Beta Alanine - The Endurance Amino

by DeanMcKillop 3580 views Supplements

Beta Alanine - The Endurance Amino

Beta Alanine is known as a rate-limiting amino acid, whereby it is the amino acid primarily responsible for increasing intramuscular Carnosine, of which is known as a di-peptide and is responsible for buffering lactic acid or more specifically buffering the hydrogen ions derived from lactic acid during an exercise bout.

In essence, Beta Alanine improves your higher intensity endurance capacity.

More specifically, Beta Alanine supplementation and its coinciding increase in intramuscular Carnosine, may allow you to achieve more reps in the strength endurance phase or improve the intensity you can perform at relative to your heart rate max for an extended time frame during sub maximal exercise.

Understanding Energy Systems

In order for you to understand Beta Alanine in its entirety, first it is important to understand the 3 energy systems the human body works with.

  1. ATP – PC (Phosphocreatine)
  2. Glycolytic
  3. Oxidative/Aerobic
ATP – PC

The ATP – PC system is the first energy system and the most explosive of the 3, whereby no oxygen is required for it to produce energy (ATP) and it is used for maximum intensity exercise for minimum time. In fact, the ATP – PC system only lasts for 10-12 seconds of all out exercise and takes upwards of 5 minutes to fully recover its energy stores.

The ATP – PC system is your go to system for heavy weight lifting, short sprints, jumping events and anything that requires maximum effort for minimum time.

Glycolytic

Like the ATP – PC system, the Glycolytic system requires no oxygen to be present for energy production and relies on the utilisation of circulating blood glucose for energy. Sometimes this system is referred to as the lactic acid system, as lactic acid is the crux of its performance due to its performance dampening effects. The limitations of the Glycolytic system are determined by the level of intensity a person can perform at before lactic acids accumulates faster than the body can remove it and the consequent reduction of the body’s ability to produce enough ATP at speed.

Oxidative/Aerobic

As this system will not be discussed in this article, the simplest way to explain this system is that it is a low intensity long duration energy system.

The limiting factor of the oxidative aerobic system is fuel availability, which in theory means the system could run forever, provided adequate fuel is provided through food consumption, as the intensity level is low enough that the body has the ability to consistently regenerate energy without reaching failure.

How Beta Alanine Works

Beta-Alanine is a glycolytic energy system primer, whereby the consistent use of this supplement enhances the performance of the glycolytic system, improving its ability to buffer and remove hydrogen ions so that muscle toxicity is reduced at an exercise intensity that would usually induce system failure.

During exercise, individuals have their own threshold for lactic acid accumulation, which is recognised as the level of intensity a participant can work at, relative to their heart rate max, whereby the accumulation of lactic acid is removed as fast as it builds, resulting in a complete recycling of energy.

Individuals working just below their lactate threshold are essentially working at the higher end of the oxidative energy system, whereas those who are working above it are in the glycolytic system.

The glycolytic system can only maintain performance for up to approximately 2-3 minutes. 

As you can now see, your lactate threshold is essentially the limiting factor for performance as it controls the intensity of which you can work at for a controlled time period. If you can improve your lactate threshold, then you can improve performance.

Which is where Beta-Alanine comes in.

Supplementing with 4g of Beta- Alanine daily can increase your lactate threshold and enhance performance (1). By consuming exogenous beta alanine, the body increases intramuscular Carnosine levels (2) and consequently the body’s ability to remove lactic acid with efficiency improves.

Increasing intramuscular Carnosine improves lactic acid removal and therefore increases the individuals lactate threshold, thus resulting in improved performance during events situated within the anaerobic glycolytic energy system (3). Similarly, Beta Alanine supplementation has also been linked to a reduction in perceived exhaustion during exercise, an increase in power input and an improvement in general athletic performance (4).

Final Notes

Beta-Alanine is a great addition to anyone’s supplemental protocol if they are looking to enhance repeat power output, reduce intra-workout fatigue and enhance overall performance. Users of Beta-Alanine may experience what is known as paraesthesia, which is characterised by a mild ‘hot flush’ or feeling of a light tingling sensation on the skin, however neither of these side effects are of concern.

Beta Alanine is a natural occurring amino acid with little to no flavour in its raw form and is a high quality, high value supplement with little to no palatable taste.

Take 4g daily in either a single dose or smaller accumulative doses throughout the day for those not wanting to feel the skin tingling flush some may experience.

A minimum of 14 days of supplementation is recommended for athletes looking to peak for a performance, so be sure to add it in at least 2 weeks prior to your primary event you are attempting to peak for.

There is currently no evidence to suggest long term use has any contra-indications, however should you wish to benefit most from Beta Alanine, cycling its use in and out of your supplement protocol in times where performance enhancement needs to be optimised may be advised.

Beta Alanine is a great strength endurance amino acid and should be utilised by all athletes who benefit most from anaerobic performance enhancement. 

Recommended Products


Beta Alanine by Gen-Tec Nutrition

Gen-Tec source, blend and package 100% pure pharmaceutical grade Beta Alanine powder. It is ideal for individuals with a goal of reducing lactic acid during intensive exercise.

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Beta Alanine by Genetix Nutrition

This Genetix Nutrition Beta Alanine product is an important product to include in your supplement roster. It's an amino acid that is found naturally in the body and is essential for the proper working of muscles.

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Bellinger, P. (2014). β-Alanine Supplementation for Athletic Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(6), pp.1751-1770.

STEGEN, S., BLANCQUAERT, L., EVERAERT, I., BEX, T., TAES, Y., CALDERS, P., ACHTEN, E. and DERAVE, W. (2013). Meal and Beta-Alanine Coingestion Enhances Muscle Carnosine Loading. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(8), pp.1478-1485.

Hobson, R., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. and Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids, 43(1), pp.25-37.

Quesnele, J., Laframboise, M., Wong, J., Kim, P. and Wells, G. (2014). The Effects of Beta-Alanine Supplementation on Performance: A Systematic Review of the Literature. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24(1), pp.14-27.

 

DeanMcKillop

Exercise Scientist

I completed my Exercise Science Degree at the University of QLD and have worked in the fitness industry for over 8 years, including a short stint at the Brisbane Broncos in 2010 as a student. I also hold my Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Coach accreditation (ASCA) and have competed in 1 bodybuilding season, placing 2nd at the IFBB u85kg Nationals.

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