The Effects of Beta-Alanine on Performance

Updated on August 20, 2016

What Is Beta-Alanine?

For years, protein powder, multivitamins, creatine, and fish oils have been the most popular supplements money can buy. However, there is one that is always over looked: beta-alanine. This is an amino acid that is the building blocks of proteins. Beta-alanine is commonly found is protein rich foods like fish, chicken, and steak but it occurs in very small amounts, so getting a good dose can be challenging.

How Does Beta-Alanine Effect Performance?

Beta-alanine turns into carnosine which can increase your strength and stamina while reducing muscle soreness caused by lactic acid.

Beta-alanine is one of the best and most scientifically proven performance enhancing supplements out there, next to creatine. Since it increases carnosine levels, its benefits include anti-aging properties, diminishing hypertension, and protecting the heart from toxins. Beta-alanine is also fairly safe to use, so you won't have to be second guessing your health.

How it Works

To understand how beta-alanine works in the body we must first understand what carnosine is and how it works.

Carnosine is a dipeptide (two amino acids) of beta-alanine and histidine. It is commonly found in muscle fibers, specifically type II muscle fibers, the "fast twitch" muscle fibers used in short bursts and high-intensity exercises.

During high-intensity exercise, our body produces hydrogen ions from H2O which then bond to water molecules, making H3O. These extra-hydrogenated water molecules in your system increase the acid level, including the presence of lactic acid, which is what makes your muscles fatigued and sore. The higher the lactic acid, the less progress you will make in your regimen.

What carnosine does is act as a buffer inside the cells of your body. They stabilize pH levels and absorb hydrogen ions. Your normal blood pH level is right around 7.5. Here's a scale to show what some pH levels look like:

Remember that carnosine is part beta-alanine, so doses of beta-alanine will surely increase your carnosine levels which causes lower lactic acid levels in your blood.
Remember that carnosine is part beta-alanine, so doses of beta-alanine will surely increase your carnosine levels which causes lower lactic acid levels in your blood.

Who Can Benefit From Beta-Alanine Supplements?

Since hydrogen ions and ultimately lactic acid build-up is more common for short-burst and high- intensity athletes, those are the athletes that benefit from beta-alanine supplementation. On the flip side, endurance athletes like marathon runners will not benefit as much because their bodies don't produce as much hydrogen ions and lactic acid.

Dosage

Generally, 2-5 grams of beta-alanine per day is the right amount. Take it prior to exercise, either as plain beta-alanine or in a pre-workout powder.

Side Effects

Thankfully, there isn't any real danger to beta-alanine. After taking a supplement you will probably feel a tingling senstation throughout your body called paresthesia, which is okay at low levels. At high levels, it could be dangerous. Almost every pre-workout supplement includes beta-alanine, so if you feel paresthesia, that is probably what is causing it. Generally, after using a beta-alanine supplement for a while, the tingling goes away because your body has gotten used to it.

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