Betaine Rotator

Sometimes with the hype of fancy pseudoscientific-sounding new ingredients, or here-today- gone-tomorrow over-the-counter anabolics, we forget about the simple supplements that have been around for a long time without garnering much attention yet have compelling research behind them to support their use as growth promoters. Betaine is one of those supplements.

If you’ve never heard of betaine spoken of in any anabolic context, I’m not surprised. Betaine (pronounced beet-uheen) was originally isolated from sugar beets (hence the awkward pronunciation). Betaine is sometimes called trimethylglycine. In fact, most betaine products will be labeled trimethylglycine. Betaine naturally occurs in most living plants and animals and is an oxidation product of choline metabolism. Betaine’s primary function is as a methyl donor and as an osmolyte. Methyl donors such as betaine are of major importance as anticarcinogenic nutrients. In fact, a lack of sufficient methyl donor nutrients such as choline, betaine, methionine, and folate is the only nutrient deficiency known to be carcinogenic in and of itself. As an osmolyte, it plays a role similar to taurine by protecting cells from dehydration by drawing water into the cell.

I had believed it was its ability to draw water into the cell that was responsible for some of the anabolic properties reported in animal studies and in animal husbandry. But a recent study done on trained subjects shows there is more going on that just cell swelling.


Twelve trained men underwent two weeks of supplementation with either betaine (1.25 g twice per day) or a placebo. Following a two-week washout period (taking neither betaine or placebo), subjects switched groups. Those that were taking betaine began taking a placebo and vice versa. Before and after each two-week period, subjects did a workout session. Circulating GH, IGF-1, cortisol, and insulin were measured. Muscle biopsies were taken from the quads and analyzed for signaling proteins (Akt, p70S6k, AMPK). Betaine supplementation produced a near significant increase in GH and significantly increased IGF-1 levels. Not only that, betaine also significantly decreased cortisol levels. There was no difference in insulin levels. As for signaling proteins, betaine increased resting total muscle Akt (anabolic). Betaine potentiated phosphorylation of Akt (anabolic) and p70S6 k (anabolic). Phosphorylation of AMPK (catabolic) decreased during both treatments, which is a good thing. Betaine supplementation at about 2.5 grams per day enhanced both the anabolic hormonal profile and the corresponding anabolic signaling in muscle tissue.

Betaine has been used in animal husbandry to improve feed effciency (more muscle and less fat) for more than 50 years. It is inexpensive and can be added to drinking water or even a protein drink. Personally, I have had “feel it” results by combining it with my creatine. The daily dose in the study we just looked at used 2.5 grams per day. I’ve used 5 grams and am happy with the results. I think I would use more if I were loading creatine after a break from it. This should enhance the fullness and favorable weight gain creatine can produce. – FLEX