Fasting as a way to lose weight and to correct a range of health issues has been gaining a steady interest in the last couple of years. The 5:2 diet, as well as the 8 hour or 16 hour diet popularised by Hugh Jackman has had plenty of great testimonials regarding its effectiveness to help support fat loss, improve metabolism and even prevent the development of chronic diseases and conditions such as cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. However, fasting can also result in some adverse effects which can affect compliance to such as diet. People who fast can often experience negative effects such as:
- Increased fatigue
- Increased hunger
- Negative changes to cholesterol levels
- Altered liver metabolism
However, there may be a way to cancel out these negative effects and the answer appears to be carnitine. In a recent study by Zhang et al, 15 participants with metabolic syndrome split into two groups, both of whom participated in a fasting regimen with one group receiving carnitine infusions while the other group did not. They were able to find that cholesterol levels, liver enzyme levels and blood pressure figures did not change in those who received carnitine infusions. In addition, fatigue and hunger levels were suppressed in those on carnitine. It is important to note that both groups did lose weight, however the group receiving carnitine infusions trended towards greater weight loss and a better improvement to waist to hip ratios.
Carnitine or L-carnitine is a compound which is involved in energy metabolism and has long been used in a range of supplements to help support fat burning, energy production and recovery from exercise. And it seems as though it may just help you better comply to your diet as well, especially if you were fasting.
While the aforementioned study examined carnitine infusions, oral carnitine supplementation can still offer benefits, especially for those who suffer increased fatigue. This is often a common symptom of weight and fat loss diets due to a distinct lack of calorie intake. If you find that fatigue or your hunger levels are factors that affect your compliance to diets, it might be a good idea to add some L-carnitine into your diet. One of the best and most bioavailable forms is the acetylated version Acetyl L-Carnitine, which is also great for mental performance. Try to have 2-4g a day, which can be broken up into 2-3 serves.
Zhang JJ, Wu ZB, Cai YJ, Ke B, Huang YJ, Qiu CP, Yang YB, Shi LY, Qin J. ‘L-carnitine ameliorated fasting-induced fatigue, hunger, and metabolic abnormalities in patients with metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled study.’ Nutr J. 2014 Nov 26;13(1):110.