DELAY MUSCULAR FATIGUE*
PROMOTE MUSCULAR ENDURANCE*
IMPROVE WORKOUT PERFORMANCE*
The below Information is provided by Chris Lockwood, PhD, CSCS, bodybuilding.com, Feb 22, 2016. To read the complete article, refer to: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/your-expert-guide-to-beta-alanine.html
Beta-alanine has been consistently suggested to increase muscle power output, strength, training volume, high-intensity exercise performance and peak oxygen uptake (aerobic capacity).
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. Also known by its trademarked name CarnoSyn, 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.
WHAT IS IT?
Beta-alanine, or 3-aminopropionic acid is a naturally-occurring beta-amino acid and a component of the histidine dipeptides carnosine and anserine, as well as vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. Structurally, beta-alanine is a hybrid between the potent neurotransmitters L-glycine and GABA, which may explain why consumers often claim to experience a caffeine-like response from it. Beta-alanine is even gaining support within the scientific community for being secondarily classified as a neurotransmitter.
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?
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. 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's so special about carnosine, you ask? Well, aside from being a potent antioxidant, this peptide is one of your muscles' first lines of defense against the buildup of hydrogen ions (H+) during high-intensity exercise. This rise in H+ dramatically lowers the pH within muscle cells, negatively effecting enzyme function and muscle excitation-contraction coupling events that support continued, high-intensity output. Put simply, a drop in muscle pH is a major contributor to muscle fatigue.
Muscle carnosine concentration is also linked with having a high percentage of Type II fast-twitch muscle fibers. For this reason, you'll find higher levels of muscle carnosine among sprinters and natural muscle freaks. Men also generally have higher muscle carnosine concentrations than women, most likely because the enzyme that breaks down carnosine is more active in women.
WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF BETA-ALANINE?
Unless you are vegetarian, you derive these from the animal proteins in your diet. Specifically, pork and beef are good sources of carnosine, whereas tuna and venison are high food sources of anserine. As you might expect from that, muscle carnosine concentrations are significantly lower in vegetarians than in the muscles of their carnivorous or omnivorous counterparts. Beta-alanine is also a standard ingredient in many pre-workout supplements, in addition to being available on its own.
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.
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.
Your muscle fiber makeup and the amount of muscle carnosine you have when you start supplementing with beta-alanine do not appear to impact how you will respond to supplementation. Likewise, the size of individual doses doesn't appear to affect the maximal concentration of muscle carnosine that you can achieve. Instead, the total dose over a period of time affects the final muscle carnosine concentration that you can achieve.
HOW SHOULD I COMBINE IT?
I recommend consuming taurine when supplementing with beta-alanine. Not only is taurine an underutilized super-nutrient, it's also incredibly important for neuromuscular, cognitive and lung function, blood glucose utilization, and as an antioxidant. Since beta-alanine and taurine compete for uptake and the concentration of one affects the other, consuming one of them consistently while dosing the other is just common sense.
SHOULD I PERIODIZE MY CONSUMPTION?
Based upon the available data, I don't see a need for cycling beta-alanine, as long as you're also supplementing with taurine.
If you're not consuming supplemental taurine, then it may be prudent to cycle your beta-alanine every so often. Since taurine uptake is only affected by rises in plasma beta-alanine, and because muscle carnosine remains elevated for up to three months after ceasing beta-alanine supplementation, a 4-9 weeks "on" to 4-9 weeks "off" cycling strategy should allow you to consistently reap the performance benefits of beta-alanine. However, this is just conjecture on my part, and it's a moot point if you just supplement with taurine.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
Beta-alanine comes with its own built-in dosing regulator. You might recall feeling it in your neck or arms the first time you tried a pre-workout supplement that contained beta-alanine.
The scientific name for this "pins and needles" feeling is acute paresthesia. It can also produce a burning, itching, or flushed feeling on the scalp or ears. Beta-alanine doses greater than about 800 mg-less than half of the amount contained in a single scoop of some popular pre-workouts-have generally been reported to cause moderate to severe paresthesia lasting 60-90 minutes. In one study, in which subjects consumed 3 grams of beta-alanine in one dose, the parasthesia effect was reported as significant and severe.
WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE?
As probably the most consistently effective performance-enhancing supplement to hit the sports nutrition market since creatine, beta-alanine is an ingredient I strongly recommend athletes to keep in their arsenal.
Time and more research will help refine dosing and delivery, giving us a clearer picture of beta-alanine's long-term safety and effectiveness, as well as what ingredients may boost its benefits. For now, there is ample evidence to suggest that athletes—especially vegetarians, ectomorphs (hard-gainers), and women—can benefit by consuming beta-alanine regularly.
* THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.