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Beta Alanine and Antioxidants for Performance Enhancement

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Blended excerpts from Potential Within A Guide to Nutritional Empowerment

Authored by Franco Cavaleri ISBN 0-9731701-0-7

Original post: February 3, 2011

This article is composed of multiple excerpts to result in tone and content shifts and reference numbering that may be out of order.

The underlying method by which many supplements work to enhance performance, pain threshold, strength and lean muscle mass is antioxidant activity with highly specific roles or specific target tissues. In fact, this is also the case with many therapeutic nutraceuticals.

Beta Alanine and Antioxidants for Performance Enhancement

Beta alanine is one such ‘designer’ supplement to recently hit the podium; and beta alanine simply works its wonders by elevating muscle carnosine status. Beta alanine is a precursor of muscle carnosine. Research shows that it can be a rate limiting factor in the production of carnosine.

Carnosine is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize exercise induced free radical load (oxidation) and with its supplementation recovery is faster; functional pH of the intensely working muscle is better maintained; glycogen is less likely to be oxidized and post-workout muscle soreness is then lower in intensity and duration.

This means less oxidative damage of muscle, lower inflammatory response to training, better muscle pump and faster recovery. Uncontrolled oxidation triggers a proportional inflammatory response in the surrounding tissues. Long lived inflammation interferes with tissue recovery. Conditioned skeletal muscle actually has higher carnosine levels than non-conditioned skeletal muscle. Your body just produces carnosine as an adaptation feature to the workload. You’ve experienced this as differential pain threshold and post-workout soreness.

Beta Alanine and Antioxidants for Performance Enhancement

Research demonstrates that beta-alanine supplementation in daily amounts exceeding 1200 mg can increase muscle carnosine status to the point that performance potential, workload tolerance and recovery from intense exercise are improved.

That soreness we experience the day or two after hard training is not at all a function of lactic acid. Lactic acid is responsible for that immediate burn when you push your reps to anaerobic extremes. However, the less immediate soreness felt the next day or two is a function of oxidation and inflammation induced by the broken down muscle fibres and free radical accumulation.

Beta Alanine and Antioxidants for Performance Enhancement

If you’ve taken time off from training, you know that you’ll be extremely sore after a workout if you resume with the same workout intensity that you left off with. A main factor contributing to the soreness is the spontaneous decline in carnosine status in the muscle due to the low work load in those preceding weeks. As the weeks go by and your training has remained consistent your body adapts to the self imposed workload by elevating carnosine levels.

The weekend warrior syndrome is characterised by sore aching muscles that cannot adapt to training intensity because there’s too much time left in between training sessions. This sort of sporadic training simply puts the body in mere coping mode with each training session as carnosine levels increase for a few days after training but decline before the next weekend comes around again.

Although supplementing with beta alanine (and even carnosine) can elevate carnosine in muscle to further improve pain threshold and reduce post workout soreness, using multiple antioxidants that work together to neutralize different free radicals supports recovery from extreme workout intensity more effectively.

As discussed in Potential Within, there are a variety of free radicals that are produced as a byproduct of metabolism and toxin exposure.

Beta Alanine and Antioxidants for Performance Enhancement

Some of BNHR philosophies and findings presented in book with 650 references

This wide variety of free radicals cannot be neutralized by one antioxidant type and requires an antioxidant mix to quench the free radical risk successfully. In addition, antioxidants tend to work in dependent partnerships in the body. Pages 109 – 111 in Potential Within detail these partnerships and proportions.

The interesting paradox we all face when we workout to improve fitness and reduce the risk for disease is that the physical work generates oxidation. Oxidation breeds inflammation. Interestingly, age itself is another factor that causes underlying (subclinical) inflammation to escalate. It’s one reason for the slower recovery and lower pain threshold for intense work/exercise that those in their senior years may experience.

In fact, if you`re still feeling sore two days after intense training, YOU NEEDMORE antioxidant nutrition. Whey protein, itself, works its performance and health supportive wonders through multiple benefits, one of which is antioxidant activity. Whey protein is rich in glutathione precursors – glutamyl cysteine dipeptide. More soreness can be met head on by a second serving of whey protein each day.

Beta Alanine and Antioxidants for Performance Enhancement

Whey peptides serve as one of the best sources of glutathione throughout the body pumping up immune cells and even the brain while helping beef up the lean tissues of the body. Pure glutathione supplementation itself isn’t as good as whey for glutathione enhancement since the cells of the body can absorb the smaller precursor dipeptides from whey faster than they can absorb the larger glutathione tripeptide.

Recent Ohio State University research confirms the value of decreasing the biological markers of oxidation and inflammation to alleviate post-workout soreness and improve recovery rate. Over time these studies have shown that performance, itself is improved by improving the status of biological markers of oxidation and inflammation.

Alleviating the soreness is not at all about the pain; it`s merely an indicator that muscle anabolism can ensue undisturbed with the building blocks supplied by the diet.


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