BETA - Alanine

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BETA - Alanine

Postby Canuck Singh » Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:38 pm

Beta Alanine

A recent study completed by Belgium scientists has shown that beta-alanine increased muscle carnosine levels and delayed the onset of fatigue during repeated bouts of high intensity exercise.

Supplementation with beta-alanine, 4.8 grams per day (4 weeks) provided an improvement in total work performed and delayed the onset of fatigue in a group of athletic males performing maximal effort resistance exercise. However, supplementation had no effect on isometric strength or 400 meter sprint performance.

The athletic performance studies with beta-alanine show that this supplement is specifically a real performance-enhancer in the weight room.

Source: Journal of Applied Physiology, online ’08.
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Re: BETA - Alanine

Postby Canuck Singh » Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:03 pm

Let's look at how beta-alanine works.

It's a non-essential amino acid found naturally in both the body and in some foods.

When beta-alanine enters the muscle cell, it becomes what we call the "rate limiting substrate" to carnosine synthesis. By rate limiting, we mean that without beta-alanine, carnosine does not get produced.

So why is carnosine so important? Carnosine is a dipeptide found mainly in fast-twitch muscles whose primary function, as far as you and I are concerned, is buffering hydrogen ions (H+).

Buffer H+, and you prevent pH levels in muscle from dropping to low levels (more acidic). Low acidity creates that "burn" in your muscles, causing fatigue and forcing you to muscular failure (also known as the end of your set). In a more acidic environment ATP is less effective and the release of calcium, a key component to muscle contraction, is hindered substantially.

With higher carnosine levels in muscle, however, you can prevent the drop in pH. With H+ buffered, you continue to squeeze out reps, prolong a high intensity run, or you simply lift heavier weights for more reps.

So why not just double up on the carnosine? First of all, carnosine is not absorbed effectively in humans. When ingested and digested, only a small amount remains intact, but that in itself creates problems. The intact carnosine is hydrolyzed into histidine and beta-alanine, which is then taken up by skeletal muscle and synthesized back into carnosine.

Because of the initial hydrolysis, the ingested carnosine does not remain intact when taken up into muscle. The only value you gain by ingesting carnosine is the beta-alanine that's formed, since it's the beta-alanine that can "remake" carnosine in muscle. As such, it makes a whole lot more sense to take your beta-alanine straight!

Taken orally BA boosts your muscles' carnosine synthesis by 64%. Recently, scientists have demonstrated that high intensity- high volume training can significantly increase muscle carnosine concentrations in untrained subjects. In 2004, Dr. Suzuki and colleagues discovered a strong relationship between carnosine concentrations in muscle and high intensity exercise performance — the more carnosine you have in your muscle, the more you can lift, run, or bike.

How Well Does it Work? (Show Me The Science!!)

Carnosine contributes to roughly 20% of the buffering capacity in muscle. If you can double carnosine levels with beta-alanine supplementation, you also double your muscles' buffering capacity.

The Harris study I mentioned above reported an impressive 64% rise in muscle carnosine levels. This occurred after just four weeks of supplementing 4 to 6 grams per day of beta-alanine.

Another study, by Dr. Hill and colleagues, examined the effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine levels and exercise performance in untrained men. In double-blind fashion, twenty male subjects (19-31years) supplemented either 4.0g beta-alanine or a sugar placebo for the first week, then up to 6.4g for an additional nine weeks.

By week four, mean carnosine levels increased by 58%. Six weeks later, they rose another 15%. As for performance, the researchers also recorded a 16% increase in total work capacity during cycle ergometry.

New Data, Recently Published !!!

Physical working capacity at fatigue threshold (PWCFT) in untrained young men. The male subjects (19 — 30 years) consumed either:

1) 1.6g of beta-alanine 4 times per day for 6 days, then 3.2 grams per day for 22 days.

2) 5g creatine monohydrate 4 times per day for 6 days, then 10 grams per day for 22 days.

3) Beta-alanine and creatine Combo.

4) Placebo (maltodextrin).

The results revealed a 28.8%, 11.3%, and 11.0% increase in PWCFT for the beta-alanine, creatine, and the combo, respectively. Beta-Alanine increased PWCFT 61% greater than creatine on just roughly 3.2 grams a day.

Effects of Beta-Alanine in Women

Ventilatory (anaerobic) threshold, physical working capacity at fatigue threshold, (PWCFT) and time to exhaustion during a fatiguing cycle ergometer test.

