The Best Carnitine Supplements for Athletes, Fat Burn, and More

Why should you consider carnitine?

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The amino acid called carnitine isn’t technically essential, but many have found reasons to add it to their supplement regimen. It’s possible that it may have applications for exercise performance and longevity, but how do you decide which product to buy? We’ve looked at the top products on the market to bring you these excellent options.

Best Carnitine Supplements

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary.

Best Carnitine Supplement Overall

Our top carnitine pick is well-dosed, and reasonably priced for the number of helpful ingredients you’re getting. Jacked Factory Growth Surge contains two grams of l-carnitine l-tartrate. This form of l-carnitine is combined with a salt of tartaric acid, which is an antioxidant. 

Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge

This post workout supplement from Jacked Factory boasts a dose of creatine for muscle growth, l-carnitine l-tartrate for muscle recovery, and betaine anhydrous for power output. It also comes in a variety of flavors, from Watermelon to 'Swoleberry'.

This product can help your cells burn fat and build muscle. On top of the carnitine, it contains creatine, betaine, and black pepper extract that can help your body absorb it all. One potential downside is that the flavored options here contain artificial ingredients, which some may want to avoid. 

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Those who want a carnitine supplement that also contains other ingredients that could be helpful with fat loss and muscle growth
  • Anyone who wants a solid dose of carnitine — this product contains two grams per dose. 
  • People who are looking for multiple flavor options as this supp comes in Blueberry Lemonade, Swoleberry, Black Cherry, Watermelon, and an unflavored option. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Anyone who wants a label that provides the dosage for all ingredients. This product’s label lists multiple “other ingredients” with no dosage. 
  • If you’re trying to avoid artificial flavors, you’ll want to opt for another carnitine supplement. 
  • Those who are just looking for plain carnitine do not need to pay for the robust ingredients list here. 

If you’re looking for a product with a high dose of carnitine, this is it. It also offers other potentially helpful ingredients like creatine and betaine, which combine to create a more robust ingredients list than many other carnitine supplements have.

[Related: Could Baking Soda Be The Best Workout Supplement You’ve Never Tried?]

Best Fat-Burner with Carnitine

If you’re looking for a fat burner that contains a solid dose of carnitine and could help you conquer that cut, this pick has you covered. Jacked Factory BURN-XT offers fat-burning ingredients, which include 350mg of carnitine, as well as green tea leaf extract, which can help with weight loss, caffeine, which can help with fat loss and alertness, cayenne pepper fruit extract, which can potentially boost metabolism, and black pepper extract that may help with absorption.

Jacked Factory BURN-XT
Jacked Factory BURN-XT
Jacked Factory BURN-XT

Jacked Factory's formula will save you money, but not at the expense of quality and efficacy. Each bottle contains 120 single-capsule servings that each provide 350 milligrams of L-carnitine.

You won’t find any fillers or dyes, and you can up the dose of carnitine by taking two capsules if you prefer. However, it is recommended that you take this supplement with a meal to help with digestion. 

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Burn-XT

  • Folks who want a full fat burner supplement will like that this product contains other ingredients that can potentially help with fat burn outside of carnitine. 
  • If you’re looking for a lower dose of carnitine to start, this product offers one of the lowest options with just one of their capsules (plus, you can take two if you are ready to increase).
  • Those who prefer taking capsules rather than powder will like this supplement. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Burn-XT

  • Athletes who want to drink their carnitine should opt for a powder supplement on this list. 
  • If you’re looking for a high dose of carnitine, you can find doses that are more than double what you will get with this supplement. 

This fat burner contains carnitine, green tea leaf extract, caffeine, and cayenne pepper fruit extract, all of which may be able to help you during a cutting phase — this is great if you’re looking for more of a boost along with your carnitine. 

Best Carnitine Supplement for Recovery

If you’re looking for carnitine within a post-workout drink to potentially help with recovery, Legion Recharge has you covered. Not only does this supp contain 2.1g of carnitine, but it also has 5g of micronized creatine, and 10.5mg of corosolic acid.

Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge

Legion Recharge is a well-rounded option that includes a solid dose of creatine monohydrate, along with l-carnitine l-tartrate, which may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve recovery.

