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Legal performance enhancer betaine boosts athletic performance nearly six percent

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Legal performance enhancer found in beet, shellfish ingredients.

Researchers report a new performance enhancing ingredient from nutrients that can be found in beets and shellfish that both contain betaine, a substance manufactured in the body that is important for making the amino acid carnitine.

Supplementing improves cycling performance after one week

In a study carried out by Ithaca College's Exercise and Sport Sciences boosted athletic performance by nearly percent after just one week in a small study that included 16 recreational cyclists.

Studies of beetroot juice have also shown to increase endurance and reduce fatigue among cyclist, in findings reported by Exeter College scientists in 2009. The suggestion from the researchers is that nitrates in beets relax blood vessels to improve oxygen uptake.

Betaine is also found in shellfish and a variety of plant foods including wheat and spinach, which is also shown to make muscles work more efficiently.

Betaine's role in health

A finding published in the American Journal of Nutrition in 2004 discusses the important of the nutrient for liver, heart and kidney health.

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The study authors noted betaine, combined with guanidinoacetate can improve well-being, boost energy and improve general strength and endurance during exercise recovery.

The study

The new study supports the role of betaine for improving athletic endurance.

Researchers for the current study aren’t sure how the nutrient works to boost exercise performance among cyclists.

Thomas Swensen who supervised the research said in a July 5, 2013 press release more studies are needed to find out the exact mechanism. He adds it may be that betaine might contribute to creatine synthesis to boost athletic performance and endurance.

The results showed betaine supplementation increased peak and mean anaerobic power by 5.5 percent. Men and women were both included in the study.

To get the benefits of betaine to enhance athletic performance, dissolve 2.5 grams of either a pill or capsule in a 20-ounce sports drink and drink half in the morning and half in the afternoon. The nutrient is also abundant in seafood including haddock, perch and tilapia, in addition to beets and shellfish like shrimp, lobster, crabs and crawfish.

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2012; 9 (1): 12
DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-12