If you’re training to achieve your top performance, or top physique, then you understand that having the right nutrients in your body, at the right time, is extremely important. Carnitine for fat metabolism, protein and branched-chain amino acids for recovery and pre-workouts, like ALTRD STATE, for energy, focus and skin splitting pumps. If you care about those factors, then you care about the quality and specificity of the ingredients in your supplements! Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) and Gamma-Butyrobetaine (GBB) are a powerful and efficient pairing that help you burn fat, increase energy and keep your cognitive health in check. We’re going to take you through a quick breakdown of Carnitine, then we’re going to tell you how GBB keeps Carnitine consistent and why ALCAR is the best version of Carnitine you can supplement!
Carnitine is a non-essential amino acid and is found in small amounts in animal products such as milk, fish and red meat (generally, the redder the meat, the higher its Carnitine content). It is naturally synthesized in the liver and kidneys from two essential amino acids: lysine and methionine.7, 18 Like all aminos, L-Carnitine is important in multiple processes in the body. Most importantly for bodybuilders and other strength athletes, L-Carnitine enhances mitochondrial function, fat burning, and energy production. It does this primarily by transporting long chain fatty acids to cellular energy organelles called mitochondria, in which the transported fats are burned (oxidized) and used for energy.4, 5, 8, 28, 29
Most of the L-Carnitine we produce (98%) is stored in muscle, with trace amounts found in the liver and blood.3 Because long chain fatty acids can only be used for energy once transported across the mitochondrial membrane, courtesy of L-Carnitine, poor L-Carnitine levels and a suboptimal transport system means that excess adipose tissue will continue to accumulate, making fat loss a difficult, if not impossible, goal to achieve.
Along with increasing energy through fatty acid utilization, L-Carnitine also removes the toxic by-products of cellular energy production, thus decreasing muscular fatigue and boosting muscular endurance. Mostly it does this by removing lactate and transforming pyruvate (a by-product of glucose breakdown) from the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase into the energy molecule acetyl-coA, which can then be oxidized for energy production.30 Furthermore, studies have shown that L-Carnitine can stimulate a twofold increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) production from pyruvate in skeletal muscle mitochondria, thus increasing the biosynthesis of carbohydrates for energy.10, 31
All in all, as well as increasing the uptake of free fatty acids into the mitochondria, L-Carnitine also has been shown to improve carbohydrate metabolism to increase physical output. Finally, L-Carnitine has been shown to strengthen the mitochondria themselves, to optimize mitochondrial functioning and this energy organelle’s ability to power human performance.9, 12, 23
Carnitine Depletion and Exercise
Unlike other performance compounds such as creatine, which can be used both immediately and stored in excess for future use, the body seeks to maintain a specific equilibrium of L-Carnitine in the bloodstream and muscle (Carnitine homeostasis).10, 21, 27 Here, the kidneys efficiently conserve L-Carnitine to ensure that its levels remain stable regardless of dietary L-Carnitine intake. Instead of being metabolized, any excess L-Carnitine is removed through urination, thus maintaining stable blood concentrations of this compound. This can be both good and bad depending on individual training demands and one’s specific shredding aspirations.
Research has shown that high-intensity exercise can greatly reduce muscle stores of L-Carnitine, with an increase in L-Carnitine metabolism after just 10 minutes of activity (low-intensity exercise does not show this effect).10 With such activity the muscles begin to rapidly burn through stored L-Carnitine, with prolonged high-intensity exercise driving L-Carnitine levels down to under 50% of resting value over a one-hour period. This may not only have a negative effect on exercise performance but can also stifle fat burning. By comparison, the results of one study showed that L-Carnitine ingestion prior to an exercise session conducted at maximal intensity significantly increased both maximal oxygen uptake and power output.32 As well, carbon dioxide production, pulmonary ventilation and plasma lactate were concomitantly shown to be reduced.32
Taking into account the amount of L-Carnitine found in muscle tissue and blood, it’s important that the athlete, with their higher demand for this amino, increase their supply through quality supplementation. Since sufficient L-Carnitine cannot be derived through non-animal food sources, vegans and vegetarians in particular, are especially vulnerable to the effects of exercise-induced L-Carnitine elimination.11 And, because L-Carnitine is not made in muscle tissue, and is dependent on transportation in the bloodstream, a steady supply is necessary to ensure its full bounty of benefits.
With all of the above being said (in addition to the fact that L-Carnitine, as a standalone product, still can produce excellent results), traditional L-Carnitine supplementation is not without its problems. For example, research has shown that while the bioavailability of L-Carnitine from food is about 54-87% (depending on the amount present in one’s diet). With the L-Carnitine types in most supplements, absorption is about 14-18%.19 In order improve this we have chosen to use a combination of Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) and Gamma-Butyrobetaine(GBB) which more significantly increase blood levels of L-Carnitine, have greater bioavailability, and hold additional benefits which make them better at stripping fat and boosting energy production. This increased bioavailability is extremely important when we consider how two grams of L-Carnitine can reduce fatigue and increase muscle function in adults (natural Carnitine levels plummet as we age).13
Optimizing Use and Bio-Storage of Carnitine!
Gamma-Butyrobetaine (GBB) is considered a ‘Super Carnitine’. GBB is a precursor to L-Carnitine (or ‘pro Carnitine’ compound). This means that is readily converted to L-Carnitine in normal physiological processes. Its main benefit is in its regulatory effects of Carnitine in the blood.
