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Tag Archives: Beta-alanine

  • Citrulline VS Beta-Alanine: What's the difference?

    If you dive into the ingredient list of any half decent pre-workout supplement, there are going to be some key ingredients that you should expect to see -- with citrulline and beta-alanine being two of them.

    These two compounds are amongst some of the most well-researched supplements in the health industry, with a number of individual studies supporting their use.

    But the question remains -- is one better than the other, or do you need them both?

    What is Citrulline?

    Citrulline is a specific type of amino acid found in the human body. Interestingly, it is also found  naturally occurring in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, squash, cucumber, pumpkin, rockmelon, and honeydew melon.

    As an amino acid, citrulline is considered to be “non-essential” because your body does not have the capacity to produce any of its own.

    However, it is important to note that your body's ability to create citrulline molecules is not infinite.

    In fact, this production process is predicated on having adequate nutrients available to facilitate it. With this in mind, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that supplementing with greater amounts of citrulline can offer a number of unique benefits.

    See, citrulline plays a number of different roles in the human body.

    Most people know citrulline for the role it plays in the “urea cycle”, which is the process by which your body eliminates harmful compounds. As such, citrulline is an important part of keeping your body healthy and toxin free.

    More importantly, citrulline acts as a “vasodilator”, which is a fancy way of saying it widens your blood vessels. As a result, its supplementation can increase blood flow to the muscle tissue, where it is believed to drive many of its benefits.

    What is Beta-alanine?

    Like citrulline, beta-alanine is also a specific amino acid that is found in your body, although this one is more predominantly found in your muscles and brain. Under normal conditions, beta-alanine combines with another amino acid called “histidine” to form a compound called “carnosine”.

    It is actually for this specific reason that beta-alanine appears in so many pre-workout supplements. You see, carnosine helps reduce the accumulation of lactic acid in your muscle tissue during exercise, which staves off fatigue.

    However, the amount of beta-alanine stored in your muscle tissue is relatively small compared to the amount of histidine. This ultimately impairs your ability to produce carnosine, inhibiting your ability to buffer lactic acid during exercise.

    Consequently, supplementing with beta-alanine can cause an immediate increase in carnosine production, which has some very specific effects with respect to exercise and training.

    Citrulline VS Beta-alanine: what are the benefits?

    I have already outlined the role that both of these important compounds play in the human body.

    Moreover, I have also alluded to the fact that because of the roles they play, their supplementation can have some pretty significant benefits -- and here they are.

    Benefits of Citrulline

    I have already mentioned that citrulline is a vasodilator -- which means it helps relax and widen your blood vessels. This is particularly important, because citrulline increases blood flow to your muscle tissue, enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients.

    With this in mind, a number of studies have clearly shown that citrulline supplementation can improve weight training performance by increasing the number of repetitions you can perform at a given workload [1].

    For example, without taking citrulline you might be able to bench press three sets of ten reps at 80kgs. Then, with the addition of a citrulline supplement, you might be able to perform three sets of twelve reps using 80kgs.

    In the short term this is obviously pretty cool -- but the long term benefits are really what are important here.

    If you increase the number of reps you perform in your training session, you see a subsequent increase in your total training volume. Over the duration of a training block this can lead to marked improvements in muscle growth and muscle strength.

    Which is precisely why it is such a useful supplement.

    As an added bonus, the improved blood flow that comes with citrulline supplementation will also improve your recovery after exercise [2].

    By promoting the movement of proteins and nutrients into your muscle tissue after training, citrulline ensures that your muscles have everything they need to repair and grow stronger. This speeds up recovery between sessions, while also lowering muscle soreness after your session.

    Again, the thing to consider here is that improved recovery between training sessions maximises the quality of your subsequent training sessions -- which can again contribute to substantial improvements in strength and size over a longer term training block.

    Talk about some serious benefits.

    The Benefits of Beta-alanine

    As I have already outlined in detail, beta-alanine works in a very different manner to citrulline, where it increases the production of carnosine within your muscle tissue -- which directly limits the build up of lactic acid during exercise.

    This ultimately leads to better fatigue resistance when you train.

    As a result, the supplementation of beta-alanine has been shown to improve muscular and aerobic endurance during training. This also appears to help you feel less fatigued during your training session, which is quite important [3].

    Collectively this leads to similar results as citrulline, where the amount of repetitions you can perform at a given workload increases. Moreover, as beta-alanine will limit the amount you fatigue across the duration of a training session, it also ensures that every single set you perform is of a high quality.

