Its in just about every pre-workout on the market, but is beta alanine worth it? The short answer is yes. This non-essential beta amino acid is proven to increase muscular function and strength during long workouts. It is able to be produced by the body and is also found in food, however not nearly enough to really improve physical performance. The easiest and fastest way to get extra beta alanine is of course through supplementation.
The overall goal of beta alanine supplementation for bodybuilders and other similar athletes is to increase carnosine concentrations. When ingested, Beta alanine combines with histidine to form the almighty carnosine inside muscles.
Why do you want to increase carnosine levels?
Because carnosine fights against acidic buildup in the muscles. This is particularly helpful during long workouts. When your body begins to tire during workouts an overload of Hydrogen ions being to flow through your muscles, dropping the pH and creating an acidic environment. This decreases muscle function and power. So since carnosine reduces the acidity it indirectly gives you a muscle strength and function boost after the onset of fatigue.
This boost will not increase your strength prior to fatigue. It simply lessens fatigue and helps you keep going longer so you will be able to keep up the intensity in the gym for a longer time and benefit more.
To better back up the positive effects of beta alanine supplementation lets take a look at couple of studies.
Proof that it works
The first study I want to present to you was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and studied both body composition and muscular performance with and without the supplementation of beta alanine.
During the 8 week double blind study, college athletes were tested in high intensity interval training, sprints, and resistance (strength) training.
The results were pretty definitive in the favor of beta alanine supplementation. While both the placebo and beta alanine group increased their performance, the beta alanine group’s increase was greater. They increased an average of 1.1 seconds on the shuttle run and 3 seconds on the flexed arm hang (strength test)! The placebo’s increases were not even half of that .
And besides their increases in athletic performance the beta alanine group gained 2.1 pounds of lean body mass while the placebo group gained only 1.1 pounds . Nearly twice the lean body mass!
And thats not all
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that beta alanine can boost your muscular endurance when it comes to long endurance exercise.
In this study 19 elite Belgian row athletes were tested their row times in 2,000 meter all-out races.
With 5 grams a day of beta alanine supplementation for 7 weeks the rowers were able to reduce their time by 2.7 ± 4.8 s. While the placebo group actually slowed down and their time increased in the 2,000 meter test by 1.8 ± 6.8 s .
An ncrease in speed with beta alanine supplementation while the placebo group actually showed a decrease? Need I say more.
Is Beta Alanine Worth It?
Beta alanine is one of the more known amino acids in the fitness industry. It has been the subject of many studies and proves time and time again to be effective. Anyone who uses pre-workouts has more than likely consumed beta alanine before, as it is one of the most common ingredients for “N.O. boosting”.
I have personally taken beta alanine in pre-workouts numerous times over the years, but it is difficult to pinpoint its effect with all of the other ingredients along side it. That is why I decided to purchase “bulk” pure beta alanine powder a while back, along with other pure ingredients to include in my personal pre-workout. From being able to include beta alanine when desired and exclude it occasionally I can undoubtedly conclude that it works for me.
The decreased muscle fatigue helps me push harder for longer in the gym and it allows you to recover faster. And you have got to love the tingles beta alanine gives you. Its that extra psychological boost you need.
So When Should I Take it and How Much Should I Take?
The elevated carnosine levels caused by supplementing beta alanine are slow to rise and also slow to fall. This means that it doesn’t really matter when you take beta alanine. Whether you are taking it 30 minutes prior to working out or 10 hours prior, the carnosine levels won’t be significantly effected enough to matter. Just make sure you keep track of your doses and take some every day. Personally, I like to supplement beta alanine about 30 minutes prior to working out for the tingling sensation to be in full effect. However, this doesn’t help you physiologically but it can psychologically.
As for the dosage, 3-4 grams per day is considered optimal. However, up to 6.4g/day for 28 days has been studied without harmful side effects. If you are taking a pre-workout be sure to check its dosage. Often times the dosage is around 1 to 2 grams, making it beneficial to supplement more beta alanine by itself.
Due to the tingling sensation, Paresthesia, it is suggested that you break your doses down into 1.5-2 grams at a time.
Whats To Look For When Buying
Beta alanine is manufactured by hundreds of different countries all around the world. Many countries don’t monitor the regulation of such products and this often leads to it being impure and potentially hazardous.
If you want quality beta alanine product from a trustworthy source, look for CarnoSyn®. It is a patented brand of beta alanine that is often featured in quality pre-workouts and other supplements due to is purity.
If you have a question or comment be sure to comment below.
1. Benjamin Kern and Tracey Robinson. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jul;25(7):1804-15
2.Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance.