L-Carnitine gives football players the edge

Professional footballers have more energy if they take a couple of grams of the amino acid carnitine before a match or a training session. Sports scientists at Aksaray University and Gazi University in Turkey will soon publish their findings in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Professional footballers have more energy if they take a couple of grams of the amino acid L-carnitine before a match or a training session. Sports scientists at Aksaray University and Gazi University in Turkey will soon publish their findings in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Carnitine is an amino acid found primarily in the muscle tissue of the heart. The liver and kidneys produce it from lysine, methionine and vitamins C, B3 and B6, but your body also gets it from dairy and meat products.

Carnitine plays a key role in the transport of fatty acids to the mitochondria, the power houses in the body’s cells. The idea behind L-carnitine supplementation is that endurance capacity increases if cells burn fatty acids more easily as a result of the increased L-carnitine concentration.

This is a controversial idea however. There are studies that show that supplementation with several grams of L-carnitine per day has a mild ergogenic effect. But there are just as many studies in which for example 4 g carnitine has no effect whatsoever on fat burning [Eur J Appl Physiol. 2007 Jan;99(2):193-9.] or in which a month of supplementation leads to virtually no increase in the concentration of carnitine in the muscle cells [Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;72(2 Suppl):618S-23S.] – and thus suggest that carnitine can’t have any effect at all.

Erikoglu Orer Gamze and Atalay Guzel Nevin performed an experiment designed to elucidate the effects of carnitine. They gave 26 professional footballers aged 17-19 either 3 g [LK-3] or 4 g [LK-4] carnitine and made them do an exertion test one hour later.

The test involved the players running for three minutes on a treadmill at a speed of 8 kph, followed by one minute of rest, then running for three minutes at a speed of 10 kph, followed by one minute of rest, etc. For the remainder of the test the researchers increased the speed at which the football players had to run by 1 kph.

The researchers went through the same procedure once again after giving both groups a placebo [P-3] [P-4].

During the 3-minute-long sets supplementation with 3g and 4g carnitine lowered the heart rate a little. In addition, the players gave themselves a slightly lower score for fatigue [Borg Scale]. The effects were small, but most of them were statistically significant.

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“All those aforementioned results of the study are consistent with the finding that the installation of L-carnitine increases the effectiveness of endurance performance”, the researchers write in their conclusion.

According to a human study done at the University of Nottingham, the body only absorbs carnitine well in combination with a few dozen grams of carbohydrates. If the Turkish researchers had got their subjects to take their carnitine supplements during meals, the results may have been more convincing.

THE EFFECTS OF ACUTE L-CARNITINE SUPPLEMENTATION ON ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE OF ATHLETES.

Gamze EO, Nevin AG.

Source

1School of Physical Education and Sports. Aksaray University. TURKEY basketball.08@hotmail.com 2Faculty of Health Science.

Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation. Gazi University. TURKEY natalay@gazi.edu.tr.

Abstract

This study examined the effect of acute L-carnitine loading on the endurance performance of footballers.Measurements were performed on 26 candidate professional footballers who volunteered to take part in the study. Athletes were given a glass of fruit juice one hour before applying L-carnitine with the double blind method. Then 12 participants were given 3 gr of L-carnitine (LK-3) and the remaining 14 were given 4 gr (LK-4). Athletes began the exercise test at a running speed of 8 km/h, and then continued at 10km/h. The speed was increased 1 km/h every three minutes and the test continued until the subject chose to quit. Heart rate was registered using a portable telemetric heart rate monitor during the test. Blood samples were taken from the earlobes of the footballers both before the test and before the speed increase (during the 1-minute intervals), and the lactate (La) concentration was measured electroenzymatically. The test was repeated after one week as a group of placebos (P-3 and P-4).The result showed that the running speeds corresponding to specific La concentrations were increased and La and heart rate responses to the running speeds were decreased in both supplemented groups compared to placebos (p<0.05). A significant reduction in heart rate was found in LK-4 and P-4 (p<0.05). When the Borg responses to the running speeds were analyzed, a significant difference was found in both supplemented groups (p<0.05).The results show that 3 or 4 gr L-carnitine taken before physical exercise prolonged exhaustion.

PMID: 24045629 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24045629

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