Betaine boosted sports drinks backed to enhance athletic performance: Study

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

The team found that 2.5g of betaine added to a standard sports drink can boost performances by around 6% in just a week.
The team found that 2.5g of betaine added to a standard sports drink can boost performances by around 6% in just a week.

Related tags: Dietary supplements

One week of supplementation with the nutrient betaine as part of a sports drink can help to boost athletic power and performance by around six percent, according to new research in sprint cyclists.

Led by Luke Pryor from the University of Connecticut, USA, the research team investigated the effects of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance using DuPont's BetaPower supplement in an experimental sports drink.

Writing in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​ Pryor and his colleagues - from Ithaca College and DuPont Nutrition & Health - reveal that one week of betaine supplementation increased peak and average anaerobic power by approximately 5.5% compared to baseline measures in recreationally active college age men and women - a similar change to those induced by creatine.

Thomas Swensen, senior research of the study said further research is now needed to clarify the mechanism of how betaine supplementation improves performance - suggesting that the nutrient "may contribute to creatine synthesis, which improves, strength, power and short-term performance,"

"Our observed changes in sprint performance, moreover, are consistent with the performance effects of creatine supplementation," ​the research team added - noting that a recent meta-analysis of 100 studies found that creatine supplementation improved performance parameters by an average of 5.7%.

Study details

Pryor and his colleagues recruited sixteen college-aged cyclists who were tested three times in order to measure how the sports drink and betaine beverage affected performance variables including average and maximum peak power.

The first test established baseline performances, before the participants then consumed half of either the commercial drink or betaine beverage(containing 2.5 g of betaine 99% purity BetaPower from DuPont Nutrition & Health)  twice a day for seven days and were tested again. Three weeks later, the subjects repeated the process with the opposite beverage.

Analysis of the results showed that one week of betaine supplementation increased peak and mean anaerobic power by 5.5% compared to baseline measures in recreationally active college-age men and women.

Compared to sports drink alone, betaine ingestion significantly increased average peak power (3.4%; p = 0.026), maximum peak power max (3.8%; p = 0.007), average mean power (3.3%; p = 0.034), and maximum mean power (3.5%; p = 0.011) for all subjects combined, Pryor and his team revealed.

The authors reiterated the suggestion that betaine supplementation may have increased performance by elevating intramuscular creatine stores, increase]ing muscle growth, or protecting the muscle cells from stress-induced damage.

"The creatine hypothesis is attractive and supported by studies on betaine metabolism,"​ said Pryor and his team. "In short, the liver enzyme betaine homocysteine methyltransferase transfers a methyl group from betaine to homocysteine, thereby producing dimethylglycine and methionine. The latter is then converted to S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), which subsequently acts as a methyl donor during creatine synthesis."

Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-12
"Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance"
Authors: J Luke Pryor, Stuart AS Craig, Thomas Swensen

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