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Beta alanine

  • Nano Pure Beta Alanine · 500g
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    Nano Pure Beta Alanine · 500g

    GN Laboratories

    Beta alanine is an amino acid that is often used in pre-workout supplements in particular. However, if you look at the findings of numerous studies...

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  • Epic Strengh · 240g
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    Epic Strengh · 240g

    PEAK

    The foundation for more strength and power With creatine (Creapure®) and beta-alanine Promotes an increase in strength Improves strength endurance...

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  • Beta-Alanine Carno Rush Mega Tabs · 80 Tabletten
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    Beta-Alanine Carno Rush Mega Tabs · 80 tablets

    Olimp Sport Nutrition

    Beta-alanine increases the carnosine level in the muscle and can therefore improve muscle performance No change in hormone levels required to impr...

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  • Beta Alanin Powder · 500g
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    Beta Alanine Powder · 500g

    Zec+

    The ZEC+ Beta Alanine Powder Drink is a versatile supplement for workout, bodybuilding and fitness It is an effective and therefore popular dietary...

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    The Creatine · 316g

    DY Nutrition

    Maximized training performanceWith 6 grams of creatine monohydrate, "The Creatine" massively increases strength and performance in the gym. Imp...

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What is beta-alanine?

B-alanine (C3H7NO2) is a non-essential amino acid and is the only naturally occurring beta amino acid.

While á-alanine is found in many foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, plants and some dairy products, β-alanine is produced in the body by the enzyme beta-ureidopropionase via B-alanine synthase. B-alanine is a breakdown product of carnosine and a component of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).

Beta-alanine is the only naturally occurring beta-amino acid that can be produced enzymatically in the body to a limited extent from the amino acid alanine. Beta-alanine has the unique ability to significantly delay the onset of muscle fatigue, allowing you to perform more repetitions in each training set and more intense training sets during a training session, resulting in increased training effectiveness and muscle building. This effect is not limited to training with weights, which means that endurance athletes can also benefit from supplementing with beta-alanine. As there are numerous human studies that prove the effects of beta-alanine beyond doubt, this supplement is considered by many experts to be the greatest innovation in the field of sports supplementation since the introduction of creatine.

How does beta-alanine work?

During intense muscular exertion, there is an increased production of hydrogen ions within the muscles, which results in a drop in the pH value and an over-acidification of the muscles. The more the pH value drops within the exercised muscles, the more the performance of the muscles decreases until muscle failure finally occurs. Carnosine, the body's strongest intramuscular acid buffer, can effectively counteract this over-acidification of the muscles during training and thus maintain the performance of the trained muscles for longer, which means that you can perform more repetitions with a given weight and provide a stronger stimulus for muscle growth. Carnosine is produced in the human body from beta-alanine and histidine, with the amount of available beta-alanine being the limiting factor in the rate of carnosine production. In other words, the more beta-alanine available in the body, the more carnosine the body produces. Since the body's own beta-alanine production is severely limited, just like the amount of beta-alanine supplied through the normal diet, a significant increase in carnosine production can only be achieved with the help of beta-alanine supplementation. Studies have shown that supplementation with about 3 grams of beta-alanine per day can increase carnosine levels within the muscles by 65% within 4 weeks and that longer supplementation can increase carnosine levels by up to 80%. As an added bonus, carnosine is a precursor to a group of enzymes that are responsible for the production of nitric oxide in the body, which means that increased carnosine levels result in increased nitric oxide production and therefore a stronger muscle pump during training, as well as a better supply of oxygen and nutrients to the trained muscles due to better blood flow.

Who can benefit from beta-alanine supplementation?

In principle, any athlete who wants to increase their endurance and muscle performance and counteract muscle acidification during training can benefit from beta-alanine. Beta-alanine supplementation is particularly interesting for older athletes, as carnosine levels within the muscles continue to fall with increasing age. Since beta-alanine is primarily found in meat in the natural diet, vegetarians, vegans and people who eat little meat can also benefit particularly strongly from beta-alanine supplementation.

What are the main benefits of beta-alanine?

