Beta-alanine is a natural amino acid that increases blood flow to the skin and muscles and has a powerful impact on performance. The body uses beta-alanine to make the buffering agent carnosine that enhances muscular performance.* Studies show it increases muscle carnosine by up to 58% in four weeks and 80% in ten weeks, significantly increasing the amount of high-intensity work you can do. In one of the largest published studies on beta-alanine, researchers find it improves athletic performance by 10.49%. Beta-alanine reduces mental stress.*
- Increases muscular performance and endurance*
- Reduces muscular fatigue*
- Increases cognition while under stress*
- Promotes sense of calm*
Beta-Alanine: The Performance Supercharger
Studies have consistently shown that beta-alanine increases strength, muscle-power output, training volume, high-intensity exercise performance, and aerobic capacity in a variety of sports.
Soccer players who took beta-alanine every day for 12 weeks increased their performance by 34.3 percent, compared to -7.6% in a group receiving placebo. Boxers who took beta-alanine increased the force of their punches by 20 times and the rate at which they threw punches by four times, compared to a placebo group.
Another study, this one involving competitive rowers, found that beta-alanine supplementation improved 2,000-meter rowing performance by 2.9 seconds, which is equivalent to at least a couple of scull lengths.
Even the military has found that there's direct evidence supporting the use of beta-alanine to enhance combat-specific performance (even though they haven't adopted its use, or for that matter, officially recommended any sports supplement).
And, since it's a hybrid between GABA and L-glycine, two powerful neurotransmitters, plenty of scientists are also classifying beta alanine as a secondary neurotransmitter, which is why users also benefit from its stimulatory effects.
Lately, beta-alanine has even been found to be of possible use in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, as well as lowering anxiety and the "startle response" in animal experiments.
How Does Beta Alanine Improve Performance?
Carnosine is a dipeptide molecule that's made of two the amino acids histidine and beta alanine.
If you ingest more beta-alanine, you create more carnosine. This is important because carnosine sucks up reactive oxygen species, which soar super-high during exercise. More importantly to performance, carnosine protects against the build-up of hydrogen ions during high-intensity exercise.
This prevents pH from dropping, preventing the loss or diminution of enzyme function and muscle-excitation coupling that you need to continue exercising.
What's the Best Way to Take Beta Alanine?
There are short-term and long-term effects from beta-alanine. To get the long-term and full effects of beta-alanine takes time and gradually builds up levels of muscle carnosine.
In fact, the size of individual doses doesn't even matter much. Instead, it's the total dose over time that affects muscle carnosine levels (179 grams over 2-3 months produces optimal results). Furthermore, carnosine has a super long clearance rate in the muscle, so pretty much the longer you take it, the better you'll be able to perform any form of exercise lasting between 1 and 5 minutes.
If, after fully loaded, you stopped taking beta-alanine, levels would decline very slowly by about 2% every two weeks.
Beta-alanine is also a secondary neurotransmitter, producing a profound stimulatory effect within minutes, at which point some might feel a mild tingling that quickly disappears.
- Artioli GG et al. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1162-73.
- Derave W et al. Muscle carnosine metabolism and beta-alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training. Sports Med. 2010 Mar 1;40(3):247-63. doi: 10.2165/11530310-000000000-00000.
- Donovan T et al. β-alanine improves punch force and frequency in amateur boxers during a simulated contest. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Oct;22(5):331-7. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.22.5.331.
- Hoffman JR et al. β-Alanine supplementation and military performance. Amino Acids. 2015 Dec;47(12):2463-74. doi: 10.1007/s00726-015-2051-9. Epub 2015 Jul 24.
- Harris RC et al. The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids. 2006 May;30(3):279-89.
- Stout JR et al. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino Acids. 2007;32(3):381-6.
- Abe H. Role of histidine-related compounds as intracellular proton buffering constituents in vertebrate muscle. Biochemistry (Mosc). 2000 Jul;65(7):757-65.
- Suzuki Y et al. High level of skeletal muscle carnosine contributes to the latter half of exercise performance during 30-s maximal cycle ergometer sprinting. Jpn J Physiol. 2002 Apr;52(2):199-205.
- Derave W et al. Beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J Appl Physiol. 2007 Nov;103(5):1736-43.
- Hill CA et al. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids. 2007 Feb;32(2):225-33.