Beta Alanine Supplement Review By Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com
Beta Alanine (BA) is a popular supplement widely used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve performance. BA is a non-essential amino acid and is the only naturally occurring beta amino acid. It is "non-essential" because it is produced in our bodies. Some bodybuilders are touting BA as the "new creatine" because of its purported ability to enhance performance-let's see what the facts say and find out if it's really true.
Amino acids of course are organic compounds that are the building blocks of protein, which in turn is the primary fuel for muscle growth. And though BA-also known as-3-aminopropanoic acid-is an amino acid, it is in fact a non-proteinogenic amino acid, which means that it cannot be synthesized into a protein. Since it can't be synthesized into a protein, how does BA improve performance?
The efficacy of BA appears to stem from the fact that it's a pre-cursor to converting to carnosine in muscles. That's important to know because in our bodies, muscle carnosine synthesis is limited by the availability of beta-alanine. And you may already know that carnosine is important to performance because it acts as a buffering agent, helping to delay the onset of muscular failure. So the theory goes that an increase in the availability of BA should result in a higher degree of muscle carnosine synthesis, which should result in enhanced performance.
In talking about alanine, you've probably also heard about a-alanine. Though they sound similar, BA and a-alanine are really very different from one another-and the difference is important to know. For example, whereas a-alanine is involved in enzyme function and protein synthesis, beta-alanine is not. Unlike a-alanine, BA's role appears to be solely limited to fostering higher levels of muscle carnosine.
Over the past several years, a number of researchers have decided to put this theory to the test. For instance, one group of researchers studied a group of 33 college football players over a period of ten weeks. They found a clear connection between BA supplementation and enhanced performance.
Another study, conducted at the University of Oklahoma, showed that supplementing with BA measurably improved athletes' endurance. Other studies have shown similar results.
Like I mentioned earlier, the theory is that BA results in an increase of muscle carnosine concentrations and test results appear to confirm that. In another trial, among a group of 13 athletes supplementing with BA, their muscle carnosine levels were measured at 4 weeks and at 10 weeks. After 4 weeks, the carnosine level had jumped by nearly 59% and had skyrocketed more than 80% after 10 weeks.
Interestingly, when BA is taken along with creatine, the outcome is even better. In another study, participants took not only BA, but creatine as well. These tests showed that the performance of the creatine plus BA group was significantly higher than both the creatine-alone and the placebo groups.
The trials that included both supplements showed a synergism between the two that considerably improved the results over the control group and those that supplemented just with BA. In these tests-in comparison to the other two groups-the duo supplement athletes showed a greater increase in their training volume, their strength was greater, their endurance was improved, they added lean mass and dropped body fat.
In fact, in the studies this group showed a more than 1% drop in overall body fat percentage despite the fact that they were not on a calorie-restricted diet. Again, the synergism between the creatine and BA appears to kick the body's metabolism into high gear, resulting in significantly increased fat burning capacity. That may not seem like a big difference but if you're competing, it can make a world of difference. It's especially interesting because neither supplement-when taken alone-has been identified with a decrease in body fat percentage.
Because BA is a non-essential nutrient, there is no established recommended daily allowance for human consumption. In the research studies I mentioned, the daily BA dosage ranged from 3.2 grams to 6 grams. As you can see, in the studies the impact of BA hit its max at about 10 weeks.
So based on both a battery of scientific studies, along with plenty of anecdotal evidence, there seems to be little doubt that beta-alanine can certainly be a worthwhile and effective supplement-especially if it is taken along with creatine. Not only could it result in improved performance and endurance but the combination could also help you to add lean mass and drop your body fat percentage by a point or two-definitely things we like to see.
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