    Over time this can contribute to further increases in volume, promoting additional muscle growth.

    Interestingly, the supplementation of beta-alanine has also been shown to enhance fat loss significantly over the duration of a training program, which most likely comes down to your ability to work harder for longer [4].

    This makes it a great option for people in either a bulking OR cutting phase of training.

    And the winner is…

    Drumroll please…

    Citrulline -- but only by a very small margin.

    Both citrulline and beta-alanine have a profound effect on exercise performance by increasing your ability to resist fatigue during your workout. This causes a substantial increase in training volume, which can lead to improvements in muscle size and strength.

    And even though beta-alanine appears to help accelerate fat loss, the fact that citrulline also improves recovery after exercise gives it a very slight edge.

    With that in mind, if you had to choose one of the two, then citrulline is probably going to offer you a little more bang for your buck.

    Now, do you want to hear some good news?

    You don't have to choose one!

    One thing that I have not yet addressed is the fact that citrulline and beta-alanine appear to improve performance through two very distinct mechanisms. This means that their supplementation is going to be complimentary, rather than having one detract from the other.

    As a result, taking both of them pre-workout is likely going to be more beneficial than having one alone.

    I guess there is a very good reason that most high-quality pre-workout supplements include both of these compounds within their formula -- because they both work extremely well.

    Summary

    Citrulline and beta-alanine are two of the most commonly used pre-workout compounds on the market -- and for very good reason too. They both have the ability to improve gym performance, reduce fatigue, and accelerate increases in muscle size and strength.

    Moreover, with benefits for fat loss and recovery, they both deserve a place in your supplement regime.

     

    References

    1. Gonzalez, Adam M., and Eric T. Trexler. "Effects of citrulline supplementation on exercise performance in humans: A review of the current literature." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 34.5 (2020): 1480-1495.
    2. Sureda, Antoni, and Antoni Pons. "Arginine and citrulline supplementation in sports and exercise: ergogenic nutrients?." Acute topics in sport nutrition 59 (2012): 18-28.
    3. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
    4. Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.
  • Creatine VS Beta-Alanine

    There are literally thousands of supplements out there suggesting to do much of the same thing -- get you strong, muscular, and lean as hell.

    And two of the most common are Creatine and Beta-Alanine.

    In fact, both of these compounds appear in a multitude of different pre-workout supplements because research indicates that they are both effective.

    Which begs the question -- do you really need them both, or is one better than the other?

    Creatine and Beta-alanine: What are they?

    To work out whether one of these common supplements is better than the other, it is first important to gain an understanding of what they actually are.

    And first up is creatine.

    Creatine is a compound found naturally occurring in the human body, where it is synthesised from small protein molecules called “amino acids”. Most of the creatine found in your body is stored within your muscle tissue. It is then released during exercise to produce energy during short, explosive efforts.

    One thing to note is that the amount of energy you can produce via creatine is limited, because it is dictated by the amount of creatine you have stored in your muscle tissue -- which is exactly where creatine supplements enter the equation.

    By increasing the amount of creatine you have stored in your muscle, they increase the amount of energy you can produce during intense exercise. This can lead to a couple of extra reps per set at a given weight, which has obvious benefits in the gym environment.

    Pretty cool, right?

    Next up we have beta-alanine.

    Beta-alanine is a unique amino acid that is naturally found in your muscles and brain. Under normal circumstances, it combines with another amino acid called “histidine” to form a compound called carnosine.

    And this is important, because carnosine helps reduce the accumulation of lactic acid in your muscles during exercise, which staves off fatigue.

    But much like creatine, the amount of beta-alanine stored in your muscle tissue is relatively small compared to the amount of histidine. This limits the production of carnosine, and puts a ceiling on your ability to buffer lactic acid during exercise.

    As a result, supplementing with beta-alanine can cause an immediate increase in carnosine production, which improves your fatigue resistance during exercise.

    Creatine and Beta-alanine: What are their benefits?

    So, we have two very different compounds that impact your body in two very different ways. Which really makes you wonder -- what are their benefits when it comes to boosting the results of your training?

    The Benefits of Creatine

    I mentioned above that creatine supplements ultimately saturate your muscle cells with creatine, which improves your energy production capabilities. I also went on to suggest that this could improve your gym performance acutely by allowing you to lift more weight.

    Well, the research indicates that this is completely true.

