Beta-alanine has become a very popular supplement. This is not surprising, since a large amount of research shows that it can: enhance performance, help to build muscle mass, and benefit overall health. This supplement is also well known for its ability to give users a tingling sensation. This short tingling sensation is safe and is not noticeable anymore after using this supplement for a longer period. Nonetheless, the tingling sensation may surprise users which try a pre-workout product containing beta-alanine for the first time. Nowadays, many pre-workout supplements contain beta-alanine due to the benefits. However, many pre-workout products contain a lower amount of beta-Alanine than recommended by research. Therefore, it is often recommended to increase the daily intake of beta-alanine if you want to optimally improve athletic performance, even if you are using a pre-workout supplement.

Beta-Alanine is also known as:
3-Aminopropionic acid
CarnoSyn (brand name)

Functions of Beta-Alanine

Increases athletic performance, endurance and strength.
Beta-alanine is primarily known for its ability to improve athletic performance. Research suggests that this is possible since it can improve both endurance and strength [1][2][30][33]. It also seems able to extend the time to exhaustion [1][2][30][33]. This allows users to exercise and perform for longer periods at a time. Current studies suggest that this supplement may actually increase time to exhaustion by up to ~13% [8]. As a result, this supplement does not only help with resistance training, but also with other sports like: running, cycling, wrestling, and more [3][4][5][6][7].

Increase in muscle mass
Due to the potential improvements in athletic performance, this supplement may also help to further improve the body composition of users [9][10][30][33]. The improvements regarding body composition, seem mainly possible due to its ability to further increase muscle mass gains. This has not only been reported by users, but also confirmed by recent studies [9][10][30][33]. However, further research on this topic is still needed.

Beta-alanine may also have several other benefits. For example, it seems to be able to improve cognitive performance and have antioxidant effects [11]. In addition, it also appears to support the exhaustion threshold of the elderly [12].

Who can use beta-alanine ?

This amino acid is very suitable for people which would like to improve their athletic performance and / or lean muscle mass. Due to its beneficial effects, it is not only suitable for people which do resistance training. Based on research, this supplement also seems beneficial for people who practice other sports, like: running, cycling, wrestling, and more [3][4][5][6][7].

How should I use beta-alanine ? / Dosages

Current research suggests that ~3-6g Beta-alanine daily, will result in the best improvements in athletic performance. Unfortunately, current research regarding the optimal time of consumption is not completely clear. However, it seems that the time of consumption isn’t nearly as important as the consistent daily consumption of beta-alanine [13]. Due to this, it does not matter as much at what time it is consumed. However, some people suggest that it should be consumed prior to exercise in order to get the most beneficial effects. This suggestion is made, since this gives users the ability to also benefit from the shorter term effects of beta-alanine during exercise.

Dosages can also be taken throughout the day. This can reduce the tingling sensation (paresthesia) that may accompany beta-alanine consumption. This tingling sensation is safe, and our body will build up a tolerance to it. However, some people prefer to spread dosages throughout the day to avoid this tingling effect.

How does this supplement work ?

The improvement of athletic performance is mainly possible because beta-alanine can increase the carnosine concentrations in our muscles. This increase is possible because carnosine is composed of beta-alanine and histidine. Studies have found that our body has enough histidine, while beta-alanine is the limiting factor in the production of carnosine [15]. Several studies have already shown, that taking a beta-alanine supplement can increase carnosine levels in the muscles by up to 80% [1][15][16][17][18]. This increase in muscle carnosine concentrations helps our muscles to resist acid build-up [19][20][21]. This is important, since exercising results in the build-up of muscle acidity. This increasing acidity is a major cause of fatigue, both during and after exercise [1][22][23]. Fortunately, carnosine functions as a buffer which can neutralize the acidity in muscles during exercise [1][24]. Due to this, beta-alanine can result in performance and endurance improvements.