Compared to other L-Carnitine products, GB is a naturally occurring molecule and has been shown to significantly increase L-Carnitine in the blood, a major limitation of traditional forms of L-Carnitine. This means the muscles stand to receive more L-Carnitine over a longer period of time. When converted to L-Carnitine by the enzyme Gamma-butyrobetaine dioxygenase (GBD), GBB works to ensure that the L-Carnitine lost through the conversion of free fatty acids to ATP (energy molecule used for exercise etc.), through beta oxidation, in the mitochondria is quickly replenished.
In fact, by supplementing with GBB, the body is pushed to manufacture, through natural synthesis, more L-Carnitine to achieve the L-Carnitine equilibrium, ensuring we are not without adequate L-Carnitine when it is needed most. With the addition of supplemental L-Carnitine, the muscles are getting both an increased natural supply and more through supplementation. More fatty acids can be transported for energy than is possible through either option alone. In addition to obliterating body fat stores, GBB may also increase fat loss by enhancing thermogenesis (heat production that’s been shown to boost metabolism, stimulate fat loss and decrease appetite).22 In this regard it’s believed that when GBB stimulates L-Carnitine formation, the ensuing chemical reaction is exothermic (heat producing), which, in turn, creates a thermogenic effect in the body, especially when taken in higher doses (50mg, or more, per day, in divided doses). What’s more – the benefits of GBB don’t end with body fat management and can branch into sport and exercise performance.
Research found that GBB may greatly increase Nitric Oxide (NO) production in the body.24 The significance of increased NO on increasing workout performance and muscle growth is extremely important for bodybuilding and peformance. NO relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels (vasodilation), making them wider and better-able to push more blood, oxygen and performance nutrients (including L-Carnitine) to the working muscles (hence the pumping effect). This vasodilating effect also reduces blood pressure, thereby taking pressure off the heart so that it may work more efficiently.
For dosing suggestions, 50mg appears to be highly effective in increasing L-Carnitine in the body. From this magic number, two 25mg doses per day (taken before cardio and weights and in a consistent fashion) will ensure greater accumulation.
As mentioned earlier, GBB works best when taken with additional forms of L-Carnitine. Rather than taking regular L-Carnitine, which has limitations, an alternative version functions extremely well with GBB. This superior version is called Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR).
Like L-Carnitine, ALCAR is formed naturally in the body, but through the enzymatic addition of an acetyl group to L-Carnitine it is readily converted to ALCAR, and back, depending on the metabolic needs of the cell.15 For full absorption, ALCAR must be deacetylated (where its acetyl molecule is removed) but is readily acetylated once absorbed.6 While interchangeable once inside the cell, ALCAR and L-Carnitine work in different ways. ALCAR holds specific benefits that make it, in many ways, a superior compound when compared to L-Carnitine.
Though both work to enhance fatty acid utilization and enhance athletic performance, there is at least one major difference between ALCAR and L-Carnitine – ALCAR is better absorbed from the gut and more readily crosses the blood-brain barrier to assist mental cognition. This gives ALCAR the advantage of being a powerful nootropic agent.2 Otherwise known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, nootropics are a class of drugs, supplements, and other substances that are believed to improve cognitive function (particularly executive functions), memory, creativity, and motivation.
ALCAR also serves as an acetyl donor that facilitates the influx and efflux of acetyl groups across the mitochondrial inner membrane 26 This is essential in the process of transporting long chain fatty acids to the mitochondria of the cell. Coupled with its ability to pass the blood-brain barrier, this makes ALCAR extremely potent in stripping bodyfat while energizing both mind and body. Due to being more readily absorbed compared to traditional L-Carnitine, ALCAR has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity along with serum lipids.15 It may also provide protection against oxidative damage.15 For a natural substance that has very little likelihood of producing adverse effects, ALCAR could be considered one of today’s most powerful ergogenic aids.
With its beneficial effect on brain function and mental acuity, not to mention its ability to reduce mental fatigue and improve concentration, ALCAR can more rapidly, and to a greater degree, get you in the zone to have the highest performance. ALCAR has been shown to reduce post-training (mental) fatigue and depression, further highlighting its ability to sustain concentration and enhance mental function and mood.14, 33 In addition, ALCAR is also believed to promote hippocampal neurogenesis (the development of the memory center of the brain), providing hope for people (particularly older folk) with memory problems.1, 25
The training and fat burning benefits of L-Carnitine have been experienced by many performance athletes and those looking for peak performance. Now, with GBB and ALCAR, there is an alternative to regular L-Carnitine supplementation; one that holds a range of fat stripping and performance enhancing benefits. From boosting natural L-Carnitine production in the body, increasing Nitric Oxide levels and promoting thermogenesis (GBB) to rapidly absorption through the blood barrier to enhance cognition and provide nootropic benefits – ALCAR and GBB are a combo that can’t be beat. It was an absolute no-brainer to include both of these ingredients in the ALTRD STATE formulation. They will have you in your best shape and performing at an elite level in no time at all.
- Ames, B.N. et al. (2004). Delaying the mitochondrial decay of aging with acetylcarnitine. Ann NY Acad Sci. 1033:108-16. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15591008/
- Chen, N. et al. (2017). L-carnitine for cognitive enhancement in people without cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Mar 26;3(3):CD009374. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6464592/
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- Gross, C. J. et al. (1986). Uptake of l-carnitine, d-carnitine and acetyl-l-carnitine by isolated guinea-pig enterocytes. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular Cell Research, 886(3), 425–433. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0167488986901783
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- Inazu, M. et al. (2008). Physiological functions of carnitine and carnitine transporters in the central nervous system]. Nihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi. Jun;28(3):113-20. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18646596/
- Iossa, S. et al. (2002). Acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation differently influences nutrient partitioning, serum leptin concentration and skeletal muscle mitochondrial respiration in young and old rats. J Nutr. Apr;132(4):636-42. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11925454/
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