Acetyl L Carnitine (AKA ALCAR): Brain Boosting Fat Burner
When it comes to supporting brain health, cognitive functioning and memory, Acetyl L Carnitine is a proven performer. It is also a very popular fat loss supplement. This compound is related to the amino acid carnitine. In fact, when taken into the body, it converts into carnitine. In this article, we get up close and personal with acetyl l carnitine.
What is Acetyl L Carnitine?
Acetyl L Carnitine is an amino acid that is the result of the combination of two other amino acids, lysine and methionine. As such, it is the acetylated form of carnitine, and has a greater bioavailability than the ability to do more than straight carnitine.
Acetyl L Carnitine is able to participate in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is instrumental for brain functioning and memory enhancement.
Along with other forms of carnitine, acetyl l carnitine also participates in energy production by shunting lipids (fats) into mitochondria to be used as energy. This process is called oxidation.
Cognitive Benefits of Acetyl L Carnitine
The great benefit of acetyl-l-carnitine is its ability to pass from the blood stream into the spinal canal. In effect, this means that it is able to pass the blood-brain barrier. This makes it available to work metabolically on nerve tissue. Research has shown that acetyl-l-carnitine is able to make changes to nerve and brain cells over time.
Carnitine does not have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which is why the acetyl form has gained in popularity. In the brain it has been shown to have powerful antioxidant effects. It reduces oxidative stress and cell excitability and is even believed to lower levels of cell death after exposure to toxins.
Acetyl L carnitine is used as a cognitive booster to promote more efficient learning. It has the ability to improve a person’s focus, with many user’s reporting that it also enhances their goal orientation. It is used by athletes, gym goers and sportspeople before their exercise session to help produce clarity, focus and drive.
Fat Loss Benefits of Acetyl L Carnitine
Acetyl L Carnitine will help to transport free fatty acids to the mitochondria of muscle cells, where they are converted through the process of oxidation into packets of energy to be used by the ATP system. Without the aid of carnitine, most dietary fats will be unable to make their way into the mitochondria.
The increased oxidation of fat that results from this process will help a person to convert stored body fat to energy. When taken prior to exercise, this supplement will enable your energy system to draw from fat stores while you are training. This will preserve your glycogen levels so that you have a greater training endurance.
Nitric Oxide Enhancing Benefits of Acetyl L Carnitine
Acetyl L Carnitine, along with other forms of carnitine, has been shown to have the ability to boost the body’s production of nitric oxide. As well as preventing oxidative damage to nitric oxide it also appears to promote the production of a hormone that is a precursor to NO. Nitric oxide is a blood vessel vasodilator. When there is more of it flowing through your system, your blood flow to your muscles will be enhanced. This will speed up the delivery of oxygen, nutrients and hormones to the cells, while also more efficiently removing waste products. The result will be a greater training pump, faster workout recovery and reduced post exercise muscle soreness.
A study out of the Nottingham Medical School of Research had two groups of cyclists training over 24 weeks. One group took 2 grams of carnitine daily along with a fast-acting glycemic supplement, while the other took only the glycemic supplement. During low intensity cycling the carnitine only group burned 55 percent less muscle glycogen while also increasing fat burning by 55 percent. They were also able to cycle for 25 percent longer than the non-carnitine group.
When to Take Acetyl- L Carnitine
Experience has shown that acetyl l carnitine is best utilized by the muscles cells and the brain when taken on an empty stomach. For that reason, you should take this supplement between meals. To benefit from its energy and brain boosting effects during your workout take 2-3 grams of acetyl l carnitine within 30 minutes of starting your exercise session.
Stephens, F. B., et al. New insights concerning the role of carnitine in the regulation of fuel metabolism in skeletal muscle. The Journal of Physiology 581: 431-444, 2007.
Buzzigoli, G. and Ferrannini, E. Effects of acute hypercarnitinemia during increased fatty substrate oxidation in man. Metabolism 42(5):594-600, 1993.
Muller, D. M., et al. Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on in vivo long-chain fatty acid oxidation in healthy adults. Metabolism 51(11):1389-91, 2002.