All the best bodybuilders do their research and take supplements. If you’re looking for a supplement to enhance your workout performance, you’ve likely come across creatine and carnitine (along with a host of other supplements).

Creatine and carnitine are excellent supplements, but how are they different?

The guide below will compare and contrast the two popular supplements - carnitine vs. creatine - and help you determine which one is right for you.

If you're like me, one of the hardest things to figure out is which supplements you should take to enhance your workouts. Is there a significant difference between the blood flow you get from carnitine and creatine? Let's find out.

1. Formation

Carnitine and creatine are both naturally occurring compounds.

Carnitine is a naturally occurring compound found in the body that aids in transporting fatty acids from the bloodstream to the mitochondria, where they are used as energy. This supplement also helps decrease fat storage and enhance endurance during exercise.

Creatine, another naturally occurring amino acid, is an energy source during high-intensity physical activities. Creatine, primarily taken in monohydrate form, can also increase muscle mass and power.

Learn More - Creatine HCL Vs Monohydrate (Which One Is Best For You?)

Below Image - Carnitine Molecular Structure

Carnitine Molecular Structure

2. Occurrence

  • Exogenous occurrence
    Both creatine and carnitine can be naturally found in animal products like meat, fish, poultry, and dairy. In addition, carnitine can also be obtained from the whey fraction of dairy products.
  • Endogenous Occurrence
    Creatine is primarily found in the muscles (95%) and smaller amounts in the brain and testes (5%). Carnitine is concentrated in the skeletal and heart muscles.

Your body produces creatine by synthesizing three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine in the liver, kidney, and pancreas.

Similarly, the liver and kidney synthesize carnitine using only two amino acids - lysine and methionine.

When trying to decide between creatine and carnitine for your fitness needs, even though it's not the most entertaining, it's important to understand their concentration and production in the body.

3. Energy Supply

Creatine supplementation supports muscle energy production by boosting the creation of ATP. 

Your body stores creatine as phosphocreatine in the skeletal muscles, releasing it to transfer the phosphate group needed for ATP production.

Meanwhile, carnitine is a supplement that aids in converting fat into energy. Carnitine transports fatty acids to the mitochondria, where they undergo oxidation for energy production.

In the debate between carnitine vs. creatine, remember your fitness goals and how they relate to the specific benefits each provides.

Whether you want to improve your strength and power with creatine or shed some extra pounds with carnitine, both supplements can play a role in your fitness routine.

4. Ergogenic Benefit

Creatine is commonly used to boost lean muscle mass and support muscle growth. Carnitine is known for its fat-burning properties. 

In terms of exercise performance, research shows that creatine is more effective for intense anaerobic workouts, while carnitine is best suited for aerobic exercise.

Creatine influences gene expression and protein muscle synthesis, helping bodybuilders and lifters gain muscles.

In addition, carnitine indirectly impacts muscle gain, helping to prevent the loss of lean muscle during fat loss.

5. Weight Loss

Carnitine can help you lose weight faster, especially when you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. This is because it boosts your body’s fat-burning potential and enhances glucose uptake by cells. 

This helps regulate blood sugar levels and decreases food cravings, which will help you shed body fat and lose weight.

Creatine does not directly cause weight loss. It helps increase energy levels and improves muscle performance but does not affect fat mass.

Learn More - Does Creatine Help You Lose Weight? (Find Out The Truth)

6. Tiredness

L-carnitine and creatine both produce more energy for your muscles during physical activity. This results in better endurance, strength, and athletic performance. 

Carnitine and creatine supplementation has been associated with various health benefits, including:

  • Maintaining normal blood pressure
  • Enhancing blood circulation
  • Reducing tiredness

If you're looking for a supplement to energize you during your workout, carnitine and creatine are worth considering.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid produced naturally in the human body by combining arginine, glycine, and methionine.

Approximately 95% of it is stored in our skeletal muscles. High-protein foods such as fish and red meat are excellent sources of creatine.

Creatine monohydrate is the most commonly used creatine supplement, and it's available as a tasteless, crystalline white powder that easily dissolves in water.

Creatine’s primary function is to regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which will fuel muscle performance. It also promotes muscle protein synthesis.

