According to a recent study at Cornell, L-Carnitine supplements plus a 60% maintenance-energy diet was more effective on obese cats than the diet alone.

The article reads in part:

The clinical and metabolic effects of rapid weight loss in obese pet cats and the influence of supplemental oral L-carnitine.
Center SA, Harte J, Watrous D, Reynolds A, Watson TD, Markwell PJ, Millington DS, Wood PA, Yeager AE, Erb HN. Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
The efficacy, safety, and metabolic consequences of rapid weight loss in privately owned obese cats by means of a canned weight-reduction diet and the influence of orally administered L-carnitine on rate of weight loss, routine clinical evaluations, hepatic ultrasonography, plasma amino acid profiles, and carnitine analytes were evaluated. ... Caloric intake was restricted to 60% of maintenance energy requirements (60 kcal/kg) for targeted ideal weight. The reducing formula was readily accepted by all cats.
Significant weight loss was achieved by week 18 in each group without adverse effects (group 1 (L-Carnitine) = 23.7%, group 2 = 19.6%). Cats receiving carnitine lost weight at a significantly faster rate (P < .05). Significant increases in carnitine values developed in each group (P < .02). However, significantly higher concentrations of all carnitine moieties and a greater percentage of acetylcarnitine developed in cats of group 1 (P < .01). The dietary formula and described reducing strategy can safely achieve a 20% weight reduction within 18 weeks in obese cats....

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The researchers used a liquid form of L-carnitine but dry capsule form may be just as effective. Note though that the diet used in the study was rather high in carbohydrates and low in fats and proteins, compared to an ideal feline diet. It's possible that the L-Carnitine was compensating for the lack of protein rather than actually helping weight loss directly.

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