It’s an ideal supplement to take just after your workouts to help maximize gains and potentially reduce soreness. It’s all-natural, and contains no added sugars. Plus, it comes in four different flavors — Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, Grape, and Strawberry Lemonade.

Who Should Buy Legion Recharge

  • If you want a full post-workout supplement, you will appreciate the additional ingredients here that can potentially help with your gains. 
  • Those who want a carnitine supplement that can help with recovery will like this blend of post-workout ingredients designed to reduce muscle soreness, and boost recovery. 
  • If you prefer a powdered carnitine supplement, this is a great option. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Athletes who just want a supplement that just contains carnitine should look elsewhere. 
  • Anyone who wants the convenience of a capsule supp. This is a powder.

This post-workout supplement contains carnitine, creatine, and corosolic acid, which combined, can help with recovery, muscle retention, and muscle soreness after your training sessions. 

Best Carnitine For Athletes

If you’re looking for a solid dose of carnitine you can take after you hit the gym, you’ve found it. Jacked Factory Growth Surge packs two grams into each serving. Plus, this supplement also contains other potentially helpful post-workout ingredients like creatine, betaine, and black pepper fruit extract, the latter of which may help you absorb these other ingredients better.

Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge

This post workout supplement from Jacked Factory boasts a dose of creatine for muscle growth, l-carnitine l-tartrate for muscle recovery, and betaine anhydrous for power output. It also comes in a variety of flavors, from Watermelon to 'Swoleberry'.

This product comes in four different fruity flavors, as well as an unflavored option, so you can mix the flavored powders into water or add the unflavored powder to a post-workout shake or smoothie without altering the taste. However, you will be paying a little more for the added ingredients here — though we think the cost is reasonable for the added potential benefits you could receive.

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Those who want a high dose of carnitine will like that this supp provides two grams per serving. 
  • Anyone who wants more than just carnitine in their supp. This post-workout product comes with creatine and betaine as well.
  • Athletes who are looking to try carnitine in combination with their workouts — it’s ideal to take this supplement after you hit the gym.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Anyone who would prefer a capsule carnitine supplement — this is a powder.
  • Folks who don’t want other performance enhancing ingredients included in their supplement. You can find other supps on this list that are just carnitine. 

If you’re looking to drop a few pounds or stay focused in the gym, carnitine can help. This particular supplement provides a solid dose of carnitine, as well as other potentially helpful ingredients that you can take post-workout. 

[Related: The Lifter’s Guide To Magnesium: What This Nutrient Does For Strength]

Best Carnitine Capsules

If you’re not after funky tasting powder, sweetened liquid, or filler-filled tablets, Kaged L-Carnitine provides a solid capsule that’s made from plant-based vegetable cellulose, so it’s free from animal products. In addition to using very few ingredients and providing 500mg of carnitine in each one-capsule serving, this product is third-party tested by Informed Sport.

Kaged L-Carnitine
Kaged L-Carnitine
Kaged L-Carnitine

Kaged L-Carnitine contains 500mg of carnitine per each one-capsule serving. This product is also vegetarian as its capsule is made from a plant-based vegetable cellulose. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive compared to the rest of the market. 

Since one capsule provides 500mg of carnitine, if you’d like to increase your dose, you can just add another capsule to your daily regimen. Each bottle provides 250 capsules at a very affordable cost, so you won’t have to break the bank to implement this supplement into your daily regimen. 

Who Should Buy Kaged L-Carnitine

  • Those who are looking for a capsule supplement that allows them to easily increase their carnitine dosage by adding another capsule will like this supplement. 
  • Anyone who follows a vegetarian diet. The capsule of this supplement is made of vegetable cellulose, which means it’s a vegetarian-friendly product. 
  • Folks who want a straightforward carnitine supp. This product only contains carnitine without any additional ingredients. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged L-Carnitine

  • If you’d rather take a powder or liquid carnitine supplement, you can find better options out there. 
  • People who want a higher dose of carnitine without having to increase the number of capsules they are taking can find carnitine supplements that offer over 1,000mg per single dose. 

