Fatigue resistance is very important for muscle growth. After all, the less you tire, the more reps and sets you can complete, and the greater the drive for muscle growth. There are number of supplements on the market that claim to decrease muscular fatigue, but none have received more scientific support than beta alanine. Here is a primer on the research backed benefits to beta alanine supplementation.

What is beta alanine and where does it come from?
Beta alanine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid, meaning that it is not involved in synthesizing proteins. As a dietary source, foods don’t generally contain beta alanine in high concentration. Rather, it is formed in the body by the hydrolysis of di-peptides (i.e., carnosine, anserine, and balanine) when we eat protein-rich foods (like fish, chicken, and beef). The liver is also capable of synthesizing beta alanine from pyrimidine neucleotides, through uracil and thymine degradation.

 

Fatigue resistance is very important for muscle growth. The less you tire, the more reps and sets you can complete.

 

How does it work?

Carnosine is produced in skeletal muscle from beta alanine and histidine, where beta alanine is the rate limiting factor; thus, when beta alanine is available in surplus (i.e., supplemented) it elevates the body’s muscle carnosine levels. In fact, it has been shown that dietary supplementation of beta alanine for only 4 weeks can increase muscle carnosine levels by more than 60%.

Scientists were first motivated to understand how elevating muscle carnosine levels may help exercise performance based on the following: 1) animals who have a great capacity for prolonged high intensity exercise also have high intramuscular carnosine levels; and 2) carnosine levels are relatively higher in fast-twitch versus slow twitch muscle fibers. Since then, research has also found that bodybuilders have elevated carnosine levels in quadriceps (vastus lateralus) muscle.

The main mechanism by which high muscle carnosine levels aid in muscle function and performance is through its ability to significantly buffer skeletal muscle pH (acidity) during high intensity/fatiguing exercise. Since one of the primary causes of fatigue during exercise is metabolically mediated decreases in pH (or acidosis), then it follows that increased intramuscular carnosine levels would be beneficial to bodybuilders. It must also be mentioned that muscle carnosine also acts as a potent antioxidant and metal chelator. As such, through its effects on free radical scavenging, many scientists hypothesize that high carnosine levels prolong neuromuscular excitation-contraction coupling.

In resistance trained men, 4-weeks of beta-alanine supplementation led to a 22% increase in the number of reps they could complete during an experimental resistance-training session (compared to a placebo group).

 

Beta alanine and fatigue resistance
Since beta alanine acts to increase muscle carnosine levels and buffer changes in pH, then it follows that its erogogenic potential would be most apparent during high intensity exercise where there are increases in lactic acid. In one study, beta alanine supplementation was shown to improve anaerobic threshold and increase the power output achieved at lactate threshold. In a congruent study, it was observed that women who took beta alanine had an almost 14% increase in the ventilatory threshold during maximal cycling exercise. These data indicate that beta alanine supplementation leads to a great decrease in acidity in muscle cells, which allows you to workout harder with less lactate build-up, thus delaying fatigue. In resistance trained men, 4-weeks of beta-alanine supplementation led to a 22% increase in the number of reps they could complete during an experimental resistance-training session (compared to a placebo group). Additionally, in football players undergoing a strength-training regimen, 30-days of beta alanine supplementation, resulted in significantly higher training volume and lower subjective indices of fatigue compared to those who took a placebo.

Finally, studies have also shown that beta alanine supplementation can delay neuromuscular fatigue. Research has shown that 28-days of supplementation can increase the work capacity at fatigue threshold. Interestingly, a subsequent study conducted by the same research team showed no effect of creatine supplementation on decreasing neuromuscular fatigue; thus, illustrating that this effect is unique to beta alanine supplementation. These benefits of beta alanine supplementation on neuromuscular fatigue are likely due the enhanced antioxidant effects from the resulting elevated carnosine levels.

