Beta-Alanine is a supplement that is meant to enhance the sport performance in high intensity activities. Therefore, it helps us prolong said effort for a longer period of time
- 1. What is Beta-Alanine?
- 2. Beta Alanine and Carnosine
- 3. Beta Alanine and Sport Performance
- 4. Sources of Beta-Alanine
- 5. Things you should take into account
- 6. How can we combine Beta-Alanine?
- 7. Creatine and Beta-Alanine Loading
- 8. How to take Beta Alanine?
- 9. Efficient use protocol (according to the most recent studies)
- 10. Side effects of Beta-Alanine
- 11. Frequently Asked Questions about Beta-Alanine
- 12. The expert opinion
- 13. Results of Beta-Alanine
- 14. Sources
What is Beta-Alanine?
It is a modified version of the amino acid Alanine. It becomes a carnosine molecule once we consume it and it will neutralize the hydrogen ions, as a lactate buffer.
The efficacy of beta-alanine dietary supplements has been proven by experts from important universities. In fact, they have not only tested cell cultures or animals, but also human beings.
Thanks to the existence of scientific evidence on the efficacy of beta-alanine we can ensure that its results are completely reliable.
Who can benefit from Beta-Alanine?
- Athletes who do strength exercises, bodybuilders, and those who practice weightlifting.
- Those who want to enhance their performance.
- Runners, cyclists, footballers, and hockey players.
- Those who train intensively in all kinds of exercises, and in strength and endurance sports.
- Athletes who feel that they have reached their limits and who are looking to take it to the next level.
Effects of Beta-Alanine
The improvement in terms of physical performance normally occurs two weeks after taking beta-alanine, although some people experience it from the very first week.
The levels of carnosine increase when we consume beta-alanine, which results in an improved physical performance. The most spectacular results are usually experienced after two or three weeks.
Recent research has proven that carnosine can increase its levels for twelve weeks at most, which is the reason why it is advisable to use beta-alanine for three months at least, in order to optimize the levels of carnosine as much as possible.
Immediate benefits of consuming Beta-Alanine
Many users experience a strong vasodilation (blood pumping) after taking the first dose of beta-alanine. Beta-alanine increases the level of carnosine, which in turn stimulates the synthesis of nitric oxide, which is an extra benefit. Beta-Alanine also improves the athletic performance.
Beta Alanine and Carnosine
Beta-alanine increases the reserves of Carnosine which is a molecule that helps to buffer acid in the muscle tissue. This can help us increase the duration of high intensity exercise.
Those who choose to use this supplement will substantially improve their athletic performance.
Carnosine also has antioxidant and anti-caging properties, which increases our cells lifespan
Carnosine is synthesized from the amino acids L-Histidine and beta-alanine, and it is stored in the cells and released when there is a pH change. An increase of the carnosine reserves from the body can help to protect us against a pH alteration which can happen due to the production of ketones during ketosis and due to the stress of physical exercise itself and the subsequent production of lactic acid.
The clinical research has proven that we increase carnosine up to a 42-65% in out body by taking a beta-alanine dietary supplement for four weeks. Long-term studies between ten and twelve weeks have proven that carnosine can increase up to an 80%, which results in a powerful intracellular buffer.
The research on beta alanine has proven that that higher ability to absorb carnosine in the muscles can increase the strength and lean muscle mass; as well as a higher performance and more resistance during physical exercise.
The intake of beta alanine produces a higher concentration of carnosine, so that the muscles can absorb more H+ and reach an optimal pH. If we make sure that our muscle fibers have a proper pH level, we will be able to maintain a better performance, more resistance during the workout and stimulate muscle growth.
Beta Alanine and Sport Performance
Beta-alanine (BA) supplementation is quite common due to its proven efficacy when it comes to increasing the levels of muscle carnosine. This is an amino acid that buffers and reduces the acidosis caused by intense exercise on the muscles.
Moreover, apart from providing precursors of carnosine (like beta-alanine) it can also increase the corticosterone levels, which could explain the hyperactivity caused by high doses which is why it is such an effective pre-workout.
Many athletes are able of finishing a set and add one or two extra reps, if they do between 8-15 reps, or they can also feel more recovered after a HIIT session
Moderate or high intensity cardiovascular exercise, such as row or sprints, causes stress in the muscle system. So, beta-alanine can notably helps us improve the performance in this type of exercise.
Beta-Alanine is highly recommended for those high intensity activities that last more than 45″ approximately.
Beta-Alanine as the ATP-PC system
Creatine is the most effective ATP-PC system to perform intense contractions that require a lot of stored energy. The intake of creatine enhances your physical abilities, but you will need to take beta-alanine if you want to reach 8-15 reps at least.
Anyone who wants to build muscle mass needs to follow an intensive training, from a low reps training (1-7) to a medium or high reps (8-15) training. Beta-alanine can fight against the release of H+ through an increase of carnosine.