    Evidence has repeatedly shown that supplementing with creatine can cause vast improvements in strength during your gym sessions [1] -- and while lifting more weight is cool itself, this has further benefits when taking a longer term perspective.

    Over the duration of a long term training program, lifting more weight every single session will place your muscular and nervous systems under more mechanical load. This stimulates greater training adaptations, leading to improvements in strength.

    In fact, in one study, individuals who supplement with creatine saw improvements in strength that were 8% greater than people not taking creatine -- despite performing the exact same training program [2].

    Moreover, this was just a short term study. When we extrapolate these effects over years of training, the results become astronomically larger.

    But wait, there's more.

    Because creatine allows you to lift more weight, it causes an immediate increase in the amount of total volume you lift per session (think of volume as sets x reps x load). This is important, because training volume has been shown to be one of the largest predictors of muscle growth.

    As a result (and much like strength), combining creatine supplementation with a longer term training program has been shown to cause larger improvements in muscle size than simply training alone [3].

    The Benefits of Beta-alanine

    Now, as discussed above, beta-alanine works in a very different manner to creatine, where it increases the production of carnosine within your muscle tissue. This, in turn, directly limits the build of lactic acid during exercise.

    As a result, it has been shown to improve muscular and aerobic endurance, while limiting fatigue during training [4].While having more energy during training is unquestionably a good thing, you should understand that the implications of this are quite large.

    Let's say that you can normally perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions on the bench press at 80kgs -- but, when you supplement with beta-alanine, you can do 3 sets of 10 reps.

    This can also cause large increases in volume load across the duration of a training session. In fact, it is for this reason that beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to enhance muscle growth and fat loss significantly when combined with training [5].

    Do Creatine and Beta-alanine Have any Side Effects?

    OK, so they both offer some pretty positive benefits -- but do they have any side effects?

    To keep consistent with the theme of this article, we will kick off creatine.

    If you have been around the traps for a while then it is highly likely that you have heard some anecdotal reports that creatine can cause some nasty side effects, including kidney damage, muscle cramps, dehydration, and even diarrhea.

    However, evidence would suggest that this is not really the case [6].

    A previous study in athletes has shown that up to 5 years of creatine supplementation does not have any adverse effects on renal function. Now, I must admit that while we do not have any idea what happens after 5 years of supplementation, it is likely to be pretty safe. Nonetheless, we encourage you to check with your medical practitioner before supplementing with creatine.

    Moreover, while some people may experience some symptoms of dry mouth and increased thirst during the first week or so, that tends to disappear pretty quickly.

    In short, creatine is one of the safest supplements on the planet.

    And beta-alanine?

    Well, much like creatine it appears to be very well tolerated in humans.

    In fact, the only notable side effect that people experience is something called “paraesthesia”, which describes the “tingling” sensation that occurs on the face, neck and back of the hands after taking beta-alanine [7].

    While this may be slightly odd, it is something that normally disappears pretty quickly, and only occurs with higher dosages.

    Creatine VS Beta-Alanine: Who Wins?

    And the winner is.... *drumroll please*... both and neither.

    Evidence has shown time and time again that both of these compounds have the ability to improve the results of your training. However, because they work through very different mechanisms, they are hard to compare directly.

    I mean, creatine helps you lift more weight, and beta-alanine helps you perform more reps -- both of which will improve muscle growth and strength development in a big way.

    In fact, because they do improve gym performance by two very different mechanisms, I would argue that they both complement each other perfectly. As a result, it is probably in your best interest to take both of them if you want to optimise the results of your training.

    And look, no one is saying that you can only have one -- so why not take both?

    Key Points

    Both creatine and beta-alanine are some of the safest supplements that you can get your hands on. And given that they have both been shown to help improve muscle strength and size, they both deserve a place in your supplement regime.

    So what are you waiting for? Give them a go and let us know what you think.

     

    References

    1. Mills S, Candow DG, Forbes SC, Neary JP, Ormsbee MJ, Antonio J. Effects of Creatine Supplementation during Resistance Training Sessions in Physically Active Young Adults. Nutrients. 2020;12(6):1880.
    2. Rawson ES, Volek JS. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2003;17(4):822-831.
    3. Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012;9(1):33.
    4. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
    5. Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.
    6. Poortmans, Jacques R., and Marc Francaux. "Adverse effects of creatine supplementation." Sports Medicine 30.3 (2000): 155-170.
    7. Trexler, Eric T., et al. "International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12.1 (2015): 1-14.
  • Product Review: Platinum Labs DEFCON1

    Pre-workout supplements are one of the most popular and purchased product next to whey protein and fat burners. We all know the feeling of waking up early, battling through a long 8 to 10 hour day then coming home to be reminded that it's Leg Day. This is where a pre-workout comes in handy. A quality pre-workout is packed with more than just a little bit of caffeine. It should contain a variety of energy boosters and nootropics so that both your mind and body are revitalized.