Again, there isn’t much downside to many of the supplements on this list, and Kaged is no exception. The cost is reasonable, the carnitine dosage can be both high or low depending on how many capsules you take, and the ingredients are vegetarian-friendly. 

Best Carnitine-Only Supplement

Many carnitine supplements can contain other helpful ingredients (such as creatine, or even a full line-up of pre-workout ingredients). This is a great option for those who just want carnitine. Kaged L-Carnitine contains 500mg of carnitine per each one-capsule serving, and that’s it. 

Kaged L-Carnitine
Kaged L-Carnitine
Kaged L-Carnitine

Kaged L-Carnitine contains 500mg of carnitine per each one-capsule serving. This product is also vegetarian as its capsule is made from a plant-based vegetable cellulose. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive compared to the rest of the market. 

While this dose is on the lower side, if you want a higher dose, you can take two capsules instead of just one. This product is also vegetarian as its capsule is made from a plant-based vegetable cellulose. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive when compared across the market. 

Who Should Buy Kaged L-Carnitine

  • Folks who want a carnitine supplement that just contains carnitine will like this product. 
  • Anyone who prefers to take capsules over a powder. Kaged L-Carnitine is one capsule per dose. 
  • Vegetarians who want a capsule that’s made of a plant-based cellulose.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged L-Carnitine

  • If you’re looking for a more robust ingredients list, you can find products that contain other potentially helpful fat loss and muscle-building ingredients as well. 
  • For those who prefer a powder supp, there are other picks on this list that may better suit you. 

This is a great, minimal option if you’re looking for a carnitine supplement, and don’t want it to be bogged down with other ingredients you may already have in your regimen.

Best Bulk Carnitine

Buy bulk, save cash, at least if you’re really taking a lot of carnitine. BulkSupplements is indeed the best way to buy up to a thousand servings of carnitine at once, and the quality is superb: it contains absolutely nothing but acetyl l-carnitine.

BulkSupplements.com ALCAR HCl
BulkSupplements.com ALCAR HCl
BulkSupplements.com ALCAR HCl

Pure acetyl l-carnitine that's unflavored and lab tested for purity.

Additionally, this carnitine supplement is tested both in house and by a third party to ensure quality, and it’s made in a facility free from major allergens.

Who Should Buy BulkSupplements.com ALCAR HCl

  • Anyone who needs to buy an extremely large quantity of carnitine all at once.
  • People happy to have their supplements thoroughly tested in house and by a third party for purity.
  • Folks looking for a pure carnitine supplement.

Who Shouldn’t Buy BulkSupplements.com ALCAR HCl

  • Anyone who doesn’t have a separate container large enough to store all the carnitine.
  • Those who can’t stand the sour taste of pure carnitine.

One of the recurring issues that arise with BulkSupplements is the lack of resealability of the bags supplements come in. That has the potential to endanger the freshness of the carnitine in the long term, so it is likely best to transfer the powder to a different container. Although that might be tedious, the trade off is getting a huge amount of product for a very low price per serving.

Best Tested Carnitine 

Acetyl l-carnitine may cross the blood brain barrier more effectively than l-carnitine, and Nutricost provides some of the best supplements on the market. A big standout is that the product is third party tested, plus one little tub provides a considerable 500 servings of one gram each.

Nutricost Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) 500 Grams
Nutricost Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) 500 Grams
Nutricost Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) 500 Grams

This carnitine is third party tested and has no extra ingredients at all.

The other notable standout detail about Nutricost is they provide pure carnitine. There are absolutely no other ingredients included — a huge boon for athletes who want to know exactly the amount of every supplement they’re consuming.

Who Should Buy Nutricost Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

  • Those who appreciate extensive third-party testing for product purity.
  • Anyone who wants to avoid all ingredients that are not carnitine.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Nutricost Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

  • Those who won’t be able to take all 500 servings before they expire.
  • Anyone who is unable to pallet the strong sour taste of pure carnitine.

If you value supplements that have been third-party tested, this product from Nutricost will not disappoint.

How We Decide the Best

With so many carnitine supplements on the market, we wanted to make sure we were only recommending the best of the best. We considered price, ingredients, and the form of carnitine when building out our list.

