Betaine anhydrous is also called betaine or trimethylglycine. It is an ingredient specially used in sports supplements. You can read its name on popular pre-workout supplements labels as Evlution Nutrition, Kaged Muscle, MusclePharm, Dymatize, and Cellucor. Betaine is also available as a standalone supplement as Nutricost, GNC, and Transparent. Companies claim that betaine can improve strength, power, and body composition. I have analyzed all the available studies to find the truth about this ingredient. Read this article to understand what is betaine anhydrous, its uses, effects, and side effects.
What is Betaine?
In 1860, a German chemist Scheibler extracted a base from sugar beet and this base was named betaine. Sugar beet is like a white beetroot. Both are from the same family but have different nutritional values. Sugar beet is commercially produced to make sugar. Natural betaine used in different products is extracted from sugar beet.
We can get betaine from food. Here are natural sources of betaine.
|Food Name||Betaine per 100 grams|
|Wheat Germ||1240 mg|
|Wheat Bread||201 mg|
|Wheat Brand||1340 mg|
There is an essential nutrient called choline. The body can make betaine from the help of choline too. Eggs are soybeans are rich sources of choline. For a complete list, you can visit this page.
Betaine Functions in the Body
- Hydration – Betaine helps to keep the body hydrated.
- Energy production – Betaine helps to produce energy.
- Creatine – Betaine helps the body to store creatine.
- Anti-cancer – Betaine is a strong methyl donor so it may reduce the risk of cancer.
- Heart & Liver – Betaine also supports the heart and liver.
Betaine Effect on Strength & Power
Strength means how much force one can produce. For example, how much weight one can lift in deadlift or bench press for one repetition. Strength = force.
Power means how quickly one can produce force. For example, how much weight one can lift in clean or snatch exercise for one repetition. Power = force + speed.
7 studies are conducted to examine the effect of betaine on strength and power. We will analyze all 7 studies, one by one.
In 2013, a study was conducted on 23 trained persons aged 18-35 years to examine the betaine effect on strength and power. 2.5 grams betaine per day was given to 11 subjects and a placebo was given to the other 12 subjects, for 6 weeks. Here are the results.
In betaine group, bench press increased by 1.52% and back squat increased by 1.88%, after 6 weeks of supplementation. In placebo group, bench press increased by 1.67% and back squat increased by 3.39%.
So, placebo group gained more strength compare to betaine group. We can say that betaine is not effective to improve strength.
In betaine group, vertical jump increased by 1.03%. In placebo group, vertical jump decreased by 3.82%.
Here we can say that the increase is not significant enough to consider it effective. So betaine is not effective to increase power.
Source: Cholewa, J. M., Wyszczelska-Rokiel, M., Glowacki, R., Jakubowski, H., Matthews, T., Wood, R., Craig, S. A., & Paolone, V. (2013). Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(1), 39. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-39 or PubMed
In 2012, a study was conducted on 34 untrained persons aged 18-30 years. 34 subjects were divided into 4 groups, betaine group, creatine group, betaine + creatine group, and placebo group. Betaine, creatine and dextrose was given to the groups in the manner you can see in the table below.
Here are the results.
Based on the given p-values, we can see that creatine is really effective. Creatine has helped the subjects to increase strength and power significantly.
But if we compare, creatine group to creatine + betaine group, we can notice that the results are same because betaine has done nothing extra.
Creatine Effect = Creatine + Betaine Effect
So, we can conclude, betaine is not effective to increase strength and power.
Source: del Favero, S., Roschel, H., Artioli, G., Ugrinowitsch, C., Tricoli, V., Costa, A., Barroso, R., Negrelli, A. L., Otaduy, M. C., da Costa Leite, C., Lancha-Junior, A. H., & Gualano, B. (2012). Creatine but not betaine supplementation increases muscle phosphorylcreatine content and strength performance. Amino acids, 42(6), 2299–2305. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-011-0972-5 or PubMed
In 2009, 2.5 grams betaine per day was given to 24 trained males aged almost 21 years, for 15 days.
Here are the results.
Only power is measured in this study. Three different exercises are used to test the power of subjects, before and after supplementation.
We can see that there is no significant increase in power of betaine group. Even the placebo group has gained more power compare to betaine group.
So, we can say that betaine is not effective to increase power.
Source: Hoffman, J. R., Ratamess, N. A., Kang, J., Gonzalez, A. M., Beller, N. A., & Craig, S. A. (2011). Effect of 15 days of betaine ingestion on concentric and eccentric force outputs during isokinetic exercise. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 25(8), 2235–2241. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182162530 or PubMed
In 2011, 2.5 grams betaine per day was given to 11 trained male subjects aged almost 22 years, for 15 days. This was a crossover study.
