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All about beta-alanine

Posted by on November 09, 2017 . .
Perhaps you already know what this beta-alanine is and how it is felt, but what is its purpose, and what does it do? Through this article, you will learn everything you need to know! Beta-alanine is a technically replaceable beta-amino acid, however, in the world of bodybuilding and sports nutrition without it simply does not. Also known under the trade name CarnoSyn®, beta-alanine has become a real star, thanks to claims that it can increase carnosine levels in muscles, as well as athletic performance during high-intensity training.
 
In addition, beta-alanine is known for the "tingling" effect, which you must have sensed - and perhaps got scared - after the first pre-training meal of a food supplement containing this beta-amino acid. Beta-alanine can provide a real increase in athletic performance, however, it has unique chemical properties that need to be understood. In addition, he has a unique two-stroke connection with our old kind friend taurine, which must also be taken into account. Beta-alanine can earn a permanent place in your dietary arsenal. In this regard, in order to finally decide whether you should accept it or not, I will give you scientifically-confirmed information, everything you really need to know about this nutrient.
 
What is it?
 
Beta-alanine or 3-aminopropionic acid is a natural beta-amino acid and a component of histidine-containing dipeptides (carnosine and anserine), as well as vitamin B3, that is, pantothenic acid. Structurally, beta-alanine is a hybrid of such potent neurotransmitters as L-glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid, which can explain the possibility of caffeine effect as a result of its consumption. In addition, many scientists even advocate the secondary classification of beta-alanine as a neurotransmitter. The human body produces beta-alanine in at least three ways.
 
It can be released by cleavage of histidine-containing dipeptides, such as carnosine or anserine, or may be formed as a by-product of the reaction that converts L-alanine to pyruvate. In addition, beta-alanine can form during digestion, when intestinal microorganisms remove a carbon atom from L-aspartate, releasing beta-alanine and carbon dioxide. When beta-alanine is consumed as a food supplement, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and penetrates the skeletal muscles through the beta-alanine and taurine transporter, a process that depends on the bioavailability of sodium and chloride. Once it enters the skeletal muscle cells, it binds to the essential amino acid L-histidine in order to form a dipeptide of carnosine, and that's where it all begins.
 
What does he do?
 
The sports benefits of beta-alanine are related to its ability to increase the level of carnosine in the muscles. Beta-alanine is the limiting amino acid in the synthesis of carnosine, which means that its presence in the bloodstream is directly related to the concentration of carnosine in the muscles. To date, absolutely all studies using beta-alanine show a significant increase in muscle carnosine levels. This is a contrast to other cult food additives, such as creatine, which may or may not give effects, depending on the person. In this case, beta-alanine does not just work widely, it works well. In one study, consumption of beta-alanine as a dietary supplement showed an increase in muscle carnosine concentrations of up to 58 percent in just four weeks and up to 80 percent in 10 weeks.
 
But what is so special about this carnosine? - you ask. Well, besides being a powerful antioxidant, this peptide is one of the first defensive lines against the accumulation of hydrogen ions (H +) in muscles during high intensity training. Increasing the level of H + causes a significant decrease in the level of acidity in muscle cells, which negatively affects the function of enzymes and muscle paired activation-contraction events that support a prolonged high-intensity effort. Simply put, lowering acidity is the main culprit of muscle fatigue. In addition, the concentration of carnosine in the muscles is associated with a high percentage of fast-twitch type II muscle fibers. For this reason, sprinters and natural muscle freaks have high levels of muscle carnosine. As a rule, men have a higher level of carnosine in the muscles than women, most likely because the enzyme that cleaves carnosine is more active in women.
 
What are the positive effects in terms of training and athletic performance?
 
If you need to increase muscular performance for physical activity of short-medium duration, then beta-alanine in this case is practically not equal, there are only a few nutritional supplements with a similar effect. In particular, beta-alanine is most effective in maintaining a load of more than 60 seconds. But in shorter periods it no longer has a special efficiency or consistency, since in this case the energy system ATP-creatine phosphate is dominant.
 
For example, in one of the first published studies of beta-alanine and human athletic performance, subjects received a placebo, either 20 grams of creatine monohydrate per day, or 800 milligrams of beta-alanine four times a day, or the same dose of beta-alanine plus 20 grams creatine monohydrate. In both groups receiving beta-alanine, there was a significant increase in maximum power output in a four-minute bike test with maximum intensity compared to those who received a placebo or only creatine. The most significant improvements were noted at the first and fourth minutes of the test.
 
After this early study, beta-alanine showed a steady increase in muscle output, increased strength, training volume, increased performance with high-intensity load and peak oxygen consumption (improved aerobic capacity). In the last experiment, players who took 3.2 grams of beta-alanine daily for 12 weeks of the competitive season had an average increase in athletic performance of 34.3 percent compared to -7.6 percent in those who received a placebo. Incidentally, if we take into account the analysis of the responses of all subjects, then those who took beta-alanine, the improvement varied from 0 to 72.7 percent, while in the placebo group the response ranged from -37.5 to +14.7 percent.
 
Similarly, UK scientists presented results demonstrating that, compared to placebo, the daily intake of six grams of beta-alanine (four times a day for 1.5 grams) for four weeks increased the impact of amateur boxers by 20 times, and the frequency of strokes in four times. Nevertheless, when using long (2-5 minutes) rest periods between sets of a high-intensity strength training session, the effects of beta-alanine were insignificant. In this regard, for the sake of maximizing the effects of beta-alanine, I recommend using a high-intensity bodybuilding training program, high-intensity interval training, Crossfit or 1-5-minute refusal training periods with short rest intervals of no more than 2 minutes.
 
Are there any side effects?
 
Beta-alanine has its own built-in dosage regulator. Perhaps you felt it in your hands and neck when you first consumed a pre-training supplement containing this compound. The scientific name of this "pricking" is acute paresthesia. In addition, it can also be a burning sensation, itching or a rush of blood to the head or ears. Doses of beta-alanine exceeding 800 milligrams - less than half of one scoop of some popular pre-exercise food supplements - tend to cause mild or severe paresthesia lasting 60-90 minutes. In one study, subjects received three grams of beta-alanine at a time, after which a very strong paresthesia effect was observed.
 
If paresthesia presents a problem for you, then I recommend limiting the initial intake of beta-alanine about 800-1200 milligrams every three to four hours for at least four weeks. This will be enough to get positive effects without side effects. If you take beta-alanine on an empty stomach, then its concentration in the blood will actually start to grow faster, however, together with this, it is possible to increase the probability of occurrence of paresthesia effects.
 
In addition, people who consume beta-alanine in order to obtain a stimulating response report a more persistent effect when taken on an empty stomach. Nevertheless, when using beta-alanine for the sake of improving athletic performance, it does not really matter, since each dose simply adds to the previous, gradually increasing the concentration of carnosine, regardless of the presence of food in the stomach.
 
Conclusion
 
I strongly recommend including in your arsenal of beta-alanine absolutely to all athletes, since after creatine it is probably the most effective food supplement that improves athletic performance. Time and further research will help to correct the necessary dosage and reception, providing us with a clear picture of the safety and efficacy of beta-alanine in the long term, as well as information on compounds that can enhance its positive effects. At the moment, there are many evidences demonstrating the incredible benefits of regular consumption of beta-alanine by athletes - especially vegetarians, ectomorphs (which are difficult to gain weight) and women.
 
Last update: November 09, 2017