Taking creatine monohydrate allows athletes and fitness enthusiasts to increase their muscle strength and endurance, improve athletic performance, offset muscle fatigue, and improve overall physical health.

Related Article - Micronized Creatine Vs Monohydrate (Learn The Differences)

Benefits

  • Enhances muscle function by increasing the shuttling of ATP from mitochondria, leading to a higher aerobic threshold.
  • It enhances your brain health and improves brain function
  • Boosts muscle metabolism, resulting in greater muscle mass and strength adaptations.
  • Improves single and repetitive sprint performance
  • It facilitates muscle healing and delays fatigue by enhancing recovery, allowing extra reps during high-intensity workouts.
  • It offers antioxidant benefits by removing harmful superoxide anion radicals and peroxynitrite radicals.
  • Increases signals to the muscle that helps with repairing and growing new muscle. It also increases cell hydration.
  • With resistance training, creatine can increase muscle insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels, contributing to further muscle mass gain.
  • Supports glycogen accumulation during glycogen-depleting exercise, improving stamina during maximal effort muscle contractions.

As perhaps the most well-known and researched dietary supplement, creatine offers many benefits for enhancing physical performance and overall health.

The advantages afforded to older adults through creatine ingestion are substantial.

It can improve quality of life, and the biggest benefit may be its ability to reduce the disease burden associated with sarcopenia and cognitive dysfunction.

Side Effects

Creatine monohydrate is generally safe for healthy adults with minimal side effects. Possible side effects include:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Bloating
  • Dehydration
  • Kidney damage (in the rare case)
  • Nausea
  • Concerns
  • Stomach cramps

Most people won’t experience any side effects when taking creatine, but anyone with existing health conditions or kidney problems should speak with a doctor before starting a supplement regimen.

It is also important to note that creatine can interact with certain medications, so it is essential to consult your doctor before combining supplements with any prescription drugs.

What Is Carnitine?

L-Carnitine is a conditionally essential amino acid predominantly found in your skeletal muscle and produced naturally in the body from lysine and methionine. You can also obtain it from dietary sources like red meat and dairy.

Carnitine supplements are white and water-soluble, with a barely sour taste. They play a crucial role in the fat-burning process by facilitating the transport of long-chain fatty acids into the matrix of mitochondria, where it undergoes beta-oxidation to produce energy.

By binding to acetyl groups, L-carnitine ensures that acetylated fatty acids are shuttled into the mitochondria, where they can be burned for fuel.

Because of its role in the oxidation of fat cells, some people use L-carnitine as a fat burner.

In addition to its fat-burning properties, L-carnitine supplementation has been shown to enhance recovery and delay fatigue during resistance exercise.

Benefits

  • Converting fat into energy burns fat and reduces body weight
  • It spares muscle glycogen and delays the onset of fatigue.
  • Carnitine helps to reduce markers of cellular damage and free radical formation.
  • It’s Critical for energy production from fat stores.
  • It enhances insulin’s action on muscle cells and helps keep blood glucose levels low while aiding in glycogen repletion.
  • It spares amino acids used as a source of energy and makes them available potentially for protein synthesis.
  • It alleviates muscle injury and muscle soreness and speeds up muscle recovery.

Bodybuilders often use carnitine to support exercise recovery and improve athletic performance.

Since carnitine can increase energy production, support the metabolism of fats, and reduce muscle damage and inflammation, it is great for bodybuilding.

Side Effects

Consuming excessive amounts of L-carnitine can result in various side effects. The most frequently reported adverse effects of using L-carnitine supplements include the following:

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Skin Ras
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Vomiting

More severe side effects like kidney failure and muscle weakness can occur in rare cases. People with pre-existing diseases such as diabetes should consult a doctor before taking l-carnitine.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women avoid taking L-carnitine because its safety during these phases has yet to be established.

L-carnitine may also interact with certain medications, like antibiotics, anticoagulants, and drugs used to manage diabetes.

It is crucial to be informed about the possible side effects of taking L-carnitine and seek the advice of a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or experience any adverse effects.

