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Shedding Fat with Carnitine, Fact or Fiction?

Carnitine has only been used as a nutritional supplement in sports for a few years. It is said that it can improve athletic performance, destroy fats, chisel muscles, and increase energy levels. Truth be told, the effectiveness of carnitine for melting fat or improving physical performance has never been demonstrated [1-2]. Let’s take a closer look at all of this!

What is carnitine?

It also goes by the names of L-carnitine or levocarnitine. Our liver and kidneys produce carnitine from two amino acids. It is also found in meat, fish, poultry, and milk. In our body, most of the carnitine is located in the muscles. Its function is to help fats penetrate our cells in order to burn them and transform them into energy.

What about carnitine supplements?

Since our body produces enough carnitine to meet our needs [1], consuming supplements or foods that are rich in carnitine is unnecessary. Carnitine supplements are only useful to the body when there is a deficiency, which happens very rarely, i.e., only in people suffering from certain diseases.

We could also think that the more carnitine we eat, the more fat our cells burn. However, studies conducted up to this day have agreed to say that, unfortunately, carnitine supplements do not burn body fat. Some researchers have even attempted using high doses on athletes, without noticing any improvements on physical performance [1].

Are there risks associated with using carnitine supplements?

Some digestive symptoms can be felt with doses higher than 3 grams per day: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea [3]. Therefore, I would not recommend using this supplement, especially because one of its most embarrassing side effects is that… it makes your body odor smell like fish. Will you take the chance?

By Vanessa Martin


1. National Institute of Health. 2006 (juin). Carnitine. Online. <http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Carnitine-HealthProfessional/>. Page viewed on January 25, 2013.

2. Dubost, Mireille. 2006. La nutrition. 3e éd. Montréal : Les Éditions de la Chenelière. 367 p.

3. Compendium des produits et spécialités pharmaceutiques (e-CPS). 2013. Carnitor. Online. Page viewed on January 25, 2013.

Vanessa Martin

A newcomer to Nautilus Plus, Vanessa Martin holds a degree in nutrition from the Université de Montréal and is a member in good standing of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec. She also works in the hospital setting and loves to blog in her spare time. Passionate and versatile, Vanessa plans on enhancing her knowledge in the field of psychology with an eye to better guiding and motivating the habit-changing endeavors of her clients. Member of a running club, she enjoys taking part in the competitions organized in her area. Vanessa is currently training for a 21 km race and would like to run her first marathon!

Shedding Fat with Carnitine, Fact or Fiction? is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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