Lil Miss Fitness Freak

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Betaine For Gains? Fitness Friday 36

Everyone is always looking for some kind of pill to improve their exercise performance or get bigger. This is why articles like this one

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…Get all the youngin’s running out the door to buy all of the supplements listed because 1. they apparently make you huge and 2. Brian DeCosta is a god sent and who wouldn’t want to look like him. ­čśë

Sorry you had to be a part of this post┬áBrian, but I just had to chat more on this article and, well, you aren’t too bad to look at for the cover shot.

So what was one supplement on their list that is supposed to make you jacked faster?

Betaine

betaine

So what is it?

It is a derivative of glycine (an amino acid) and due to having 3 methyl groups, it acts as a donor of a methyl group in a reaction that ends up producing creatine in the skeletal muscle. It also has been suggested to have cardiovascular protectant factors due to reducing plasma levels of homocysteine (which is a risk factor for CVD) and inflammation. Due to its role in increasing creatine, it was hypothesized that supplementing with it can have growth enhancing effects and increasing power and strength performance.

Due to these suggestions, this began finding its way into pre-workouts and even as a stand alone addition to any bodybuilders stack.

…the thing is though….

Does it actually make you grow?

Lets start with what the article stated:

Betaine seems to work by increasing the release of growth hormone and IGF-1 while blunting the exercise-induced release of catabolic hormones like cortisol. The overall effect is to increase muscle growth and decrease muscle breakdown following exercise.[2] Since betaine works much like creatine monohydrate, researchers suspect that it, too, might stimulate muscle growth over the long term.

Hmmm interesting. Well cortisol definitely has some support backed behind it…

So now, what does the research actually say?

Well, its all over the place. There doesn’t appear to be concrete conclusions about it.

Hoffman et al (2009) –> 15 days supplementation in active college males to test muscle strength, power and endurance across 3 time points. Study found no significant differences in number of reps to exhaustion (endurance) or on number of reps at 90% power OR power assessments. They did find that squat reps at 90% power increased significantly in the BET group at time 2.

Apicella et al (2012). This was once of the studies cited in the article and it did in fact show significantly lower cortisol levels post training in the BET while also showing significantly higher growth hormone.

Pryer et al (2012). BET supplementation in bike sprinters found a significant increase in sprinting power. The supplementation was only for a week however.

Hoffman et al (2011)–> 15 day supplementation with Betaine, once again, in active males (within subject study, so they each ran through a BET and non-BET treatment period==> better design) found no increase in peak concentric or eccentric force OR overall fatigue. They did, however, find a significant reduction in fatigue when compared workout 5 and 1 (was that a training adaption effect?)

So some studies say YAY and some studies say NAY so its safe to say that there is not a concrete answer on this product. If it does truly work like creatine (which has mass amounts of supporting research) than perhaps there is some merit to this guy. As of right now though, I wouldn’t be running to pick up a bottle of the stuff unless I’m not concerned about the money and I’m looking to do my own trial.

Happy Fitness Friday friends. 

PS it apparently has some gut health benefits too…hmm may need to┬áresearch those for meeeseelf.┬ábetaine

-Chelsea