 

Beta alanine and sports performance enhancement
A recent study looked at beta alanine supplementation on rowing performance in elite level rowers. Rowers either took 5g of beta alanine or a placebo and were evaluated during a 2000 m rowing ergometer test. The researchers found that those who took beta alanine completed the 2000 m test 4.3 seconds faster than those who took the placebo. The performance benefits in the beta alanine group correlated with up to 45% greater carnosine content in their calf muscles. In another investigation, elite cyclists were given either beta alanine (2-4g) or a placebo for 8 weeks and tested on cycling sprint performance after a 110-min simulated endurance road race. It was found that average power and peak power (during sprinting) increased by 5 and 11% respectively in the beta alanine group compared to placebo.

 

Beta alanine and body composition
It should come as no surprise that training with beta alanine supplementation has been associated with improvements in body composition. After all, with delayed or decreased fatigue and increased training volume, your training sessions become more laborious. In a recently published study, it was found that those who completed a high intensity interval training program combined with beta alanine supplementation had improved gains in lean mass and fat loss compared to those who trained while taking a placebo. In an earlier study, researchers found stacking beta alanine with creatine led to synergistic increases in lean body mass in college football players undergoing a resistance-training regimen.

 

Safety
This amino acid is generally safe to take in moderate doses; however high single doses (>800 mg) have been shown to cause tingling/numbness (paresthesia) in hands and skin that disappear within an hour of ingesting. One other concern is that high doses of beta alanine may create an osmotic gradient that can decrease the body’s taurine levels (taurine is important for the maintenance of healthy heart function). As such, using a moderate dosing schedule will assure that you get all of the performance benefits, with no side effects.

As you can see, beta alanine is an interesting ergogenic supplement that has received a ton of scientific investigation over the past 5 years. Although there is little to no evidence showing its direct effects on anabolism or strength gains, there is an abundance research illustrating its positive effects on fatigue resistance.

For more information about how this and other supplements can enhance your training regime, be sure to contact one of our personal trainers today. Not a member? Take advantage of the 50% off voucher now!

 

 

References:
Van Thienen R, Van Proeyen K, Vanden Eynde B, Puype J, Lefere T, Hespel P. Beta alanine improves sprint performance in endurance cycling. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Apr;41(4):898-903.
Artioli GG, Gualano B, Smith A, Stout J, Lancha AH Jr. Role of beta alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1162-73.
Derave W, Everaert I, Beeckman S, Baguet A. Muscle carnosine metabolism and beta alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training. Sports Med. 2010 Mar 1;40(3):247-63.
Baguet A, Bourgois J, Vanhee L, Achten E, Derave W. Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance. J Appl Physiol. 2010 Oct;109(4):1096-101. Epub 2010 Jul 29.
Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, Ross R, Kang J, Stout JR, Wise JA.Short-duration beta alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr Res. 2008 Jan;28(1):31-5.
Stout JR, Cramer JT, Zoeller RF, Torok D, Costa P, Hoffman JR, Harris RC, O’Kroy J. Effects of beta alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino Acids. 2007;32(3):381-6. Epub 2006 Nov 30.
Hoffman J, Ratamess NA, Ross R, Kang J, Magrelli J, Neese K, Faigenbaum AD, Wise JA. Beta alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med. 2008 Dec;29(12):952-8. Epub 2008 Jun 11.
Hoffman J, Ratamess N, Kang J, Mangine G, Faigenbaum A, Stout J. Effect of creatine and beta alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):430-46.
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 beta alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids 30, 279-289.
Hill CA, Harris RC, Kim HJ, Harris BD, Sale C, Boobis LH, Kim CK, & Wise JA (2006). Influence of beta alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids.
Tallon MJ, Harris RC, Boobis LH, Fallowfield JL, & Wise JA (2005). The carnosine content of vastus lateralis is elevated in resistance-trained bodybuilders. J Strength Cond Res 19, 725-729.
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.

Source: http://www.prosource.net/content/articles/Articles-by-ProSource/beat-fatigue-with-beta-alanine.aspx

Weight Loss

Gaining a large amount of fat can take years, so it should come as no surprise if losing it isn’t a quick process. Leaning out requires long-term changes in lifestyle, from stress management to exercising to eating properly. But what is eating properly? To this multi-headed question, we need to bring more than one answer.

Do Calories Matter?