Ventilatory (anaerobic) threshold is the point where lactic acid production exceeds its absorption, you feel a significant burn, and you can no longer maintain a high exercising intensity. It's a great measure of endurance and aerobic fitness.

Once you've reached your ventilatory threshold, your ability to maintain an aerobic/endurance workout rapidly declines. You enter anaerobic training, which for an endurance athlete, is the final chapter of a workout, so to speak.

The female subjects (19 — 36 years) consumed 800 mg. of either beta-alanine or placebo 4 times per day for 7 days. The dosage was then increased to 1,600 mg. 4 times per day for 21 days.

The dosage per body weight was 24% higher than any previous study using males. The results showed a 14%, 12.5% and 3% increase in ventilatory threshold, PWCFT, and time to exhaustion, respectively. There was no change in the placebo group.

The Effects of Adding Beta-Alanine to Creatine on Muscle Mass, Fat Loss, Strength, and Performance

Prior to and following the 10-week study, the researchers measured the athletes' body composition, body weight, one-repetition maximum in the bench press and squat, and had them keep a log of their dietary intake.

All were placed on a weight training program that included all the usual suspects: bench press, squat, deadlift, power clean, incline press and fly, row, etc.

Here's what they found:

• When you combine creatine and beta-alanine, your training volume goes up and you get stronger. The athletes were able to knock out more reps with the same weights, and although this was the case with the other groups, it happened to a greater and more significant extent in the creatine plus beta-alanine group.

• One-rep max, the strength measure, climbed significantly higher in both the supplemented groups. In the bench press, the athletes taking only creatine increased their one-rep max by an average of over 30 pounds while the creatine plus beta-alanine group saw it rise by roughly 25 pounds. The placebo group experienced an insignificant 12 pound bump.

• Increases in one-rep squat max were similar. Both supplemented groups experienced significant gains: roughly 50 pounds for the creatine plus beta-alanine group and just under 50 pounds for the creatine group. For comparison, the placebo group pushed up their max a meager 10 pounds.

- Only in the creatine plus beta-alanine group did the investigators record a significant increase in muscle mass, with percentage of fat dropping roughly 1.2%.


1. Abe, H. Role of histidine-related compounds as intracellular proton buffering constituents in vertebrate muscle. Biochemistry (Mosc) 65:757-65, 2000.

2. Asatoor et al. Intestinal absorption of carnosine and its constituent amino acids in man. Gut 11:250-254, 1970.

3. Bakardjiev et al. Transport of beta-alanine and biosynthesis of carnosine by skeletal muscle cells in primary culture. Eur. J. Biochem. 225:617-623, 1994.

4. Harris et al. Carnosine and taurine contents in individual fibers in human vastus lateralis muscle. J. Sports Science. 16:639-643, 1998.

5. Harris et al. Muscle buffering capacity and dipeptide content in the thoroughbred horse, greyhound dog and man. Comparative Biochem physiol. 97A:249-251, 1990.

6. Harris et al. The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids. 2006 May;30(3):279-89. Epub 2006 Mar 24.

7. Harris et al. Effect of 14 and 28 days beta-alanine supplementation on isometric endurance of the knee extensors. Presented at the 2006 ISSN national conference.

8. Hill et al. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids. 2006 Jul 28; [Epub ahead of print]

9. Hoffman et al. Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):430-46.

10. Kendrick et al. The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine syntheisis during 4 weeks using a one-leg training model. Presented at the 2006 ISSN national conference.

11. Kendrick et al. The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine synthesis during a 10 week program of strength training. Presented at the 2006 ISSN national conference.

12. Kim et al. The effect of a supplement containing beta-alanine on muscle carnosine synthesis and exercise capacity, during 12 week combined endurance and weight training.

13. Stout et al. The effects of creatine and beta-alanine on physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 20(4):928-931, 2006.

14, Stout et al. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino Acids. 2006 Nov 30; [Epub ahead of print]

15. Suzuki et al. The effect of sprint training on skeletal muscle carnosine in humans. Intl. J. Sport Health Sci 2:105-110, 2005.

16. Suzuki et al. High level of skeletal muscle carnosine contributes to the latter half of exercise performance during 30-s maximal cycle ergometer sprinting. Jpn. J. Physiol. 52:199-205, 2002.

17. Tallon et al. The carnosine content of vastus lateralis is elevated in resistance trained bodybuilders. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 19:725-729, 2005.

18. Zoeller et al. Effects of creatine and beta-alanine on ventilatory and lactate thresholds in men. Amino Acids. 2006 Sep 5; [Epub ahead of print].
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