Beta Alanine prolongs the onset of fatigue by producing more carnosine. This means you will train harder for longer at the highest intensity. Whether you’re training for strength or endurance Beta Alanine is the greatest supplement to help you train through failure.
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You might already know what beta-alanine feels like, but what does it do? Here’s everything you need to know!
Beta-Alanine is technically a non-essential beta-amino acid, but it has quickly become anything but non-essential in the worlds of performance nutrition and bodybuilding. It has become a shining star due to claims that it raises muscle carnosine levels and increases the amount of work you can perform at high intensities.
Beta-alanine is also famous for producing a certain "tingle" you probably felt - and possibly freaked out about - the first time you tried a pre-workout supplement containing beta-alanine.
Beta-alanine can offer real performance benefits, but it has unique chemical properties that need to be understood. Beta-alanine could earn a permanent place in your nutritional war-chest. I'm here to provide you the science-based intel you need to decide if it's right for you.
What Is It? When consumed as a dietary supplement, beta-alanine passes from the bloodstream into skeletal muscle via a beta-alanine and taurine transporter that's dependent upon both sodium and chloride availability. Once it enters a skeletal muscle cell, it binds with the essential amino acid L-histidine to form the dipeptide carnosine. That's where the fun really begins.
What Does It Do? First we need to explain Carnosine in layman’s terms: During high-intensity exercise a drop in muscle pH is a major contributor to muscle fatigue. More Carnosine produced in the body results in a defence buffer of this muscle fatigue. In short more Carnosine and you will be able to train harder for longer and more intensely with less muscle fatigue.
The sports benefit of supplementing with beta-alanine lies mostly in its ability to raise muscle carnosine concentrations. In fact, beta-alanine is the limiting amino acid in carnosine synthesis, meaning that its presence in the bloodstream is directly tied to muscle carnosine levels.
To date, every study in which beta-alanine has been supplemented to human subjects has resulted in a significant increase in muscle carnosine. This stands in contrast to other iconic supplements like creatine, for which distinct responders and non-responders have been observed. But beta-alanine doesn't just work broadly; it also works well. Supplementation with beta-alanine has been shown to increase muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58 percent in just four weeks, and 80 percent in 10 weeks.
What Are The Performance And Physique Applications? If you're looking for a boost in short-to-medium duration high-intensity muscle performance, few supplements to date have fit the bill as consistently as beta-alanine.
Specifically, beta-alanine seems most effective for supporting exercise lasting longer than 60 seconds. It has not been shown to be significantly or consistently effective in shorter duration bouts of exercise, where the ATP-phosphocreatine energy system is in highest demand.
For example, in one of the first published studies on beta-alanine and human athletic performance, subjects received either a placebo, 20 g per day of creatine monohydrate, 800 mg of beta-alanine four times per day, or the same dose of beta-alanine plus 20 g of creatine monohydrate. Maximal power output in a four-minute all-out cycling test was significantly increased in the two groups receiving beta-alanine, versus those receiving the placebo or only creatine. The most significant improvement was noted in the first and fourth minutes of cycling.
Since that early trial, beta-alanine has been consistently suggested to increase muscle power output, strength, training volume, high-intensity exercise performance and peak oxygen uptake (aerobic capacity). Most recently, when players consumed 3.2 g per day of beta-alanine for 12 weeks during a competitive soccer season, their performance was shown to improve by 34.3 percent, compared to a -7.6 percent change in those consuming a placebo. In fact, when all subject responses were analysed, those consuming beta-alanine improved by a range of 0 to 72.7 percent, whereas those consuming the placebo had a response range of between -37.5 and +14.7 percent.
Similarly, researchers out of the U.K. presented evidence that just four weeks of six grams per day of beta-alanine (1.5 g, four times per day) increased the punch force of amateur boxers by an amazing 20 times, and punch frequency by four times, as compared to a placebo. However, when long rest periods (2-5 minutes) were provided between sets of a high-intensity strength training session, the effects of beta-alanine were insignificant.
Therefore, for the effects of beta-alanine to be most noticeable, I would recommend a high-intensity bodybuilding-style training program, HIIT or interval training, CrossFit, or all-out 1-5 minute bouts to exhaustion, with short rest periods of less than 2 minutes.
When Should I Take It? Beta-alanine can provide an acute stimulant response and is therefore a good candidate for being consumed pre-workout. If you take a pre-workout supplement, you might already be taking it this way. However, the performance benefits from beta-alanine are based upon raising muscle carnosine concentrations over time. Thus, the time of day you consume beta-alanine isn't nearly as important as consistently consuming beta-alanine each day.
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