The efficacy of carnosine is higher in a medium-high reps range (8-15). On the contrary, creatine is better for a low reps range (5-6).
Another strong feature of beta-alanine is the fact that it reduces cell fatigue. A recent study has shown that beta-alanine provides better results than creatine when it comes to reducing cell fatigue. This is an additional advantage that makes of beta-alanine one of the most effective dietary supplements of the last decade in the sports world.
Other ways in which Beta-Alanine improves the physical performance
- Suppressing the intracellular free radicals associated with cell fatigue, that is, the potential influence of calcium that is necessary for muscle contraction.
- Activating the Ca2 + from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), which is crucial for the muscle contraction process and for the potential synergy between carnosine and caffeine.
- Regulating the enzyme and activating the different energy systems.
- Reducing the pH level, which affects the production of ATP and the myosin-actin affinity (contractile components of the muscle fibers).
- Connecting the carnosine with NEP/vasodilation
Effects of Beta-Alanine on the muscles
When we do physical exercise, especially in those cases of high intensity training, we accumulate great quantities of hydrogen ions (H+) in our body, which lowers the pH in the muscles (which makes them more acid). This process happens every time, either if we feel or not a burning sensation.
The ATP excision and the consequent increase of the H+ concentration occurs at all the levels of our energy system. An accumulation of H+ in our energy system is called glycolisis which also produces lactic acid.
The physiological pH releases lactic acid H+ and, therefore, it is the main source of H+ ions during physical exercises, which drops the pH levels. Lactic acid releases H+ and hinders our muscle power. So, contrary to popular belief, the problem is not lactic acid itself.
Even though lactic acid is the main source of H+ it is not the only one. H+ ions are also released when the combination of ATP splits during the workout. The pH level drops quickly during the workout due to the release of H+.
When the pH level drops in our muscles, our ability to perform a muscle contraction is suddenly reduced and, with it, our ability to do our best during the workout.
To sum up, the release of H+ in the muscles triggers a drop of the pH, which reduces their strength and results in an early exhaustion. These limitations do not allow our muscles to react properly in order to stimulate the growth of new muscle mass.
Why should I not take carnosine directly?
If we take isolated carnosine, most of the amino acids that make it up, such as beta-alanine and histidine, are broken down in the digestive tract. Although there is a certain amount that escapes from the digestive tract, it is also broken down in the blood.
In a short period of time, the absorbed carnosine is eliminated or transformed into beta-alaine and histidine, which are transported to the muscles, where they become carnosine once again.
It is better to take the recommended dose of beta alanine directly due to the fact that it is more effective and affordable, since the intramuscular carnosine levels are higher than they would be if we only took carnosine.
That is why it is so important to take beta alanine sport supplements, since they allow us to reach the necessary concentration of carnosine in the muscles. When you use beta alanine, your body takes it to the muscles and it helps to build muscle mass when it is combined with carnosine synthase and histidine.
Sources of Beta-Alanine
Some of the beta-alanine sources that can be taken through the diet are mainly made up of carnosine dipeptides. These elements contribute to increasing the availability of beta-alanine during the digestion. Usually, a carnivore diet will include foods that have this substance.
But we can also take beta-alanine supplements and enjoy its ergogenic benefits
If you want to purchase beta alanine supplements, you can do so at the HSN store.
Things you should take into account
- It is also known as a precursor from of carnosine, or beta-alanine
- It should not be mistaken for L-Carnitine
- You may experience itchiness in the hands, face and periphery after taking a certain amount of product
- Supplement to improve the performance of activities that last more than 60 seconds
- Nowadays it is mostly used in most products that are meant to be taken as a pre-workout due to its enhancing effects
It is advisable to use taurine supplementation at the same time. This nutrient is important for the neuromuscular function, cognition, the functioning of the lungs, the use of blood glucose, and as antioxidant. Beta-alanine shares the same carrier than taurine, reducing its absorption. However, it is not a big issue in moderate doses.
The process known as paresthesia is linked to beta-alanine supplementation due to the activation of calcium channels, and the subsequent response of the muscle receptors. But you do not have to worry about their safety.
This syndrome tends to disappear after a few days of taking the product, or by dividing its administration throughout the day (less than 1000mg per dose).
How can we combine Beta-Alanine?
The beneficial effects of beta-alanine improve with the passing of time. It is advisable to do a beta-alanine loading if we are planning to combine it with other supplements that also help to improve the physical performance, such as creatine. This is done so that, once we start using both simultaneously, they will create a synergy.
Those athletes who use a daily supplementation of 4 and 6 grams of beta-alanine can even increase the muscle carnosine deposits up to a 60%. It is even possible to add a 20% more of muscle carnosine after 35 days of supplementation.
Creatine and Beta-Alanine Loading
Creatine is normally used in periods that range between 4 and 12 weeks. The benefits of beta-alanine supplementation tend to disappear in a few weeks, around three after finishing the current cycle.