     

    Platinum Labs DEFCON1 is said to be one of the most popular pre-workouts in the industry. Check out its ratings around the internet and it's a universally well liked product. Let's take a look to see if Platinum Labs DEFCON1 can hold up to its reputation.

     

    PROS OF PLATINUM LABS DEFCON1

     

    As soon as you turn the bottle around to face the label, you can already see the decent sized list that Platinum Labs DEFCON1 offers in the way of ingredients. As you scroll down, you'll see that all of the ingredients found within are popular and proven. Right away, Platinum Labs DEFCON1 has a great formula. At the top, it features Beta Alanine at 2 grams, L-Taurine at 1 gram, and Agmatine Sulfate at 750 mg per serving. These three ingredients are an excellent addition to any pre-workout formula. What's more, these are the ideal dosages for these ingredients.

     

    Studies suggest that those three ingredients may be able to promote the following benefits:

    • May help to boost energy
    • May support intra-workout strength increases
    • May help to reduce muscle fatigue
    • May promote lean muscle mass gains (1-3)

     

    Naturally, as a pre-workout, Platinum Labs DEFCON1 contains caffeine; however, it doesn't contain an obnoxious amount such as a supplement like Pro Supps' Mr. Hyde does, for example. (Click here to read more about and buy Mr. Hyde from Pro Supps) At 180 mg of caffeine per serving, that's a nice middle ground for those who are caffeine sensitive and for those who double up their pre-workout servings.

     

    CONS OF PLATINUM LABS DEFCON1

     

    While some ingredients have an ideal dosage per serving, others are lacking a bit. Creatine HCl for example is only provided at 750 mg per serving. While this may be a pre-workout, creatine is a vital part of the energy conversion process, supplying your muscles with ATP for fuel. (4) 750 mg isn't terrible but it's not even close to the standard 5 gram dosage. This same issue can be seen with Betaine Anhydrous and Choline Bitartrate. Again, we're happy they are in there but disappointed at the low dose.

     

    With that said, these are the only ingredients that have a lower than normal dose. Everything else is great. An easy remedy would be to supplement with creatine in addition to DEFCON1. As a side note to Platinum Labs, the addition of Alpha GPC would make this a perfect pre-workout supplement.

     

    The only other issue that may be a problem for some is the fact that Platinum Labs DEFCON1 contains artificial sweeteners and colouring. If you aren't too concerned about that, then you have nothing else to worry about.

     

    SHOULD YOU BUY PLATINUM LABS DEFCON1?

     

    Platinum Labs DEFCON1 is a very worthwhile buy and it's no surprise why it's a fan favourite. It contains a variety of well-chosen energy boosters, thermogenics, and nootropics, most of which have been provided to you at their ideal dosage per serving. Taken as a part of any disciplined training program, Platinum Labs DEFCON1 may be able to give you the energy you need to succeed. Click here to buy Platinum Labs DEFCON1.

     

    REFERENCES

     

    1. Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):25-37. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-1200-z. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

     

    1. Yatabe Y, Miyakawa S, Ohmori H, Mishima H, Adachi T. Effects of taurine administration on exercise. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009;643:245-52.

     

    1. Ryan P Lowery, Jordan M Joy, Joshua E Dudeck, Eduardo Oliveira de Souza, Sean A McCleary, Shawn Wells, Robert Wildman, and Jacob M Wilson. Effects of 8 weeks of Xpand® 2X pre workout supplementation on skeletal muscle hypertrophy, lean body mass, and strength in resistance trained males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10: 44. Published online 2013 Oct 9. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-44.

     

    1. Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94.
  • Beta Alanine Shows Strong Fitness Effects in the Elderly

    Beta-alanine, an amino acid supplement, is widely used by body builders and athletes to increase muscle mass and endurance. New research published in BioMed Central's open access Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that beta-alanine also increases fitness levels in elderly men and women.
  • Beta-Alanine For More Workout Gains

    Do you want to increase your muscular strength and endurance? Give beta-alanine a shot today!
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