What To Avoid When Supplementing Creatine And L-Carnitine

Before Taking The Supplements

Before adding L-carnitine or creatine into your supplement regimen, you should prioritize adequate protein and healthy fat intake in your diet.

Prioritizing your nutrition before taking these two supplements will support muscle growth and repair and provide the necessary nutrients for optimal workout performance.

Eating various protein-rich foods like lean meats, eggs, nuts, and beans is essential for proper nutrition. In addition, healthy fat sources such as avocados, olive oil, fish, and nuts can aid digestion and energy production.

Learn More - What Foods Have Creatine? (Where To Find The Best Sources)

Combining these nutrient-dense foods with L-carnitine or creatine can optimize the benefits of these supplements.

Creatine is best absorbed into your muscles via an insulin spike. The best way to do that is to mix your creatine with a juice like grape juice instead of water.

After Taking The Supplements

After intense workouts, refueling your body with complex carbs and fiber-rich foods is crucial. These nutrients are digested slower than simple carbs, providing you with increased energy levels.

Excellent sources of complex carbs are quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat bread.

Fiber will help you regulate digestion and promote healthy weight management. Consuming these foods regularly can lead to additional benefits like weight loss.

To maximize the benefits of your workout and supplement regimen, it's essential to include these nutrient-dense options in your diet.

Foods To Avoid

If you take l-carnitine or creatine supplements, you need to be mindful of your diet. Consuming foods high in sugar and saturated fats can negatively impact carnitine and creatine absorption, reducing efficacy.

To optimize benefits, it's best to steer clear of junk foods like cookies, cakes, chips, and candy. You should also limit or avoid alcohol consumption because it can inhibit the body's ability to absorb the supplements.

See More - Creatine And Alcohol: Can You Safely Mix Them?

Following these guidelines and paying attention to your dietary choices will help ensure your l-carnitine and creatine supplements deliver maximum benefits.

Adding Workout Supplements To Food Processor

Frequently Asked Creatine Vs Carnitine Questions

Can you take l-carnitine and creatine together?

Yes, you can take L-carnitine and creatine together. When combined, L-carnitine and creatine can potentially enhance each other's effects, as creatine works to improve muscle metabolism and physical performance while L-carnitine supports hormone balance and athletic performance.[1]

When is it best to take l-carnitine?

Most scientific studies agree that the best time to take L-carnitine is an hour before exercising. However, consuming it after exercise can also be beneficial if you're looking to supplement for post-workout recovery or weight loss purposes.[2]

When is it optimal to take creatine?

The optimal time to take creatine is 30 minutes before your workout session. This maximizes absorption and utilization during short-duration exercises or longer workout sessions. You can also add creatine to your post-workout recovery shake since your muscles are in a state of growth and repair. This helps replenish energy stores, enhances recovery, and optimizes muscle building.

Does Creatine Increase Body Mass?

Yes. An 8-week study found that creatine increased lean body mass when added to an exercise regimen.[3]

Does L-Carnitine increase testosterone?

L-carnitine can have a positive impact on testosterone production in the body. It is thought to enhance testicular function and activate existing testosterone, leading to a balanced hormonal state. This makes L-carnitine a sought-after supplement among those seeking to boost their athletic performance, gain muscle mass, and improve overall wellness.

Can You Take Protein and Creatine Together?

Taking whey protein supplements and creatine can be a safe and effective option if you want to enhance muscle mass and performance in the gym.

Verdict – Which Is Better?

Both creatine and carnitine are effective dietary supplements to consider when it comes to enhancing physical performance and promoting overall health. What works best for you depends on your fitness objectives and personal preferences.

If you want to increase strength and build muscle mass, creatine may be the right choice. If you're aiming to improve your athletic performance and hormonal balance, L-carnitine may be more suitable. Taking both supplements can enhance their benefits.

References: 

  1. https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/creatine-with-l-carnitine-2550-0-1454-13156.html
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32359762/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0303720709006388?via%3Dihub
Miloš Lepotic

Miloš Lepotic

Meet Miloš, a certified sports nutritionist and self-taught supplement expert whose pharmacological background and nearly a decade of gym experience make him the perfect guide for optimizing your health and athletic performance through supplement reviews and practical advice rooted in factual, science-backed information.