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What is Beta-Alanine?

So just what is beta-alanine? Beta-alanine, which should not to be confused with the amino acid, alanine, is not used to build proteins, however, because of its molecular structure, is classified as a beta-amino acid (nature's only natural occurring beta amino acid). What this means is that beta-alanine is able exert specific ergogenic benefits without the unwanted loss of the amino acid for use in the building of protein. Beta-Alanine is found naturally in small amounts in foods like beef, chicken and pork, however, these amounts are not occurring in high enough amounts for one to feel its intended benefits.

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How does it work are some symptoms of deficiency?

When we exercise, especially high intensity exercise, our bodies accumulate a large amount of hydrogen ions (H+), causing our muscles' pH or water levels to drop (become more acidic). This process is occurring whether you feel a burn or not. As our muscles pH quickly drops, so does their ability to contract forcibly and maintain a high level of performance throughout the workout session. Not being able to perform and maintain forceful muscular contractions and push your body to the limit during your workout session, seriously hampers your ability to maximally overload your muscles and force new muscle mass gains.

So how can & does beta-alanine help us overcome this drop in pH that limits exercise performance?

To understand how beta-alanine works to fight the drop in pH within our muscle, you must first understand how Carnosine works. The reason is, beta-alanine's performance benefits are not direct but realized through its ability to boost the muscles synthesis of Carnosine.

How does Carnosine work?

Carnosine is a naturally occurring di-peptide that is found in both type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers, but is in significantly higher concentrations in type 2 fibers. Type 2 muscle fibers are primarily used in high intensity strength workouts and are most responsive to muscular growth. Carnosine helps stabilize muscular pH by soaking up hydrogen ions (H+) that are released while we exercise while we exercise at an accelerated rate. This means more reps toward the end of your workouts and greater muscle growth as a result.

This where the Beta-Alanine come into play. By supplementing with beta-alanine we can actually increase our Carnosine by as much as Studies have shown that with beta alanine use, in as little as four weeks, muscle Carnosine stores can increase by 42-65%. 10-12 weeks of use have been shown to increase Carnosine stores as much as 80%. This increase in muscle Carnosine and the power of its buffering action is the magic behind how beta-alanine works.

Beta-Alanine is not an essential nutrient and no symptoms of deficiency have been established.

How much should be taken? Are there side effects?

Follow all manufactures dosage amount. Recent research is now showing Carnosine levels continue to increase for a minimum of 12 weeks. Because of this, it is suggested to stay on beta-alanine for at least three months to optimize your muscle Carnosine levels. Those who might benefit from beta-alanine are individuals on a weight lifting program and any individual who practices a sport where strength, power and endurance are needed.

Some side effect include slight flushing f the skin but go away when dosage is decreased. If any other symptom's occur stop usage immediately and consult your physician.

Recent Studies

  • 1. Harris, R. Faseb. Effect of Combined Beta-Alanine and Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Exercise Performance and Endocrine Responses in Strength/Power Athletes. IJSNEM, 16(4).
  • 2. Harris RC, et al. The absorption of orally supplied Beta-alanine and its effect on muscle Carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids, March 2006.
  • 3. Kim HJ, et al. The effect of a supplement containing beta-alanine on muscle Carnosine synthesis and exercise capacity, during 12 wk combined endurance and weight training. J. Inter. Soc. Sports Nutr. 3(1): S9 2006.
  • 4. Stout JR, et al. Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold J Strength Cond Res. Nov 2006.
  • 5. Zoeller RF, et al. Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustion. Amino Acids, 1-6. 2006.
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