GBB vs Carnitine: What’s the difference?
If you asked Americans what their New Year’s Resolution is, a majority will answer somewhere along the lines of getting healthier, going to the gym, or losing weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 49.1% of adults in the United States tried to lose weight in the last 12 months in the years 2013 to 2016 .
With the obesity rates in the country rising and the weight loss supplement industry booming, it’s more important to understand what works and what doesn’t. So, let’s take a look at one of the most popular supplements on the market right now: L-Carnitine.
L-carnitine (also referred to as just carnitine) is an amino acid byproduct that occurs naturally in the body. It’s created in the brain, liver, and kidneys, and promotes a number of bodily and cognitive functions, the most critical being energy production. It’s stored primarily in the muscles but can also be found in the liver and blood. L-carnitine’s job is to take long-chain fatty acids and transport them to the cell’s mitochondria to be oxidized for energy production. Then, on its way out of the organelle, it carries toxic compounds created there out to prevent accumulation .
Aside from providing energy and burning fat, L-carnitine increases oxygen flow to your muscles. More oxygen means more blood flow, which results in increased muscle pumps, and a decrease in recovery time, fatigue, and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
There are several types of carnitine: L-carnitine, propionyl-L-carnitine, and acetyl-L-carnitine. However, L-carnitine is proven to be the most effective form for general purposes like weight loss and enhancing cognitive performance. Results from some studies even suggest that acetyl-L-carnitine helps slow the effects of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases .
Where does L-carnitine come from?
The body naturally makes its own carnitine using the amino acids lysine and methionine, but if necessary, there are several ways to supplement it. First, is by including certain foods in your diet. Animal products such as beef, poultry, fish, and milk are the best sources of L-carnitine. You’ll find the most L-carnitine in red meats. If you prefer to take dietary supplements, L-carnitine can be taken in a variety of products, including some pre-workout formulas. Vegetarians and vegans might also have to supplement carnitine as only some plant-based foods provide enough lysine and methionine to convert to L-carnitine.
What is Lean GBB?
If you’re familiar with L-carnitine, you might also know about Gamma-Butyrobetaine, more commonly known as GBB or lean GBB. The Gamma-Butyrobetaine molecule is a precursor to carnitine production, a pro-carnitine compound. GBB is converted to L-carnitine in a normal physiological process by an enzyme called Gamma-Butyrobetaine Dioxygenase. Think of them like yin and yang, always balancing each other out, always in constant equilibrium. The more lean GBB you have in your system, the more L-carnitine, and vice versa.
In fact, GBB increases the amount of L-carnitine in the bloodstream, meaning that any carnitine used during ATP is quickly replenished and remains in your system even longer.
Does L-carnitine help you lose weight? Or is GBB a better weight loss supplement?
Both L-carnitine and GBB have been proven to promote fat loss, muscle recovery, and cognitive functions. And since Gamma-Butyrobetaine is converted to carnitine, it seems obvious to think cutting out the middle man (GBB) and taking an L-carnitine supplement directly should be the best choice to shed any unwanted fat.
However, when you supplement GBB into your diet, the conversion process to L-carnitine is believed to enhance thermogenesis, which results in heat production that can boost metabolism, decrease appetite, and stimulate fat loss . Not to mention, carnitine absorption in the body from supplements sits at around 14% to 18%, while GBB can increase the body’s carnitine uptake by up to 30 times . Plus, research has shown that GBB can increase Nitric Oxide production in your body, which increases workout performance and muscle growth. Therefore giving you bigger pumps and bigger gains.
Many supplements with either GBB or carnitine will also include the other because combining the two promotes the equilibrium we talked about and provides the user with the best of both worlds.
GBB and carnitine dosages
The standard dosage for GBB is around 25 to 50 mg a day. Taking more than this can result in unwanted side effects such as nausea, gastric issues, and vomiting. L-carnitine dosages, on the other hand, can range from 500 to 2,000 mg depending on the type of carnitine and the desired effect. As always, the best dosage is going to vary from person to person, so it’s always smart to start on the lower end of the spectrum and work your way up.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, July 12). Products - data briefs - number 313 - July 2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db313.htm
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Office of dietary supplements - carnitine. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Carnitine-HealthProfessional/
- Spagnoli A;Lucca U;Menasce G;Bandera L;Cizza G;Forloni G;Tettamanti M;Frattura L;Tiraboschi P;Comelli M; (n.d.). Long-term acetyl-l-carnitine treatment in alzheimer's disease. Neurology. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1944900/
- Rebouche CJ;Bosch EP;Chenard CA;Schabold KJ;Nelson SE; (n.d.). Utilization of dietary precursors for carnitine synthesis in human adults. The Journal of nutrition. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2516120/