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Nutrition and Diet

Carnitine Effects on Testosterone: Good or Bad?

Today we discuss a substance that converts fat into energy and is thus a preferred weight loss supplement. It is called carnitine. Yet, my intent is not to convince you to start using carnitine supplement for its more proclaimed benefit of weight loss.

Rather, we will focus on carnitine for testosterone. Through this article, you and I will learn the two topics- carnitine and testosterone- in detail, of course concerning the bodybuilding sphere of interest. In short, we will know what, why, when and how much of carnitine supplementation is needed to increase testosterone levels.

So, let us begin now.

What is Carnitine?

Carnitine is a substance (an amino acid) that converts body fat into energy. It can also be defined as a nutrient which your body needs to cull out energy from the fat stored in the body. Hence its popularity as a weight loss supplement.

How it transforms fat into energy is important to know in brief.

It does so by transporting fatty acids to mitochondria (which is a tiny cellular structure which performs certain activities within the living cells of the body). Technically speaking, mitochondria are organelles.

It (mitochondria) has specific functions to perform in the cells. Which is to convert oxygen and nutrients into ATP.

Thus, carnitine is the aid which transports fat to mitochondria, which in turn, helps in transforming the fat collected into ATP or useful energy.

Carnitine is produced in the liver and kidneys and then stored in the muscles, brain, heart and sperm, which is hint enough to say why carnitine supplementation is needed by bodybuilders.

Coming to the second part of defining carnitine as a useful source for bodybuilders, I will talk about supplements. Since it a naturally occurring amino acid, you can easily source it through your diet to meet your requirements.

But, you still need a supplement if you are doing a strenuous training. Vegans may need to depend more of the carnitine supplements to make up for the deficiency of it since the common dietary sources of carnitine are red meat, fish and dairy products.

Perhaps, this fact that almost 98% of the L-carnitine stores exist in the muscles will convince you to depend on its supplement form even further.

The added benefit of carnitine and testosterone, I will explain further.

It’s Effects On Testosterone

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It is important for me to mention here that testosterone is a muscle building hormone and therefore, important for muscle growth.

Carnitine increases the number of active androgen receptors in the body, meaning it increases the testosterone receptors and thus, the testosterone (hormone) production.

How do androgen or androgen receptor and testosterone relate to each other?

Androgens are a group of hormones which regulate male hormones. Testosterone is the most abundant androgen or a strong sub-androgen. Androgen receptors are the site in the human body where testosterone and DHT (another well-known sun-type androgen) bind together.

There are many functions of androgens (or testosterone) like building muscle mass, inhibiting fat deposition or producing testes. One of the main reasons for males having more muscle build than females is androgens only. Females to have androgens in ovaries but in very small quantities.

So, to put it in perspective, androgen receptors are needed to produce androgens, without which your hormones will not be transported into your body. Meaning without the receptors, there is no testosterone effect in your body-positive or negative.

Carnitine transports fatty acids into mitochondria and during this process, it also supplies energy to the androgen receptors in the same cells.

Carnitine thus increases the androgen receptor density leading to better testosterone utilization.

There is still another perspective to the scientific theory of testosterone and carnitine coupling. 98% of testosterone existing in the human body is called bound testosterone and it is of no use for muscle gains. Yes, you heard it right.

The abundant testosterone in our body is of no use for building muscles. Yet, we need testosterone for building muscles, you know why? The answer is free testosterone.  

The most usable form of testosterone is- free testosterone. Only 2% of the testosterone found in the human body is free testosterone or the usable testosterone form for building muscle mass.

You need the high efficiency of androgen receptors where testosterone is produced. So, switch to carnitine supplementation to enhance free testosterone production.

Only free testosterone has the capacity to affect your muscle building performance since it (free testosterone) is one of the key hormones modulating the protein synthesis in the muscles.

Testosterone contributed to the muscle building bio-process by increasing protein synthesis in the surface of muscle cells. It also stimulates growth hormones in action during exercise. These growth hormones are released during strenuous workouts to increase muscle growth.

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How to Use It Safely?

There are certain factors to keep in mind regarding carnitine supplementation. The prime being the types of carnitine. L-carnitine is the most commonly used supplement for bodybuilding. Its other varieties like Acetyl-L-carnitine and Propionyl-L-carnitine is used for specified purposes like treating brain disorders and heart diseases respectively.

Besides, avoid using D-carnitine supplement it interferes with the naturally occurring amino acid-L-carnitine- also the biologically-active form of carnitine. D supplementation may result in side-effects.

To avoid side effects of L-carnitine, it is important to take it in the recommended dose of 1-3 grams per day. However, there really are no serious issues with L-carnitine supplementation. There higher dose supplements are mild like diarrhoea, increased appetite, and body odour.

Still, it is important to stick to the recommended dose since an increase in appetite is not what you want. Even a 5mg L-carnitine supplement dose can cause its mild side-effects.

To Conclude!

That L-carnitine has positive effects on gaining muscle mass is proven. It is a dependable source for channelizing our internal systems to stimulate muscle growth. It helps you improve your workout performance by releasing more energy and growth hormones in the body, for example.

Since it works towards increasing the protein synthesis in the body, it naturally puts your other protein supplements into effective use. In addition, all the fat stored in the body is converted into ATP through carnitine action.

I see no reason to dig into the various benefits of carnitine supplementation and make good use of a readily available product on the shelves, do you?

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Keyur Malani

The author Keyur Malani

Keyur Malani is a certified content writer who finds his true passion in fitness and bodybuilding. Apart from his contribution to Myfitfuel blog, he also guides people in their diet and training routines. When he's not writing articles and breaking Deadlift PRs, he's learning life lessons on brain pickings and cooking his post workout meals.
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