Stacking / combining

Beta-alanine can be perfectly combined with various other supplements. Due to this, and its performance enhancing effects, it is often found in pre-workout supplements. However, due to the limited amount of beta-alanine in most standard pre-workout supplements, many people use additional beta-alanine in order to optimize its beneficial effects.

Research has also shown that beta-alanine can be combined well with creatine. This combination is suggested, since it may help to further improve strength and body composition improvements. Furthermore, some people suggest to combine this amino acid with a taurine supplement. This is suggested since high concentrations of beta-alanine may decrease taurine levels [25]. However, normal amounts of beta-alanine are too low to cause taurine depletion [17][19]. Therefore, this combination is not necessary when normal dosages are used.

Where does beta-alanine come from ?

Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring beta-amino acid. Our body can produce it in small amounts, and it can also be found in small amounts in our food. The best food sources of beta-alanine are: meat, poultry and fish. Due to these sources, vegetarians and vegans have ~50% less carnosine in their muscles compared to omnivores [26]. This makes a beta-alanine supplement even more important for vegetarians and vegans.

Other information

Carnosine supplement vs beta-alanine supplement
At first glance, it may seem beneficial to use a carnosine supplement instead of beta-alanine, in order to increase our muscle carnosine concentrations. However, using pure carnosine is not as effective as a beta-alanine supplement. This is because pure carnosine is largely broken down before it can even reach our muscles [27].

L-Alanine supplement vs beta-alanine supplement
While their name is very similar, they are not substitutes for each other. L-alanine is a nonessential amino-acid which is used in protein synthesis. Beta-alanine is not used in protein synthesis, and is mainly used to increase muscle carnosine concentrations.

Paraesthesia (tingling feeling)
Consuming beta-alanine may cause a short harmless tingling sensation on the skin [13]. This tingling sensation is known as paresthesia, and there are no harmful effects associated with it [13]. It is usually experienced in the neck, face, and the back of the hands. However, not everybody experiences this effect, since the paresthesia threshold varies from person to person. Furthermore, people seem to build a tolerance to the paresthesia over time. Due to this, the tingling feeling should reduce on its own over time.

Most people don’t mind the tingling sensation, and there are also people who like it. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid it for people that don’t like it. The best way to avoid it, is to use smaller dosages more times throughout the day. For example: 4 dosages of 1 gram per day, instead of 1 dosage of 4 gram per day.

Daily use
Beta-alanine is commonly found in pre-workout supplements. However, the amount of beta-alanine in standard pre-workout supplements is often too low for optimal effects. For optimal effects, this amino acid should also be used daily. Due to these factors, it often concluded that a separate beta-alanine supplement is useful to obtain the maximum benefits.

While taking it daily is considered to be required for optimal performance, we would like to remind people that it is no problem if you forget it occasionally. It was found that muscle carnosine levels return to pre-supplementation levels after several weeks of stopping consumption [28][29]. If this amino-acid is not consumed on a certain day, it might slightly lower muscle carnosine levels. However, this slight decrease of muscle carnosine levels won’t be noticeable for most people.

Safety & competitive use

Different studies have shown that beta-alanine supplements are safe [13][30][31][32]. The only side-effect is the short and harmless tingling sensation on the skin, as described earlier [13]. The safety of this supplement should not be surprising, since beta-alanine can be created by our own body, and be excreted without problems [30].

Competitive use
Due to the performance benefits, this supplement is used by many professional athletes. The use of this supplement is allowed, and will not result in problems for professional athletes.

Correct use
A dietary supplement can contribute to a healthy and active lifestyle. However, it should not be a substitute for a healthy lifestyle and a varied diet. The recommended dosage should not be exceeded, since side effects may occur otherwise. Temporary side effects of beta-alanine can include a tingling sensation.

As with any supplement, we advise users to consult a physician before use. In particular if you use medication or have health complaints. This product should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Furthermore, this product should not be used by persons under 18 years of age and must be kept out of the reach of children. Keep this product in a cool and dry place to maintain the quality.


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Mario Klasens Author XBR

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