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Beta Alanine GABA and PLC

By: George L. Redmon, Ph.D. N.D

Background Stars with an Anabolic Punch

As cited by Jack Challem the author of No More Fatigue the long standing proclamation that muscle soreness is a direct result of lactic acid buildup is no longer considered to be a major cause of muscle catabolism. New recent research indicates that lactic acid is a fuel, not a toxic by-product of exercise and that muscle soreness actually occurs as a result of micro-tears within muscle tissue resulting in inflammation. Dr. George A. Brooks a Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California states that the notion that lactic acid was bad took hold more than a century ago. He also maintains that it’s one of the classic mistakes in the history of science.

Conversely, Dr. Bruce Gladden a Professor at the Department of Health and Human Performance at Auburn University concurs with this assessment as his research also revealed that lactic acid didn’t buildup in the muscle, but disintegrates from the muscles within an hour after a workout. Despite these findings the inflammatory response to exercise and accompanying muscle damage perpetuates the catabolic pendulum.

Ironically, this new research is paralleled by comparable studies which illustrate how certain supplements neutralize this cascade of inflammatory events before they wreak widespread havoc. One such supplement gaining national attention for its anti-inflammatory attributes is the amino acid beta-alanine.

Beta Alanine Prevents Muscle Fires

Studies have shown beta- alanine to be highly adept at reducing inflammation within the gigantic forestry muscle tissue comprises. Its intra-cellular detoxification capabilities are attributed to its conversion within the muscle by the metabolic enzyme ATPG1 into carnosine. It is this large increase in buffering capacity of beta-alanine within muscles that is largely responsible for strength, lean body mass, power and muscular endurance gains. This fact has been validated in studies of participants engaged in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with beta alanine supplementation resulting in significant increases in lean body mass compared to HIIT alone.

Conversely, Dr. Mark Tallon the well know sports medicine physiologist and associates in a study appearing in Amino Acids indicated that carnosine is considered to be the primary anti-inflammatory or buffering mechanism that improves muscle performance . In fact, in their study supplementation of beta- alanine for 4wks increased carnosine concentration by 42% to 62%. In a related study, researchers at the Department of Health and Exercise Science of the College of New Jersey reported subjects given 4.8 g/daily of beta-alanine for 4 weeks significantly improved muscle endurance and workload capacity. Furthermore, in a related study appearing in Nutrition Research, 30 days of beta-alanine supplementation in resistance trained males resulted in a 22% increase in total reps per set per workout.
Suggested Dose: 3.2 and 6.4 grams per day.

GABA Triggers Growth  

GABA is the acronym for gamma amino butyric acid discovered in 1950’s. Although it is classified as an amino acid, its un-publicized attributes as comparable to other amino acids like branch chain amino acids (BCAA’S) or glutamine may be due to the fact that gaba doesn’t build proteins, but has a positive impact on the brain and central nervous system serving as a inhibitory neurotransmitter. Data indicates that gaba acts on the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus in the brain serving as a signaling agent which initiates that calm and collective feeling you have as you wind down from a intense workout. Essentially, gaba slows down brain activity and due to its high concentration, up to 40% found within all synapses, gaba up-regulates the activity of this network or junctions. Incidentally, synapses are inter-connecting junctions between two nerve cells, where the club-shaped tip of a nerve fiber almost touches another cell in order to transmit signals. This allows gaba to promote relaxation, muscle recovery, and sleep , especially REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is the most relaxed state of sleep and during this stage of sleep that the majority of detoxification and repair processes take place, as well as the secretion of growth hormone.                                    

Gaba and The GH Connection

Although gaba isn’t involved with building proteins, its impact on growth hormone (GH) is unparallel. This is accomplished physiologically via Gaba’s regulatory impact on the pituitary gland, the organ that actually controls the synthesis of growth hormone and its secretion. In fact, researchers at the First Medical Clinic at the University of Milan in Italy reported that Gaba’s impact on plasma growth hormone levels is significant. They administered 5g of Gaba which in 90 minutes produced a five and one half (5-1/2) increase in the production of GH. Paradoxically in a related study, researchers at Shenandoah University in Winchester VAconcluded that following a workout, gaba supplementation may be more effective than at sleep. They attributed this to GABA’s accelerated output of growth hormone right after a workout and its ability to target more muscle groups following workouts.

This was recently clarified by researchers at the Department of Biophysics at the University of Madras in India. They found that subjects administered GABA had GH released in as little as 30 minutes as compared to 75 minutes during rest. They concluded that theses augmenting effects were facilitated due to exercise induced NO (nitric oxide) potentiating or improving the effectiveness of gaba’s entry or ability to cross the blood  brain barrier. However, more important despite varying individual outcomes a large body of evidence indicates that on average gaba intake significantly increases growth hormone output by as much as 550%. Also these researchers  reported that this occurrence was further amplified when L-arginine and GABA were taken together.  Furthermore research data also indicates that GABA increases body fat reduction in as little as 2 weeks due to its positive impact on liver function.
 Suggested dose: 1g to3g after exercising or 3g to5 g on empty stomach 30 minutes before bedtime. Gaba can cause a tingling  itchy feeling of the skin and usually dissipates in about 15 minutes. To minimize this researchers suggest working up to the 5g intake with lower dosages over a 2 to 3 week period.

PLC Enhances Muscle Energy and Fat-Burning

L-carnitine is made in the body from the amino acid lysine and methionine and has a long and illustrious track record promoting energy that sustains heart and brain function as well as skeletal muscle energetics. L-carnitine releases energy from fat and transports fatty acids into mitochondria cells, the energy factories of the cell where energy production and fat-burning take place. However, another advanced carnitine formulation, known as propionyl-L-carnitine (PLC), is gaining increasing recognition for its role in increasing muscle energy and has been reported to possess benefits beyond those observed with typical L-carnitine. For example, research has proven that those who have adequate levels of this amino acid in the body suffer from less post-workout pain and other kinds of muscle stress. PLC also helps increase circulation and studies show that it spares glycogen thus boosting   muscle energy and work-load capacity, especially when lifting or when recuperating after a strenuous workout. Similarly, in a study appearing in Medical Science in Sports and Exercise, PLC alone increased lower body strength.

Chemically, propionyl L-carnitine is L-carnitine with the propionate group (a salt or ester of propionic acid) attached. Propionic acid helps carnitine absorb more efficiently than L-carnitine by mitochondria and muscle cells. This provides energy to high energy sapping organs like the brain, heart and muscle at a faster pace.

The Data Is Conclusive

As early as 1990 human studies demonstrated that propionyl-L-carnitine could combat the destructive effects of low oxygen status and muscle fatigue. By 1997, propionyl-L-carnitine was found to contribute to the body’s ability to increase muscle glycogen stores, the bodies most immediately available form of glucose stored in the liver and muscle tissue as a back-up fuel source. This attribute of PLC up-regulates it muscle fatigue-reducing effects and ability to increase exercise capacity while increasing energy production exponentially (rapidly increasing). Additionally in a related study appearing in the journal Metabolism, subjects administered 3g/d of propionyl-L-carnitine for 10 days had favorable changes in body composition. Equally, individuals in this study realized a 22% faster increase in body fat reduction than the control group without any increase in muscle protein breakdown. Furthermore, in a new study appearing in the American Journal of Nutrition, individuals administered 2g/d of propionyl-L-carnitine for 6 months had a loss of total fat mass of 4lbs with a gain in lean muscle mass of 8.4lbs.
By incorporating propionate, aerobic pathways are revved up via accelerated energy production. This also generates higher energy levels in muscle cells. Overall, PLC allows more body fat to be burned in these aerobic pathways and chemically primes the muscle to withstand intense high cardio workouts and increased work-load capacity.

The Glycine Connection

Glycine propionyl-L-carnitine (GPLC) is a molecular-bonded form of propionyl-L-carnitine and the amino acid glycine. Glycine is a non-essential amino acid and is used to help create muscle tissue and convert glucose into energy. It is used in the body to help construct normal DNA and RNA strands of genetic material needed for proper cellular function and formation. While not highly publicized glycine helps prevent muscle catabolism by boosting the body’s levels of creatine. In a similar study researchers of the Department of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Memphis discovered that 4.5 grams a day of GPLC increased blood levels of NO (nitric oxide) in resistance-trained men, having a direct impact on muscle growth and repair. Furthermore GPLC functions as a cellular antioxidant which also minimizes muscle breakdown.

Suggested Dosage: 1-2g twice daily, with one dose on an empty stomach 1hr prior to workout.


About the Author: Dr. Redmon has been associated with the vitamin and health industry for over 25years, having served as The National Product and Education Director for one of the countries largest retailers of nutritional supplements. He has been widely published in many major bodybuilding, fitness and alternative medicine publications. He is the author of Natural Born Fat Burners, Energy for Life and is a member of The National Academy of Sports Medicine and The International Society of Sports Nutrition.


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