Supplement Research Update: Betaine Builds Muscle
Betaine increases muscle mass and decreases body fat in trained lifters
I have long been interested in betaine (trimethylglycine) as a supplement to boost muscle strength, power and muscle mass.
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. And since then there have been numerous studies confirming that betaine can in fact boost strength and power. This is the reason that I have long recommended taking betaine before and after workouts and why I included it in my Pre JYM and Post JYM formulas.
To learn more about betaine and the prior research on it, click on the link below:
The latest study on betaine comes from the College of Springfield in Massachusetts.
Researchers had weight-trained males follow an undulating periodized weight-training program for six weeks. One group supplemented with 1.25 grams of betaine twice a day and the other group supplemented with a placebo twice a 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% while they decreased body fat 7 pounds. The placebo group experienced no increase in muscle mass or arm size and no loss of body fat.
Jim's take-home points:
Supplementing with 1.25 grams of betaine twice a day (a total of 2.5 grams of betaine per day) for six weeks was found to improve lean muscle mass gains while simultaneously enhancing body fat loss. Increasing lean muscle mass by 4 pounds and arm size by 10% while simultaneously dropping 7 pounds of body fat is quite impressive in 6 weeks. Not quite as impressive as the results of 1-2-3 Lean (aka Shortcut To Size) or Super Shredded 8, but imagine the results you would get while following these programs and supplementing with betaine. Well, many of you have already!
One way that betaine may help to increase muscle growth is by enhancing muscle protein synthesis, as has been shown in previous research. This may happen through betaine's function in the body as a methyl donor. One important reaction in the body where betaine performs this function is the methylation of homocysteine to form methionine. Methionine plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis (specifically the process known as translation). By having more methionine available for this process, protein synthesis is ramped up and therefore so is muscle growth. Plus, high homocysteine levels lead to high homocysteine thiolactone levels, which have been shown to impair insulin signaling, which can interfere with muscle growth and fat loss.
As I have always recommended, you should definitely consider supplementing with betaine (TMG) twice a day. I suggest you get about 1.5-2 grams of betaine before workouts and another 1.5-2 grams after workouts. This can be easily accomplished by taking my Pre JYM (http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/jym/pre-jym.html ), which contains 1.5 grams of betaine and by taking my Post JYM, which contains another 1.5 grams of betaine.
Cholewa, J. M., et al. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition 10:39, 2013.
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WHO IS JIM STOPPANI?
Jim Stoppani received his doctorate in exercise physiology with a minor in biochemistry from the University of Connecticut. Following graduation, he served as a postdoctoral research fellow in the prestigious John B. Pierce Laboratory and Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale University School of Medicine, where he investigated the effects of exercise and diet on gene regulation in muscle tissue. He was awarded the Gatorade Beginning Investigator in Exercise Science Award in 2002 by the American Physiological Society.