Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is becoming increasingly popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It has been shown to have the potential to support on muscle endurance, exercise performance, and muscle growth.* In this essay, we will explore the history, composition, biology, benefits, and supplementation of beta-alanine.
History and composition
Beta-alanine was first discovered in 1900 by a Russian scientist named Gulewitsch. It is a non-proteogenic amino acid, meaning it is not used to build proteins in the body. It is produced naturally in the liver and is found in small amounts in meat and poultry. The chemical structure of beta alanine group a-alanine is similar to that of another amino acid, alanine, with the only difference being the presence of an additional beta-carbon.
Biology and potential benefits
Beta-alanine may play an important role in synthesizing muscle carnosine, a dipeptide made up of beta-alanine and histidine. Muscle carnosine acts as a buffer to help maintain the pH balance in muscle cells, which may be important during high-intensity exercise.
When we exercise, hydrogen ions are produced, which can increase the acidity of muscle cells, leading to muscle fatigue. Carnosine levels in the muscle are limited by the availability of beta-alanine, which is why supplementing with beta-alanine might support muscle carnosine levels and exercise performance for some individuals.*
Studies have shown that beta-alanine supplementation may also help support intracellular buffering capacity, promoting exercise performance and muscular endurance.* This is particularly true for high-intensity exercises that produce high concentrations of hydrogen ions, such as sprinting and weightlifting. By reducing the production of hydrogen ions and buffering their effects, beta-alanine may support exercise capacity and delay fatigue.*
In addition to its potential benefits for exercise performance, beta-alanine supplementation has also been shown to potentially support body composition by promoting lean muscle mass.* This is likely due to the increased training volume that can be achieved with improved muscular endurance and the potential ability to produce carnosine more effectively.
Beta-alanine supplementation and sports
Beta-alanine supplementation has become increasingly popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Numerous studies have shown that taking beta-alanine supplements may potentially support athletic performance, particularly in high-intensity exercises.
For example, a study found that beta-alanine supplementation may play a role in sprint performance in a group of competitive cyclists.
Another study found that beta-alanine supplementation may also play a role in muscular endurance and neuromuscular fatigue during high-intensity interval training.*
Combining beta-alanine with other sports supplements, such as sodium bicarbonate, has also been shown to promote athletic performance potentially.* It appears that the International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand recommends combining beta-alanine with other supplements for additional benefit.*
One of the reasons beta-alanine may be an interesting ingredient to support athletic performance is its ability to support muscle carnosine levels. Muscle carnosine may act as a buffer to help maintain pH balance during intense exercise, which is critical for muscle function and endurance.* Beta-alanine supplementation may promote muscle endurance, play a role on fatigue, and support training volume and muscle carnosine levels.*
Beta alanine supplement--alanine supplementation has also been shown to potentially have other health benefits beyond its effects on exercise performance. Evidence may suggest that carnosine supplementation may help positively support oxidative stress, which can contribute to the aging process.* Beta-alanine may also play a role on cognitive function and physical working capacity, although more research is needed to confirm these effects.*
Story around beta-alanine
Consider the story of a competitive bodybuilder struggling to break through a plateau in his training. Despite following a strict diet and training regimen, he did not see the gains he wanted.
After some research, he learned about beta-alanine and tried supplementing with it. He started taking beta-alanine daily and noticed a significant improvement in his muscular endurance during workouts. He was able to push through his sets for long periods of time, increasing his training volume and ultimately leading to more muscle growth.
After a few weeks of supplementing with beta-alanine, the bodybuilder was surprised at the results. His lean muscle mass had increased, and he was lifting heavier weights with greater ease. He had also noticed a reduction in muscle fatigue and soreness, allowing him to recover more quickly between workouts.
The bodybuilder continued to take beta-alanine supplements and eventually entered a bodybuilding competition, where he placed first in his category. He credited his success to his dedication to his training and nutrition and his use of beta-alanine supplementation.
This is just a fictional story but may represent a bodybuilder's process and how they would integrate beta-alanine into their daily regimen. These results might not be associated primarily with beta-alanine supplements but might just be because this athlete was more dedicated and serious with the workouts.
Why nutritionists use beta-alanine
Some nutritionists may sometime use beta-alanine because of its potential ability to support athletic performance and body composition.* Unlike other supplements, such as steroids or stimulants, beta-alanine is a natural amino acid that is found in the body and food sources.
In addition, beta-alanine supplementation has been studied and has been shown to have promising benefits for exercise performance and muscle growth.* Nutritionists can recommend beta-alanine to their clients to further support performance in their training and achieve their fitness goals. As always, talk with your medical professional and/or nutritionist to see if beta-alanine supplementation is right for you.
What is carnosine?
Carnosine is a dipeptide made up of two amino acids, beta-alanine, and histidine. It is found primarily in skeletal muscle, which acts as a buffer to help muscle fibers maintain pH balance during high-intensity exercise. Muscle carnosine is synthesized in the body through the combination of beta-alanine and histidine, but it can also be obtained from dietary sources.
Muscle carnosine plays a critical role in muscle function and endurance. During high-intensity exercise, hydrogen ions are produced, which can increase the acidity of muscle cells and lead to muscle fatigue.
Carnosine acts as a buffer to help neutralize these hydrogen ions, allowing muscles to maintain their pH balance and continue functioning properly.
Foods source of carnosine
While the body can synthesize muscle carnosine, it is also obtained through the diet. Foods that are high in carnosine include meat, poultry, and fish. Vegetarian sources of carnosine include mushrooms and seaweed. However, it is important to note that the amount of carnosine obtained from the diet is relatively small, and supplementation with beta-alanine may help to support muscle carnosine levels in certain situations.*
The body uses muscle carnosine primarily during high-intensity exercise. As the intensity of exercise increases, so does the production of hydrogen ions, which can lead to muscle fatigue. By acting as a buffer to help neutralize these hydrogen ions, muscle carnosine might help delay the onset of fatigue and promote exercise performance.*
Bodybuilders often monitor their muscle carnosine levels as a way to track their training progress and optimize their performance. Increasing muscle carnosine levels through beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to potentially support muscular endurance and training volume, which would then lead to greater muscle growth over time.
