High-Intensity-Workout

This Amino Acid Beats Creatine After 60 Seconds


The Beta-Alanine Advantage

It does what creatine canโ€™t โ€“ it prolongs muscle performance in activities that last longer than 60 seconds.

Take creatine consistently and itโ€™ll support your ATP-PCr energy system so you can do more reps. The trouble is, once your set extends beyond 60 seconds, creatineโ€™s not much help. That wasnโ€™t a problem in the past for lifters because they rarely did any lifting that lasted longer than a minute.

Enter CrossFit, HIIT, and interval training. All these exercise modalities involve 1 to 5-minute-long bouts, typically with rest intervals lasting less than 2 minutes. In cases like that, creatine sits on the sidelines. For any activity lasting longer than 60 seconds, beta-alanine beats creatine. Itโ€™s a non-essential amino acid that increases the amount of work you can do at high intensities.

The Studies

Studies consistently show that beta-alanine increases strength, muscle-power output, training volume, high-intensity exercise performance, and aerobic capacity in a variety of sports. In one of the largest published studies on beta-alanine, researchers found that it improves athletic performance by 10.49%.

Soccer players who ingested about 3 grams of beta-alanine every day for 12 weeks increased their performance by over 34%, compared to -8% in a group receiving a placebo. Boxers who took 1.5 grams of beta-alanine four times a day increased the force of their punches by 20 times and the rate at which they threw punches by four times, compared to a placebo group.

Another study, this one involving competitive rowers, found that beta-alanine improved 2,000-meter rowing performance by 2.9 seconds, equivalent to at least a couple of scull lengths.

Even the military found direct evidence supporting the use of beta-alanine to enhance combat-specific performance: it increases cognition while under stress.

Since itโ€™s a hybrid between GABA and L-glycine, two powerful neurotransmitters, many scientists also classify beta-alanine as a secondary neurotransmitter, which is why users also benefit from its stimulatory effects.

How Does Beta-Alanine Improve Performance?

Carnosine is a di-peptide molecule made of two amino acids: histidine and beta-alanine. If you ingest more beta-alanine, you create more carnosine. Carnosine sucks up reactive oxygen species, which soar super-high during exercise.

More importantly, carnosine protects against the build-up of hydrogen ions during high-intensity exercise. This prevents pH from dropping, preventing the loss or diminution of enzyme function and muscle-excitation coupling you need to keep on training.

In short, youโ€™ll notice that you can push an exercise harder for longer.

Whatโ€™s the Best Way to Take Beta-Alanine?

You canโ€™t just take beta-alanine right now and expect it to kick in 15 minutes as you pull into the gym parking lot. Beta-alanine gradually builds up levels of muscle carnosine.

In fact, the size of individual doses doesnโ€™t even matter much. Instead, itโ€™s the total dose over time that affects muscle carnosine levels. Furthermore, carnosine has a super long clearance rate in the muscle, so pretty much the longer you take it, the better youโ€™ll be able to perform any form of exercise lasting between 1 and 5 minutes. If you stopped taking it, levels would decline at the rate of approximately 2% every two weeks, which is super-slow as far as clearance rates go.

And remember, beta-alanine is also considered a secondary neurotransmitter โ€“ it has a stimulatory effect. Unlike the endurance and strength-building capacities of beta-alanine which take a few days to kick in, the stimulatory properties kick in within minutes.

Can I Still Take Creatine?

Of course. Creatine (Buy at Amazon) and beta-alanine together are a great stack for varied workouts and high-intensity sports.

Where Do I Find Beta-Alanine?

In Surge Workout Nutrition (Buy at Amazon), beta-alanine is stacked with other ergogenic compounds like citrulline malate and betaine. All three of these, when combined with Surgeโ€™s large amounts of L-leucine and cyclic dextrin, maximize strength and explosiveness while minimizing exercise fatigue.

In Spike Energy Drink (Buy at Amazon) and Colorado Crush (Buy at Amazon), beta-alanineโ€™s neurotransmitter capabilities add to those of acetyl-l-carnitine and caffeine to help you mentally and physically muscle your way through a tough workout.

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References

  1. Artioli GG et al. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1162-73. PubMed.
  2. Derave W et al. beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Nov;103(5):1736-43. PubMed.
  3. Derave W et al. Muscle carnosine metabolism and beta-alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training. Sports Med. 2010 Mar 1;40(3):247-63. PubMed.
  4. Donovan T et al. ฮฒ-Alanine Improves Punch Force and Frequency in Amateur Boxers During a Simulated Contest. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Oct;22(5):331-7. PubMed.
  5. Hill CA et al. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids. 2007 Feb;32(2):225-33. PubMed.
  6. Hoffman JR et al. ฮฒ-Alanine supplementation and military performance. Amino Acids. 2015 Dec;47(12):2463-74. PubMed.

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