Maintaining a healthy weight is so important for health and well being. It helps to prevent some serious diseases and health conditions. If you are overweight, you have an increased risk of health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, joint problems, and some cancers. If you’re a healthy weight, you’ll also feel a lot better about yourself and you’ll have more energy to enjoy life.
A person’s weight is dependent on certain factors, like environment, family history, genetics, metabolism, and everyday habits. The reasons why people might be overweight can be simple, but they are often more complex, especially if there are psychological reasons involved, like relying on food to comfort them emotionally.
The Importance of Calories
To maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to balance the amount of calories you take in with the amount of calories you burn off. This sounds very basic but:
- If the energy you take in and burn off is the same, your weight stays the same
- If you take in more energy than you burn off over a period of time, you’ll gain weight
- If you burn off more energy than you take in over a period of time, you’ll lose weight
How to Lose Weight
So maintaining a healthy weight is about balancing the energy you take in through your food and drinks, with the energy that your body burns, through sustaining itself and by being active.
Here’s how to do it:
Choose Healthier Foods
- Eat plenty of whole grains
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit
- Eat healthy fats, such as those in oily fish, nuts, and seeds
- Eat plenty of low fat dairy and lean meats for protein
Watch Your Portion Sizes
It’s not just about what you eat however, it’s about how much, and eating too many calories can lead to weight gain. Here’s how to keep an eye on how much you’re eating.
Use your hand as a guide when serving food.
Fruit and Vegetables
Whatever you can fit into 2 cupped hands is ideal for serving vegetables.
Whatever you can fit into a closed fist is a good guide to portion sizes for pasta, rice, and other grains.
For lentils, beans, and chickpeas, whatever you can fit into a closed fist is an ideal serving.
The size of your hand is a good guide to portion size for fish.
The palm of your hand is the ideal portion size for red meat or chicken.
Be More Active
As well as eating well, exercise is an important tool to help you to lose weight. Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can also help to:
- Lower your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke
- Build a stronger immune system
- Reduce stress, depression, and anxiety
Research has shown that for every hour of exercise you do, your life expectancy increases by around 2 hours.
What Type of Activity Is Good for Weight Loss?
The answer to this question is anything that you do regularly. Walking is an excellent option, as it’s free and you only need a good pair of shoes. You can also try swimming, exercise classes and sport. Being active isn’t just about going to the gym though, it can be doing things like taking the stairs or gardening. Remember to include exercises that help to strengthen your muscles too, like lifting weights or using resistance bands, as this can increase the amount of lean muscle you have, and muscle uses up more calories. This means your metabolism will get a boost and you’ll burn more calories.
Build up to being able to do moderate exercise for up to 2.5 hours per week. Moderate activity is anything that makes you feel warmer and out of breath.
If you have a health concern, don’t forget to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise programme. They’ll be able to advise you on what type of exercise is suited to you.
Get Started with Exercise
Everyone can get health benefits from being more active. Even if you think that you’re very unfit, it’s the people who are inactive that get the most benefits when they do start exercising.
- Be as active as you can each day, even if it’s in 10-minute bursts
- Find an activity that you enjoy
- Get friends or family to join you
- Gradually increase the duration or intensity of the exercise you’re doing
How to Be Safe and Comfortable When You’re Exercising
- Wear comfortable clothing and the right footwear for your chosen activity
- Warm up and cool down properly. Ease your body into exercise, and slow down gradually when you’re finished.
- Stretch out your major muscle groups after you exercise, this will help to avoid muscle soreness and it will reduce your injury risk.
- Don’t exercise if you are feeling unwell
- Stop exercising if you feel any pain or discomfort.
Maybe you’re exercising and eating right, but you can’t seem to shift the pounds, well maybe this supplement can help.
Carnitine is a substance that helps the body turn stored fat into energy. The body makes carnitine in the liver and kidneys and stores it in the muscles, heart, and brain.
