What is Beta-Alanine
? Beta Alanine
is a naturally occurring Amino Acid in the human body that has been clinically proven to increase exercise performance and muscular endurance
. Beta Alanine
is a nearly tasteless powder that easily dissolves and mixes in water. At the maximum recommended dose, a bottle of Beta Alanine
will last 31 days. Beta Alanine
allows the muscles to work longer and harder. This can lead to increased performance and improved body composition by allowing muscles to work at a higher volume, if you push them too.
How exactly does Beta-Alanine
If you are familiar with intense
exercise, then you are familiar with the “burn” that accompanies the final reps of any given exercise. This feeling is from the increased muscular acidity from the burning of ATP and glucose for energy. (2) As the muscles become more acidic they lose their ability to contract, they seize up, and the exercise comes to a halt. Beta-Alanine
works by allowing the muscles to work harder and longer. Scientifically speaking, Beta-Alanine improves the intramyocellular buffer capacity by neutralizing the muscular acidity from lactic acid and hydrogen ions (H+) built up during intense exercise.
Research has established that Beta-Alanine works best at enhancing explosive “fast twitch
” exercise performance during high intensity training, so be ready to push the envelope if you want to see the benefits of Beta-Alanine. (1-3) If your exercise program is lacking, or if you train like a wimp, then Beta-Alanine won’t help you.
How does Beta-Alanine buffer lactic acid? Is this safe? Beta Alanine
is known to increase carnosine concentrations in muscle tissue, and carnosine is known to act as a natural proton buffer in muscle tissue -- thus preventing intramyocellular acidosis. (1-3) Beta Alanine
supplementation also appears to be the most efficient way to boost carnosine levels in muscle. In fact, oral supplementation of beta-alanine at 3.2 to 6.4gm/day has been shown increase carnosine concentration in human muscle tissue by 60-80%. (9,10)
There is evidence that persistent and long-term exposure to exercise may naturally increase carnosine concentrations in muscle, thus explaining why professional bodybuilders and elite level athletes maintain higher carnosine concentrations. (1) Therefore, increasing carnosine concentration in muscle tissue could be considered part of a natural adaptation or augmentation to resistance exercise.
How much can Beta-Alanine improve my performance?
Here is a brief review of several human studies on beta alanine
In 2008, researchers examined 30 days of beta alanine supplementation (4.8 gm per day) on resistance exercise performance in eight resistance-trained men. (4) Their resistance exercise protocol
consisted of 6 sets of 12 repetitions of the squat exercise at 70% of their one-repetition maximum (1-RM) with 1.5 minutes of rest between each set.
After 4 weeks, the beta-alanine group was able to perform
22% more total repetitions.
In another study, beta-alanine was given to trained sprinters for 4 weeks (2.4-3.6 gm per day). (12) In the beta-alanine group, knee extension power was significantly increased in each of the five bouts of 30 maximal contractions, whereas, in the placebo group, only the first two bouts were improved.
In a study performed on elderly individuals aging from 55-92 years, beta-alanine was supplemented at 2.4 gm per day. (13) After 90 days, physical working capacity was increased an astounding 28.6% in the beta-alanine group, while no change was found in the placebo group.
How does Beta-Alanine make Creatine & BCAA’s work better?
Yes, it appears that beta-alanine can enhance creatine’s ability to reduce body fat and build muscle in combination with resistance training. (7) Essentially, beta-alanine makes creatine work better.
This synergy was discovered by researchers in 2006, when 33 male subjects were randomly assigned to either a placebo, creatine, or creatine + beta-alanine group. After 10 weeks of weight training, the placebo group improved an average of 10lbs on bench press and squat strength, whereas both creatine and creatine + beta-alanine groups improved their average bench press by 25lbs and their squat strength by 55lbs. However, only the creatine + beta-alanine group had improvement in body composition [simultaneous muscle growth and fat reduction].
When beta-alanine was combined with BCAA’s it was found to reduce post workout muscle soreness from exercise, thus suggesting that beta-alanine and BCAA’s have synergistic effects on enhancing muscle recovery.(8) Making them best rated post workout supplements.
Note: Until further research is done, it’s unclear whether or not beta-alanine and creatine have synergistic effects on increasing muscular endurance
when used together(5-6).
Does Beta-Alanine have any side effects?
Beta-alanine has been shown to be safe and effective for long-term use when used at the recommended dose. (3-8)
In some individuals, beta-alanine may cause a harmless “niacin-like” skin flush where the skin may become tingly and/or red for 15-20 minutes after consumption. (11) This symptom can be eliminated by spreading out each serving throughout the day, and/or consuming a serving of beta-alanine over a 60-90 minute period.