Beta-Alanine

November 12, 2012

Beta-Alanine

The world of supplements is a bewildering one. With no real scientific or real world proof as to their benefit it is often difficult to decide on the efficacy of spending your money on something which may well prove to be useless. However one supplement is now being promoted as living up to its claims and it does so with the backing of peer-reviewed studies carried out on humans by major universities. The science is relatively simple, makes sense and is to be effective.

Beta-Alanine is the body’s only naturally occurring beta-amino acid, it is not thought to be involved in protein building.

Research suggests that the best way to obtain Beta-Alanine is by eating protein rich foods such as chicken, fish, beef or pork, for example. Beta-Alanine can also be synthesised in the liver and supplements may be of some benefit.

Research published in some science journals reports a number of benefits from the supplementary use of Beta-Alanine. -

  • Increase muscle strength, mass and output

  • Delay muscle fatigue – meaning it is possible to train harder for longer.

  • Increase in anaerobic and aerobic endurance.

These benefits indicate who may benefit the most from taking a Beta-Alanine supplement -

  • Athletes and sports personnel from all disciplines

  • Weight lifters, body builders and wrestlers.

  • Military personnel

  • Competitors requiring increased strength and endurance.

  • Those who have reached a training plateau and need an extra push to the next level.

High intensity exercise can cause the build up of lactic acid in muscles, the lactic acid then releases large amounts of hydrogen ions which will in turn negatively affect muscle performance and make it impossible to maintain a high level of performance throughout the training session.

Beta-Alanine can help to overcome this effect by boosting the synthesis of carnosine a naturally occurring di-peptide found primarily in those muscle fibres used in high intensity training and which are the most likely to respond to muscular growth. Carnosine is thought to soak up the hydrogen ions released during training and so stabilise muscular pH – referred to as intra-cellular buffering. The use of Beta-Alanine supplements appears to increase carnosine levels dramatically – by as much as 65% in fact. It is this increase in buffering capability which is responsible for the gains in endurance, mass, power and strength seen by researchers in studies.

Short term studies do seem to indicate that using a Beta-Alanine supplement is safe, however, there is, as yet, no long term research available. The use of a supplement containing only Beta-Alanine is the current advice since taking carnosine alone has proved to be an inefficient method of actually increasing carnosine levels.

In order to boost carnosine levels and improve performance significantly a dose of 4 grams daily is recommended. Benefits may be noticed almost immediately with the most dramatic improvements noticeable by around week 4; it seems that as the levels of carnosine increase then so do the benefits – current recommendations are to take a Beta-Alanine supplement for a period of 12 weeks in order to achieve optimisation of carnosine levels.

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