Today’s post will be looking at a super supplement that has the potential to super charge your athletic performance. That supplement be beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is a particularly awesome choice for athletes as it works to reduce fatigue during intense exercise and enhance muscular endurance.
Beta-alanine is a modified version of the amino acid alanine, and is a non essential amino acid. Unlike most amino acids, it is not used by your body to synthesise proteins for the likes of building and repairing muscle. Instead, together with histidine, it produces the molecule carnosine.
Carnosine is stored in cells and released in response to drops in pH within the muscle, helping to combat fatigue. Carnosine maintains the pH and has a buffering effect against the effects of lactic acid created from, for example, high intensity exercise. Carnosine can even protect against diet-induced drops in pH which could occur, for instance, from ketone production in ketosis.
In your muscles, histidine levels are normally high and beta-alanine levels low, which limits the production of carnosine. When beta-alanine is ingested, it turns into carnosine and works by subsequently increasing your muscle’s carnosine store. Supplementing with beta-alanine has been shown to elevate carnosine levels in muscles by 80%!
Beta-alanine supplementation is best suited to moderate to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise performance, such as rowing or sprinting. However, research also shows beta-alanine has the power to improve weightlifting, increase muscle growth and enhance endurance performance with studies showing that it helps increase your time to exhaustion. Although it is most associated for exercise lasting one to four minutes, it’s still worth digging into for endurance minded athletes.
Beta alanine can be found in Both animal and fish produce such as turkey, chicken and prawns.
However, the amounts of beta-alanine found in the diet are not comparable with that found in supplement form. You will not see the same performance enhancement effects from food sources as those found with supplementing it. However consuming beta-alanine with a meal can further increase your carnosine levels.
In regards to dosing I’ve read different information stating standard dosage of beta-alanine is 2–5 grams daily, to another saying 4.8 grams per day is optimal. The great ‘must listen’ Guru Performance podcast did a feature on it and advised a split dose of 2 grams, 4 times a day for a minimum of 4 weeks. I have particularly had success with this protocol.
When supplementing be aware that a minimum 2 weeks , but more like 4 weeks, is required in order to see an impact. This is also with consistent use, so don’t be fooled that you’ll see a impact on performance just from consuming it as a one off as part of a shop bought pre workout formula.
Beta-alanine can be staked. There is some research that it can be favourably paired with creatine and sodium bicarbonate.
Creatine helps high-intensity exercise performance by increasing ATP availability. When used together, creatine and beta-alanine have been shown to benefit exercise performance, strength and lean muscle mass.
Sodium bicarbonate,or baking soda, enhances exercise performance by reducing acid in your blood and muscles.Many studies have examined beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate in combination.The results suggest some benefits from combining the two supplements, especially during exercises in which muscle acidosis inhibits performance.
Beta alanine however does not go to well with the amino acid taurine and may deplete the body’s taurine stores as they may compete for uptake. This could be of importance if you’re taking beta alanine as part of a pre formulated pre-workout drink as they often include taurine due to its speculated stimulating effects, (which has been disproved anyway).
Lastly, doses of beta-alanine may cause a tingling feeling called paresthesia. This may be in the neck, face or back of hands. Don’t worry though, it is a harmless side effect, and you don’t have to feel it to be getting the benefits of the supplement!
Alrighty, hope there’s been a couple of takeaways for you. Check out the previous posts for more info on nutrition, supplements and more.