Betaine, also called trimethylglycine, is an amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of all the proteins in our body. Betaine occurs naturally in many healthy foods, like:
You may have heard of "Betaine HCI", which has been used for a long time to support both digestion and heart health. However, regular "Betaine" is a completely different substance, but it also has a range of health benefits. Betaine has started to gain new popularity in the fitness and weight loss world for additional benefits beyond digestion.
Amino acids play an important role in muscle growth and development. This may be part of the reason why betaine is especially popular with bodybuilders and even people who just enjoy a fit appearance. Studies show that betaine supplements may help increase muscle power and endurance. Men in one study were able to bench press and squat more weight when they used betaine supplements for two weeks than when they didn’t.
In another study, college-aged men were able to do more repetitions and had better muscle endurance when they used betaine supplements. They were able to work out more and for longer periods, making the most of their time in the gym and helping them make gains in muscle strength faster than before. Building muscle through lifting heavy weights is one way to develop a leaner, more sculpted body.
Betaine HCl stands for Betaine Hydrochloride. Many people use it to optimize their digestion, assist with occassional heartburn, and promote the optimal extraction of nutrients from food. The "HCl" attachment to Betaine signals that this supplement provides hydrochloric acid to the stomach. Stomach acids are a critical component of proper digestion. With low levels of stomach acid, occasional gas, bloating, heartburn, stomach pressure, or fatigue may occur. For people who have a naturally lower production of stomach acids, supplementing with Betaine HCl assists with digestive efficiency.
Body composition refers to the ratio of fat to muscle on your body. Leaner bodies with lower total body fat tend to be healthier, and have lower risks for multiple health issues. Lower body fat also gives you a more sculpted appearance with toned muscles. A 2013 study showed that men who take part in regular strength training and take betaine supplements for six weeks were not only stronger, they also had a leaner overall body composition at the end of the study. They had reduced fat mass and increased muscle mass, the keys to a sculpted appearance.
In the betaine studies, participants took between 1000 mg and 6000 mg of betaine to improve muscle and change their body composition. If you are unsure how much betaine you should take, you should speak to your physician or an experienced exercise physiologist. Side effects are rare with betaine, but you should always be aware of any changes in your body when you take new vitamins or supplements.
To take advantage of the digestive benefits of Betaine HCL, take anywhere from 1000mg - 2000mg with meals. Enzymedica Betaine HCl contains 1200mg per serving. It is typically not recommended to take Betaine HCl on an empty stomach. Like with all supplements, it's recommended to consult with your physician to determine if Betaine HCl is appropriate for you.
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