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Beta-Alanine: Performance and Health Booster

Sep 11, 2008
One of the hottest nutritional supplements to hit the market recently has been beta-alanine. Basically, beta-alanine is a precursor to the compound carnosine; which, works by "quenching" the acidic environment created by working muscles. If the cellular environment within the muscle becomes too acidic, then the muscle stops working- the theory is that carnosine attenuates the onset of an acidic environment allowing you to do more work (lift more weights, run faster, etc). As you can imagine this has gotten a lot of people in the fitness and performance industry excited, because the more work you can do and weights you can lift, the bigger, faster, and stronger you can become.

You may be wondering, "Why supplement with beta-alanine? Why not supplement with carnosine?" Carnosine is made up of beta-alanine and histidine (an amino acid). In the gut carnosine is split into beta-alanine and histidine and then re-assembled back to carnosine in muscle or other cells in the body. Since histidine is already very abundant in the body and food supply the limiting factor with carnosine synthesis is beta-alanine. Supplementing beta-alanine has been show in studies to increase intramuscular carnosine concentrations. That is why people supplement with beta-alanine and not carnosine.

As you can probably tell from a performance perspective, carnosine and beta-alanine have the potential to make a huge impact; however, what may be even more interesting is the role that carnosine may play in slowing the aging process.

One cellular process that is thought to play an integral role in the aging process is a non-enzymatic reaction known as glycation. Glycation, is a reaction that occurs between sugars and proteins in which sugar molecules bind to proteins altering their structure and function. These modified proteins are known as advanced glycation end products. (AGEs). In addition to aiding in the aging process, AGEs have also been implicated in the progression of heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's).

So how do carnosine and beta-alanine come into play? Carnosine prevents the negative effects of AGEs by two different mechanisms. One of the detrimental effects of AGEs is that they can cause oxidative damage. Carnosine is a potent anti-oxidant and can help prevent the oxidative damage caused by AGEs. Carnosine has also been shown to act as a "suicide peptide" preventing bodily proteins from being glycated.

As you can see there is a lot of very interesting (and valuable) research regarding beta-alanine and carnosine going on around the world. It is too early to start making claims about carnosine's ability to "prevent Alzheimer's disease", but the research to date shows very promising health and performance effects for beta-alanine supplementation.
About the Author
Warp Speed Fat Loss is a complete 28 day diet and training system crafted to help you lose 10,15, or 20lbs of body fat in just 28 day. To start losing weight fast visit Warp Speed Fat Loss

Mike Roussell is a nutrition doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. His Warp Speed Fat Loss system is a complete Done-for-You A-Z Fat Loss Blueprint. You can learn more at http://www.warpspeedfatloss.com
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