CLA vs L-Carnitine: Which is a Better Fat Burner?

When long hours of workout fail to give you the expected degree of fat loss or improvement in your physique, you may have to think of adding a couple of supplements like CLA and L Carnitine into your daily routine.

Apart from a host of benefits these nutrients offer, enhancement of fitness, and revving up of fat metabolism are the ones that are most sought after.

CLA and L Carnitine supplements both claim to add that extra zing that can speed up your fat-burning process and increase your endurance levels.

Read more to learn about their benefits and understand which is better- CLA or Carnitine- for your health goals.

CLA Vs L-Carnitine

What is CLA?

CLA or conjugated linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid and is found naturally in the digestive system of goats, cows, buffalos, and sheep.

Meat and dairy products are the best natural sources for  CLA in the human diet.

CLA has shown to inhibit the activity of enzymes like lipoprotein lipase (1). LPL is responsible for picking up fat cells from the blood circulation and converting it to body fats for storage.

Hence, CLA plays a significant role in breaking down body fat, inhibiting the conversion of energy from body fat, and destroying fat cells (2).

Summary: CLA is a fatty acid that prevents the body from storing fat and promotes fat-burning action.

CLA Supplements and Weight Loss

Naturally-available CLA may not be enough to bring about the desired effects. Therefore, you may resort to over-the-counter supplements like Tonalin and CLA-80.

Though these supplements claim to burn fat and aid in weight loss, studies have shown mixed results. 

 In September 2015, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition published a review on the basis of 16 studies conducted from 2010 to 2015 (3). 

According to the review, 9 studies revealed no benefits of CLA Those cases that showed a positive impact on the body composition had physical activity combined with CLA supplementation.

On the other hand, a study conducted on postmenopausal women showed considerable improvement in fat mass and body weight when they were given 5.5grams of mixed CLA for a period of 16 weeks (4).

CLA supplements can be coupled up with other supplements when the goal is not just limited to weight loss. Here are a few of the most common examples of supplements taken along with CLA-

  • Acetyl carnitine plus CLA- Due to its ability to cross blood-brain barrier acetylcarnitine, commonly called ALCAR, helps in supporting brain health and improving focus and memory while CLA helps in weight management (5).
  • CLA with Quadracarn- Quadracarn, as the name suggests is a dietary supplement consisting of 4 types of carnitine namely L carnitine, N-Acetyl L-Carnitine HCl, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, and Propionyl L-Carnitine. It helps in muscle building, faster recovery after a strenuous workout, and promotes longevity. As a fat burner, Quadracarn is inadequate and hence the combination of CLA with Quadracarn works great.
  • CLA Carnitine Collagen- Collagen promotes healthy and supple skin and strengthens the joints. Hence, these three C’s can guarantee you nothing less than a healthy mind and a fit body!

Summary: CLA supplements have shown mixed results in terms of weight loss. Few studies indicate that they bring about a significant reduction in weight whereas some fail to show any positive impact.

The Benefits and Side Effects of CLA

CLA can be quite beneficial for those who aim at maintaining healthy levels of body fat. If you feel that your diet is rich in fats you must consider taking CLA supplements to keep a check on the fat absorption.

It is recommended to have CLA supplements along with your meals so that the quantity of fat absorbed is minimized.

Apart from taking care of your waistline by increasing fat-burning and reducing fat storage, CLA supplements can provide other valuable benefits like (6)-

  • Increase insulin sensitivity thereby, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Support immune function
  • Boost glycogen resynthesis 
  • Enhance bone mineralization
  • Serve as an effective anti-cancer supplement
  • Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Enhance muscle building 
  • Enhance satiety

All the above-mentioned effects contribute to the overall health and fitness of an individual.

CLA supplements are not considered totally unsafe (7) . There may be a few adverse effects associated with CLA supplements like-

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia)

Inform your health care provider if you feel that the supplements do not suit you and discontinue their consumption to avoid further uneasiness.

Summary: CLA supplements offer benefits like enhancement of the fat-burning process and decreased fat storage. Though mild, there may be some side effects like nausea and diarrhea.

CLA vs Thermogenic Supplements

Thermogenesis is the process by which our body produces heat by burning calories. ic Thermogenic supplements are meant to boost your body’s metabolism (8). 

When taken half an hour to an hour before workouts, these supplements may help you perform intense exercises for a longer duration.

One of the most common ingredients of thermogenic supplements is caffeine. Owing to its stimulant properties, caffeine can pose sleeping difficulties in caffeine-sensitive individuals (9).

