For many supplements, timing is often a hotly debated topic as to when you should take certain supplements, and whether or not timing even matters at all! When it comes to potency, effectiveness, and absorption, timing can be a major factor but not necessarily for all supplements.
L-Carnitine is not considered to be an essential supplement when it comes to body composition or training performance and you’re unlikely to see it in many “best X” supplement lists but as an active ingredient in many fat burners, more people are starting to use L-Carnitine as a standalone supplement.
Due to its effects on fat loss and energy though, it’s good to know when is the best time to take L-Carnitine…
What is L-Carnitine?
L-Carnitine naturally occurs in the body from the essential amino acids lysine and methionine. It has a key role in energy production by transforming fatty acids in the cell’s mitochondria – where these fats are burned to create energy.
Though naturally occurring in the body, you can get small amounts of L-Carnitine through your diet by eating things like meat (especially red meat) as well as drinking products like milk. Almost all of the L-Carnitine in your body is within your muscles, with smaller amounts elsewhere such as in your liver and blood.
L-Carnitine is often taken as a supplement by those wanting to achieve their best workout goals. These supplements come in different forms but the most popular are either capsules or liquids.
Taking L-Carnitine as a supplement can help achieve the best performance during workouts. This is because as you workout lactic acid starts to build up which causes discomfort and tiredness. L-Carnitine helps to reduce this build up, allowing you to workout for longer.
As well as increasing endurance and stamina, L-Carnitine can help to give more energy and boost power during workouts. It can also have benefits for muscle movement, post-workout recovery, and fat loss.
Check out this video on L-Carnitine supplements and its benefits:
To make the most of these benefits it’s important to know how and when to use L-Carnitine supplements!
When Is the Best Time to Take L-Carnitine
An important factor to consider when taking L-Carnitine supplements is what time is best to take them. It’s usually recommended that L-Carnitine is taken in doses throughout the day, so knowing when to time these for the best results is crucial. This topic is debated but will depend on what you’re using the supplement for.
If you’re taking L-Carnitine to optimize your workout performance and increase energy levels when exercising then it’s best to take it 30-60 minutes before a workout. This gives your body time to absorb the supplement before you start a workout.
Another dose can be taken post-workout to aid recovery.
Make sure you separate these doses throughout the day and don’t exceed recommended doses, as this will undermine potential benefits and could make you sick.
Can You Take L-Carnitine on an Empty Stomach
If you’re taking L-Carnitine supplements then another important factor to consider is uptake and absorption.
L-Carnitine supplements can be taken on an empty stomach. Some people have found that taking it this way enhances the benefits of taking L-Carnitine as it absorbs more quickly on an empty stomach. Some people also find it best to take it this way as they typically wouldn’t eat before a workout.
However, there are some drawbacks of taking L-Carnitine on an empty stomach. Side effects of L-Carnitine can include stomach discomfort, nausea, and diarrhea. These can be more likely to occur if taken on an empty stomach. So taking L-Carnitine this way doesn’t work for everyone.
If you’re thinking about taking L-Carnitine on an empty stomach it’s best to trial it and see how it works for you. If you do experience any of the side effects it’s best to switch to taking it with a small amount of food, or even a meal, to see if side effects continue.
Also, for L-Carnitine to be most effective it’s often recommended that you take it with carbs (see below – What is the best way to take L-Carnitine).
Can You Take L-Carnitine Before Bed
If you’re thinking about taking a dose of L-Carnitine before or near your bed time, then the good news is that it doesn’t contain stimulants.
As L-Carnitine supplements don’t contain caffeine or stimulants that are common in pre-workouts, energy drinks, coffee, and other supplements they can be taken at any time of the day without keeping you awake all night.
However, L-Carnitine plays a key role in energy production. Therefore, it can give you a boost of energy. This boost of energy could disturb sleep, but it’s unlikely to have a major effect like pre-workouts containing stimulants do.
Can You Take L-Carnitine With Pre-Workout
A common question is whether L-Carnitine supplements can be taken alongside pre-workout.
L-Carnitine supplements can be taken with pre-workout to maximize your performance. This is because L-Carnitine doesn’t contain stimulants like caffeine that are common in lots of pre-workouts, so it can be paired with other supplements.
Since L-Carnitine is stimulant-free you can also take it alongside coffee or energy drinks.
Should You Take L-Carnitine After a Workout
Alongside pre-workout benefits, L-Carnitine has post-workout advantages. As it can alleviate muscle injury and reduce signs of cell damage, L-Carnitine can help the post-workout recovery process. This is because L-Carnitine enhances blood flow and the oxygen supply to muscles, decreasing soreness.
L-Carnitine supplements can therefore help enhance recovery, making it easier to get back to working out! This is why it’s often recommended to take L-Carnitine both before and after a workout, to ensure you optimize its benefits.
What Is the Best Way to Take L-Carnitine
The absorption, uptake and benefits of L-Carnitine have been shown to be most effective when taken with carbohydrates. This is due to insulin. In order for L-Carnitine to work, your insulin levels need to be up, as insulin helps to deliver glucose to muscle cells.
So it’s often recommended that you take L-Carnitine with a carb-heavy (usually between 30 and 60 grams of carbs) meal in order to achieve the best results. You’re unlikely to eat a big meal before working out, so this dose could be with your post-workout meal.
While the effects of L-Carnitine can vary depending on the intended use, this is one supplement where timing can play a crucial factor. L-Carnitine should be taken in doses throughout the day and for maximum effectiveness and uptake, it’s best to take it around your workout (30-60 minute pre and post workout).
This isn’t essential though and provided you take the recommended amount of L-Carnitine throughout the day in doses, you’ll still see the desired benefits.
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