|Infinite One Series: Beta Alanine|
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that in combination with the essential amino acid, histidine, results in the formation of carnosine within the muscle cell. Carnosine is recognized as a pH buffer, because of its H+ buffering capability, increased carnosine concentration in skeletal muscle has been associated with enhancing muscle buffering capacity and attenuating fatigue. Being able to crank out a few more reps and do a few more sets is what muscle growth is all about! If you are not the high-intensity type, than beta-alanine may not work well for you as previous research reported that beta-alanine supplementation may not affect performance unless exercise intensity and duration induced high levels of blood lactate. Researchers found that increases in training volume and significantly lower subjective feelings of fatigue during 60-second maximal exercise, thus supporting the notion that beta-alanine supplementation may be most effective under high lactate producing conditions.
Researchers examined the effectiveness of beta-alanine as an ergogenic aid in tests of anaerobic power output after eight weeks of a high-intensity interval, repeated sprint, and resistance training in previously trained collegiate wrestlers and football players. Each subject ingested either 4 grams per day of beta-alanine or placebo in powdered capsule form. After eight weeks, the group of wrestlers who received beta-alanine increased lean mass (+1.1 lb) despite losing overall body weight. Despite similar calorie levels, the control group lost lean muscle mass. Both football player groups, supplement and placebo, gained nearly identical amounts of body weight (about 2.5 lb), but the group taking beta-alanine gained 1 lb more lean mass. The football-consuming group taking beta-alanine doubled their muscle mass compared to the control group. So beta-alanine can be used while dieting for a show to increase muscle mass as demonstrated by the wrestling group whom were on a calorie restricted diet or you can take beta-alanine in the off-season to pack on additional mass as demonstrated by the football group.
Beta-Alanine Increases Increase Maximal Strength and Repetitions to Failure
Most athletes are aware that beta-alanine has performance-enhancing effects in the gym. An early study reported that knee-extension force was significantly increased during five sets of 30 maximal contractions by Beta-Alanine supplementation, whereas, in the placebo group, only the first two bouts were improved. This shows that in trained athletes performing repeated exhaustive contractions; muscle fatigue can be reduced in the later (bouts 4 and 5) stages of exercise with beta-alanine. Beta-alanine enhances the concentrations of carnosine in the muscle. Elevated levels of muscle carnosine content leads to an improvement in muscle force during repeated bouts of intense dynamic contractions. A new study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that Beta-Alanine could also improve isometric contractions. When subjects were administered 6.4 grams of Beta-Alanine for four weeks, their maximal voluntary isometric-contraction strength improved. So taking beta- alanine will l likely help with local muscle endurance and improved time under tension when in the gym, which can lead to greater muscle growth.
Sale C, et al., J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 14;9(1):June 26, 2012.
Kern BD, Robinson TL. Effects of β-Alanine Supplementation on Performance and Body Composition in Collegiate Wrestlers and Football Players. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jul;25(7):1804-15.