- Increases aerobic and anaerobic muscle endurance - Delays muscle fatigue - Enables harder training with more repetitions for increased muscle growth - Counteracts over-acidification of the muscles during training - Increases explosive muscle strength and muscle endurance - Can increase the concentration of the acid buffer carnosine in the muscles by up to 80% - Boosts the muscle pump during training and improves the transport of nutrients and oxygen to the trained muscles

Mechanisms

Beta-alanine is an amino acid produced in the liver or by intestinal bacteria (11, 12). It combines with histidine in the muscles and brain to form carnosine. Beta-alanine increases carnosine levels in the muscles and brain and helps the muscles resist acid accumulation (11, 13, 14).

Beta-alanine also acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter and neuromodulator. For example, beta-alanine inhibits the uptake of the amino acid taurine into the cells, which can result in oxidative stress, cell damage and respiratory problems (15, 16).

In addition, beta-alanine is a competitive GABA antagonist (blocker), which also inhibits nerve cell activity (17).

During exercise, the intramuscular PH balance of the exercised muscle changes. During anaerobic energy production for muscular movements, hydrogen ions accumulate, which lower the intramuscular PH value and lead to hyperacidity of the muscle - a condition that causes inflammation and triggers muscle failure. Carnosine plays an important role in muscle failure as it acts as an acid buffer, which counteracts acidification of the muscle and thus delays muscle failure.

When taken as a supplement, β-alanine is absorbed by the skeletal muscles and synthesized together with histidine into carnosine with the help of the enzyme carnosine synthase. Studies have shown that β-alanine supplementation can increase intramuscular carnosine levels by up to 64%! (1, 2) Increased intramuscular carnosine levels can increase the acid buffering capacity of a muscle by up to 20%. By increasing the lactate threshold, β-alanine supplementation can dramatically delay muscle fatigue (3) and significantly improve work capacity and muscle performance.

Potential benefits of beta-alanine for health and performance

Beta-alanine can increase athletic performance

Two meta-analyses of studies involving a total of 18,000 subjects concluded that beta-alanine increases strength and training capacity, but not performance. Beta-alanine was most effective in activities lasting 30 to 10 minutes (18, 19). The effect varied based on the condition of the subjects and the type of exercise. For example, beta-alanine was able to increase performance during high-intensity exercise of short duration (anaerobic exercise lasting from one to four minutes) (11).

In addition, beta-alanine was able to increase training volume and performance during resistance training in athletes, which could also improve performance in the athletes' primary sport (20).

For example, in a six-week study of 15 male water polo players, beta-alanine was shown to improve throwing speed and 200-meter swimming performance with a daily intake of 6.4 grams (21).

In another study of 25 female soccer players, beta-alanine improved performance in repeated sprints and jumps and increased endurance. Similar results were observed in a study of 20 soldiers (22, 23).

However, other studies have concluded that beta-alanine did not improve repeated sprint performance in athletes taking 6 grams of beta-alanine daily (24, 25, 26). Overall, trends suggest that non-athletes may benefit from beta-alanine in laboratory studies, but not in field tests. In athletes, however, improvements in athletic performance and high-intensity exercise have been observed. In team sports, beta-alanine appears to be able to increase performance and volume during resistance training (20).

Studies with soldiers

A study review was able to show that beta-alanine was able to increase the performance of soldiers, which was observed in particular during repeated, high-intensity activities during combat training (27).

In a four-week study with 20 elite soldiers, beta-alanine improved jumping power, shooting speed and accuracy (23).

Another study with 18 elite soldiers showed mixed results. Beta-alanine improved speed in a 50-meter carry exercise and improved cognitive performance under stress. However, it did not improve performance in running, sprinting or accuracy (28).

Beta-alanine can delay the onset of fatigue and reduce lactic acid production in muscles

Several human studies have concluded that beta-alanine delays the onset of fatigue. However, it is important to note that there are few studies that have investigated its safety (28, 29, 30).

A meta-analysis of studies involving a total of 360 subjects showed that beta-alanine improved performance during high-intensity exercise lasting longer than one minute (18). A study review on the topic found that beta-alanine reduced lactic acid production during high-intensity anaerobic exercise, which delayed fatigue (31). In a four-week study, beta-alanine reduced acid production in muscle during high-intensity cycling exercise (32). Beta-alanine also reduced fatigue in 2 studies involving 15 trained sprinters and 51 non-athletic participants (30, 33).

However, the individual improvements vary greatly from person to person. In a five-week sprint study with 11 men, beta-alanine neither increased performance nor reduced fatigue (34).

