In the world of competitive sports, supplementation has become increasingly popular in an attempt to maximize individual performance. A topic that has long been debated is that of regulating acidosis during high intensity exercise. Regulating acidosis in the body is important for not only performance but for overall health and function, as the human body operates most efficiently in an alkaline environment at a pH of roughly 7.4. Acidosis comes with its long list of potential health problems just as exercise induced acidosis is accompanied by limited performance outcomes. It is important that we understand how to regulate our bodies to keep them as close to homeostasis as possible in order perform to the best of our abilities. So how can we do that through supplementation and what is your best option? Beta Alanine, a non-essential amino acid that can be produced by the body is a supplement of particular interest due to its popularity on the market. Beta alanine is not actually a buffer itself but is the rate limiting factor in the production of muscle carnosine in the body, a natural regulator of pH levels in muscle. Beta Alanine supplementation has been around for a long time and it has been thought to have ergogenic effects. With prolonged beta alanine supplementation, for a minimum of 4 weeks and as long as 12 weeks, at a dosage of 3-6g/day, research has shown its effectiveness in increasing muscle carnosine concentrations. After 12 weeks it is unclear as to whether or not muscle carnosine concentrations continue to increase. By increasing muscle carnosine, intramuscular buffering capacity can be increased. However, research suggests that carnosine is only responsible for about 10% of the total buffering capacity of the muscle during intense exercise.
Although there is potential for beta alanine to be effective as an ergogenic aid, it does have its side effects. Acute paresthesia is a commonly experienced side effect, more commonly understood as tingling or a pins a needle feeling in the face, head, and skin. This side effect is generally experienced when beta alanine is taken in dosages of about 800mg (about half the amount you'll find in most pre-workout supplements) or more but has no effect on performance. In addition, extreme vasodilation may be experienced due to carnosine being a strong precursor to nitric oxide production (a strong vasodilator). Though most athletes like this feeling, the extreme "pump" feeling experienced from this may actually limit repetitions completed which in turn results in less muscular adaptation.
Extreme Endurance, a newer product to market, has shown promising headway in this arena and is changing the way we look at supplementing for performance and recovery. This proprietary supplement comes in tablet form and is designed to be taken twice daily, every morning, and every evening. Through the unique delivery system, Extreme Endurance is able to be absorbed in the first 48-72 hours, a much shorter time frame compared to that of the aforementioned beta alanine. In addition, is comprised of calcium carbonate (buffer), papain (a strong anti-inflammatory), catchins (strong natural antioxidant), trace minerals, and black pepper (increase absorption rate). Identified as a performance and recovery supplement, Extreme Endurance has been shown to have significant benefits when it comes to reducing acidosis during high intensity bouts of exercise, thus prolonging time to fatigue. In addition, Extreme Endurance has the research to support its effectiveness as a powerful recovery agent. Recent research has shown that after just 10 days of supplementing with Extreme Endurance, Creatine Kinase (CK) levels were able to be reduced by more than 63% when compared to baseline in a gold standard, double blind, crossover study. It is important to note that Creatine Kinase is a powerful indicator for muscle trauma. It was also noted that oxidative stress was reduced by 39% post exercise in the Extreme Endurance treatment group through the analysis of 8-OHdG a critical marker of oxidative stress. By decreasing these two markers, it is evident that Extreme Endurance is also significantly decreasing the amount of trauma that is being done to the tissue during and post exercise allowing the athlete to bounce back and recover more rapidly.
In review, Extreme Endurance may be breaking ground in this area of sports supplementation. When compared to beta alanine, it not only buffers whole body acidosis, and not just intramuscular acidosis, but drastically aids in recovery as shown by decreases in creatine kinase and 8-OHdG. Not only does Extreme Endurance appear to have a more all encompassing effect on performance and recovery outcomes, it does so in a much shorter time frame when compared to that of beta alanine (48-72 hours vs. 4-12 weeks). It is also important to note that although neither product has shown the need to be cyclical, beta alanine has nearly a 15 week washout period, compared to that of just one week for Extreme Endurance.
If further investigation were to be done, it would be interesting to see if beta alanine and Extreme Endurance had a synergistic effect with one another as they do operate via different mechanisms. Until that time, it would appear that Extreme Endurance is the more advantageous of the two sports nutrition options to best enhance training results.
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