Beta alanine is a popular supplement among the fitness community. It’s been shown to boost exercise performance, among other benefits.
This article will explain what beta alanine is, what it does for the body, and how it can enhance exercise performance.
What is Beta Alanine?
Beta alanine is an amino acid that is considered non-essential, meaning that the body naturally produces it and therefore does not necessarily require it from food or supplements. Plus, beta alanine is not used by the body to produce proteins, unlike most amino acids.
Rather, beta alanine is needed to produce another important compound called carnosine.
Carnosine is naturally found in the body, serves as a protein building block and also acts as an antioxidant. When it comes to exercise, carnosine plays a role in reducing lactic acid buildup which minimizes soreness and improves exercise performance.
In addition to aiding the production of carnosine, beta alanine improves exercise performance, has antioxidant properties, and can boost immune health.
As you’ll learn in this article, while the body already produces beta alanine, taking a supplement can provide additional benefits especially as they relate to exercise performance.
How Does Beta Alanine Work in the Body?
Beta alanine has a unique way of interacting within the body that gives way to its impressive benefits.
First, it’s important to understand that beta alanine is a necessary building block in the body. Specifically, beta alanine binds with histidine in the brain and muscles to create carnosine. Beta alanine therefore increases the production of carnosine in the muscles.
Typically beta alanine levels are relatively low within the muscles which limits the production of carnosine. However, with supplemental beta alanine, studies show that carnosine levels are elevated by approximately 80% (1,2).
The elevated carnosine levels leads to less lactic acid levels during and after exercise, resulting in reduced soreness and fatigue.
The next section will explain how beta alanine and its role in carnosine production can positively impact exercise performance.
How Does Beta Alanine Impact Exercise Performance?
Beta alanine improves exercise performance by increasing endurance and reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. Beta alanine’s benefits are particularly evident in high intensity exercise.
With additional beta alanine, athletes may be able to exercise for longer periods of time. However, most of the studies on beta alanine show enhanced output and endurance benefits for workouts within a 30-minute time frame. More research is needed to better support its benefits for exercise lasting longer than 30 minutes (3).
In addition to improved endurance, athletes are less sore, meaning they can get back to training sooner and keep working on strength and endurance goals.
After adding beta alanine to your fitness routine, the benefits of beta alanine may be noticed after a period of 2 weeks as it typically takes some time for beta alanine to yield increased carnosine levels in muscles (3).
What Type of Exercises Can Benefit Most from Beta Alanine?
Research shows that beta alanine is most beneficial for high intensity exercises that last anywhere from one to five minutes. Endurance might be improved in the sense that people may be able to do more sets or reps in a workout.
While research is not supportive enough to suggest that beta alanine improves strength, the evidence does show that it can boost training volume and reduce fatigue.
Is Beta Alanine Safe?
Beta alanine is a completely safe supplement for healthy individuals when taken in appropriate doses.
There are a couple possible side effects, however, no reported or studied effects have posed risks or dangers in healthy people. One possible side effect is suppressed taurine levels, as beta alanine has been shown to compete with taurine for absorption in the muscles.
It’s important to remember that beta alanine is produced naturally in the body so the concerns for safety are relatively low.
However, because there is not enough reliable research, it’s recommended to avoid taking beta alanine if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Will Beta Alanine Make Me “Tingle”?
Another reported side effect of beta alanine is a condition called paresthesia, which is an unusual sensation that feels like tingling of the skin. Typically, people experience paresthesia in the face, neck, and hands.
However, the tingling side effect can be totally avoided by consuming a lower dose and especially by not exceeding recommendations (4).
Plus, even though the tingling might be uncomfortable and best to be avoided, there is actually no evidence to suggest that it’s harmful in any way.
Is Carnosyn Beta Alanine and Beta Alanine the Same Thing?
While Carnosyn beta alanine and beta alanine have the same molecular makeup, they are not in fact the same thing. Not all beta alanine is created equal.
Carnosyn beta alanine is a specific, scientifically proven and patented form of beta alanine. There have been over 55 studies conducted on this specific version of beta alanine, which continues to prove its safety and effectiveness.
On the other hand, generic beta alanine is actually not backed by as much research as carnosyn beta alanine, nor is it backed by the FDA. Plus, the well-researched and tested Carnosyn beta alanine contains zero banned substances and is totally safe for human consumption.
When to Consume Beta Alanine for Best Results?
As with all supplements, it is ideal to understand best practices related to when, how, and how much to take in order to reap the most benefit.
Many people consume beta alanine in a pre-workout drink, however, studies show that taking beta alanine with a meal can increase carnosine levels and enhance its effectiveness (5).
Therefore, consider having something more substantial before a workout to get the most out of it.
Keep in mind that the standard dose of beta alanine is anywhere from 2-5 grams per day, so be careful to not exceed the recommended dose.
A convenient pre-workout drink is the stim free pre workout from Naked Nutrition that contains 2 grams of Carnosyn beta alanine per serving.
This clean performance-boosting supplement provides an energy boost without the crash and results in significant increases in training output and endurance. Simply mix 2 scoops with water or your favorite beverage about 15-20 minutes before your workout.