Beneficial effects of l-carnitine supplementation for weight management in overweight and obese adults: An updated systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Pharmacol Res. 2020 Jan:151:104554. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2019.104554. Epub 2019 Nov 17.


Despite preclinical studies demonstrating the efficacy of l-carnitine supplementation for weight management, findings in clinical setting are contradictory. Electronic bibliographical databases were systematically searched up to February 2019 with no limitation in language, including Scopus, PubMed, ISI Web of Science and Cochrane Library. Clinical trials registry platform were also searched. All randomized controlled trials (RCTs) which reported an effect of l-carnitine supplementation on obesity-related indices were included. Weighted mean difference (WMD) was estimated using a random-effect model (DerSimonian-Laird method). Eventually 43 eligible RCTs were included for quantitative analysis. Meta-analysis results revealed that l-carnitine supplementation significantly decreased weight (WMD: -1.129 kg, 95 % CI: -1.590, -0.669; I2: 63.4), body mass index (BMI) (WMD: -0.359 kg/m2, 95 % CI: -0.552, -0.167; I2: 85.2) and fat mass (WMD: -1.158 kg, 95 % CI: -1.763, -0.554, I2: 15.5). However, l-carnitine supplementation did not change body fat percentage (WMD: -0.874 %, 95 % CI: -1.890, 0.142, I2: 98.2) or waist circumference (WMD: -0.883 mg/dl, 95 % CI: -1.770, 0.004, I2: 74.8). l-Carnitine supplementation changed weight (r = -0.98) and BMI (r = -0.67) in a non-linear fashion based on carnitine dosage and BMI according to trial duration (r = -0.04). Interestingly subgroup analysis revealed that l-carnitine showed anti-obesity effects only in overweight and obese subjects; l-carnitine decreased weight, and BMI alone when combined with other lifestyle modifications. Anthropometric indexes were not changed following l-carnitine supplementation among patients' undergoing hemodialysis. Our study revealed that l-carnitine supplementation might have a positive effects in achieving an improved body weight and BMI especially in overweight and obese subjects.

Keywords: BMI; Meta-analysis; Obesity; Weight loss; l-Carnitine.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Carnitine / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Overweight / drug therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Carnitine