Beta-Alanine is widely used to help athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and bodybuilders to improve performance. It is a non-essential amino acid found in chicken, beef, pork, and fish (proteins). Amino acids are the free form building blocks of protein, which are utilized as the fuel for muscular endurance and growth. Beta-Alanine’s role in the body is to promote high intramuscular concentrations of Carnosine (which is comprised of the amino acids Histidine and alanine). Carnosine buffers lactic acid by maintaining optimal muscle pH balance during high intensity anaerobic activity.

Summary

In short Beta-Alanine buffers lactic acid, delays muscle fatigue, allows you to train longer, harder, improves oxygen utilization, and enhances anaerobic threshold and time to exhaustion.
Science

High intensity activity causes a buildup of hydrogen ions in our muscles. When this happens the pH in our muscles drops and becomes more acidic. This process creates lactic acid. Lactic acid inhibits your muscles from fully and powerfully contracting and become fatigued. This in turn limits performance and endurance. This process occurs whether you feel a “burn” or not. The breakdown of ATP and the rise in hydrogen ions cause a drop in pH due to the process; glycolysis, which produces lactic acid.
To understand how Beta-Alanine benefits your muscles you must first understand Carnosine and how Beta-Alanine promotes the synthesis of it. Carnosine is a naturally occurring di-peptide that is found in Type 1 and 2 muscle fibers. Type 2 muscle fibers are used in high intensity strength activates and are most responsive to muscular growth. Carnosine stabilizes optimal muscular pH levels by “soaking” up hydrogen ions, thus delaying the buildup of lactic acid and muscular fatigue, allowing your muscles to contract as forcible as possible for extended periods of time.
Research

Beta-Alanine for Cyclists and Sprint Performance
In April 2009 “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” investigated the effect of beta alanine on cyclists. They measured sprint performance at the end of an endurance cycling race. Compared to the placebo, Beta-Alanine supplementation significantly enhanced sprint performance.
Beta-Alanine for Lean Strength Gains
High concentrations of Carnosine and the ability to maintain optimal pH balance and buffer lactic acid is largely responsible for strength, lean body mass, power and muscular endurance gains. Extended high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with beta alanine supplementation resulted in significant increases in lean body mass compared to HIIT alone. Researchers recommend taking between 3.2 and 6.4 grams of beta alanine per day to significantly boost Carnosine levels to improve performance and increase lean muscle gains.Increased Carnosine Concentrations

Supplementing with Beta-Alanine for 4 weeks has shown to increase Carnosine concentration by 42-65%. Longer studies (10-12 weeks) have shown to increase Carnosine concentration by up to 80%. The increased concentration of Carnosine due to Beta-Alanine is largely responsible for strength, lean body mass, power, and muscular endurance gains.

Benefits

◦Increase Muscular Strength/Power Output.
◦Increase Lean Muscle Mass
◦Increase Anaerobic and Aerobic Endurance
◦Delay Muscular Fatigue
◦Train Harder, Longer
References

1. “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise”: “The Role of Beta Alanine Supplementation on Muscle Carnosine and Exercise Performance”
2. “Amino Acids”: “Effect of Beta Alanine Supplementation on Muscle Carnosine Concentrations and Exercise Performance”
3. “International Journal of Sports Medicine”: “Beta Alanine and the Hormonal Response to Exercise”
4. “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research”: “Effects of Twenty-Eight Days of Beta Alanine and Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on the Physical Working Capacity at Neuromuscular Fatigue Threshold”
5. “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise”: “Beta Alanine Improves Sprint Performance in Endurance Cycling”
6. Hoffman J, Ratamess N, Kang J, Mangine G, Faigenbaum A, Stout J. (2006) Effect of Creatine and ß-Alanine Supplementation on Performance and Endocrine Responses in Strength/Power Athletes. IJSNEM, 16(4).
7. Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O’kroy JA, Torok DJ, Mielke M.(2006) Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustion. Amino Acids, 1-6
8. Harris RC, Tallon MJ Dunnett M, Boobis L, Coakley J, Kim HJ, Fallowfield JL, Hill CA, Sale C, Wise JA (2006) The absorption of orally supplied §-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids, March.
9. Harris RC, Ponte J, Sale C, Jones GA, Kim HJ, Wise JA. Effect of 14 and 28 days B-Alanine(Carnosynâ„¢) supplementation on isometric endurance of the knee extensors.Univeristy of Chichester, Chichester UK; Korea National Sport Univeristy, Seoul Korea. Poster Presentation
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11. Harris, R C.; Hill, C; Wise, J A. (2003) Effect of combined Beta-Alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on exercise performance.Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Volume 35(5) Supplement 1 May 2003 p S218
12. Harris RC, Dunnett M, Greenhaff PL(1998) Carnosine & Taurine contents in individual fibers in human vastus lateralis muscles. J Sports Sci 16: 639-643.
13. Hill CA, Harris RC, Kim HJ, Harris BD, Sale C, Boobis LH, Kim CK, Wise JA (2006) Influence of b- alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity Amino Acids.
14. Hill C. A., R. C. Harris, H. J. Kim, L. Boobis, C. Sale, J. A. Wise. “The effect of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on muscle composition and exercise performance.” (Presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual conference, 2005, Nashville.)
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