The unique benefits of creatine and carnitine often pique your interest when looking to enhance energy, strength, and endurance. Both supplements offer distinct advantages to possibly help these ares, and be sure to read to the end to learn about which one boosts muscle performance most.

Whether you’re a fitness fanatic looking to boost muscle strength or an endurance athlete aiming to enhance fat metabolism and performance, the key is to empower yourself with knowledge about these supplements to make the best choice for your supplement routine.

As a professional nutritionist with years of experience as an athlete and working with elite athletes, I’ve uncovered 5 compelling research-backed facts about these supplements. This knowledge will empower you to make an informed decision about which dietary supplement aligns with your health goals and which one may have the best potential to boost your performance.

Fact #1: The difference between the chemical structure & nature of creatine vs carnitine

A little about l-carnitine:

Did you know that there’s a fascinating story behind the name ‘carnitine ‘? It’s true!

The Latin word “carnis” means flesh or meat.  And the carnitine was named after it! The fact is that l carnitine was first extracted from muscles in 1905. 

Carnitine is a quaternary amine, which means that it contains a central nitrogen atom that is bonded to four organic groups and does fat metabolism so our cells get energy. We will discuss it later.

 For now, you’ll be amazed to know as humans, we have the ability to synthesize (create) l-carnitine in our body, mainly in our liver, kidneys, skeletal muscle, and brain, from two essential amino acids named lysine and methionine. 

So why need it from an exogenous source? 

Confused! Don’t be; let me clarify…the amount of carnitine synthesized into our body is far lower than necessary for optimal health, and we have to obtain it via food or dietary supplements to meet the expected needs, which is about 75% in total. 

Let’s discuss creatine:

Creatine, which is also known as creatine phosphate, is a compound that is synthesized into our body from three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine.

However, creatine synthesis starts mainly in the kidneys and is completed in our largest gland, the liver.

But did you know that our muscles are the main storage component for creatine?

Yes that is true! Almost 95% of creatine is stored in our muscles.

However, we require creatine via diet. Obviously, I am saying it for a reason!

Pause here for a while and read this line again- our muscles are the main storage component for creatine.

Yeah! You got it right. Our muscles are the part of the body used on a daily basis. Especially if you are an athlete, you should maintain the creatine stores in your muscles to maximize benefits because creatine is a quick energy booster for muscles.

Fact #2: Dietary sources and production of creatine vs carnitine in the body

Dietary sources of l-carnitine:

Do you know that the l carnitine is most abundantly found in the skeletal muscle? So, meat eaters, if you want to increase your carnitine levels, it can be a great option for you.

According to a study, 90% of the carnitine is present in the skeletal part of the meat, and the rest of the carnitine is present in the liver, kidneys, and other tissues. Other than meat, carnitine is mostly present in dairy products. On the other hand, a lesser amount of carnitine is present in vegetables, so people who are vegetarians are more likely to have carnitine deficiency.[2]

If you want to select the packed sources of carnitine, red meat, lamb, and beef are enriched choices. On the contrary, the carnitine in pork, fish, cottage cheese, and whole milk is less than that of red meat. Similarly, if you are a vegetarian, you must be aware of the fact that l carnitine is present in a very trace amount of vegetables and even fruits. But to all the vegetarians, let me tell you a secret. The avocados and asparagus contain a good concentration of l carnitine. So, to all those veggie lovers out there, how about having avocado toast for breakfast to raise your carnitine levels?

Fun fact: Food processing, such as boiling, loses a significant amount of carnitine, which can decrease its absorption from 85% to just 50% in total. 

Dietary sources of creatine:

Creatine, which is also called creatine phosphate, is present in high quantities in non vegetarian sources. The good sources of creatine can be any form of meat like red meat, fish, poultry, and other animal sources, which can increase up to 1-2 grams of additional creatine. This is because creatine is present in large quantities in high protein sources.

In contrast, creatine is present in a very low amount in a vegetarian diet. However, it is advisable to have an optimal creatine intake while maintaining a dietary balance. If that is so, have you ever heard of a Paleo diet?

Interesting fact: While animal protein, contains ~2 grams of creatine per 1lb while plant sources of protein such as tofu contain less than 0.1 g of creatine per lb!

Let me impart a small fact about this diet. 

The interesting thing is that Paleo diet helps maintain a creatine balance.

In addition to including a high amount of lean meat and seafood, this diet allows you to eat whole foods, healthy fats, and vegetables that are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Furthermore, this diet also suggests anti-inflammatory food items. These anti-inflammatory foods like leafy green vegetables help maintain healthy energy levels.[3] 

Fact #3: Primary metabolic roles of creatine vs carnitine

The debate between creatine and carnitine undergoes an antagonistic approach when it comes to their metabolic effects. Both exhibit different roles in the body. Let’s discuss these roles in simpler terms below:

Primary metabolic function of carnitine in the body:

Carnitine is an important component that helps maintain a high energy level.