Cost

Let’s start with the obvious decision influencer: price per serving. Of course, the less expensive products will rank higher on our list assuming the number of servings are equal. Like most supplements, buying in bulk can save a lot of coin, but it runs the risk of the product expiring before use. If you’re training for a powerlifting meet, calibrate how many servings you intend to take during your training period working on those squats and deadlifts, and try to line up with a product that offers that requisite number of servings.

Added Ingredients

Not all carnitine supplements are made equal. Of course, dosages will vary from product to product, but some products will also include other ingredients that may or may not be appealing to you. Some examples are added Vitamin B or calcium. If you’re in the market for boosts of the additional ingredient included, then you hit a nice little jackpot. However, if you’re not, there are plenty of pure carnitine options on the market. Just keep in mind that pure carnitine has a sour taste that may not be palatable for some users.

Form

This will come down to preference, but are you looking for a capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid? There are plenty of each on the market, each with their own pros and cons. Liquids are pretty easy to flavor without bogging down with a bunch of unnecessary sweeteners. Powders are usually the easiest way to get pure carnitine. Capsules and tablets might be easier or more efficient to consume for some customers but there is often a number of added ingredients added to make the tablet or capsule. If you have a preference for how you consume supplements, there are luckily options on the market likely to line up with that.

[Related: 10 Kinds Of Creatine And What They All Mean]

What Are the Benefits of Carnitine?

Carnitine can help with many aspects of fitness including, fat loss, energy, and muscle retention. Plus, it may even help with sperm health. Here are just a few of the benefits of a carnitine supplement. 

Energy and Longevity

Carnitine can help your mitochondria function and produce energy. Carnitine is a chemical made in the brain, liver, and kidneys that can help your body transport fatty acids to the mitochondria, which can then turn them into usable energy. Supplementing with carnitine may help improve mitochondrial function. Since the mitochondria is key in regulating immunity and aging, a healthy mitochondria can help promote both immunity and longevity. (1)(2)

Fat Loss

Carnitine seems to help move more fatty acids into your cells to be used for energy, so there’s a popular theory that it can be useful as a weight loss supplement. Human studies are mixed, though — some analyses saw significant weight loss, particularly among obese or older adults, while others saw none. (3)(4) More research is needed, particularly in young subjects.

Better Muscle

Carnitine, particularly the form called L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, may help to reduce muscle damage experienced during exercise.(5)(6)(7) This research used doses of two grams per day. There’s also research suggesting that carnitine helps build and retain lean muscle among the elderly, but there’s not a lot of evidence on young, healthy folks. (8)(9)

Better Cardio Workouts

Two to four grams of carnitine per day — a fairly high dosage for most — has seen an increase in anaerobic output, meaning short bouts of high intensity exercise. (10)(11) Short bouts of high intensity exercise include activities like sprints and HIIT workouts.

Sperm Quality

High doses of carnitine — two or three grams daily — appears to increase sperm quality with regards to sperm morphology. (12) Sperm morphology refers to the size, shape, and appearance of sperm. Abnormal morphology can contribute to infertility, so this is especially helpful for those who may be trying to conceive. 

What to Consider Before You Buy Carnitine

Since each customer comes to the market with different needs, it’s important to consider your personal goals before scouring the web or scanning shelves at your local supplement shop. Here are a few considerations we would make before buying. 

Type of Carnitine 

There are several forms of carnitine. L-carnitine is typical, but among others there’s also d-carnitine (which seems to limit your absorption of more usable carnitine, so it may be best to avoid), l-carnitine l-tartrate (perhaps most common in sports supplements as it absorbs quickly) and acetyl-L-carnitine, which is almost identical to regular carnitine but it’s been acetylated, so it may cross the blood-brain barrier more efficiently. (13)(14)(15)

Dosage

A pretty typical dosage is 250 to 500 milligrams twice per day, though a lot of the research mentioned above used two to three grams a day. It’s usually recommended to start with a lower dose and work your way up, as carnitine can sometimes cause nausea if consumed in higher doses. It’s ideal to buy a supplement with a flexible dosage, meaning you can take single or multiple capsules a day (versus buying a product that provides only a high dosage in a single capsule).

