Beta-Alanine: Full Review & In-Depth Look

Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is a modified version of Alanine. Together with Histidine it can form Carnosine which is needed for building muscle. Beta-Alanine is produced in the naturally in the body and is linked with increasing muscle Carnosine levels. You get a lot of your Beta-Alanine from meat and fish.

Supplementing with Beta-Alanine can massively increase Carnosine levels in the muscle cells which helps to prevent muscular fatigue. It is for this reason that so many top pre-workouts and intra-workouts contain Beta-Alanine.

What does the Science say about Beta-Alanine?

The most well known and talked about benefit of supplementing with Beta-Alanine is an increase in muscular endurance. Kern & Robinson (2011) did a study on collegiate wrestlers/football players and found that Beta-Alanine significantly increased muscular endurance [1].

Increasing muscular endurance is useful for a number of reasons. Firstly it means that you can train longer, which is great for sportsmen or women who have to perform repeated movements during training. Secondly it allows an increase in muscular damage from resistance training, because the lifter is able to train for more reps. This means that there will be more strength and hypertrophy gains.

Another study by Baquet et al (1985) found that Beta-Alanine improved row performance in elite athletes, this was due to the increased muscular endurance that it provides [2]. It could also be due to the reduced fatigue which Beta-Alanine also gives you.

Beta-Alanine is very effective at reducing fatigue, and has been shown to be in many studies. Sale et al (2011) looked at high intensity cycling capacity and the effect that 6.4g per day of Beta-Alanine (over 4 weeks) could have on performance. The study found that those who took the supplement were less fatigued than those who did not [3].

There is also limited evidence that Beta-Alanine may increase anaerobic performance (sprinting, explosively lifting weights etc), improve power output, and have a minor effect on weight loss.

What is the Recommended Dosage?

The usual dose that is recommended is between 2 and 5g per day, but as we’ve seen dosages of 6.5g have been effective. People who weigh less should try and stick to the 2-3g per day (at least at first) while bigger people can probably handle slightly higher dosages.

Side Effects

There are no side effects to taking Beta-Alanine, no harmful ones at any rate. There is one side effect which is a tingling in the fingers, or face, which can occur (especially when higher doses are taken), but this is completely harmless. Though admittedly it can be a bit surprising the first time this happens. If you don’t like the sensation then try using a slightly lower dose.

The Bottom Line

Beta-Alanine is a very effective anti-fatiguing supplement, that can also increase muscular endurance. A fantastic pre or intra-workout ingredient, if it also helps burn a little extra fat then all the more reason to give it a go. If you are a sportsman or woman, or if you are a gym lover, then Beta-Alanine should definitely be a feature on your shopping list!

References

[1] Kern, B., Robinson, T. 2011. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25(7): 1804-15

[2] Baquet, A., Bourgois, J., Vanhee, L., Achten, E., Derave, W. 1985. Important role of muscle Carnosine in rowing performance. Journal of Applied Physiology 109(4): 1096-101

[3] Sale, C., Saunders, B., Hudson, S., Wise, J., Harris, R., Sunderland, C. 2011. Effect of β-alanine plus sodium bicarbonate on high-intensity cycling capacity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 43(10): 1972-8

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