Acetyl L-Carnitine also known as ALC or ALCAR is an acetylated form of the Amino Acid L-Carnitine. Able to produce an amazing number of positive effects on the human body, Acetyl L-Carnitine is well known for burning fat, producing energy, improving brain performance, maintaining good levels of testosterone, decreasing stress & depression, improving hearing & vision & slowing the effects of ageing related diseases including dementia, amongst others. Most importantly for bodybuilders & athletes, Acetyl L-Carnitine plays a large role in the oxidation of fatty acids - the process in which fatty acids are broken down & transformed into energy. Acetyl L-carnitine and L-carnitine are both compounds which can convert to each other in the body. L-Carnitine is responsible for transporting these fatty acids across the mitochondria membrane, where they are then put through the oxidation process1. This process allows us to lose unwanted fat & also provides us with plenty of energy to build more muscles. Athletes & bodybuilders in particular will be pleased to know that ALC can assist in the body’s production of testosterone & the reduction of cortisol2. Cortisol is a hormone that breaks down muscle tissue & reduces testosterone levels after the body experiences physical stress such as during exercise bouts. As a result of the cortisol reduction, ALC can also help attenuate any symptoms associated with decreased testosterone3.
ALC has also been found to reduce both physical & mental stress levels due to its ability to cross the blood brain barrier and act as an antioxidant4,5. Users of ALC have also reported a decrease in mental stress & symptoms of depression6 as a result of taking this supplement regularly. The decrease in stress & depression when taking ALC regularly is just the beginning of its many mental benefits however. Acetyl L-Carnitine provides the brain with energy, creating improved mental performance & alertness. It is also involved in the production of acetylcholine, one of the body's key neurotransmitters known to play a role in memory, mood & learning functions7. How are these mental benefits relevant to your training regime? Most of us have felt the negative side effects of a strict diet, which often include moodiness, stress & occasionally depression. Keeping your mind happy & healthy can lead to increased chance of success & it also makes it much easier to stick to your eating plan & regular workouts.
Perhaps the most well known mental benefit provided by ALC is its ability to slow the effects of ageing related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia & the aftermath of stroke.8,9,10 It achieves this by penetrating the blood-brain barrier & producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, as well as fortifying neurons negatively affected by free radicals. Other benefits provided by Acetyl L-Carnitine include improved vision & hearing & prevention of cataracts11, as well as improvements in sperm motility and sperm count.12 Acetyl L-Carnitine stacks well with Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), fat loss stimulants including Thermogenic Supplements, muscle building supplements including Creatines & Protein Powders high in amino acids which help aid in muscle growth & recovery. ALC is available in capsule or powder form, with the recommended dosage usually somewhere between 2 & 3 grams per day.
Acetyl L-Carnitine Supplements are commonly presented & sold as Complementary Medicines, Registered Therapeutic Items or Goods and Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia. Acetyl L-Carnitine not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read label prior to use.1. Brass EP. ‘Carnitine and sports medicine: use or abuse?’ Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Nov;1033:67-78.