What is Betaine?
So you looked at your supplement panel and noticed a long word that may be hard to pronounce.
The name’s Anhydrous, Betaine Anhydrous. *cue the bond music*
Betaine Anhydrous, or betaine for short, isn’t who you think it is. It’s really glycine, an amino acid, with three methyl groups attached to it. Tricky little molecule going all undercover on us.
Betaine also has another alias: trimethylglycine (TMG). See what they did there? Three methyls=trimethyl. Ooooh so smart.
Stick with us here, this is really the most complex part of betaine anhydrous, aka glycine with methyl groups, aka TMG. Those are all the same names for betaine.
Finally, betaine is an active metabolite of choline.
Did you write that down? No worries, there will be no test. This is free info for you to do with as you please—you curious soul, you.
So what does it do? Let’s find out.
Betaine is a Heart Protector
Betaine’s main function is to convert homocysteine into methionine through a donation of a methyl group. Hey, sharing is caring.
Because studies show high levels of homocysteine can potentially lead to plaque buildup and clogged arteries, betaine’s ability to reduce its concentration through conversion gets it placed in the category of being a heart protector.
A single dose of betaine reduces homocysteine levels and will remain suppressed by around 10% in normal people, as long as supplementation continues per recent studies. It can suppress at higher rates for those with higher levels of homocysteine due to inherited conditions.
Additionally, increased concentrations of betaine promote intracellular hydration and recovery from stress. When your muscles are hydrated they are fueled and able to bounce back more quickly from stress factors like—you guessed it, exercise.
Aside from supplementing the pure form of betaine, it can also be found in quinoa, spinach, turkey, sweet potatoes, beef, some grains and….beets. Why? Fun fact: betaine was actually discovered in beets. Sweet, tangy taste like earth-y beets. Yum.
Betaine and Training Results
Because betaine converts homocysteine into methionine, it’s important to note what methionine does. Methionine cannot be produced by the body, thus you gotta eat something that contains it to get it.
It is one of three amigos that make creatine: arginine, glycine and methionine. So, if you have more methionine available, you have more parts to make creatine. If you want to know alllllll about creatine, we did a little diddy on that here.
Even more interesting is that methionine universally initiates protein synthesis—the process of repairing and rebuilding proteins which build muscle. We also wrote a little on that here, too. You’re welcome, curious minds!
So it stands to reason that the more methionine you have available, the more protein synthesis that can take place. Thanks, methionine.
There have been a few studies that link betaine to increased power, volume and endurance. Due to intracellular hydration, it can certainly be linked to improved performance. However, it’s important to note its main function is the reduction of homocysteine to protect your sweet beating heart.
If you take a look through the purpose and function of a good supplements’ ingredients, you’ll see gaining muscle and losing weight aren’t the only factors to achieving true results. By true results, we mean from the inside out. What’s a lean body with rock-hard abs if your cardiovascular health is not also boosted?
Get Supplements that Give You Results Both Inside and Out
Pairing the right amino acids, nutrients and minerals that give you both results you can see and not see is a sign you have a great supplement. Training should incorporate a top goal of achieving health before anything else. Everything else is a perk. If you take the right supplements, eat clean and workout, those healthy internal results will soon show on the outside, too. Go you.