Lifestyle

For your body to produce plenty of its own carnitine, it appears to be important to eat plenty of Vitamin C. (16) Before starting any supplement, it’s important to be consuming a healthy diet of whole foods and implementing regular exercise in your routine. If you’re not healthy outside of your supplementation, no supplement is going to be a cure-all. 

Final Word

Carnitine comes in many forms and can help with fat loss, muscle retention, brain function, and even sperm health. However, more than anything, it’s imperative that you speak with a physician before making any additions to your nutrition and supplement regimen. Carnitine in particular can cause nausea and other unwanted side effects if it’s not used properly.

If you’ve spoken to a physician, follow a healthy diet, and exercise regularly, carnitine can be a helpful addition to your supplement regimen for its potential to turn fatty acids into energy, boost memory and focus, help with short bursts of cardio, and more. Many carnitine supplements are pretty straightforward, but a little direction can be helpful when digging through a lot of options on the market — let this list be your guide.

References

1. Iossa, S et al. Acetyl-L-carnitine Supplementation Differently Influences Nutrient Partitioning, Serum Leptin Concentration and Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Respiration in Young and Old Rats. J Nutr . 2002 Apr;132(4):636-42.
2. Rosca, M et al. Mitochondria in the Elderly: Is Acetylcarnitine a Rejuvenator? Adv Drug Deliv Rev . 2009 Nov 30;61(14):1332-1342.
3. Pooyandjoo, M et al. The Effect of (L-)carnitine on Weight Loss in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Obes Rev . 2016 Oct;17(10):970-6.
4. Broad, E et al. Effects of Four Weeks L-carnitine L-tartrate Ingestion on Substrate Utilization During Prolonged Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab . 2005 Dec;15(6):665-79.
5. Kraemer, W et al. The Effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate Supplementation on Hormonal Responses to Resistance Exercise and Recovery. J Strength Cond Res . 2003 Aug;17(3):455-62.
6. Spiering, B et al. Effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate Supplementation on Muscle Oxygenation Responses to Resistance Exercise. J Strength Cond Res . 2008 Jul;22(4):1130-5.
7. Volek, J et al. L-Carnitine L-tartrate Supplementation Favorably Affects Markers of Recovery From Exercise Stress. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab . 2002 Feb;282(2):E474-82.
8. Malaguarnera, M et al. L-Carnitine Treatment Reduces Severity of Physical and Mental Fatigue and Increases Cognitive Functions in Centenarians: A Randomized and Controlled Clinical Trial. Am J Clin Nutr . 2007 Dec;86(6):1738-44.
9. Pistone, G et al. Levocarnitine Administration in Elderly Subjects With Rapid Muscle Fatigue: Effect on Body Composition, Lipid Profile and Fatigue. Drugs Aging . 2003;20(10):761-7.
10. Jacobs, P et al. Glycine propionyl-L-carnitine Produces Enhanced Anaerobic Work Capacity With Reduced Lactate Accumulation in Resistance Trained Males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr . 2009 Apr 2;6:9.
11. Wall, B et al. Chronic Oral Ingestion of L-carnitine and Carbohydrate Increases Muscle Carnitine Content and Alters Muscle Fuel Metabolism During Exercise in Humans. J Physiol . 2011 Feb 15;589(Pt 4):963-73.
12. Lenzi, A et al. Use of Carnitine Therapy in Selected Cases of Male Factor Infertility: A Double-Blind Crossover Trial. Fertil Steril . 2003 Feb;79(2):292-300.
13. Spasov, A et al. Effects of L-, D-, and DL-carnitine on Morphometric Parameters of Skeletal Muscle and Exercise Performance of Laboratory Animals Receiving Carnitine-Deficient Diet. Bull Exp Biol Med . 2006 Oct;142(4):458-60.
14. Traina, G. The Neurobiology of acetyl-L-carnitine. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed) . 2016 Jun 1;21:1314-29.
15. Trappe, S et al. The Effects of L-carnitine Supplementation on Performance During Interval Swimming. Int J Sports Med . 1994 May;15(4):181-5.
16. Steiber, S et al. Carnitine: A Nutritional, Biosynthetic, and Functional Perspective. Mol Aspects Med . Oct-Dec 2004;25(5-6):455-73.