It maintains a high athletic performance while overcoming fatigue. I am not just saying it without a reason. I have personal experience of using the l carnitine, and it is a difference maker depending on your diet and overall supplement routine.

Now, how does this happen? Is there a mechanism behind it? 

Do you remember the line that we used to read in our science class that mitochondria are our powerhouse of energy?

So here is the fact.

Our fats are stored in our body as long-chain fatty acids. Creatine takes in these fatty acids into the mitochondria in our cells, converting them into energy.

Now, if you are having food and still feel fatigued, let your carnitine levels get checked. Without adequate levels of carnitine, our fats will be unable to enter mitochondria, which suggests depleted energy stores. 

Primary metabolic function of creatine in the body:

Did you know that creatine also produces energy? You may want to know then, what would be what the difference in how energy is produced when comparing creatine vs carnitine.

Creatine plays its role when there is high energy demand for body organs, including the heart, brain, or skeletal muscles, such as in high-intensity exercise. 

According to the mechanism, when we intake the creatine containing food, it is stored in our body muscles as creatine phosphate. When we need energy in a high amount due to increased metabolic demand, such as while doing high-intensity exercise, this stored muscle creatine content in the form of creatine phosphate is converted to ATP, generating a burst of energy we require during these strenuous conditions. 

In fact, as a fitness freak or have doubts on whether creatine is safe for you or a family member such as a teenage athlete, you’ll be glad to know that well-renowned institutes like the American College of Sports Medicine and the Australian Institute of Sports claim that creatine is an evidence-based dietary supplement that increases performance.[3]

Read more: Best Natural Energizers without Caffeine

Fact #4: Other metabolic functions of creatine vs carnitine:

Both creatine and carnitine exhibit other metabolic effects, helping in maintaining a diverse range of normal bodily functions. 

The metabolic effects of creatine:

Helping Nerve Health:

With its energy-producing mechanism, creatine protects neurons, AKA our brain cells. These neurons require a continuous supply of energy to function properly. Creatine allows the brain cells’ energy utilization, hence protecting them from cellular damage.

This function also offers a neuroprotective effect on the brain and saves you from neurodegenerative conditions like epilepsy, seizures, and intellectual disability. 

Maximizing Calorie Burn:

Creatine works as an energy booster and helps burn body fat in the form of calories. This is why some gym enthusiasts take creatine-containing protein powders during their workout sessions. 

If you are interested in knowing the role of creatine in fat burn, explore an interesting mechanism that actually occurs-

The human body has two types of specialized fat tissues AKA adipose tissues. The brown fat tissues have a large number of mitochondria inside them.

Mitochondria produce a lot of energy through ATP.

But there is a shift in this mechanism. Basically, the mitochondria present in brown adipose tissues have proteins called uncoupling proteins. These proteins uncouple the ATP produced by fat cells and release it in the form of heat, which is a significant reason behind calorie burning. Creatine enhances the efficiency of this process and helps burn more calories throughout the day than usual. 

The metabolic effects of l carnitine

Muscle Endurance: 

The l carnitine is crucial for enhancing exercise performance and developing muscle endurance, especially during high-intensity exercises such as high-intensity training or circuit workouts. L-carnitine acts as a major supportive dietary supplement for fitness enthusiasts.

Basically, when you work out, especially during intense strength training, a component called acetyl CoA is produced in a large amount into the muscles, producing lactate and causing lactate buildup. This lactate buildup can cause muscle fatigue, soreness, etc., hence decreasing performance. 

But when you take carnitine during these workouts, it balances the acetyl CoA in cells by reacting with it. When carnitine reacts with acetyl C,oA, it formacetylcarnitinene, which works for the benefit of carnitine, causes a significant increase in energy levels of endurance, and increases muscle performance during physical activity.[1]  

Overcoming the Osteoporosis: 

Most people think that l-carnitine supplements can only be given to people who do exercise. So, is this information true?

Well Not Really!

According to a few clinical trials, l-carnitine has made noticeable changes by improving the bone health of aging women, especially postmenopausal women. According to these recent studies, the reduced level of carnitine in women causes bone weakness. However, women supplementing l carnitine later that age were seen to have improved bone health.[1] 

Primarily, the l-carnitine supplements rises the levels of osteoclasts in serum. The osteoclasts are cells that break down and remove the old damaged tissues, improving bone mineral density and collagen production and creating strong bones. 

Improving the Male Fertile Health:

L-carnitine has proven its role in combating male infertility!

Male infertility is often accompanied by low sperm count and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that exert stress on the sperm cells, producing infertility. The studies show that if l carnitine is administered to infertile males, it lowers the production of these ROS and repairs the cellular damage. 