In summary, the evidence supporting a role for beta-alanine in reducing lactic acidosis and fatigue is promising, although there are some conflicting studies.

Beta-alanine could promote muscle growth

In a three-week study of 46 men performing high-intensity interval training, beta-alanine increased oxygen uptake, respiratory threshold (the point in exercise where oxygen use exceeds oxygen intake), endurance and stamina, and lean muscle mass (35).

In a similar eight-week study of 44 women, beta-alanine reduced body fat percentage and increased both lean body mass and total body mass (36).

Beta-alanine could have anti-ageing properties

Preliminary research suggests that beta-alanine may be beneficial for older people. In a three-month study of 18 older people, beta-alanine was observed to increase exercise capacity in the subjects (9).

Beta-alanine also improved leg muscle function in old mice (37). Beta-alanine forms the molecule carnosine in the muscles. Carnosine reduced stress associated with aging in old rats. This type of stress damages cells and increases the risk of age-related chronic diseases (38, 13, 39, 40).

In old mice, a combination of beta-alanine and epigallocatechin gallate increased lifespan (41).

Here too, further studies are needed before meaningful conclusions can be drawn.

Beta-alanine could improve cognitive function under stress

In a study of 18 elite soldiers, beta-alanine improved cognitive performance during combat training (28).

However, in other studies with 20 elite soldiers and 19 athletes, no improvement in brain function was observed either under stress or in normal conditions (23, 42). Due to these contradictory results, further studies are needed to shed more light on the effects of beta-alanine on cognitive function under stress.

Beta-alanine could help with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder

Beta-alanine increases carnosine and serotonin levels in the brain. Carnosine has been shown to reduce anxiety in rodents. It increased the levels of the anxiety-relieving molecule brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is lower in rats with post-traumatic stress disorder. Beta-alanine may alleviate anxiety by maintaining normal levels of this molecule in the brain (43, 44, 45).

Beta-alanine may also reduce behaviors typical of post-traumatic stress disorder. In rats, beta-alanine improved behavioral patterns of post-traumatic stress disorder and maintained normal levels of BDNF (43).

In contrast, a similar study conducted with rodents showed no behavioral improvements (14).

Beta-alanine could have positive effects on brain injuries

In rats, beta-alanine reduced behavioral changes after mild traumatic brain injury (14).

Beta-alanine could improve body composition

Some evidence suggests that beta-alanine may have a positive effect on body composition.

One study showed that supplementation with beta-alanine for three weeks increased muscle mass (28). It is possible that beta-alanine could improve body composition by increasing training volume and promoting muscle growth. However, other studies have not observed significant differences in body composition and body weight following beta-alanine supplementation (46, 47).

Other health benefits of beta-alanine

Beta-alanine increases carnosine levels, which may have numerous health benefits. Interestingly, animal and test tube studies suggest that carnosine has antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties, but this has yet to be confirmed in human studies.

The antioxidant benefits of carnosine include neutralization of free radicals and a reduction in oxidative stress (48, 49, 50).

In addition, test tube studies suggest that carnosine increases nitric oxide production. This could help slow down the aging process and improve heart health (51).

Finally, carnosine may improve muscle quality and function in older people (52, 53).

Possible combinations of beta-alanine with other supplements

Beta-alanine is often combined with other supplements including sodium bicarbonate and creatine.

Sodium bicarbonate

Sodium bicarbonate enhances exercise performance by reducing blood and muscle acidity (54).

Many studies have combined beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate. The results suggest some benefits of this combination of supplements - especially during exercise, during which muscle acidification reduces performance (55, 56).

Creatine

Recent scientific studies show that beta-alanine has additional benefits when combined with creatine monohydrate (4). One study showed that combined beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation had a synergistic effect that dramatically increased strength release (5). In addition, the gains in lean body mass and strength, as well as the reduction in body fat, were significantly greater than with creatine monohydrate supplementation alone (6).

Beta-alanine is thought to enhance the effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation through its ability to increase carnosine concentration and improve anaerobic energy system function, while creatine helps to increase high-intensity exercise performance by increasing ATP availability.

Indeed, it has been shown that a combination of creatine and beta-alanine can increase exercise performance, strength and lean muscle mass (57, 58, 59).

