Betaine, which also goes by the moniker trimethylglycine, has been getting some press lately. Why is it such an important compound? First of all, as with other important molecules like sodium, exercise itself may cause your body to lose betaine.
A study recently published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looked at whether betaine was present in the sweat of females and sought to identify correlations with other compounds found in the subjects’ sweat.1 Scientists put sweat patches on eight trained adolescent Highland dancers before they participated in a two-hour dance class. When the patches were removed and the sweat recovered, the researchers found that betaine was present in the sweat of all subjects, in greater concentration than is typically found in plasma.
So according to these scientists, “Betaine, an osmoprotectant and methyl donor, is a component of sweat that may be lost from the body in significant amounts.” Still, you may wonder, why is that important? Well, betaine itself can be a potent performance enhancer.
Check out another study performed at the University of Connecticut. Twelve 21-year-old men who had a minimum of three months’ resistance training completed two 14-day experimental trials separated by a 14-day washout period.2 Prior to and following 14 days of twice-daily betaine or placebo supplementation, the subjects completed two consecutive days of a standardized high-intensity strength-and-power resistance-exercise challenge. Performance included bench, squat and jump tests. Here’s what happened.
Following 14 days of B supplementation, day-one and day-two bench throw power and isometric bench press force were increased. Compared to presupplementation, vertical jump power and isometric squat force increased on day one and day two following betaine supplementation. So, according to the study, betaine supplementation increased power, force and maintenance of those measures.
For optimum benefits I’d suggest taking 1.25 grams of betaine twice per day or just take 2.5 grams at one shot. Add it to your postworkout cocktail of whey protein hydrolysate, essential amino acids, creatine, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Though it isn’t entirely clear why betaine helps performance, some scientists have speculated that it may favorably affect lactate metabolism and perhaps help with fatty-acid oxidation. Either way, the stuff may help you work out harder.
Editor’s note: Jose Antonio, Ph.D., is the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (www.TheISSN.org); also check out his site www.TheWeekendWorkout.com.
1 Craig, S.S., et al. (2010). The betaine content of sweat from adolescent females. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 7:3.
2 Lee, E.C., et al. (2010). Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Intern Soc of Sports Nut. 7:27.
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