Normally, the body can make the carnitine it needs. Sometimes, the body can’t make enough, however, or it can’t transport it to the tissues to be used. Some health conditions such as angina can cause low levels of carnitine in the body, as can some medications.
Carnitine has been studied for its potential as a treatment for many health conditions because it acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants can fight free radicals in the body, which damage cells and DNA, causing aging and disease.
Note that carnitine should never be used instead of conventional prescribed treatments, however, and you should always talk to your doctor before using it. Delaying proper treatment can have very serious consequences.
Health Conditions That Have Been Studied in Relation to Acetyl-L Carnitine
Angina: Research suggests that carnitine can be used alongside conventional treatments for stable angina. Several studies have shown that carnitine supplements can help to reduce the symptoms of angina and improve the chances of people with angina being able to exercise without chest pain. If you experience chest pain, don’t try to treat it with carnitine. See your doctor, follow their treatment plan, and only use carnitine if you’re told it is safe to do so.
Heart attack: Some studies suggest that carnitine can help when it is used with conventional medicines after suffering a heart attack, but not all of the studies agree with this finding. Some small studies have suggested that people who take L-carnitine supplements soon after a heart attack might be less likely to suffer another heart attack, less likely to die from heart disease, less likely to experience chest pain, or develop heart failure.
However, other studies identified no benefit. Carnitine should always be used alongside conventional medicines under medical supervision.
Heart failure. A few smaller studies have found that carnitine can help to reduce symptoms of heart failure and improve exercise tolerance in people with heart failure. However, more research is needed as the evidence is limited due to the size of the studies.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Reduced blood flow to the legs caused by hardening of the arteries, due to plaque building up in the artery walls can cause aching or cramping in the legs when you walk or exercise. This discomfort is down to a condition called intermittent claudication, and the reduced blood flow to the legs is known as peripheral vascular disease. Several studies have shown that carnitine supplementation can help to reduce symptoms and improve exercise tolerance in people with intermittent claudication.
This is nerve damage that occurs when high blood sugar levels damage nerves in the body, especially the nerves in the arms, legs, and feet, and this causes pain and numbness. Some studies have suggested that acetyl-L-carnitine can help to reduce nerve pain and increase sensation in the affected nerves. It has also been discovered that carnitine can help damaged nerves regenerate, but more research is needed in this area.
Carnitine has been shown in some studies to improve fat metabolism during exercise, and other studies found that it reduced muscle soreness.
Some studies have shown that taking carnitine supplements can help to reduce fat mass, increase muscle mass, and boost exercise tolerance, which might help some people lose weight.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Problems
Results from studies that looked into whether carnitine is useful in treating Alzheimer disease are mixed. Several studies have shown that acetyl-L-carnitine can help to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and relieve depression related to other forms of dementia. It has also been shown to improve memory and reduce the age-related degeneration of cognitive ability. Some larger and more comprehensive studies found that it did not help at all. You should only take carnitine for brain disorders or memory impairment under the direction of your doctor. Brain conditions are very complex.
Kidney Disease and Dialysis
Because the kidneys make carnitine, kidney disease could cause a deficiency of carnitine in the body. If you have kidney disease, your doctor might prescribe carnitine, but never take it without medical advice as you could be doing yourself more harm than good.
Low sperm counts have been linked to low blood carnitine levels in men. Some studies have suggested that carnitine supplementation might increase sperm count and motility.
Several studies have suggested that carnitine might help to improve male sexual function. One study found that carnitine improved the effectiveness of Viagra in men who had poor circulation and diabetes. These men had not previously responded to the drug. Another study found that a combination of propionyl-L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine improved the effectiveness of Viagra in men who suffered erectile dysfunction after surgery on their prostate. Studies are quite limited, however, so more research is needed.
This disease causes a curvature of the penis that leads to pain when a man gets an erection. One study compared the effectiveness of acetyl-L-carnitine to the medication tamoxifen in 48 men who suffered from this condition. Acetyl-L-carnitine worked better than the tamoxifen, as it reduced pain during sex and it reduces the curvature of the penis. More research is needed, however, the reason it is so promising is that the carnitine has fewer side effects that the tamoxifen.
