This Amino Acid Beats Creatine After 60 Seconds

The Beta-Alanine Advantage

It does what creatine can't – it prolongs muscle performance in activities that last longer than 60 seconds.

Take creatine consistently and it'll support your ATP-PCr energy system so you can do more reps. The trouble is, once your set extends beyond 60 seconds, creatine's not much help. That wasn't a problem in the past for lifters because they rarely did any lifting that lasted longer than a minute.

Enter CrossFit, HIIT, and interval training. All these exercise modalities involve 1 to 5-minute-long bouts, typically with rest intervals lasting less than 2 minutes. In cases like that, creatine sits on the sidelines. For any activity lasting longer than 60 seconds, beta-alanine beats creatine. It's a non-essential amino acid that increases the amount of work you can do at high intensities.

The Studies

Studies consistently show that beta-alanine increases strength, muscle-power output, training volume, high-intensity exercise performance, and aerobic capacity in a variety of sports. In one of the largest published studies on beta-alanine, researchers found that it improves athletic performance by 10.49%.

Soccer players who ingested about 3 grams of beta-alanine every day for 12 weeks increased their performance by over 34%, compared to -8% in a group receiving a placebo. Boxers who took 1.5 grams of beta-alanine four times a day increased the force of their punches by 20 times and the rate at which they threw punches by four times, compared to a placebo group.

Another study, this one involving competitive rowers, found that beta-alanine improved 2,000-meter rowing performance by 2.9 seconds, equivalent to at least a couple of scull lengths.

Even the military found direct evidence supporting the use of beta-alanine to enhance combat-specific performance: it increases cognition while under stress.

Since it's a hybrid between GABA and L-glycine, two powerful neurotransmitters, many scientists also classify beta-alanine as a secondary neurotransmitter, which is why users also benefit from its stimulatory effects.

How Does Beta-Alanine Improve Performance?

Carnosine is a di-peptide molecule made of two amino acids: histidine and beta-alanine. If you ingest more beta-alanine, you create more carnosine. Carnosine sucks up reactive oxygen species, which soar super-high during exercise.

More importantly, carnosine protects against the build-up of hydrogen ions during high-intensity exercise. This prevents pH from dropping, preventing the loss or diminution of enzyme function and muscle-excitation coupling you need to keep on training.

In short, you'll notice that you can push an exercise harder for longer.

What's the Best Way to Take Beta-Alanine?

You can't just take beta-alanine right now and expect it to kick in 15 minutes as you pull into the gym parking lot. Beta-alanine gradually builds up levels of muscle carnosine.

In fact, the size of individual doses doesn't even matter much. Instead, it's the total dose over time that affects muscle carnosine levels. Furthermore, carnosine has a super long clearance rate in the muscle, so pretty much the longer you take it, the better you'll be able to perform any form of exercise lasting between 1 and 5 minutes. If you stopped taking it, levels would decline at the rate of approximately 2% every two weeks, which is super-slow as far as clearance rates go.

And remember, beta-alanine is also considered a secondary neurotransmitter – it has a stimulatory effect. Unlike the endurance and strength-building capacities of beta-alanine which take a few days to kick in, the stimulatory properties kick in within minutes.

Can I Still Take Creatine?

Of course. Creatine (Buy at Amazon) and beta-alanine together are a great stack for varied workouts and high-intensity sports.

Where Do I Find Beta-Alanine?

In Surge Workout Nutrition (Buy at Amazon), beta-alanine is stacked with other ergogenic compounds like citrulline malate and betaine. All three of these, when combined with Surge's large amounts of L-leucine and cyclic dextrin, maximize strength and explosiveness while minimizing exercise fatigue.

SURGEAMZ

In Spike Energy Drink (Buy at Amazon) and Colorado Crush (Buy at Amazon), beta-alanine's neurotransmitter capabilities add to those of acetyl-l-carnitine and caffeine to help you mentally and physically muscle your way through a tough workout.

Colorado-Crush-Ad

References

  1. Artioli GG et al. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1162-73. PubMed: 20479615.
  2. Derave W et al. beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Nov;103(5):1736-43. PubMed: 17690198.
  3. Derave W et al. Muscle carnosine metabolism and beta-alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training. Sports Med. 2010 Mar 1;40(3):247-63. PubMed: 20199122.
  4. Donovan T et al. β-Alanine Improves Punch Force and Frequency in Amateur Boxers During a Simulated Contest. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Oct;22(5):331-7. PubMed; 22805175.
  5. Hill CA et al. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids. 2007 Feb;32(2):225-33. PubMed: 16868650.
  6. Hoffman JR et al. β-Alanine supplementation and military performance. Amino Acids. 2015 Dec;47(12):2463-74. PubMed: 26206727.

T Nation earns from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate. Read more about our policy.

7 Likes

Increased punching force 20 times!?!?!!? Man, I like you boys but that is hard to believe and sounds vague.