Beta alanine is a non-essential beta-amino acid that has quickly become one of the most popular compounds in the nutrition and bodybuilding world. Beta Alanine has been shown to increase muscle carnosine levels and increases your muscular endurance and reduces fatigue.
Commonly added to pre-workout supplements, beta alanine is a staple of the bodybuilding world. Let’s see what makes beta alanine so special:
What is Beta Alanine?
Beta alanine, or 3-aminopropionic acid is a naturally occurring beta-amino and structurally is a hybrid of GABA and l-glycine. This explains why you often feel the “tingle” after taking beta alanine, similar to how your body responds to caffeine.
Your body produces beta alanine in at least three main ways. It is released during the breakdown of canosine or anserine, it can be a byproduct of the conversion of l-alanine to pyruvate, or it can be formed as a by-product during digestion.
When beta alanine is consumed in the form of a dietary supplement, beta alanine passes through the bloodstream into muscles via a taurine transporter, which requires both sodium and chloride to complete. In then binds with the essential amino acid – L-histidine and forms the dipeptide carnosine. This is when beta alanine really takes hold.
How Does Beta Alanine Work?
The biggest benefit to supplementation of beta alanine is its’ ability to raise muscle carnosine levels. In fact, beta alanine levels are directly tied to muscle carnosine levels.
Supplementation with beta alanine has been shown to increase muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58% in four weeks and 80% in 10 weeks.
The big benefit to carnosine, besides being a potent antioxidant, is that it is your muscles’ first defense against the build up of hydrogen ions during training. To keep it simple, hydrogen ions lower muscle pH, which is a major contributor to muscle fatigue.
Muscle carnosine concentration has also been linked to have type II fast-twitch muscle fibers. This is why you’ll find high carnosine levels among sprinters and natural bodybuilders.
Benefits of Beta Alanine
So what exactly are the benefits of beta alanine? According to scientific studies, beta alanine has been clinically proven to:
- Enhance muscular endurance
- Increase anaerobic running capacity
- Reduce fatigue
- Reduce fat mass
- Increase lean muscle mass
Side Effects of Beta Alanine
When taken in high amounts, beta alanine may cause a tingling feeling known as parethesia. It is considered a harmless side effect, but it may disturb some people. This can be avoided by using a time-release formulation or by taking smaller doses, normally between 800-1,000mg, several times per day.
Other than parethesia, there appear to be zero other side effects of beta alanine. Studies suggest it is very safe and possesses no major health risks to users who take it for both short and long term use.
Beta-Alanine Rich Foods
You derive very little free-form beta-alanine from foods you consume. Instead, most of the beta-alanine you consume comes in the form of carnosine, anserine, or balenine, which is converted to beta alanine during digestion.
Most of the foods rich in these compounds come from animal products. In fact, porn, beef, tuna, and venison are the four best foods for beta alanine. Very few vegetarian foods contain any of the compounds mentioned above, which is why vegetarians tend to have lower muscle carnosine levels.
When to Take Beta Alanine?
When used in supplement form, beta alanine is fast acting and may deliver results within 20 to 30 minutes after ingestion. This is why most bodybuilders take beta alanine with a preworkout supplement or just use a preworkout supplement with beta alanine already added.