Some research has suggested that Acetyl L-carnitine can help to prevent or reduce symptoms of an overactive thyroid, like insomnia, nervousness, heart palpitations, and muscle tremors.
One study found that a small group of people with hyperthyroidism noticed that their symptoms improved when they took the supplement. The study was quite small and limited, however, so a larger study is needed to provide more definitive proof that carnitine supplementation really works.
Researchers think that carnitine may be useful for this condition as it blocks the action of thyroid hormone. This could be dangerous for people with low thyroid levels. Don’t take carnitine for thyroid problems without telling your doctor and getting suitable advice.
Where to Find Carnitine
In your diet:
Red meat, especially lamb, and dairy products are the main food sources of carnitine. It can also be found in fish, poultry, wheat, asparagus, avocados, and peanut butter.
In a supplement:
Carnitine is available as a supplement in a variety of different forms, like:
- L-carnitine: the most widely available and least expensive form of carnitine
- Acetyl-L-carnitine: this has been widely studied for its effectiveness in treating Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders
- Propionyl-L-carnitine: This has been researched in in studies looking at treatments for heart disease and peripheral vascular disease
How to take it:
The recommended dose of carnitine varies depending on the health condition you’re treating or what you’re using it for. The usual therapeutic dose is between 1 to 3 g per day.
Because some supplements can have side effects or interact with medications you’re taking, you should only ever take them under the advice of your doctor.
Side effects from Acetyl L-carnitine are generally mild, though high doses of more than 5g per day can cause diarrhea. Other rarer side effects that can occur include increased appetite, body odour, and rash.
People with the following conditions should talk to their doctor before taking it:
- Peripheral vascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- History of seizures
Acetyl L-Carnitine Drug Interactions
If you are taking any of the following medications, talk to your doctor before you use it. It can be of benefit if you are taking some medications, but it can reduce the effectiveness of others.
AZT: This is a medication to treat HIV/AIDS. A study found that Acetyl L-carnitine protected muscle tissue against toxic side effects from AZT.
Doxorubicin: This is a form of chemotherapy, and it’s been found that taking Acetyl L-carnitine might protect the heart from the effects of the treatment, without affecting the effectiveness of the treatment in any way.
Accutane: This strong acne medication can cause liver problems, it can raise cholesterol, and cause muscle aches and weakness. People with a carnitine deficiency have these same symptoms, and research found that the side effects from acutance reduced when people took Acetyl L-carnitine.
Thyroid hormone: Carnitine may prevent thyroid hormone from getting into the body’s cells, and so it can make thyroid replacement treatment less effective.
Valproic acid: This is an anti-seizure medication that can lower blood levels of carnitine. Taking a supplement can reduce the risk of deficiency, and the side effects of valproic acid. However, Acetyl L-carnitine can increase the risk of seizures in people who have them.
Blood Thinning Medications: Carnitine supplementation might increase the risk of bleeding in people who take blood thinning medication.
Does Acetyl L-Carnitine Help with Weight Loss?
When you exercise, glycogen is taken from the muscle cells and broken down into glucose, then it is carried into the body’s cells. Enzymes cause stored fat to be broken down into fatty acids and glycerol, which is used to fuel the exercise. If your body is conditioned to use fat as fuel, you will be able to exercise for longer.
Acetyl L-carnitine can help the body to use fat as fuel, and it’s used by athletes to improve their performance. It’s also one of the best supplements you can take for weight loss.
Scientific research shows that taking L-carnitine each day increases fat burning during exercise and improves performance. The research also showed that muscles produced less lactic acid when people exercised at higher intensities, so it reduced muscle soreness too.
How and When Should You Take It?
Studies have shown that Acetyl L-carnitine can increase the intensity and duration of a workout by 11% if it is taken with fast-acting carbohydrates. It doesn’t seem to matter when you take it, but it’s important to take it each day for a few weeks to see results. For best results, take 2-4g daily.