Whereas water is the main culprit behind daily fluctuations, the weight you gain or lose in the long run depends primarily on your caloric intake. If you eat more than you burn, you gain weight; if you eat less than you burn, you lose weight. But is this weight fat or muscle? Most often, it is both, but how much of each depends on both exercise and diet composition (fat, protein, carbohydrate, and alcohol).

 Do Diets Work?

Hypocaloric diets (diets based on caloric restriction) all promote weight loss. Yet they often fail. Why? Because most people quit. Either they find the diet to difficult to continue or, having reached their goal, they decide they don’t need to diet anymore. In either case, they return to their old eating habits.

Unfortunately, fat cells have a slow turnover rate. They don’t immediately die when you starve them; they just shrink. Feed them again and you’ll find it quite easy to regain whatever weight you lost.

Which diet is the best for me?

The one that works for you. Some people swear by intermittent fasting; others will tell you that you should eat many small meals. Both are valid options. What matters, at the end of the day, is how much calories you have consumed. The best diet for you is the one you’ll stick to.

Of course, it is easier to stick to a diet that doesn’t make you ravenous. To promote satiety, you should favor foods rich in protein or with a high water content (fruits and vegetables). Although fat also promotes satiety, it has the downside of being calorically dense: A tablespoon of olive oil has the same caloric content as small potato!

Another benefit of protein is that it helps build muscle (when you eat more calories than you burn) and helps preserve muscle (when you eat fewer calories than you burn).

 What about the latest fad diet?

Most fad diets have two things in common: They restrict food choices, which makes it easier to count calories, and they’re very low in carbohydrate, which results in rapid weight loss—in the form of water.

How does that work? Very simply. Our body first stores carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. Only when our glycogen stores are full does the spare carbohydrate we consume get stored as fat. But what happens when we don’t supply our body with enough carbohydrate to replenish our glycogen stores? The water that was used for storage gets excreted.

Shedding several pounds in a couple of days can be exciting, but don’t be fooled: It’s only water. On a reasonable, healthy hypocaloric diet, you can expect losing one or two pounds of fat a week.

If I’m restricting calories, how do I stay out of starvation mode?

When a body enters “starvation mode,” its resting metabolic rate drops. It uses less energy for its most basic needs, and fat loss slows to a crawl. This could be scary, except that it largely doesn’t happen.

Starvation mode is something of myth, which started after a notorious experiment that literally starved its subjects. If your diet has you fasting for several days, then yes, you may experience a sharp drop in resting metabolic rate. You will also lose a lot of lean mass as your body starts cannibalizing your muscles for the protein it needs to insure its most vital functions. The smaller changes in energy expenditure resulting from caloric restriction, however, don’t have such a drastic effect.

Eating for weight loss is a bit of an iterative process: You estimate your caloric needs, then you adjust your estimate according to how your weight evolves from one month to the next (or one week to the next, but certainly not one day to the next!).

Finally, a weekly cheat meal isn’t going to ruin your diet. In fact, such a “refeed” may even help you stick to your diet by making it more bearable.

Is saturated fat bad for me?

There is some evidence that saturated fat may be less than ideal. Not a really strong statement. There is stronger evidence that unsaturated fats are beneficial, though, so if your diet is limited in fat, better eat less saturated fat and more unsaturated fats.

Are carbs bad for me?

It depends on your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, you need to eat less, and it is better to cut on carbohydrate than on protein or good fats. That said, and contrary to what some people would like you to believe, none of the macronutrients (protein, fat, or carbohydrate) are intrinsically bad for you.

So what is eating properly?

There is more to eating properly than what we’ve discussed here. Eating properly also means getting enough fiber and micronutrients (notably vitamins and minerals) through a wide selection of mostly unprocessed foods. But when it comes to gaining or losing weight, the answer is simple. If you want to gain weight, eat more than you burn. If you want to lose weight, eat less than you burn. In either case, consume 1.0–2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day (0.45–1.00 g/lb/day). And don’t forget to exercise and see a Platinum Fitness Trainer today!

Source: Examine.com is a Canadian company that runs an online encyclopedia focused on health, nutrition, and supplementation. The Examine.com team includes scientists, editors, and peer reviewers from multiple academic and research institutions. View all Articles by Examine.com

Read more at: http://www.trainerize.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-eating-for-weight-loss/