But where does beta-alanine come in? This amino acid is one of the main ingredients of carnosine, therefore beta-alanine supplementation has gained popularity to increase carnosine production and, in turn, increase performance and delay muscle fatigue. The main functions of carnosine during physical exercise are:
- glucose breaks down: Glycolysis is the breakdown of glucose, which is the main source of fuel during high-intensity exercise.
- lactate is produced: As we exercise, our muscles break down glucose into lactic acid. This is converted to lactate, which produces hydrogen ions (H+).
- Muscles become more acidic: Hydrogen ions lower the pH level in the muscles, making them more acidic.
- fatigue sets in: Muscle acidity blocks the breakdown of glucose and reduces the ability of the muscles to contract. This causes muscle fatigue.
- carnosine buffer: Carnosine serves as a buffer against acid, reducing acidity in the muscles during high-intensity exercise.
Because beta-alanine supplements increase carnosine levels, they help muscles reduce acid levels during exercise. This decreases general fatigue.
Beta-Alanine improves athletic performance by reducing fatigue, increasing endurance, and enhancing high-intensity exercise performance. However, it also has other health benefits.
Increases time to exhaustion
Studies show that beta-alanine helps increase the time to exhaustion. That is, it helps us exercise for longer periods in a row. A study in cyclists found that four weeks of supplementation increased total work completed by 13%, increasing by a further 3.2% after 10 weeks.
Similarly, men in a comparable cycling test increased their time to exhaustion by 13-14% after four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation.
In general, muscle acidosis limits the duration of high-intensity exercise. For this reason, beta-alanine specifically supports performance during short-duration, high-intensity exercise lasting from one to several minutes.
One study found that six weeks of taking beta-alanine increased time to exhaustion by 19% during high-intensity interval training (HIIT). In another study, rowers who were supplemented for seven weeks were 4.3 seconds faster than the placebo group in a 2,000-meter race that lasted more than 6 minutes.
Analyzing the effects of beta-alanine and short-duration, high-intensity training, it has been confirmed that beta-alanine not only reduces lactic acid accumulation during anaerobic exercise, delaying muscle fatigue and allowing athletes exercise for longer, but it also helps shorter recovery periods.
Greater anaerobic capacity
Lactic acid is the byproduct of anaerobic respiration: this is the process in which glycogen is burned for energy without the presence of oxygen. The higher the intensity of the race means more lactic acid; the more lactate, the more hydrogen ions, and therefore, the higher the acidity and the faster the muscle fatigues.
By supplementing with beta-alanine, the amino acid works to delay muscle fatigue, allowing runners to perform longer endurance runs at higher intensity. Sprint athletes will regularly have a high level of muscle carnosine which neutralizes the hydrogen ions produced by anaerobic exercise, allowing them to perform at a much stronger and better capacity.
Thus, a beta-alanine supplement can also help improve anaerobic exercise capacity and power.
Increases muscular endurance
For older adults, beta-alanine can help increase muscular endurance. Lifting heavy weights is a form of anaerobic exercise, science suggests that beta-alanine may help increase reps and sets during a resistance training session as a result of increased carnosine concentrations in the muscles.
Although you can increase reps and sets in a single training session, it will increase the time it takes for your muscle to fatigue, allowing you to get more gains from a single training session; over time, this will lead to more muscle mass for fewer days. spent in the gym.
Beta-alanine capsules and supplements also alleviate the effects of acidosis, improving recovery and allowing us to return to training faster.
Improves body composition
Some evidence suggests that beta-alanine may benefit body composition. One study showed that supplementation for three weeks increased lean muscle mass.
Beta-alanine may improve body composition by increasing training volume and promoting muscle growth. However, some studies show no significant differences in body composition and body weight after treatment.
Beta-alanine increases carnosine levels, which may have several health benefits. Interestingly, animal studies indicate that carnosine has antioxidant, anti-aging, and immune-boosting properties. However, human studies are needed.
As an antioxidant, carnosine can also neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress with test-tube studies suggesting that carnosine raises nitric oxide, fights aging and improves cardiovascular health.
Carnosine has also been found to reduce aging-related stress in rats, limiting cell damage, inflammation, and the risk of chronic age-related disease. Additionally, carnosine and histidine together have been shown to cause a 50% suppression of free radical reactions.
Foods with Beta-Alamin
The main food sources of beta-alanine are meat, the birds and the fish. It is part of larger compounds, mainly carnosine and anserine, but is released when they are digested. Vegetarians and vegans have around 50% less carnosine in their muscles compared to omnivores. Although most people can get sufficient amounts of beta-alanine from their diet, supplements raise levels even higher.
Beta-Alanine is a commonly available supplement in many sports-related products. However, it is also present in many protein sources, such as meat, fish, and poultry, although in smaller amounts. To receive a sufficient amount to boost athletic performance, a person will likely need supplements.
The standard dose of beta-alanine is 2 to 5 grams daily. Consuming beta-alanine with a meal can further increase carnosine levels. Beta-alanine supplements appear to be better at replenishing muscle carnosine levels than taking carnosine itself.
Some studies suggest that 1.2 grams of beta-alanine per day is the most effective dose for maintaining muscle carnosine 30% to 50% above baseline. Similarly, other sources suggest that a person may consider a loading phase of 3.2 g per day for 8 weeks, or 6.4 g per day for 4 weeks, before a maintenance dose of 1.2 g per day. day.
The advice is to divide the beta-alanine into 3 or 4 equal doses per day and consume them with the main meals to help improve absorption and better control possible side effects.
When to take?
Depending on when we take it can depend on whether we get the short-term or long-term effects, for example supplementing with beta-alanine before a workout will bring benefits of increased mental focus and nervous system response.
It has also been suggested that beta-alanine provides a stronger ‘pump’ for some users, so while this is a great advantage before a training session, it probably isn’t recommended right before bed as it could keep us awake longer due to its stimulating properties.
For the whole day
Spreading beta-alanine intake throughout the day means that carnosine levels in the body remain consistently high, producing the desired effects most people seek when using this supplement for training sessions.
If used in this way, it is suggested to supplement with beta-alanine every three or four hours during the day to avoid paresthesia (a tingling sensation for which this amino acid is famous).
Take a beta-alanine supplement between 30 and 45 minutes before of working out allows the supplement to enter the body’s system and have an effect, such as the aforementioned pump and focus. These short-lived effects will usually continue for an hour and a half to two hours after taking the supplement.
The effects of beta-alanine in the body are almost immediate, and carnosine levels rise as soon as you start supplementing beta-alanine. Science has shown that the significant increases in power and strength it provides can be seen in just four weeks. Furthermore, resistance to fatigue also increases as carnosine levels increase.
Taking excessive amounts of beta-alanine can cause some unwanted side effects. One of the main ones is a decrease in taurine levels. This is because beta-alanine can compete with taurine for absorption in the muscles.
However, there are also other risks of taking beta-alamine.
The main reported side effect is paresthesia, or beta-alanine tingling that is usually described as “skin tingling” on the face, neck, and backs of the hands. This occurs due to a decrease in taurine levels, as beta-alanine competes with taurine for absorption in the muscles and can cause tingling.
There is no evidence that paresthesia is harmful, and studies indicate that this can be avoided by using doses lower than 1.6 grams.
Another reported side effect is facial flushing, however this has only been seen after increased beta-alanine intake.
To a large extent, the data suggests that beta-alanine is safe for healthy people when taken in reasonable and recommended doses. Also, supplement brands suggest that taking a tablet rather than drinking it in powder form may reduce these side effects.