Beta-Alanine – The Facts Could Kill You

There are hundreds of supplements to choose from and so many have BS claims, outrageous hype and it almost impossible to find even one that delivers on the results. If you’ve read through Flex Magazine or others you know that finding science based proof is key. Beta-Alanine is a rare gem. Finally. A supplement that lives up to the hype. The Science behind this supplement is backed by major university, peer-reviewed studies performed on humans, not rat, cell or goat upon which usually studies use. The science behind beta-alanine is simple. It makes sense and it works.

What is Beta-Alanine and where do we get it?

Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid and is the only naturally occurring beta- amino acid. Not to be confused beta-alanine is classified as a non-proteinogenic amino acid, as it is not believed to be used in the building of proteins. Chicken, pork and fish contain the dipeptides: carnosine, anserine and balenine, rather than directly ingesting beta-alanine.

Backround on Carnosine:

Gulewitsch, a Russian scientist was the first to identify carnosine in 1900. 11 years later, he uncovered 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.

When beta-alanine enters the muscle cell, it becomes what we call the “rate limiting substrate” to carnosine synthesis. By rate limiting, we mean that without beta-alanine, carnosine does not get produced. So why is carnosine so important? Carnosine is a dipeptide found mainly in fast-twitch muscles whose primary function, as far as you and I are concerned, is buffering hydrogen ions (H+).

Buffer H+, and you prevent pH levels in muscle from dropping to low levels (more acidic). Low acidity creates that “burn” in your muscles, causing fatigue and forcing you to muscular failure (also known as the end of your set). In a more acidic environment ATP is less effective and the release of calcium, a key component to muscle contraction, is hindered substantially.

With higher carnosine levels in muscle, however, you can prevent the drop in pH. With H+ buffered, you continue to squeeze out reps, prolong a high intensity run, or you simply lift heavier weights for more reps. So why not just double up on the carnosine? First of all, carnosine is not absorbed effectively in humans. When ingested and digested, only a small amount remains intact, but that in itself creates problems. The intact carnosine is hydrolyzed into histidine and beta-alanine, which is then taken up by skeletal muscle and synthesized back into carnosine.

Because of the initial hydrolysis, the ingested carnosine does not remain intact when taken up into muscle. The only value you gain by ingesting carnosine is the beta-alanine that’s formed, since it’s the beta-alanine that can “remake” carnosine in muscle. As such, it makes a whole lot more sense to take your beta-alanine straight!

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