Beta Alanine blasts your power beyond your limits
Due to its clearly noticable effect on strenght and performance Beta Alanine could shortly be as popular as Creatine.
What causes our muscles to lose strength, power and endurance during intense exercise?
When we exercise, especially when it´s high intensity exercise, our bodies accumulate a large amount of hydrogen ions (H+), causing our muscles pH to drop (become more acidic). This process is occurring whether you feel a burn or not.
The breakdown of ATP and the subsequent rise in H+ concentrations occur in all of our energy systems but H+ buildup is most prevalent in an energy system called glycolysis, which also produces lactic acid.
At physiological pH, lactic acid dissociates H+ and is the primary source of released H+ ions during exercise, causing pH to drop. It is the released H+ from lactic acid that causes muscular performance problems, not the leftover lactate ions as many incorrectly believe.
While lactic acid is the primary source of released H+, it is not the only source. H+ ions are also being released at a rapid rate when you break down the high energy compound ATP during exercise. With the presence of many sources during energy production releasing H+, pH drops quickly.
As our muscles pH quickly drops, so does their ability to contract forcibly and maintain a high level of performance throughout your workout session.
Not being able to perform and maintain forceful muscular contractions and push your body to the limit during your workout session, seriously hampers your ability to maximally overload your muscles and force new muscle gains.
In a nutshell, H+ causes your muscles pH to drop, in tern decreasing your strength and causing you to fatigue faster. These limitations stop you from adequately overloading your muscles and forcing new muscle gains.
So how can Beta Alanine help us overcome this drop in pH that limits exercise performance?
To understand how Beta Alanine works to fight the drop in pH within our muscle, you must first understand how carnosine works.
The reason being is, Beta Alanine´s performance benefits are not direct but realized through its ability to boost the synthesis of carnosine.
How does carnosine work?
There are a handful of ways carnosine is thought to impact performance but its most studied function, and the focus of this article, is its role as an intracellular buffer.
Carnosine helps stabilize muscular pH by soaking up hydrogen ions (H+) that are released at an accelerated rate during exercise.
Our bodies work to keep our pH in balance by utilizing various buffering systems. Buffers largely work by soaking up H+ to maintain optimal pH balance, which we need to function most effectively. As mentioned above, our muscles function best in a specific pH range.
When pH drops below that range, so does muscular performance. By helping to keep us in a more optimal pH range, our muscles can continue to contract forcibly for a longer time.
There are a handful of buffering systems that work in our bodies. Some maintain pH in extra cellular fluids (ECF) outside of the cell, while others perform their duties in intracellular fluids (ICF) inside the cell and some perform in both.
Our focus in this article is on exercise performance and, as mentioned above, the primary source of H+ released during exercise is from lactic acid and ATP breakdown. Take a guess where this breakdown and release of H+ is occurring?
If you guessed inside our muscles or intracellular, you would be correct. As a result, the first line of defense in absorbing the H+ is going to be the cell from intracellular buffers such as carnosine, not from extra cellular buffers.
Aside from carnosine being just where we need it, buffering H+ inside our cells, it has additional, unique attributes that make it really shine.
Carnosine is unique; in that, other natural buffering systems our bodies use are also used in many other cellular reactions aside from buffering, watering down much of their buffering abilities.
However, what makes carnosine really exciting, is that by supplementing with extra Beta Alanine, we can specifically and dramatically increase carnosine levels.
Researchers have shown that when supplementing with Beta Alanine for just 4 weeks, we can increase our carnosine concentration by 42-65%. Longer Beta Alanine studies going up to 10-12 weeks, show carnosine concentrations increased up to 80%.
This is a tremendous increase in an already powerful intracellular buffer. It is this large increase in buffering capacity within our muscles that is largely responsible for the strength, lean body mass, power and muscular endurance gains that researchers are seeing from Beta Alanine studies.
By boosting carnosine concentrations, with Beta Alanine, our type 2 muscle fibers can soak up more H+ and stay in an optimal pH range.
By keeping our type 2 muscle fibers in an optimal pH range, they are better able to maintain maximal strength and endurance throughout your workout session and bring on new muscle gains.