3 Proven Benefits Of Betaine Anhydrous On Exercise Performance

Pre-workout supplements can enhance your training by improving strength, endurance, and strength. But like so many things, not all pre-workouts are created equal. High-quality pre-workout supplements are only as good as the ingredients of their formulation and the dose of those ingredients. Betaine, is one of those ingredients. We’re going to discuss the benefits of betaine and how it can help improve your athletic performance.

What Is Betaine 

Betaine anhydrous (trimethylglycine) is an organic osmolyte first isolated from sugar beets, but found in many foods, including spinach, beets, and whole grains. It’s a naturally occurring byproduct of sugar beet refinement, derived from the cessation of choline. Betaine is composed of the amino acid glycine, with three additional methyl groups, hence the name trimethylglycine.

The mechanisms by which betaine affects ergogenic benefits such as strength and body composition, are not fully understood. Betaine acts as a methyl donor. A methyl donor is any molecule, that can transfer a methyl group to another molecule. Betaine’s main role is in the methylation of the amino acid homocysteine to form methionine. Therefore, it’s purported that betaine may increase creatine synthesis. Betaine that does not participate in methylation metabolism is used as an organic osmolyte in the regulation of cell volume [R]. Other mechanism predict that betaine may positively affect exercise performance through favorable lactate and preferential fatty acid substrate metabolism. 

Benefits Of Betaine Anhydrous

Several studies have found that betaine anhydrous may improve changes in body composition and muscular performance, offering ergogenic benefits during resistance training protocols.

Improves Strength

Betaine participates in the methylation of homocysteine to form methionine. Methionine is critical in the synthesis of creatine. Therefore a proposed mechanism of betaine, is it’s ability to improve strength and power, by increasing creatine availability and enhancing muscle protein synthesis [R].

A study conducted by the Department of Health and Exercise Science at The College Of New Jersey, examined the effects and efficacy of betaine supplementation on muscle endurance, power, and the rate of fatigue in healthy males.

Twenty-four subjects were randomly assigned to either a betaine or placebo group, with a daily supplement protocol for two weeks. At two weeks, the number of reps performed and peak power was significantly greater in the betaine group as opposed to placebo. Therefore, the study concluded that betaine supplementation may improve muscular endurance and increase rep volume [R].

Optimizes Body Composition

Optimal body composition is achieved through reducing body fat and building lean muscle mass. Studies have shown that betaine may improve body composition and exercise performance, by potentially increasing creatine availability [R].

A study published in the Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition, investigated the effects of betaine supplementation on body composition and performance in female collegiate athletes. 23 healthy female subjects, participated in a resistance training program and were assigned to either betaine or placebo group. Each group completed 3 sets of 6–7 exercises per day performed to momentary muscular failure. Training was divided into two lower and one upper body training sessions per week performed on non-consecutive days for 8 weeks, and weekly volume load was used to analyze work capacity.

The study found statistically significant results for changes in lean mass, muscle size, and performance indicators such as vertical jump, squat, and bench. The study also found a significant reduction in body fat percentage and fat free mass. Therefore, betaine supplementation may enhance reductions in body fat without effecting losses in strength [R]. Underlying mechanisms responsible for changes in body composition could involve the stimulation of lipolysis [R].

Improves Peak Power

Power is a function of energy output over a specific distance. For bodybuilders and powerlifters that means how much energy they can put into a barbell over the course of each rep. For cyclists, or endurance athletes, it’s how much energy goes into each revolution, with the spin of the tires, or when you create momentum during your row. Peak power is a critical metric for athletes who perform at 90-100 percent of maximum output for short periods of time. These kinds of activities require a combination of strength, velocity, force, and neuromuscular adaptations.

A study published in the Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition, sixteen recreationally active subjects (7 females and 9 males) completed three sprint tests each consisting of four 12 sec efforts against a resistance equal to 5.5% of body weight; efforts were separated by 2.5 min of cycling at zero resistance.

Test one established baseline; tests two and three were preceded by seven days of daily consumption of 591 ml of a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage as a placebo or a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage containing 0.42% betaine (approximately 2.5 grams of betaine a day); half the beverage was consumed in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.

Compared to baseline, betaine supplementation significantly increased average, mean, and max peak power for all subjects [R].

Another study conducted by the University of Connecticut (UCONN) found that 1.25 mg of betaine supplementation twice per day, increased power and force, after 14 days [R].

Betaine Anhydrous Dosage

Average betaine intake through betaine rich foods, is approximately 100–400 mg/day. Clinical studies showing ergogenic benefits show that Betaine in dosages of 2.5 g/day for 14 days to 6 weeks has shown potential to enhance strength-based performance [R].

Betaine Anhydrous Benefits: Takeaway

Betaine has proven to be a powerful and effective ergogenic aid. Studies have shown that betaine anhydrous may enhance strength, power, and endurance capacity, improving overall athletic performance, and resistance training protocols. Despite the widespread use of dietary supplements, only a limited number have completing evidentiary and efficacious support as ergogenic aids. Research has shown that betaine belongs in your preworkout supplement, and can positively impact your performance outcomes.

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References 

Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Kang J, Rashti SL, Faigenbaum AD. Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Feb 27;6:7. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-6-7. PMID: 19250531; PMCID: PMC2651845.

Cholewa JM, Guimarães-Ferreira L, Zanchi NE. Effects of betaine on performance and body composition: a review of recent findings and potential mechanisms. Amino Acids. 2014 Aug;46(8):1785-93. doi: 10.1007/s00726-014-1748-5. Epub 2014 Apr 24. PMID: 24760587.

Cholewa, J.M., Hudson, A., Cicholski, T. et al. The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on body composition and performance in collegiate females: a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 15, 37 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0243-x

Lee, E.C., Maresh, C.M., Kraemer, W.J. et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 27 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-27

Craig SA. Betaine in human nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Sep;80(3):539-49. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/80.3.539. PMID: 15321791.

Pryor, J.L., Craig, S.A. & Swensen, T. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 9, 12 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-12

Lee, E.C., Maresh, C.M., Kraemer, W.J. et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 27 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-27

Van Every, Derrick W. BS1; Plotkin, Daniel L. BS1; Delcastillo, Kenneth BS1; Cholewa, Jason PhD2; Schoenfeld, Brad J. PhD1 Betaine Supplementation: A Critical Review of Its Efficacy for Improving Muscle Strength, Power, and Body Composition, Strength and Conditioning Journal: August 2021 - Volume 43 - Issue 4 - p 53-61 doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000622

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