What is it?
Beta alanine is a non essential beta amino acid which raises muscle carnosine levels and increases the amount of work you can perform at high intensities. Beta alanine is also known for causing the “tingle” you might have felt when you tried a pre workout supplement containing beta alanine.
How does it work?
When consumed, beta alanine enters the body and binds with the amino acid L-histidine to form carnosine. Carnosine is responsible for buffering hydrogen ions during exercise which allows you to weight train harder and longer. The increase in hydrogen ions during exercise causes a pH imbalance within the muscle cells which results in muscle fatigue.
Who should take it?
Anyone who is looking to increase high intensity exercise performance or endurance could benefit from beta alanine. Specifically, anyone following a bodybuilding style training program with short rest periods or anyone looking to increase HIIT performance can benefit from beta alanine.
When to take it and how much?
Beta alanine is usually consumed pre workout, but the timing is not very important because the benefits of consuming beta alanine are based on increased muscle carnosine concentrations that can take weeks to increase significantly. 4-6g/day is the ideal dosage to increase muscle carnosine concentrations and performance. The dosage may be divided into smaller doses throughout the day to minimize paresthesia. Many pre workout supplements are underdosed and won’t deliver the full benefits of beta alanine make sure to read the label and check the dosage.
Are there any side effects?
Beta alanine can cause a “tingle”, “pins and needles”, itching, or flushed feeling throughout the body. This is called paresthesia. The feeling usually last 5 to 15 minutes, but the intensity depends on the dosage and current stomach contents. Beta alanine consumption on an empty stomach will increase blood concentrations faster and increase paresthesia.
Beta alanine is one the most consistently effective supplements in sports nutrition since creatine. I highly recommend beta alanine for anyone who is looking to build muscle, perform better at higher intensities, and increase endurance.