Moreover, caffeine can have serious side effects such as rapid or erratic heartbeat.

On the other hand, CLA supplements have proved to be comparatively safe. It is safe for the heart as it prevents the thickening of arteries and enhances immunity.

Summary: CLA supplements are safe when compared to thermogenic supplements as the latter contains caffeine as its main ingredient.

What is L Carnitine?

L carnitine is an amino acid that is formed inside our kidney and liver with the help of two other amino acids namely, lysine and methionine. 

Meat, milk, fish, and poultry are rich in carnitine with beef being the best source as just 4 ounces of beef contains 56 to 62 milligrams of carnitine (10).

L carnitine acts as a transporter of long-chain fatty acids and carries them to the cell’s mitochondria so that these fatty acids can be burnt to release energy. 

L carnitine increases the amount of fat that the body can burn during a workout or even while resting. Studies have shown that the efficacy of the fat-burning effect of L carnitine is more during a training session than during rest.

Summary: L Carnitine, basically an amino acid, is a fatty-acid transporter and boosts the fat-burning action during a workout.

L Carnitine Supplements for Endurance Training

Due to its function of promoting fatty acid oxidation, L carnitine supplements are often marketed as a weight-loss supplement. 

According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, L carnitine can bring about only a moderate bodyweight reduction whereas another systematic review published in Obesity Reviews suggests that carnitine can assist in maintaining a healthy body weight (11), (12).

It can be extremely effective in athletes for enhanced physical performance. In a study on a group of 25 men carnitine and placebo were given along with strength training for 9 weeks (13).

Those who were put on carnitine showed an improvement in their antioxidant capacity and strength. Hence, it was concluded that carnitine can increase athletic performance.

Summary: L carnitine can help in body weight maintenance and improve athletic performance.

The Benefits and Side Effects of L Carnitine

One of the biggest benefits of L carnitine is that it can aid in achieving desired weight loss goals without affecting the lean muscle (14). 

Hence, carnitine supplements are an ideal choice for those who are looking for a reduction in their body fat along with the strengthening of lean muscle.

The other benefits of carnitine supplements include-

  • Enhancement of energy levels
  • Improvement of mental and cognitive functions
  • Enhancement of physical performance
  • Improvement in recovery time and decrease in soreness especially after weight training sessions

When taken in amounts less than 2gm/day for a period of one year or 4gms/day for 56 days, L carnitine supplements have not reported posing any safety threats. Although minor side effects have been observed like-

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fishy body odor
  • Abdominal cramps

It is recommended to consume the supplement as directed by the gym trainer or health care provider to avoid unnecessary side effects.

Summary: L carnitine is known for its benefits like lean muscle strengthening, increased energy levels, and faster recovery time. Minor adverse effects like stomach pain and vomiting can be there.

Can I Take CLA and L Carnitine Together?

Yes. CLA and L Carnitine stack can be extremely beneficial when taken together for individuals who aim at pursuing an active lifestyle (15), (16).

These supplements are available as a single combination pill or can be taken separately. It depends upon the benefits that you are focusing on. 

Those who are curious to know when to take CLA and L carnitine should understand that the supplements show maximum effectiveness when taken at least one or two hours before the workout session. The results are the same when CLA or L carnitine supplement is taken separately.

The combination of CLA and L Carnitine supplements is highly effective in obtaining the desired weight goals as L Carnitine produces more energy that facilitates exercising for longer hours whereas CLA lowers body fat during the workout.

It is ideal to start with 1gm of L Carnitine and increase it to 2 or 3 gms/day for the best results. Dosage for CLA can vary from 1.8gm to 7 grams for a day and can be consumed in divided doses.

Summary: L Carnitine and CLA supplements when taken together can bring better results due to their combined benefits. Taking them a couple of hours before workouts have reported showing more effectiveness. 

The Final Note

Conjugated Linoleic Acid and L Carnitine can be helpful for those who seem to have hit a stagnant phase in their weight-loss journey.

These supplements are quite inexpensive and can provide your fat metabolism that much-needed push so that you fare well in your journey to health and fitness.

While CLA focuses on reducing body fat and enhancing muscle mass, L Carnitine aids in utilizing energy from the consumed fats.

Just like any other supplement, CLA and L Carnitine supplements work best when taken in conjunction with a balanced diet and physical activities. It is highly recommended to consult a certified nutritionist, your family physician, or a qualified health professional before using these supplements.

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