Below is a list of the benefits of beta-alanine. But before we go on to explain how beta-alanine works, you must first understand what's going on in our body's during exercise that limits our gains and muscular performance.
Benefits of Beta-Alanine as supported by Scientific Studies:
- Boosts explosive muscular strength and power output.
- Increases muscle mass.
- Boosts muscular anaerobic endurance.
- Increases aerobic endurance.
- Increases exercise capacity so you can train harder and longer. What Stops Us From Reaching Our Full Potential In Making Strength, Endurance And Muscle Mass Gains?
When we exercise, especially when it's high intensity exercise, our bodies accumulate a large amount of hydrogen ions (H+), causing our muscles' pH to drop (become more acidic). This process is occurring whether you feel a burn or not.
The breakdown of ATP and the subsequent rise in H+ concentrations occur in all of our energy systems but H+ buildup is most prevalent in an energy system called glycolysis, which also produces lactic acid. At physiological pH, lactic acid dissociates H+ and is the primary source of released H+ ions during exercise, causing pH to drop.
It is the released H+ from lactic acid that causes muscular performance problems, not the leftover lactate ions as many incorrectly believe. While lactic acid is the primary source of released H+, it is not the only source. H+ ions are also being released at a rapid rate when you break down the high energy compound ATP during exercise. With the presence of many sources during energy production releasing H+, pH drops quickly.
As our muscles pH quickly drops, so does their ability to contract forcibly and maintain a high level of performance throughout your workout session. Not being able to perform and maintain forceful muscular contractions and push your body to the limit during your workout session, seriously hampers your ability to maximally overload your muscles and force new muscle gains.
In a nutshell, H+ causes your muscles pH to drop, in turn decreasing your strength and causing you to fatigue faster. These limitations stop you from adequately overloading your muscles and forcing NEW muscle gains. Strength, Endurance And Muscle Mass?
To understand how beta-alanine works to fight the drop in pH within our muscle, you must first understand how carnosine works. The reason being is, beta-alanine's performance benefits are not direct but realized through its ability to boost the synthesis of carnosine. Background On Carnosine
The Russian scientist Gulewitsch was the first to identify carnosine in 1900. Eleven years later, he would discover and identify its constituent amino acids, beta-alanine and histidine. Seven years later, Barger and Tutin and Baumann and Ingvaldsen confirmed Gulewitsch's findings. However, it wasn't until 1938 that the first research on carnosine and its effects on muscle buffering were published.
Carnosine is a naturally occurring di-peptide that is found in both type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers, but is in significantly higher concentrations in type 2 fibers. Type 2 muscle fibers are primarily used in high intensity strength workouts and are most responsive to muscular growth.
How Does Carnosine Work?
There are a handful of ways carnosine is thought to impact performance but its most studied function, and the focus of this article, is its role as an intracellular buffer. Carnosine helps stabilize muscular pH by soaking up hydrogen ions (H+) that are released at an accelerated rate during exercise.
Our bodies work to keep our pH in balance by utilizing various buffering systems. Buffers largely work by soaking up H+ to maintain optimal pH balance, which we need to function most effectively. As mentioned above, our muscles function best in a specific pH range. When pH drops below that range, so does muscular performance. By helping to keep us in a more optimal pH range, our muscles can continue to contract forcibly for a longer time.
There are a handful of buffering systems that work in our bodies. Some maintain pH in extra cellular fluids (ECF) outside of the cell, while others perform their duties in intracellular fluids (ICF) inside the cell and some perform in both.
Our focus in this article is on exercise performance and, as mentioned above, the primary source of H+ released during exercise is from lactic acid and ATP breakdown. Take a guess where this breakdown and release of H+ is occurring?
If you guessed inside our muscles or intracellular, you would be correct. As a result, the first line of defense in absorbing the H+ is going to be the cell from intracellular buffers such as carnosine, not from extra cellular buffers.
Aside from carnosine being just where we need it, buffering H+ inside our cells, it has additional, unique attributes that make it really shine. Carnosine is unique; in that, other natural buffering systems our bodies use are also used in many other cellular reactions aside from buffering, watering down much of their buffering abilities.
However, what makes carnosine really exciting, is that by supplementing with extra beta-alanine, we can specifically and dramatically increase carnosine levels. How much, you ask?
Researchers have shown that when supplementing with beta-alanine for just 4 weeks, we can increase our carnosine concentration by 42-65%. Longer beta-alanine studies going up to 10-12 weeks, show carnosine concentrations increased up to 80%. This is a tremendous increase in an already powerful intracellular buffer.
It is this large increase in buffering capacity within our muscles that is largely responsible for the strength, lean body mass, power and muscular endurance gains that researchers are seeing from beta-alanine studies. Summary:By boosting carnosine concentrations, with beta-alanine, our type 2 muscle fibers can soak up more H+ and stay in an optimal pH range. By keeping our type 2 muscle fibers in an optimal pH range, they are better able to maintain maximal strength and endurance throughout your workout session and bring on new muscle gains.
Dosage and Use:
The best time to take Beta-Alanine is before your workout and if you only take 500mg (.5gm daily then that is definitely the time you want to take it. If you don’t workout everyday, you should still take at least one capsule sometime during the day. If you are taking more than 500mg daily, as in a 15 week cycle, then spread out the capsules you take throughout the day as much as possible, with one dosage always being before your workout, if you workout on that day.