Legal performance enhancer discovered in the nutrient betaine

July 8, 2013

Betaine — a nutrient found in shellfish and beets — boosts athletic performance by nearly six percent when added to a sports drink, according to a study supervised by Ithaca College’s Exercise and Sport Sciences Chair Thomas Swensen.

“Betaine may contribute to creatine synthesis, which improves, strength, power and short-term performance,” Swensen said. “Future research should elucidate the mechanism of how betaine supplementation improves performance.”

Dissolve 2.5 grams of betaine (either powder or tablet form) in a 20-ounce sports drink, and drink half in the morning and half in the afternoon.


Sixteen college-aged cyclists were tested three times in order to measure how the sports drink and betaine beverage affected performance variables such as average and maximum peak power. The first test established baseline performances. The subjects then consumed half of either the commercial drink or betaine beverage twice a day for seven days and were tested again.Three weeks later, the subjects repeated the process with the opposite beverage.

Results: one week of betaine supplementation increased peak and mean anaerobic power by 5.5 percent compared to baseline measures in recreationally active college-age men and women.

The study is published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (open access).