Carnitine supplementation had little effect on human exercise performance

In this research study Carolyn A Greig, the talented PhD student of Professor Anthony J Sargeant, carried out a study at the  Rayne Research Institute of University College Hospital which failed to demonstrate any significant effect of carnitine on exercise performance.
European Journal of Applied Physiology
Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1987;56(4):457-60

Two trials were conducted to investigate the effects of L-carnitine supplementation upon maximum and submaximum exercise capacity. Two groups of healthy, untrained subjects were studied in double-blind cross-over trails. Oral supplementation of 2 g per day L-carnitine was used for 2 weeks in the first trial and the same dose but for 4 weeks in the second trial.

Maximum and submaximum exercise capacity were assessed during a continuous progressive cycle ergometer exercise test performed at 70 rpm. In trial 1, plasma concentrations of lactate and beta-hydroxybutyrate were measured pre- and post-exercise. In trial 2, pre- and post-exercise plasma lactate were measured. The results of treatment with L-carnitine demonstrated no significant changes in maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) or in maximum heart rate. In trial 1, there was a small improvement in submaximal performance as evidenced by a decrease in the heart-rate response to a work-load requiring 50% of VO2max. The more extensive trial 2 did not reproduce the significant result obtained in trial 1, that is, there was no significant decrease in heart rate at any given submaximal exercise intensity, under carnitine-supplemented conditions. Plasma metabolic concentrations were unchanged following L-carnitine, in both trials. It is concluded, that in contrast to other reports, carnitine supplementation may be of little benefit to exercise performance since the observed effects were small and inconsistent


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