Here are the results.
Only strength in measured in this study. Bench press for 1 repetition is used to test the strength of the subjects.
In betaine group, strength is decreased by 1.67% after 15 days of betaine supplementation. In placebo group, strength is increased by 2.67% without any use of supplement.
So, we can clearly say that betaine is not effective to increase strength.
Source: Hoffman, J. R., Ratamess, N. A., Kang, J., Rashti, S. L., & Faigenbaum, A. D. (2009). Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 6, 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-6-7 or PubMed
In 2010, a study was conducted on 12 trained persons aged almost 21 years. 2.5 grams betaine per day was given to subjects for 14 days. This was a crossover study.
Here are the results.
In this study, we can see that bench press increased by 24% and bench press throw increased by 16% after 14 days of betaine supplementation. This is an unbelievable improvement in power. So, this study concludes that betaine is effective to increase power.
Source: Lee, E. C., Maresh, C. M., Kraemer, W. J., Yamamoto, L. M., Hatfield, D. L., Bailey, B. L., Armstrong, L. E., Volek, J. S., McDermott, B. P., & Craig, S. A. (2010). Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7, 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-27 or PubMed
In 2012, a study was conducted on 16 trained persons (7 females + 9 males) aged almost 19 years. 2.5 grams betaine per day was given to all subjects for 7 days. This was a crossover study.
Here are the results.
After 7 days of supplementation, we can see a minor but noticeable increase in power. This study also suggests that betaine is effective.
Source: Pryor, J. L., Craig, S. A., & Swensen, T. (2012). Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-12 or PubMed
In 2013, 2.5 grams betaine was given to 13 trained males aged almost 23 years for 14 days. This was a crossover study.
Here are the results.
In results, we can see no effect on strength. Power is increased a little bit but if we compare it to placebo group, it is not significant. So, this study suggests that betaine is not effective to improve strength and power.
Source: Trepanowski, J. F., Farney, T. M., McCarthy, C. G., Schilling, B. K., Craig, S. A., & Bloomer, R. J. (2011). The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 25(12), 3461–3471. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e318217d48d or PubMed
Review Based on 7 Studies
We have analyzed 7 studies. 5 studies say that betaine is not effective to improve strength and power. 2 studies say that betaine is effective to improve power.
Based on all these studies we can conclude that betaine is not effective.
We need to conduct more, large, accurate and long duration studies to examine betaine’s effect on strength and power.
Betaine Effect on Body Composition
Body composition means the composition of fat and muscle in the body. More muscle and less fat are considered healthy and aesthetic. Companies claim that betaine can help to reduce body fat to improve body composition.
2 studies are available to examine this claim.
In 2018, a study was conducted on 23 girls aged almost 21 years. 2.5 grams betaine was given to girls for 8 weeks. The study results in no effect on body composition.
Source: Cholewa, J. M., Hudson, A., Cicholski, T., Cervenka, A., Barreno, K., Broom, K., Barch, M., & Craig, S. (2018). The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on body composition and performance in collegiate females: a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), 37. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0243-x or PubMed
In 2002, a study was conducted on 42 obese persons (14 males + 28 females) to examine the effect of betaine on fat loss. 6 grams per day of betaine was given to persons for 12 weeks. 6 grams is a high dose of betaine and 12 weeks is a good long duration, but the study results in no effect on body composition.
Source: Schwab, U., Törrönen, A., Toppinen, L., Alfthan, G., Saarinen, M., Aro, A., & Uusitupa, M. (2002). Betaine supplementation decreases plasma homocysteine concentrations but does not affect body weight, body composition, or resting energy expenditure in human subjects. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 76(5), 961–967. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/76.5.961 or PubMed
So, we can say that betaine is not effective to improve body composition.
Betaine for Hyperhomocysteinemia and Dry Mouth
Betaine can be used for the treatment of hyperhomocysteinemia and dry mouth.
Hyperhomocysteinemia is a condition of an abnormally high level of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid. The body can produce this amino acid itself and can also take it from natural food. Due to some reasons, homocysteine levels in the blood increases abnormally. High levels of homocysteine in the blood are related to serious heart problems. Betaine can help to reduce the high levels of homocysteine in blood and urine.
Dry mouth is a problem when due to some reasons, the mouth cannot produce enough saliva to maintain the moisture or hydration in the mouth. Betaine is safe and effective to treat this condition.
- Betaine is not effective to improve strength, power, or body composition.
- Betaine can be used to treat hyperhomocysteinemia and dry mouth.