Biohacking: Be in life for the long haul
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), is a powerful and wonderful supplement you probably haven’t heard all too much about. It’s not a protein powder, BCAA or a preworkout. But if you’ve ever walked into a supermarket and forgotten entirely why you were there, or have difficulty remembering where you put your keys…. alcar benefits might help you!
Acetyl L-Carnitine is a wonderful little molecule which has been a staple in the bodybuilding and brain-hacking communities for years now. Some people call it a “smart drug”. Some people call it an ‘anti-aging drug’. Some people reckon it turns them into superheroes. This is because of its ability to help you lose weight and enhance your brain functioning – specifically in areas of your brain associated with memory.
So read on to learn more about the benefits of acetyl-L-carnitine and how it might help you live an active and healthy life for the long haul.
What is acetyl-L-carnitine?
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid naturally produced in your body to generate energy. It’s also found in animal protein — namely, red meats. Many people supplement with acetyl-L-carnitine, because of its potential benefits particularly when it comes to brain health.
ALCAR Benefits – Boost your mood, memory and slow cognitive decline
Acetyl L Carnitine is a supplement form of L-carnitine that can pass your blood-brain barrier. This gives alcar access to the dense collection of mitochondria in your brain as well as to the mitochondria in the rest of your body. That also explains why ALCAR is becoming so popular as a nootropic supplement (something that makes your brain work better).
ALCAR benefits in summary
- Helps improve your physical and emotional energy
- Assists in enhancing cognitive function
- Lowers inflammation to assist in improving workout recovery times (and curiously, also reduces hangovers….)
- Boosts circulation
- Helps to improve mental focus
Expanding on ALCAR benefits
Acetyl L-Carnitine can help you work harder in the gym and recover faster. And if you’re older, acetyl-L-carnitine is especially useful for maintaining your energy levels and shedding body fat.
Alcar helps to improve brain function
ALCAR is an anti-aging nootropic, or smart drug, meaning, it helps your brain perform better. The acetyl group on it lets it pass your blood-brain barrier and reach your brain and nerves, where it can improve your mood, learning, and memory.
Here’s what the research has to say about using ALCAR benefits for hacking your brain:
- More mental + physical energy: Older men and women who took ALCAR daily saw a significant boost to their physical and mental energy levels, as well as better overall cognitive ability.
- Improves cognitive function: Taking ALCAR improves that brain function. A lot. In this recent study, 8 out of 14 participants reversed a dementia diagnosis and returned to their full cognitive abilities after supplementing ALCAR daily.
- Lowers inflammation + Decreases damage: Acetyl-L-carnitine decreases inflammation in healthy adults. This is partially to do with how ALCAR increases glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant. Glutathione is awesome for curing hangovers. And, as it turns out, ALCAR decreases damage to brain cells after drinking, too.
- Boosts circulation: In healthy adults, ALCAR increased circulation and nutrient-rich blood flow after a high-fat meal. Good blood flow is an essential part of muscle and brain function.
- Improves focus: Acetyl-L-carnitine improves attention, both in kids with ADHD and adults who struggle with mental fatigue.
ALCAR benefits: helps to burn fat
ALCAR can give you an edge in the gym. It invades the fat cells in your body and when your body starts looking for fuel to throw into your mitochondrial fires (so to speak), the ALCAR cells throw their hands up and say “pick me!”. This is known as fat mobilisation and is made possible by a process known as the “Carnitine shuttle” (which sounds like a dance, but more on this below). And because a fat cell contains more energy than a muscle cell, your body will happily oblige. This results in a ramp-up of your energy production and can increase endurance.
The Carnitine Shuttle
Fatty acids can’t just bust into your mitochondria and throw themselves on the fire. They need something called a carnitine shuttle. Basically, carnitine latches onto fatty acids and carries them into your mitochondria. Carnitine can also be thought of as your body’s ‘Fat Bouncer’ because when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.
You need carnitine to metabolise and mobilise fat. If you’re low on carnitine, fat can’t get into your mitochondria, and you struggle to use it for fuel. But with abundant carnitine, your fat metabolism works like a well-oiled machine. That’s why ALCAR supps are so popular with bodybuilders and is considered a fat burner.
ALCAR will help improve your workouts
ALCAR has been a staple of the bodybuilding community for years. There are so many ways you can improve your workouts with alcar:
- Increase strength: Resistance-trained young men who took carnitine 90 minutes before intense exercise enjoyed a significant increase in power output, as well as lower lactate levels (lactate contributes to the burning feeling in your muscles).
- Burns more fat: Young men who took carnitine burned more fat during moderate exercise, and their muscles produced more energy during intense exercise.
- Improves how your body uses testosterone: Men who took acetyl-L-carnitine after lifting had more dense hormone receptors in their muscles, which may have improved their testosterone uptake. ALCAR doesn’t increase your testosterone; it makes you better at using the testosterone you have.
- Speeds recovery: ALCAR can speed up recovery and decrease muscle inflammation after exercise, in both men and women.
- Better insulin sensitivity: ALCAR improves insulin sensitivity in people who don’t process glucose well.
- Builds muscle: ALCAR is a powerful anti-aging supplement if you’re older and want to build muscle. In older people, it decreases muscle fatigue and increases fat loss.
- Reduces muscle fatigue: One study found that acetyl-L-carnitine decreases muscle fatigue in young people too.
How much should you take to get ALCAR benefits?
Acetyl-L-carnitine is a valuable addition to your daily supplement routine, especially if you’re an athlete or you’re looking for anti-aging benefits. As with most supplements, timing matters. Here’s what you need to know:
Most of the studies about ALCAR used between 1-3 grams of the supplement, taken every day. One gram a day seems to be recognised as a good place to start depending on the ALCAR benefits you’re after. From there, you can increase or decrease the dose as you see fit. Generally though:
Acetyl L-Carnitine for anti-aging:
2g/day; half first thing in the morning, half in the afternoon
Acetyl-L-carnitine for fitness and fat-burning:
2-3g day; half 90 minutes before exercise (to increase your muscle endurance), half after exercise (to speed up recovery)
Acetyl L-Carnitine side effects and precautions
While ALCAR is generally considered safe for most people, you could experience some side effects, including upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, and restlessness. Consult your health professional before starting any supplement, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a serious medical condition.
Where to get ALCAR?