beta-alanine

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:
β-Alanine
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.

Other
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

Safety
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.

References

  1. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids43(1), 25-37.
  2. Saunders, B., Elliott-Sale, K., Artioli, G. G., Swinton, P. A., Dolan, E., Roschel, H., … & Gualano, B. (2017). β-alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine51(8), 658-669.
  3. Ducker, K. J., Dawson, B., & Wallman, K. E. (2013). Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on 800-m running performance. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism23(6), 554-561.
  4. Howe, S. T., Bellinger, P. M., Driller, M. W., Shing, C. M., & Fell, J. W. (2013). The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on isokinetic force and cycling performance in highly trained cyclists. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism23(6), 562-570.
  5. Glenn, J. M., Gray, M., Stewart Jr, R. W., Moyen, N. E., Kavouras, S. A., DiBrezzo, R., … & Stone, M. S. (2016). Effects of 28-day beta-alanine supplementation on isokinetic exercise performance and body composition in female masters athletes. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research30(1), 200-207.
  6. Gross, M., Boesch, C., Bolliger, C. S., Norman, B., Gustafsson, T., Hoppeler, H., & Vogt, M. (2014). Effects of beta-alanine supplementation and interval training on physiological determinants of severe exercise performance. European journal of applied physiology114(2), 221-234.
  7. Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research25(7), 1804-1815.
  8. Hobson, R. M., Harris, R. C., Martin, D., Smith, P., Macklin, B., Gualano, B., & Sale, C. (2013). Effect of beta-alanine with and without sodium bicarbonate on 2,000-m rowing performance. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism23(5), 480-487.
  9. Smith, A. E., Walter, A. A., Graef, J. L., Kendall, K. L., Moon, J. R., Lockwood, C. M., … & Stout, J. R. (2009). Effects of β-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition6(1), 1-9.
  10. Kresta, J. Y., Oliver, J. M., Jagim, A. R., Fluckey, J., Riechman, S., Kelly, K., … & Kreider, R. B. (2014). Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine supplementation on muscle carnosine, body composition and exercise performance in recreationally active females. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition11(1), 1-15.
  11. Hoffman, J. R., Landau, G., Stout, J. R., Hoffman, M. W., Shavit, N., Rosen, P., … & Ostfeld, I. (2015). β-Alanine ingestion increases muscle carnosine content and combat specific performance in soldiers. Amino acids, 47(3), 627-636.
  12. Stout, J. R., Graves, B. S., Smith, A. E., Hartman, M. J., Cramer, J. T., Beck, T. W., & Harris, R. C. (2008). The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on neuromuscular fatigue in elderly (55–92 years): a double-blind randomized study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition5(1), 1-6.
  13. Stellingwerff, T., Decombaz, J., Harris, R. C., & Boesch, C. (2012). Optimizing human in vivo dosing and delivery of β-alanine supplements for muscle carnosine synthesis. Amino acids43(1), 57-65.
  14. Stegen, S., Blancquaert, L., Everaert, I., Bex, T., Taes, Y., Calders, P., … & Derave, W. (2013). Meal and beta-alanine coingestion enhances muscle carnosine loading. Med Sci Sports Exerc45(8), 1478-85.
  15. Harris, R. C., Tallon, M. J., Dunnett, M., Boobis, L., Coakley, J., Kim, H. J., … & Wise, J. A. (2006). The absorption of orally supplied β-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino acids30(3), 279-289.
  16. Derave, W., Ozdemir, M. S., Harris, R. C., Pottier, A., Reyngoudt, H., Koppo, K., … & Achten, E. (2007). β-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. Journal of applied physiology103(5), 1736-1743.
  17. Hill, C. A., Harris, R. C., Kim, H. J., Harris, B. D., Sale, C., Boobis, L. H., … & Wise, J. A. (2007). Influence of β-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino acids32(2), 225-233.
  18. Sale, C., Saunders, B., & Harris, R. C. (2010). Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine concentrations and exercise performance. Amino acids39(2), 321-333.
  19. Caruso, J., Charles, J., Unruh, K., Giebel, R., Learmonth, L., & Potter, W. (2012). Ergogenic effects of β-alanine and carnosine: proposed future research to quantify their efficacy. Nutrients, 4(7), 585-601.
  20. Blancquaert, L., Everaert, I., & Derave, W. (2015). Beta-alanine supplementation, muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care18(1), 63-70.
  21. Hoffman, J. R., Zuckerman, A., Ram, O., Sadot, O., Stout, J. R., Ostfeld, I., & Cohen, H. (2017). Behavioral and inflammatory response in animals exposed to a low-pressure blast wave and supplemented with β-alanine. Amino Acids49(5), 871-886.
  22. Culbertson, J. Y., Kreider, R. B., Greenwood, M., & Cooke, M. (2010). Effects of beta-alanine on muscle carnosine and exercise performance: a review of the current literature. Nutrients2(1), 75-98.
  23. Sahlin, E. H. K. (1980). Acid-base balance during exercise. Exercise and sport sciences reviews8(1), 41-128.
  24. Severin, S. E., Kirzon, M. V., & Kaftanova, T. M. (1953). Effect of carnosine and anserine on action of isolated frog muscles. Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR91(3), 691-694.
  25. Gemelli, T., de Andrade, R. B., Rojas, D. B., Zanatta, Â., Schirmbeck, G. H., Funchal, C., … & Wannmacher, C. M. D. (2018). Chronic exposure to β-alanine generates oxidative stress and alters energy metabolism in cerebral cortex and cerebellum of Wistar rats. Molecular neurobiology55(6), 5101-5110.
  26. Harris, R. C., Jones, G., Hill, C. A., Kendrick, I. P., Boobis, L., Kim, C., … & Wise, J. A. (2007). The carnosine content of V lateralis in vegetarians and omnivores.
  27. Everaert, I., Stegen, S., Vanheel, B., Taes, Y., & Derave, W. (2013). Effect of beta-alanine and carnosine supplementation on muscle contractility in mice. Medicine and science in sports and exercise45(1), 43-51.
  28. Baguet, A., Reyngoudt, H., Pottier, A., Everaert, I., Callens, S., Achten, E., & Derave, W. (2009). Carnosine loading and washout in human skeletal muscles. Journal of applied physiology106(3), 837-842.
  29. Stellingwerff, T., Anwander, H., Egger, A., Buehler, T., Kreis, R., Decombaz, J., & Boesch, C. (2012). Effect of two β-alanine dosing protocols on muscle carnosine synthesis and washout. Amino acids42(6), 2461-2472.
  30. Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Hoffman, J. R., Wilborn, C. D., Sale, C., … & Antonio, J. (2015). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition12(1), 1-14.
  31. Ko, R., Low Dog, T., Gorecki, D. K., Cantilena, L. R., Costello, R. B., Evans, W. J., … & Sarma, N. D. (2014). Evidence-based evaluation of potential benefits and safety of beta-alanine supplementation for military personnel. Nutrition reviews72(3), 217-225.
  32. Dolan, E., Swinton, P. A., Painelli, V. D. S., Stephens Hemingway, B., Mazzolani, B., Infante Smaira, F., … & Gualano, B. (2019). A systematic risk assessment and meta-analysis on the use of oral β-alanine supplementation. Advances in Nutrition10(3), 452-463.
  33. Quesnele, J. J., Laframboise, M. A., Wong, J. J., Kim, P., & Wells, G. D. (2014). The effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance: a systematic review of the literature. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism24(1), 14-27.

Author

Mario Klasens Author XBR

Similar Posts