes.

By the way, this research was funded by Lonza, a carnitine manufacturer.

Metabolism. 2010 Aug; 59(8): 1190-9.

Carnitine plus a meal boosts post-workout testosterone uptake 10.09.2010
Fat burner carnitine needs carbohydrates 06.05.2009
Centenarians on L-carnitine have more muscle and less fat 05.09.2008