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Ask the Supplement Guru

What's the word on betaine?

Ask The Supplement Guru: What's The Word On Betaine?

There's been some eye-opening new research into the amino acid betaine. Here's what you need to know!

Q
I keep seeing the ingredient "betaine" listed in pre-workouts. Is this just a typo of "beta-alanine," or is it something useful on its own?

Your confusion ends here! They may look alike, but make no mistake: Beta-alanine and betaine (pronounced "BEET-uh-een") both sound and work very differently. The former is a beta amino acid that helps raise muscle carnosine level, delaying muscle fatigue. The latter is also an amino acid, but it works its magic in different ways, primarily through boosting muscle protein synthesis in the body.

They have one thing in common, though: I've been telling people to take both for a long time! Betaine—or trimethylglycine, as it is technically known—is not a new supplement by any means, but older research focused largely on its potential to reduce risk of heart disease. Only more recently have researchers realized the extent of the benefits it can offer athletes looking to boost muscle strength, power, and mass.

Betaine for Alpha Performance

One of the first studies to report impressive gains in strength and power with betaine supplementation came from my old lab at the University of Connecticut in 2010.1 Since then, a number of other studies have also concluded that betaine can, in fact, boost strength and power.2,3,4 But the latest study, performed at the College of Springfield in Massachusetts, is particularly relevant for bodybuilders.

Researchers had weight-trained males follow an undulating periodized weight-training program for six weeks.5 One group supplemented with 1.25 grams of betaine twice per day, and the other group supplemented with a placebo twice per day. They reported in a 2013 issue of "The Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition" that the subjects supplementing with betaine increased muscle mass by 4 pounds and arm size by 10 percent, while they decreased body fat by 7 percent. On the other side, the placebo group experienced no increase in muscle mass or arm size and no body fat loss.

Subjects supplementing with betaine increased muscle mass and arm size, while they decreased body fat. On the other side, the placebo group experienced no increase in muscle mass or arm size and no body fat loss.

Take a look at the results again. Those kinds of gains are impressive in just six weeks, particularly alongside that type of fat loss. So how did it work? This likely happens through betaine's function in the body as a "methyl donor." When it transfers a methyl group to the amino acid homocysteine, the result is the methionine, which plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis. The existing research has consistently shown that betaine has the potential to boost muscle protein synthesis—and that means more growth, and more effective training.

How do I take it?

If you've been following my work over the last few years, you may have heard me recommend supplementing with betaine twice each day. This latest research only reinforces that conclusion. I suggest you take about 1.5-2 g of betaine before workouts and another 1.5-2 g after workouts. Consider elevating your stack to the next level with betaine!

References
  1. Lee E.C., et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Jul 19; 7: 27.
  2. Trepanowski, J. F, et al. The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Dec; 25(12): 3461-71
  3. Pryor, J. L., et al. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Apr 3; 9(1): 12.
  4. Apicella, J. M., et al. Betaine supplementation enhances anabolic endocrine and Akt signaling in response to acute bouts of exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Mar; 113(3): 793-802.
  5. Cholewa, J. M., et al. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug 22; 10(1): 39.

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About The Author

Jim holds a doctorate in exercise physiology and has been the personal nutrition and health consultant for numerous celebrity clients...

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michaelr575

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michaelr575

Thanks for the info, its good to know we can get the first dose of Betaine in your preworkout! Pre-jym is GREAT... Thanks!

Nov 22, 2013 5:44pm | report
 
mark9691

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mark9691

Love me some Pre Jym !

Nov 22, 2013 6:21pm | report
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Thanks! And you can get the second 1.5 g dose from my soon-to-be-released Post JYM.

Nov 22, 2013 10:48pm | report
legenjerry

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legenjerry

Is Pre-jym available caffeine free?? I'm really sensitive to stimulants, but I decided to try it anyway. Tried it a few times, and I can't handle it. It feels like my chest is going to explode and I can't see straight. Had to stop taking it, which is a bummer, because it's loaded with good stuff, including Betaine.

Nov 25, 2013 4:28pm | report
SaraSolomon

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SaraSolomon

good to see dr. jim back with another great article ;)

Nov 22, 2013 6:20pm | report
 
Mikepinsky

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Mikepinsky

Yes! Love stoppani`s articles. Go science haha!

Nov 22, 2013 6:57pm | report
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Thanks, Dr. S! ;)

Nov 22, 2013 10:49pm | report
Crizzay

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Crizzay

So what form of Betaine should I use because most of what I'm finding is Betaine HCL. However it looks like anhydrous is the better/correct option to go with?

Nov 22, 2013 6:22pm | report
 
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Definitely betaine anhydrous or monohydrate

Nov 24, 2013 12:49pm | report
AestheticHunter

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AestheticHunter

Dr. Jim Stoppani...A true fitness guru. You sir, are amazing. Thanks for your valuable input.

Nov 23, 2013 8:26am | report
 
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Appreciate the kind words

Nov 24, 2013 12:47pm | report
mswhittinghill

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mswhittinghill

Jim always has great articles.

Nov 23, 2013 12:08pm | report
 
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Thanks!

Nov 24, 2013 12:48pm | report
naninja

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naninja

I've started taking Betaine in my new preworkout MVP! Love this stuff thanks. I wasn't really aware of all the benefits, Thanks Jim!

Nov 23, 2013 12:14pm | report
 
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Glad to hear!

Nov 24, 2013 12:47pm | report
helriser

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helriser

please help me i want to gain some more size my age is 20 nd i m 67 kg og weight height 5'7
which protine is best for me provide a plan if needed

Nov 23, 2013 12:56pm | report
 
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

Check out my Shortcut To Size program right here

Nov 24, 2013 12:47pm | report
kOOLBLU87

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kOOLBLU87

Yea man his shortcut to size program is a beast! Very detailed, and still keeps you pretty lean.

Dec 11, 2013 6:54am | report
grant_mckinnon

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grant_mckinnon

From looking at the research on Betaine it appears that most of the evidence suggesting a performance increase are quite isolated and have not been able to be replicated. We do not even quite know the mechanism of which this works so I think its still too early to know if supplementing with betaine has any consistent benefits to strength/hypertrophy training

Nov 23, 2013 6:39pm | report
 
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

I have seen definite increases in strength and muscle mass in thousands of people taking 1.5 g twice a day.

Nov 24, 2013 12:46pm | report
Docteur

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Docteur

that's one of my favorite chest workout .. never get tired of it

Nov 23, 2013 7:54pm | report
 
xHiroko

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xHiroko

Impressive.
If you had to choose only one supplement, would it be Betaine or Beta-Alanine?

Nov 24, 2013 2:40am | report
 
dslxic

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dslxic

Your posts over the years have helped me to lose 95lbs and gain 30lbs of lean muscle. At nearly 43 years of age and once obese, I owe a lot to the work of Dr Jim Stoappni. Thanks for all you do to help!

Nov 24, 2013 10:55am | report
 
JimStoppani

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JimStoppani

You have no idea how much that makes my day! Thanks for sharing. Proud of you!

Nov 24, 2013 12:45pm | report
Brucef

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Brucef

Another great article by Dr. Jim. I love his insight and ability to explain the science in supplementation.

Article Rated:
Nov 24, 2013 11:25am | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 56 Comments

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