Daily wisdom: April 25

The truth about beta alanine supplements

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance.Sportand exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, andtechnologyhelp you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In ourdaily news series, Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, addresses some of the latest fitness research and news stories.

Today’s Topic: Beta alanine supplements to further aerobic gains

The Science:Astudy published in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise found that subjects who took a beta alanine supplement six days a week for 24 weeks saw an improvement in high-intensity cycling capacity.

EQX Expert Insight:Since supplements aren’t regulated, many companies make dubious claims. But some do have research to back them up. Case in point: beta alanine. “It is used to help increase muscle stores of carnosine, a molecule made up of two amino acids found in muscle and brain tissue, which has been shown to reduce the onset of fatigue, improve capacity for exercise, and increase lean muscle mass,” says Berenc. “But, this particular study doesn't say how much the cyclists improved and other existing research on beta alanine has showed relatively small (less than three percent) improvements.”

The Bottom Line: For most gym-goers looking to increase carnosine stores, start with protein-packed food like beef, chicken, pork, or fish (beta alanine is found in protein though it is not a protein itself). “They are rich in carnosine and will serve the added benefit of providing other nutrients,” says Berenc. If you are training at a high level (competing in marathons or triathlons and looking to place at a high level rather than just finish), a beta alanine supplement might be enough to get you an edge over the competition, he adds. Either way, it's not likely to harm you, so if you're on the fence, it's worth a shot.