Influence of L-carnitine administration on maximal physical exercise

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1990;61(5-6):486-90. doi: 10.1007/BF00236072.


The effects of L-carnitine administration on maximal exercise capacity were studied in a double-blind, cross-over trial on ten moderately trained young men. A quantity of 2 g of L-carnitine or a placebo were administered orally in random order to these subjects 1 h before they began exercise on a cycle ergometer. Exercise intensity was increased by 50-W increments every 3 min until they became exhausted. After 72-h recovery, the same exercise regime was repeated but this time the subjects, who had previously received L-carnitine, were now given the placebo and vice versa. The results showed that at the maximal exercise intensity, treatment with L-carnitine significantly increased both maximal oxygen uptake, and power output. Moreover, at similar exercise intensities in the L-carnitine trial oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide production, pulmonary ventilation and plasma lactate were reduced. It is concluded that under these experimental conditions pretreatment with L-carnitine favoured aerobic processes resulting in a more efficient performance. Possible mechanisms producing this effect are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anaerobic Threshold / drug effects
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Carnitine / administration & dosage*
  • Carnitine / pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Ventilation-Perfusion Ratio / drug effects
  • Ventilation-Perfusion Ratio / physiology
  • Work Capacity Evaluation


  • Lactates
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carnitine