Taurine

High concentrations of beta-alanine reduced taurine levels in rats (17). However, the dosage of beta-alanine recommended for humans is probably too low to significantly reduce taurine levels in the body (66). For example, a ten-week study of 13 men showed that beta-alanine supplementation did not reduce taurine levels (67).

Taurine supplementation prevents a possible reduction in taurine levels due to beta-alanine. The combination of beta-alanine and taurine helped mice fight muscle fatigue (68).

Who needs it?

Women and vegetarians have lower muscle carnosine levels than men and meat eaters. Furthermore, muscle carnosine levels decrease with age (8, 9). In addition to this, body composition and muscle fiber composition also influence the impact of beta-alanine on physical performance.

Groups of people who may benefit most from beta-alanine supplementation include (10):

  • Women
  • Older people
  • Vegetarians
  • People with high amounts of type I muscle fibers / low amounts of type II muscle fibers

How much should I take and are there any side effects?

The recommended dosage on the label should be followed exactly. Studies have shown that the maximum effect can be observed after a ten-week intake (7). Dosage and timing can influence the results of beta-alanine supplementation. Beta-alanine-induced improvements in exercise performance have been observed with the use of higher doses (3.2 to 6.4 grams per day) for at least one month (12).

The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends 4 to 6 grams of beta-alanine per day for at least 4 weeks. This dose can be taken all at once or divided into several single doses to reduce the typical tingling sensation (60)

A dosage of up to 12 grams per day (with sustained release) is considered safe and effective (61).

Taking beta-alanine with a meal can further increase carnosine levels (62). Interestingly, taking a beta-alanine supplement appears to be better than taking carnosine when it comes to increasing carnosine levels (63).

Safety and side effects

High doses may cause a slight reddening of the skin and a tingling sensation known as paraesthesia, which is usually felt on the face, neck and back of the hands. This effect is harmless and disappears over time when the dose is reduced.

The intensity of this tingling increases with the dosage used. This side effect can be avoided if smaller single doses - in the range of 800 mg each - are used several times throughout the day (64).

There is no evidence that paraesthesia could be harmful in any way (65). Another possible side effect is a reduction in taurine levels in the body. This is due to the fact that beta-alanine and taurine compete with each other for uptake into the muscles.

There is also evidence that beta-alanine may cause oxidative stress, although this evidence is not conclusive. For example, a study conducted with cells from rats suffering from hyper-beta-alaninemia concluded that beta-alanine increased free radical levels, reduced oxygen delivery and caused mitochondrial death. This reduced cellular energy production and induced oxidative stress, which can lead to heart failure (15).

In rats, chronic supplementation increased levels of reactive oxygen species in the brain and reduced antioxidant activity (17).

However, the molecular by-product of beta-alanine - carnosine - acts as an antioxidant that protected against Parkinson's disease in rats. In rat brains, carnosine inhibited programmed cell death of brain cells, increased antioxidant levels and reduced levels of reactive oxygen species (38, 69).

People who have the rare genetic defect called hyper-beta-alaninemia should not take beta-alanine.

Conclusion

Beta-alanine enhances performance by increasing exercise capacity and reducing muscle fatigue.

It also has antioxidant properties, immune function enhancing properties and anti-ageing properties.

References

  1. Dunnett M & Harris RC: Influence of oral beta-alanine and L-histidine supplementation on the carnosine content of gluteus medius. Equine Vet J 30: 499 - 504, 1999.
  2. Harris RC, Tallon MJ, Dunnett M, Hill C, Boobis L, Coakley J, Fallowfield J, Kim HJ, Wise JA. The absorption of β-Alanine into blood and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. In press. Amino Acids (2006).
  3. Tallon MJ, Harris RC, Boobis L, Fallowfield J, Wise JA. The carnosine content of vastus lateralis is elevated in resistance trained bodybuilders. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 19: 725-729, 2005.
  4. Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O'kroy JA, Torok DJ, Mielke M. Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustion. Amino Acids. 2006 Sep 5.
  5. Harris, R. FASEB. Effect of Combined Beta-Alanine and Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Exercise Performance.
  6. Hoffman J, Stout JR, et al. Effect of creatine and ß-Alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. In press. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2006).
  7. Hill, Harris, Kim, Harris, Sale, Boobis, Kim, Wise. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity.Amino Acids. 2006. July 28
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