Beta-alanine is the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps buffer acid in muscles, increasing physical performance in the 60–240-second range.
Beta-alanine can aid lean mass gain. Carnosine appears to be an antioxidant and anti-aging compound. Beta-Alanine is claimed to increase muscle carnosine levels and increase the amount of work you can perform at high intensities.
Beta-alanine has been shown to enhance muscular endurance. Many people report being able to perform one or two additional reps in the gym when training in sets of 8–15 repetitions.
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What Is Beta-Alanine
Beta-alanine has been shown to enhance muscular endurance. Many people report being able to perform one or two additional reps in the gym when training in sets of 8–15 repetitions. Beta-alanine supplementation can also improve moderate to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise performance, like rowing or sprinting.
Beta-alanine is the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps buffer acid in muscles, increasing physical performance in the 60–240-second range. Beta-alanine can aid lean mass gain. Carnosine appears to be an antioxidant and anti-aging compound.
How Does Beta-Alanine Work
When beta-alanine is ingested, it turns into the molecule carnosine, which acts as an acid buffer in the body.
Carnosine is stored in cells. Increased stores of carnosine can protect against diet-induced drops in pH (which might occur from ketone production in ketosis, for example), as well as offer protection from exercise-induced lactic acid production.
Large doses of beta-alanine may cause a tingling feeling called paresthesia. It is a harmless side effect.
Purpose and Benefits of Beta-Alanine
- Anti-aging and longevity - Carnosine depletion appears to be associated with aging. Increasing carnosine stores may attenuate the aging process.
- Antioxidant - Carnosine appears to have general protective (antioxidant) effects on a variety of proteins in cells.
- Reducing anxiety - beta-alanine may possess anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties.
- Reducing chronic fatigue - some evidence suggests that beta-alanine might play a role in chronic fatigue, but no conclusion can be drawn at this point in time.
- Exercise and performance - beta-alanine may reduce the perception of fatigue during exercise to near-exhaustion, and at least one study suggests an improvement in neural function, as well as a lower risk of falling.
- Power output - improvements in acute power output have been noted but are much less reliable than the effects on longer-duration exercise. While beta-alanine does not appear to significantly increase acute power output, it may enhance the accrual of power over time, secondary to enhanced exercise volume.
- Anaerobic exercise - beta-alanine seems to benefit all athletes (male or female, novice or advanced), though seldom to the point of reaching statistical significance. Beta-alanine appears to reliably improve a variety of exercise parameters, but mostly for efforts lasting 60–240 s. Above that range, benefits decrease. Under that range, benefits are not significant.
- Lean mass gain - beta-alanine appears to contribute to lean mass gains, through mechanisms currently unknown. The notion that these benefits are dependent on exercise cannot be refuted since all three relevant studies paired beta-alanine supplementation with an exercise regimen.
How Beta-Alanine Interacts with Supplements
- Taurine - both Taurine and beta-alanine are acidic with an amine in the beta position. In that respect, they share a similar structure with the neurotransmitter GABA.
- Taurine and beta-alanine share the same transporter, so the competition may occur. In experimental conditions, beta-alanine can induce a transient taurine deficiency. However, none of the human studies using supplemental beta-alanine (up to 6.4 g/day) mentioned side-effects suggestive of a taurine deficiency (such as an increase in muscle cramps).
- Creatine - Creatine, and beta-alanine both enjoy an extensive body of evidence for their efficacy in trained athletes. For that reason, they are often seen as sister supplements, and several trials have been conducted with their combination. There seems to be a synergism between beta-alanine and creatine with regard to performance.
- Sodium Bicarbonate - Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) has been investigated for its ability to improve performance via a buffering mechanism similar to beta-alanine’s. The anti-fatigue effects of sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine are most likely additive.
How to Take Beta-Alanine
The standard daily dose is 2–5 g. While beta-alanine is a popular ingredient in pre-workout stacks, supplementation is actually not timing-dependent.
Large doses of beta-alanine may result in a tingling feeling called paresthesia. This harmless side effect can be avoided by using a time-release formulation or by taking smaller doses (0.8–1 g) several times a day.