For the past 6 weeks I've been trialling the super dooper New Balance supplement called 100% Pure Beta Alanine which is due to hit the market in the next couple of weeks. And let me tell you, you'll want to use it if you're trying to gain muscle strength and size.  No ladies, its not just for the guys as us gals can benefit from a supplement that can give us some extra oomph for weights and cardio too.

So What's Beta Alanine and how does it work?  I've written down the scientific wording for you brainiacs below if you want to know exactly how it works but I'll give you the Lisa simplified version. 

Beta Alanine is
a naturally occuring amino acid and it comes in powdered form in the container. Basically Beta Alanine increases the production of carnosine (carnosine is a lactic acid buffer).  If you can decrease the lactic acid build up between sets in your training session, you have the ability to lift/train harder and for a longer time. If you can increase the amount you can lift/push, then you have the ability to grow muscle which contributes to building your shape. Simple.
I was little adamant to take the first dose of Beta Alanine actually especially considering on the label it says you may notice some 'pins and needles' in the fingers. I thought 'uh oh' hope my hands aren't going to go numb and send me over the edge with itching from hives or something. I mean I love the tingly feeling you get from taking thermos and I imagine it would be the same with Beta Alanine.  


I waited and waited and about 15mins there is some tingling, a little on my lips and once I started to train I felt some tingling/prickliness on surface of my hands and arms.  It wasn't uncomfortable or overpowering but others may feel more sensation than me. I thought oooh this tingling feels nice.  Then after 2 sets of incline dumbell chest press, I started to feel a nice pump which continued to the end of the session.

Usually by the 3rd heavy set, I feel quite tired and drop the weight back a little to push 6 reps but at this first session, I felt very good and energised and I recovered very quickly so I stayed on the heavy weight (couldn't remember what it was, think 20kg) and did 8 reps.  The rest of the training session was fantastic as I didn't get that real tired feeling by the end of the session.  So from that training I've fallen in love with Beta Alanine and have used it every day since. The thing with Beta Alanine is that you have to be consistant and take it every day to get the results you want, same with anything you do in your fitness regime really!

Beta Alanine, dieting and cardio.  While Beta Alanine is marketed to the serious weight trainer and bodybuilder to gain muscle mass, I've found Beta Alanine really helpful with my cardio training.  Beta Alanine gave me that oomph while doing cardio and that's got to be a good thing! especially since I'm not a cardio queen as you know.

I've been taking Beta Alanine while I've been dieting and I think somehow the supplement is helping me with the whole cutting calorie process.  As you need to take Beta Alanine 3 times a day, you get a build up of energy reserves when you need for training and I think these reserves are helping me with dieting as I don't have too many cravings at the mo.  Except for chocolate when its 'that' time of the month ha ha.

How to take Beta Alanine. I take half teaspoon Beta Alanine about 15min before training by itself (although probably better you take it with the Balance effervescent creatine to enhance absorption and power output) and immediately after with my protein shake and BCAAs.  Then take it again at dinner time.

Cost: Beta Alanine will retail for $45 for 150g and probably will be available at most heathfood stores.

Summary. I've really enjoyed taking Beta Alanine and have grown to love that tingling feeling - although some of you may experience more pins and needles than me. My strength has gone up and generally my muscles look and feel fuller, although I feel that Beta Alanine does make me hold water....or is it just fat I haven't lost yet hmmm.   I'll have to go off it for a couple of weeks to see if it makes any changes to the way my muscles look.  But doesn't mean I'll lose strength as Beta Alanine is stored in the body for at least 2 weeks before its totally out of your system.

Verdict.  I'd say give it a go if you can benefit from some extra energy and faster recovery rate while you're working out.  Ideally combine it with Balance effervescent creatine for extra pump and energy, although I didn't use it with creatine I still gained the benefits. Don't worry ladies you're not suddenly going to get huge and bulky from taking this, unless you're genetically inclined to grow muscle easily. I've been taking it for a while and I don't think I've become amazon..yet! 

23 Feb 08

  Balance Beta Alanine Trailists!!

Thank you to all the athletes who put their names forward for the Balance Beta Alanine trial, we were overwelmed with over 30 high calibre dedicated weight trainers willing to put their bodies on the line for to test this product for us. Due to the interest, Balance were good sports and increased their samples from 5 to 10, so thanks Balance for their generosity. 

So there can only be 10 athletes to trial Beta Alanine.  Balance and Go Figure have made a selection of 5 men and 5 women of various ages and levels of weight training experience so we get a cross section of feedback of Beta Alanine.