Hence, it improves semen health and promotes sperm motility, which means that l-carnitine is a dietary supplement that offers hope to all those males out there facing reproductive challenges.[2] 

Role of L carnitine in Nerve Health:

Similar to creatine, l-carnitine supplements also improve mental health and wellbeing.

L-carnitine is a substance that has the capability to cross the blood-brain barrier so it can nourish mental health. When l-carnitine enters the brain, it supports the production and synthesis of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in learning and memory. By improving brain functions, acetylcholine improves both short and long-term memory and prevents Alzheimer’s disease and other brain-related problems.

Whether creatine or carnitine, it is best to consume it with professional supervision and guidance because if taken more than the recommended dose, it can produce potential side effects. We are going to discuss those side effects, but before that, you should have a little knowledge about the dosage allowance.

Some research suggests creatine intake should not exceed the daily limit of 2-3 grams per day to meet healthy requirements. While the recommended daily dose of creatine consumed in the form of a supplement is 3-5g. This is an ideal dose and unlikely to produce any potential side effects.

Te dose of 2g iss approved by the French Food Safety Agency (AFFSA) and Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES)

It is suggested that the supplementation of creatine should be selected very carefully, under the consultation of a professional nutritional coach, because many of the creatine products out on the market contain impurities, absorb poorly, and lead to excessive water retention. Our food and nutritional coaches will help you determine which popular supplement is best for you based on their experience. 

Wondering if we would be a good fit for you as a sports nutrition coach? Check out our 90+ 5-star reviews on Google!  The best part is you can book a free 15-minute strategy call with us to map out a plan and see if we’re the right fit for you.

According to some research, the recommended daily dose of l-carnitine should be limited to 1g per day. However, this may change based on your individual needs and a nutrition coach can determine that.

Important note: some research suggests this dose should be discontinued after 2-4 months and should not be used continuously and without end.

If L-carnitine is taken on purpose to control the body weight, the dose should be 3g per day and shouldn’t exceed this limit. If exceeded, it can potentially lead to adverse side effects.[2] 

Fact #5: The side effects of creatine vs carnitine

Because of their potential side effects, both creatine vs carnitine can exhibit different adverse reactions and are best taken with supervision. Let’s explore these side effects below:

Side effects of creatine:

Potential side effects of improper creatine dosages may include but not be limited to:

  1. Body cramps
  2. Dehydration
  3. Muscle Contractions and Soreness
  4. Susceptibility to increased tearing of muscle fibers caused by decreased muscle strength i.e. exercise-induced muscle damage
  5. Gastrointestinal complaints such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps or disturbed GI functions
  6. Feeling of dizziness
  7. In adverse cases, if creatine is taken at an exceeded dose, it can also develop severe renal dysfunction.[2]

Side effects of carnitine:

Like creatine, l-carnitine has potential side effects that may include.[4] 

The side effects produced by l-carnitine include:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Nausea
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Muscle weakness
  5. The muscle cramps lead by excessive weakness
  6. A fishy odor from the body 
  7. In most cases, if the dose exceeds the limit, it can cause problems with the nervous system, including seizures & epilepsy.

Which supplement to choose?

Both creatine and carnitine are spectacular components to give you a surge of energy. But, it is essential to choose the most suitable option according to your own body type. Now, if you have read all the above-mentioned effects of creatine vs creatinine, it is essential to understand your body type, energy levels, activity levels, and health status. 

Still, if you need the right approach, our experts are there to help. 

We provide individualized virtual health coaching and help you determine which supplement is the right one for you. Well! Here are some useful points to check while you’ll be selecting these supplements. 

If you want to maintain the adequate energy levels into your body that help you out into your daily life activities and exercise carnitine is a good option for you. It maintains the adequate levels of energy into your body keeping your metabolism high and also aids in weight loss at the same time while ensuring metabolism of fat.

But if you are the one who needs a surge of energy because you love to do high intensity exercise, weightlifting or resistance training and aims to undergo the muscle growth, then go for creatine supplements. This is because it will help you get an enhanced athletic performance.

I know you are going to come up with the question, as many do, of whether you can take both these supplements together. 

Uh! yes you can! Both creatine and carnitine will complement each other effects if you focus to meet the all the requirements at once. But still we’ll recommend to prioritize three important factors that may include dose, a professional nutritional coaching and timings at which you take these supplements. 


Both creatine and carnitine are considered popular supplements in the fitness world. Both of these compounds are produced in small amounts in our body and obtained from multiple dietary sources. They can be a performance enhancer and boost recovery when combined with an anti-inflammatory diet, quality protein sources such as clean protein bars, and avoiding the foods most likely to cause inflammation.

They can even help provide a surge of energy to keep us active in our daily lives. 

If you are a fitness enthusiast doing high-intensity workouts, boosting endurance or strength athlete performance the consumption of these dietary supplements is essential for you which not only increases your energy levels but helps with high bone density, male infertility, and a sound and healthy mental wellbeing.