The carnosine levels go back progressively to their basal levels (previous to the supplementation)
You can feel the difference as soon as you stop taking beta-alanine and creatine in terms of the physical performance
- 12 weeks cycle
This type of cycle are aimed at those athletes who take creatine for a long period of time. Therefore, a beta-alanine loading is not necessary in this case. We would start taking both supplements at the same time:
- Beta-alanine: from week 1 to 12
- Creatine: from week 1 to 12
12 weeks cycle with Beta-Alanine loading
It is advisable to do a beta-alanine loading 2 weeks before starting to take creatine. As soon as you start with the creatine supplementation, you will experience a remarkable effect in terms of the physical performance.
- Beta-alanine: from week 1 to 12
- Creatine: from week 3 to 12
8 week cycles
This cycle is similar to the 12 weeks one, you will experience the same sensations but it does not need an initial beta-alanine loading. The effects will be experienced gradually, and you will reach a “performance” peak” close to the 8th week.
- Beta-alanine: from week 1 to 8
- Creatine: from week 1 to 8
4 weeks Creatine Cycle
Creatine supplementation works effectively for most people. There are significant changes in the performance, the strength improves, more lean mass…, but there are some athletes who prefer doing short cycles.
In this case, it is advisable to take beta-alanine 4 weeks before creatine, so that when we add the creatine we will experience a great change, both in muscle and strength gains:
- Beta-alanine: from week 1 to 8
- Creatine: from week 5 to 8
How to take Beta Alanine?
The common dose moves between 2-6gr daily, athletes who train a lot should take the higher dose and distribute it in several servings throughout the day.
The ability to increase the beta-alanine concentration in the organism through supplementation is related to the amount of muscle mass as well as the acidosis
We should take into account that it takes around two weeks to experience its effects
In this sense, the best moment to take this product tends to be close to the workout, either before or after. However, the availability of beta-alanine will depend on its continuous administration to increase its reserves, regardless of the time of the day when we take it.
Efficient use protocol (according to the most recent studies)
Beta-Alanine supplementation increases the carnosine concentration in a relatively short period of time (2 weeks). The strongest effect is experienced after a longer time (between 4 and 10 weeks).
The best effects have been attributed to:
- A loading phase with 0.05 g BA/kg weight/day for 46 days, distributed in 3-4 servings
- Maintenance phase with 0.02 g BA/kg weight/day for 6 weeks
From HSN, we encourage you to try this supplement according to the protocols and to share your experience:
Side effects of Beta-Alanine
This is the first question we must always ask ourselves before using any dietary supplement. In this case, you can take beta-alanine without any issue.
Several studies have measured a wide range of biochemical, haematological, and hormonal markers in people who have been consuming beta-alanine for more than twelve weeks, and no side effects of any kind have been reported.
Although its effects cannot be completely guaranteed in the long term, the continuous intake of beta-alanine for twelve weeks is completely safe and lacks any side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions about Beta-Alanine
- Should we periodize the intake of beta-alanine?
There is no need to do so. However, it could be compromised if we are taking taurine, because the absorption of taurine is affected by peaks in beta-alanine muscle plasma and due to the fact that muscle carnosine remains high for 3 months. Taking beta-alanine for 4-9 months cycles and taking the same time to rest can improve the results of the supplementation. Another interesting point would be to establish a point during the season so that it can be combined with specific training mesocycles.
Are there any side effects?
The only reported side effect is the so called paresthesia, due to the intake of a certain amount of beta-alanine in the same dose. The remedy consists of dividing the dose every 3 hours, around 800-1200mg. This will be enough to obtain the positive effects. On the other hand, taking the product on an empty stomach will increase its concentration in the blood quickly, which can also trigger paresthesia.
Can paresthesia cause collateral damage?
No, it is a phenomenon that activates muscle receptors from several areas of the body, due precisely to the activation of calcium channels, which encourages and improves the muscle contraction.
If we want to increase the carnosine deposits, why not take it directly?
When we take carnosine, our body does not completely absorb it. In fact, it is a dipeptide that our body partly metabolizes. In this case, it is better to take their precursors to increase the muscle carnosine content.
The expert opinion
If you are an athlete who wants to obtain a better performance, beta-alanine should not be missing from your supplementation. We should also take into account the type of training in order to use it, since the results for a high intensity training are quite interesting.
Results of Beta-Alanine
- Improved explosive strength and power
- Increased muscle mass
- Great impact on the anaerobic resistance
- Increased physical resistance
- It allows high intensity workouts for a longer period of time
CrossFit is one of the activities that can take more advantage of beta-alanine supplementation
- Artioli GG, Gualano B, Smith A, Stout J, Lancha AH Jr. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1162-73.
- Saunders B, Sale C, Harris RC, Sunderland C. Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on repeated sprint performance during the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):39-47.
- Smith AE, et al. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Feb 11;6:5