During strenuous activity, hydrogen ions (protons) accumulate inside muscle cells. This causes fatigue and impairs performance.
More than 80 years ago, British physiologist A.V. Hill speculated that muscle cells possess “buffers,” chemicals that counteract or soak up these excessive protons.
More recent research supports this idea, linking improved buffering capacity with better performance. Many more recent research studies have demonstrated the benefits of consuming beta-alanine during various types of exercise, including resistance training and endurance sports.
That makes beta-alanine a key part of an athlete’s nutritional regimen. A naturally-occurring amino acid, beta-alanine makes a compound in your body called carnosine, which controls the buildup of acid in your muscles caused by intense or prolonged exercise.
Because acid buildup is a major factor in causing muscles to fatigue, using beta-alanine can help delay it. By improving buffering capacity during high-intensity exercise, you’re able to maintain performance at high workloads, building more muscle, increasing strength, and improving your explosive power.
According to Amanda Carlson-Phillips, vice president of nutrition and research for Athletes’ Performance, the amount of beta-alanine needed to get the benefit of delayed muscle fatigue and more intense training is between 3 and 6.4 grams per day divided into two doses.
You get some beta-alanine in your daily diet, but typically only 15 to 20 percent of what your muscles need to control acid accumulation.
“We recommend consuming beta-alanine in divided doses throughout the day,” Carlson-Phillips says. “You can split up your doses around your training with the first coming 60 to 90 minutes before training and the second within two hours of finishing or you can divide it across your entire day.”
About The Author
– Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.
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