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BETAINE - Muscle Pump Activator

Brian Turner

Posted on September 14 2014

Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, is a natural osmolyte found in the cell that protects against dehydration by increasing cellular water retention through osmosis. The ability of betaine to maintain hydration reduces the negative impact that dehydration can have on exercise performance such as increased heart rate, increased rate of glycogen degradation, elevated muscle temperature and increased lactate levels. The ability of betaine to function as an osmolyte likely contributes to muscle growth by causing the muscle fiber to swell. Research has shown that muscle cell swelling stimulates protein synthesis and decreases protein breakdown, resulting in muscle growth.1-3 Although the underlying mechanisms are unclear, it has been suggested that cell swelling is perceived as a threat to cellular integrity, thereby triggering certain cellular signaling cascades to reinforce the structural components of the muscle cell. This is done by promoting the synthesis of structural proteins within the cell, which ultimately increases muscle size.4,5

In addition to betaine’s ability to counter dehydration and trigger muscle hypertrophy, betaine also plays a key role as a methyl donor in the biosynthesis of the muscle-building compound creatine.6,7 In fact, it has been shown that betaine ingestion significantly increases anaerobic power in the bench press and squat, likely stemming from its role in creatine production in the body.8 Furthermore, additional studies have shown that betaine stimulates IGF-1 activity, increasing lean body mass while also reducing abdominal fat.9 Taken together, the diverse impact of betaine on these relatively diverse aspects of exercise performance underscores its tremendous promise as a nutritional supplement.

Betaine Generates the Muscle-Building Creatine

The consumption of betaine plausibly boosts intramuscular creatine levels because of its essential role in the biosynthesis of creatine. The ability to generate creatine likely contributes to betaine’s muscle-building qualities, as creatine potently drives muscle growth in several fundamental ways. To start with, creatine enhances muscle size and strength, in part from its ability to function as a primary energy storage molecule that rapidly reverses the depletion of muscle cell energy, in the form of ATP, during muscular contraction. This process ultimately recharges energy levels within the muscle cell, prolonging muscular contraction for superior muscle growth and performance.10 Creatine also activates muscle growth by stimulating the formation of new muscle cells11 and increasing muscle protein synthesis.12

Betaine Boosts Anaerobic Strength, Even After Intense Cardiovascular Work

As previously mentioned, betaine’s role in the biosynthesis of creatine likely contributes to its positive influence on strength and size, as several studies have shown betaine intake can increase both. One of these studies by Maresh et al.13 found that 14 days of betaine supplementation, at 2.5 grams per day, resulted in significant improvements in bench press and vertical jump power.
In addition to betaine contributing to creatine production for improved strength, the ability of betaine to prevent dehydration also augments strength, especially after a strenuous cardiovascular workout that promotes dehydration. This effect was shown in a study where two independent groups cycled for two hours at 60-75 percent of their maximum aerobic capacity in the heat, and then completed a 15-minute time trial on their bike followed by a test for isometric leg strength.14,1 The first group consumed a carbohydrate beverage, while the second group consumed a carbohydrate-plus-betaine beverage. Both groups consumed their respective drinks before the test.
And what were the results of consuming a carbohydrate beverage, compared to consuming a carbohydrate-plus-betaine beverage? The carbohydrate-only group improved its cycling time by 10 percent, as expected, as carbohydrate drinks ingested during exercise can postpone fatigue and improve performance by maintaining blood glucose levels and preventing dehydration. However, the carbohydrate-plus-betaine group showed a greater level of improvement in the cycling time trial, by 14 percent— indicating that the addition of betaine further mitigates dehydration, producing a greater ergogenic effect. Moreover, in the isometric leg strength test, the carbohydrate-plus-betaine group showed a significantly greater level of strength than the carbohydrate group— indicating the unique ability of betaine to improve strength after hardcore cardiovascular work, making it an attractive compound for pre-workout consumption.

Betaine Creates an Anabolic Environment for Increased Muscle Mass

In addition to betaine increasing strength, betaine has also been shown to stimulate the robustly anabolic IGF-1 signaling pathway, leading to gains in lean muscle mass while reducing body fat in livestock.15 More importantly, another study by Apicella et al.16 demonstrated a similar muscle-building effect of betaine supplementation in humans. In this study, 12 trained men ingested either betaine or placebo for two weeks. After the two-week period, subjects exercised and immediately had their blood drawn following exercise, to measure several different markers for muscle growth. The results showed that betaine supplementation significantly increased the anabolic activity of IGF-1 while decreasing the muscle-depleting, catabolic effect of AMPK, creating an anabolic environment that supports enhanced muscle growth.

Betaine Contributes to Adrenaline Production

Betaine also functions as a methyl donor during the biosynthesis of adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that is well known for supporting the “fight or flight” response that occurs when we get scared, or deal with different forms of stress. Adrenaline activates several biochemical pathways that increase glucose and fatty acid levels in the blood, which provides energy for the muscle cell. The ability of betaine to stimulate adrenaline production provides a more robust environment that enhances muscle energy levels, bolstering performance in the gym.
In closing, the remarkable capacity of betaine to prevent dehydration and stimulate muscle growth and strength make it a perfect choice for addition (in the most effective dose) to the newly released, cutting-edge supplement AML Preworkout from Advanced Molecular Labs. BetaPower®, the most highly researched source of betaine, is used in AML Preworkout. In addition to the many other performance-enhancing compounds in AML Preworkout, betaine will further enhance the ergogenic capacity of AML Preworkout by priming your muscles for growth and strength, all while mitigating the negative impact that hardcore endurance training has on muscular strength and endurance.

For most of Michael Rudolph’s career he has been engrossed in the exercise world as either an athlete (he played college football at Hofstra University), personal trainer or as a Research Scientist (he earned a B.Sc. in Exercise Science at Hofstra University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Stony Brook University). After earning his Ph.D., Michael investigated the molecular biology of exercise as a fellow at Harvard Medical School and Columbia University for over eight years. That research contributed seminally to understanding the function of the incredibly important cellular energy sensor AMPK— leading to numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals including the journal Nature. Michael is currently a scientist working at the New York Structural Biology Center doing contract work for the Department of Defense on a project involving national security.

References:

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