Everyone knows that caffeine is a stimulant. It has a powerful effect on the central nervous system, allowing the consumer of it to ward of drowsiness and obtain a perky pick-me-up. People intent on physical exercises or muscle building further know that caffeine is able to energize them for the upcoming workout and to burn fat. Recent research, however, seems to suggest that by combining caffeine with carnitine, the fat burning effect can be substantially increased.
Caffeine is a chemical compound found in over 60 species of plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, guarana and kola nuts. Forty-five to 60 minutes after ingestion, a number of physiological responses occur that allow a person to remain alert with a clear flow of thought, increased focus and better general body coordination. Caffeine also increases fat oxidation. This helps to spare muscle glycogen and wards off premature muscle fatigue.
Studies have confirmed the fat burning effects of caffeine. A groundbreaking study by Acheson, et al., showed that moderate caffeine intake can enhance free fatty acid levels in the blood with an accompanying increase in the oxidation of fat. Another study, led by Belza, gave 50 mg of caffeine to 12 healthy young men. A control group was given a placebo. Several hours after the administration of the supplement, the thermogenesis levels of the two groups were measured. The caffeine group was seen to have a 6% higher rate of thermogenesis than the control group.
Although often referred to as an amino acid, carnitine is actually an amino-like compound that is formed in the body by the amino acids lysine and methionine. Carnitine (which comes from the Latin word for meat) is abundant in red meat, dairy foods, nuts, grains and green vegetables. Carnitine assists the body to transport fat into the mitochondria of cells. It is in the mitochondria that the fat is burned as fuel. In addition, carnitine assists in blood flow by increasing nitric oxide (NO) production.
A recent investigation by Walt, et al., has shown how to enhance carnitine levels in the muscle cell while, at the same time, increasing fat oxidation and fat loss. Study subjects were given carnitine in conjunction with insulin and glucose. The study showed that the more insulin was given, the higher the carnitine levels were. This then triggered fat oxidation and resultant loss of body fat.
The researchers concluded that intra-muscular carnitine levels might be enhanced when carnitine is taken in conjunction with a glucose rich meal that has the ability to stimulate insulin secretion.
Building upon these results was a study by Cha, et al., which involved giving athletes a sports drink that either contained carnitine alone, caffeine alone, or a combination of carnitine and caffeine. A control group was given a placebo. Forty-five minutes after the supplementation test, subjects rode a stationery bicycle at 80% of maximum capacity. The carnitine-caffeine group showed a significantly higher level of fat burn than the other three groups. Researchers concluded that combining carnitine with caffeine in a single supplement would boost the fat burning properties of both compounds.
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