Being the health enthusiast that you are, I’m sure you are more than familiar with the feeling of burning muscles during an exercise set. The “burn” comes from the buildup of lactic acid entering your muscles. It is also what ultimately causes muscle failure. It only makes sense then that reduction in lactic acid results in better output in the gym. Well, as it turns out, there is actually a specific amino acid called beta-alanine that has been shown to “shield” the body from excess lactate production during a gut-busting workout.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that it’s produced naturally by the body and does not need to be acquired from food. Being non-essential in this sense, however, does not make beta-alanine any less important. In fact, it’s a vital nutrient if you desire peak athletic performance.
I won’t bore you with a scientific explanation. After all, I’m sure you don’t care about all that; you just want to know why it works. If you do care for the scientific end of this valuable amino acid, then I recommend you read the literature at this site.
Here’s the meat and potatoes regarding beta-alanine: it is essential in the production of carnosine.
What Is Carnosine?
Carnosine is another form of amino acid known to have a range of health and anti-aging benefits. In one study, injecting carnosine into male fruit flies extended its lifespan by 20%. It also increased the lifespan of the female flies by 36% when combined with vitamin E.
Okay, that’s great but how does carnosine benefit you in the gym? Well, carnosine is found abundantly in the skeletal muscles and particularly in the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are recruited when performing explosive physical movements like weightlifting or sprinting.
When lifting weights, the muscles respond to the stress by producing lactate and lowering the pH. As you may remember in your science class, lower pH means more acidity, hence the burn you feel. Carnosine helps by preventing enzymatic reactions that cause the increased acidic environment. Feeling less muscle burn translates to enhanced anaerobic endurance, a claim that has been verified in this study.
You can watch this video for a more in-depth explanation of carnosine as explained by a doctor of medicine. It's a bit boring to sit through, but it lends credibility to what clinical studies have shown.
Why You Need to Supplement With Beta-Alanine
If carnosine is the amino acid that reduces the muscle burn, then can’t I just supplement with carnosine? Taking carnosine in pill form won’t do you any good because the amino acid is broken down when it enters the digestive tracts. It no longer has its original molecular structure by the time it reaches your muscles.
Beta-alanine, on the other hand, has been proven in studies to increase muscle carnosine levels. The proof is right here.
Reach True Muscle Failure With Beta-Alanine
If you’ve been following me for some time, then you know how much I emphasize the importance of reaching absolute muscle failure for gains in lean mass. It has been proven that beta-alanine may delay fatigue just enough for you to get in that extra rep or two even when the muscle burn hits its peak.
For a supplement that will give a much needed rush of energy and reduce muscle burn, I suggest you try Rebellion. It has all the ingredients needed – beta-alanine included – to help you train at your maximum output every time you hit the weights or do a cardio workout.
[photo credit: Caden Crawford]