Betaine: What are the benefits of the pre-workout supplement?
Pre-workout supplements are often used to increase performance and maximise pump and focus during training. The most popular supplements arecitrulline, caffeine andarginine. Betaine, on the other hand, is still one of the lesser-known sports supplements. Many people are more familiar with the plant substance due to its health-promoting rather than performance-enhancing properties. In our blog post, you can find out what betaine is and how your training benefits from taking it.
Betaine (chem. trimethylglycine) is an amino acid derivative. The name is derived from the sugar beet (lat. Beta vulgaris). Spinach, quinoa and beetroot also contain betaine. Some sources also refer to it as a vitamin-like substance, as it has numerous health-promoting properties. Among other things, it has a favourable effect on homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced as an intermediate product in the metabolism. Excessive concentrations in the blood can damage the blood vessels and lead to calcification - known as arteriosclerosis. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Betaine can convert homocysteine into the amino acid methionine by releasing a methyl group, thus rendering it harmless. Betaine is also said to have a liver-protecting and digestive effect.
Does betaine improve performance during training?
Betaine not only has a positive effect on our health. It can also improve physical performance. In addition to the typical pre-workout supplements such as caffeine, arginine or citrulline, the secondary plant substance is therefore also often used in training boosters. We therefore also use it in our V-Booster.
A study investigated how the intake of betaine affected performance in squats, bench presses and jumps. The results showed that the participantshad more strength during the exercises than before supplementation. The study results also indicated that betaine promotes recovery.
Another study observed the effect of long-term betaine supplementation over six weeks. Here, too, the intake led to more strength, which manifested itself, for example, in more repetitions in the bench press. The body composition also changed in the betaine group. The body fat percentage decreased compared to the placebo group, while lean body mass increased.Researchers were also able to show in 2012 that the average sprint performance of cyclists improved by 3.3% when taking betaine.
How does betaine work?
The exact mechanisms behind the performance-enhancing effect of betaine are still unclear. According to current knowledge, it is assumed that the supplement has an effect on the development of muscle fibres by influencing the activity of the growth hormone IGF-1, among other things. This is at least suggested by in vitro studies on muscle cells by an Italian research group.A study by Trepanowski et al. also points to another mechanism of action: The betaine group showed lower lactate levels in the blood after training compared to the control group. This could explain why supplementation has a positive effect on regeneration and symptoms of fatigue.
- E. C. Lee et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2010;7:27
- J. M. Cholewa et al. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2013;39:10
- J. L. Pryor et al. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports 2012;9:12
- I. Villa et al. Betaine promotes cell differentiation of human osteoblasts in primary culture Journal of Translational Medicine 2017;15:132
- J. F. Trepanowski 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;25(12):3461-71.