There are several ways to monitor muscle carnosine levels. One method is through muscle biopsy, which involves removing a small sample of muscle tissue and analyzing it for carnosine content. However, this method is invasive and can be uncomfortable for the patient.
Another method is proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS), a non-invasive imaging technique that can measure muscle carnosine levels.
Muscle carnosine content
In addition to its effects on exercise performance and reducing fatigue, muscle carnosine has also been shown to have other health benefits. For example, carnosine supplementation may help positively support oxidative stress levels, which is thought to contribute to aging.*
It may also support cognitive function and physical working capacity, although more research is needed to confirm these effects.
While muscle carnosine is important for exercise performance and overall health, it is not typically a nutrient that is of concern for most people. The body can synthesize muscle carnosine from dietary sources, and supplementation with beta-alanine may help increase muscle carnosine levels in individuals looking to improve their athletic performance.
Overall, muscle carnosine is an important dipeptide that plays a critical role in muscle function and endurance. It is synthesized in the body through the combination of beta-alanine and histidine, and can also be obtained from various dietary supplements and sources.
Carnosine buffering capacity
Carnosine buffer refers to the role that muscle carnosine plays in maintaining pH balance in muscle cells during high-intensity exercise. As we exercise, hydrogen ions are produced, which can increase the acidity of muscle cells and lead to fatigue.
However, muscle carnosine acts as a buffer to help neutralize these hydrogen ions, allowing muscles to maintain their pH balance and continue functioning properly.
By acting as a buffer, muscle carnosine can help delay the onset of fatigue and improve exercise performance. This is particularly true for high-intensity exercise, where the production of hydrogen ions is increased. By buffering the effects of sustained release of these hydrogen ions, muscle carnosine might help athletes perform at their best for longer periods.* You can also read about CarnoSyn® beta-alanine.
Beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to play a role on muscle buffering capacity by supporting muscle carnosine levels.* This is important because during high-intensity exercise, the accumulation of hydrogen ions in muscle cells may lead to a decrease in pH, resulting in muscle fatigue and reduced exercise performance.
Hydrogen ions are produced during exercise when the body breaks down carbohydrates to produce energy. As the intensity of exercise increases, so does the production of hydrogen ions. When these hydrogen ions build up in muscle cells, the pH balance of the cell is disrupted, leading to muscle fatigue.
Beta-alanine supplementation may act by supporting the availability of beta-alanine, which is used to synthesize muscle carnosine. Muscle carnosine acts as a buffer to help neutralize hydrogen ions, allowing muscles to maintain their pH balance and potentially continue functioning properly.*
By increasing muscle buffering capacity, beta-alanine supplementation may help delay the onset of muscle fatigue and promote exercise performance, particularly in high-intensity exercise.*
This has been shown in certain studies, with beta-alanine supplementation potentially supporting athletic performance and muscular endurance for specific individuals and populations.
Overall, the relationship between beta-alanine and hydrogen ions seems to be important for maintaining pH balance in muscle cells during high-intensity exercise. As explained, beta-alanine supplementation may help promote muscle buffering capacity, leading to different levels of exercise performance and muscle fatigue.*
Beta-alanine and high-intensity exercise
High-intensity exercise often requires maximal effort. This type of exercise is demanding on the body and can produce large amounts of hydrogen ions, resulting in muscle fatigue and reduced exercise performance.
Several studies have demonstrated the potential of beta-alanine supplementation for high-intensity exercise. In one study, soccer players who supplemented with beta-alanine for six weeks showed a change in their ability to maintain high-intensity exercise performance compared to a placebo group.*
Another study found that beta-alanine supplementation changed high-intensity exercise performance in cyclists, resulting in better time to exhaustion and reduced muscle fatigue.*
Similar results have been found in other studies, with beta-alanine supplementation potentially supporting exercise performance and reducing muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise.*
Beta-alanine supplementation may also be beneficial for football players, particularly those who play positions that require explosive movements and high-intensity exercise. Studies have shown that beta-alanine supplementation may support athletic performance and muscular endurance, which are important for football players.*
In addition, and in the context of football, beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to potentially support muscle fatigue, allowing athletes to perform at their best for longer periods of time.* Football players looking to improve their athletic performance and endurance may benefit from incorporating beta-alanine supplementation into their training regimen.*
It is important to note that the benefits of beta-alanine supplementation for high-intensity exercise are most pronounced in individuals not already highly trained. The benefits of beta-alanine supplementation may be less significant in athletes who are already highly trained. As always, everyone is different and these studies might have looked at only specific factors within a population and so results could drastically change in a different setting.
In conclusion,beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that may play an important role in muscle carnosine synthesis and intracellular buffering capacity. Beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to have potential benefits for exercise performance, muscular endurance, and body composition.* By playing a role in muscle carnosine levels, beta-alanine may help reduce fatigue and delay the onset of muscle soreness, allowing athletes to train harder and longer.*
Some nutritionists recommend beta-alanine supplementation as an alternative way to promote athletic performance and body composition. When combined with other sports supplements, such as sodium bicarbonate, beta-alanine may further boost exercise, athletic performance, and training volume. Beta-alanine is a promising tool for athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking to work on their performance and achieve their fitness goals.*
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Get professional advice if you think you might need a beta-alanine supplement or are already taking one to ensure you're not exceeding the amounts you may need.