Beta-Alanine: The Facts.
With literally hundreds of different supplements available and so many that are based on bogus claims and ridiculous hype, it’s almost impossible to find even one that delivers results.
If you’ve rummaged through the garbage of the supplement scrap heap, you know that finding any science or real-world proof is a waste of time. Beta-Alanine is the exception.
Finally, a supplement that actually lives up to its claims. Beta-Alanine efficacy is backed by major university, peer-reviewed studies performed on humans, not a cell, rat or goat study upon which other products typically base claims.
The science behind beta-alanine is simple, it makes sense and it works.
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid and is the only naturally occurring beta-amino acid. Not to be confused with regular alanine, beta- alanine is classified as a non-proteinogenic amino acid, as it is not believed to be used in the building of proteins.
Below is a list of the benefits from beta-alanine, supported by peer-reviewed university research, published in reputable science journals.
Benefits of Beta-Alanine as supported by scientific studies:
Increase Muscular Strength & Power Output.
Increases Muscle Mass
Increase Anaerobic Endurance
Increases Aerobic Endurance
Delay Muscular Fatigue- Train Harder & Longer
What causes our muscles to lose strength,power and endurance during intense exercise?
When we exercise, especially when it’s high intensity exercise, our bodies accumulate a large amount of hydrogen ions (H+), causing our muscles’ pH to drop (become more acidic). This process is occurring whether you feel a burn or not.
The breakdown of ATP and the subsequent rise in H+ concentrations occur in all of our energy systems but H+ buildup is most prevalent in an energy system called glycolysis, which also produces lactic acid.
As our muscles pH quickly drops, so does their ability to contract forcibly and maintain a high level of performance throughout your 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 gains.
In a nutshell, H+ causes your muscles pH to drop, in turn decreasing your strength and causing you to fatigue faster. These limitations stop you from adequately overloading your muscles and forcing NEW muscle gains
So how can 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 being is, beta-alanine’s performance benefits are not direct but realized through its ability to boost the synthesis of carnosine.
Background on carnosine:
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.
How does carnosine work?
Carnosine helps stabilize muscular pH by soaking up hydrogen ions (H+) that are released at an accelerated rate during exercise.
Our bodies work to keep our pH in balance by utilizing various buffering systems. Buffers largely work by soaking up H+ to maintain optimal pH balance, which we need to function most effectively. As mentioned above, our muscles function best in a specific pH range. When pH drops below that range, so does muscular performance. By helping to keep us in a more optimal pH range, our muscles can continue to contract forcibly for a longer time.
Aside from carnosine being just where we need it, buffering H+ inside our cells, it has additional, unique attributes that make it really shine. Carnosine is unique; in that, other natural buffering systems our bodies use are also used in many other cellular reactions aside from buffering, watering down much of their buffering abilities. However, what makes carnosine really exciting, is that by supplementing with extra beta-alanine, we can specifically and dramatically increase carnosine levels. How much, you ask?
Researchers have shown that when supplementing with beta-alanine for just 4 weeks, we can increase our carnosine concentration by 42-65%. Longer beta-alanine studies going up to 10-12 weeks, show carnosine concentrations increased up to 80%.
This is a tremendous increase in an already powerful intracellular buffer. It is this large increase in buffering capacity within our muscles that is largely responsible for the strength, lean body mass, power and muscular endurance gains that researchers are seeing from beta-alanine studies.
By boosting carnosine concentrations, with beta-alanine, our type 2 muscle fibers can soak up more H+ and stay in an optimal pH range. By keeping our type 2 muscle fibers in an optimal pH range, they are better able to maintain maximal strength and endurance throughout your workout session and bring on new muscle gains.