The trialists will be:
Women: Farah Deobhakta, Jenni Douglas, Helen McCormick, Angie White and Jill Clark
Men: Greg Mawson, Phily Nuku, Duane Grant, Hayden Stewart and Bevan McDonald

Once again thank you to all those who put their names forward and we'll keep you in mind if/when we have new products we need gym tested.

Emails will be sent out shortly.

Lisa Menzies and Balance

Feedback from Bevan Mackenzie, Personal Trainer. Waiweight Gym, Masterton.
"Yes the beta alanine so far seems great, I am only taking 2g before and after workouts with my creatine and I noticed strength gains after about a week of using it, The only downside at the moment is the tingly pins and needles sensation you get approx 15min after you take it, it makes me feel a little seedy, a bit like I have been spun around upside down, but that's me I don't like feely dizzy at all. But that sensation disappears. My training partner is also finding some gains and finds the tingly sensation a little odd but at this time I do recommend it. Especially once the body stops getting that sensation, which  should disappear after a couple of weeks."

The Science 

What is Beta Alanine?
Beta Alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid. Unlike Alanine, a non-essential amino acid that forms protein and enzymes, Beta Alanine acts as an intracellular buffer to offset acid production in the  muscle and help delay muscle fatigue and speed recovery. Beta Alanine in combination with histidine also has a role in the synthesis of carnosine, a naturally occuring dipeptide found in high concentration in brain and muscle tissues.

What are the Benefits?
Clinically backed scientific research on exercising humans has reported the following benefits.
* increased lean muscle mass
* increased total work capacity
* increased power output
* increased aerobic endurance
* delayed fatigue
* delayed lactate threshold
* boosts explosive muscular strength
* reduced oxidative stress
* reduced muscle and other tissue damage
* improved heart function

How does Beta Alanine work?
* Beta Alanine achieves these benefits through its intracellular buffering activity and its role in carnoside synthesis. However, due to the action of carnosinase, a hydrolysing enzyme found in the stomach, supplementing with carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) directly may not increase intramuscular levels of carnoside.  Supplementing with Beta Alanine does result in increased levels of carnoside in the muscles.

How long does it take to start noticing a benefit?
Performance benefits are generally seen within the first 2-3 weeks, however some individuals will notice results within a week. There is evidence that improvements continue over time.  Initial benefits may include intense vasodialation/pumps due to carnosine's action as a precursor for nitric oxide synthesis, a group of enzymes responsible for the formation of the powerful vasodialator Nitric Oxide.

Do I need to take anything else with Beta Alanine?
Yes. Studies show that some additional nutrients and supplements provide extra benefits.

Carbohydrates. A recent study showed that a group of subjects taking Beta Alanine together with rapidly absorbed carbohydrates increased performance gains in half the time compared with the group taking an equal amount of Beta Alanine on its own.
Creatine. A study  conducted in college football players for 10 weeks during pre season condition training showed that a combination of creatine monohydrate and Beta Alanine increased strength, lean muscle mass and power over Creatine alone and the synergistic combination also produced greater bodyfat reductoin than creatine alone.

Do I need to cycle Beta Alanine?
In general, there is no need to cycle Beta Alanine compared to Creatine. Results improve in line with the improved saturatoin of the muscle with carnoside that results from Beta Alanine supplementation. In keeping with many supplements however, there may be a stage where results do not continue to improve.  In some instances discontinuing Beta Alanine supplementation for a few weeks may result in improved results when supplementation is recommenced. This will have to be considered against the reduced results you may experience by stopping the Beta Alanine during this period.

How much Beta Alanine do I need to see Results?
Research has shown that a dose of between 3.2g and 6.4g per day in divided doses get the best results.

When should I take Beta Alanine?
Its is best spread out over the course of the day however before training would always be an ideal time due to the boost in strength and after to top back up the decreased levels in your muscle post workout.

What is the 'Pins and Needles' tingling feeling reported when taking Beta Alanine?
The is caused by the effect of Beta Alanine binding to nerve receptors and activating them.  Many of the nerves below the skin, giving a tingling sensation.  This sensation begins usually 15mins after consumption of Beta Alanine and continues for up to 1.5hrs.

The intensity varies depending on dosage, individual sensitivity and activators of Ca2+ channels such as caffeine. This sensation, though generally experienced by most people often subsides over a few weeks of continued use. Should you not experience this effect it does not mean the Beta Alanine is not working. Carbohydrates and other foods may blunt the tingling effect.

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