|Other names||β-Alanine, 3-aminopropionic acid, Carnosine precursor, beta alanine|
|Appearance||white crystal powder|
|benefits||Enhance endurance, increasing physical performance, aid lean mass gain|
What is beta-alanine?
β-Alanine (or beta-alanine), according to Wikipedia, is a naturally occurring beta amino acid, which is an amino acid in which the amino group is at the β-position from the carboxylate group. The IUPAC name for β-alanine is 3-aminopropanoic acid. Unlike its counterpart α-alanine, β-alanine has no stereocenter.
Structurally, beta-alanine is a hybrid between the potent neurotransmitters L-glycine and GABA, which may explain why consumers often claim to experience a caffeine-like response from it. Beta-alanine is even gaining support within the scientific community for being secondarily classified as a neurotransmitter.
SOURCES OF BETA-ALANINE
You derive little free-form beta-alanine from the foods you consume. Most comes in the form of the dipeptides carnosine, anserine or balenine, each of which contribute to raising beta-alanine availability when broken down during digestion. Unless you are vegetarian, you derive these from the animal proteins in your diet. Specifically, pork and beef are good sources of carnosine, whereas tuna and venison are high food sources of anserine.
HOW DOES BETA-ALANINE WORK?
β-alanine and Histidine combine in the body, increasing the level of an important dipeptide called Carnosine. Carnosine is important because it helps keep your muscles from becoming too acidic.
Nearly 20% of the muscles pH buffering capacity comes from this compound. β-alanine is the precursor of carnosine, and carnosine levels are limited by the amount of β-alanine your muscles have available. Studies have shown that supplementing with β-alanine increases muscle carnosine concentrations, which decreases fatigue in athletes and increases total muscular work performed.
This happens because muscles function best in a very narrow pH range (See graph). Exercise can quickly cause an increase the acid level of your muscles. When this happens (acidosis), muscular performance suffers and muscle cramps happen much easier.
Furthermore, if the pH drops too low, muscle work stops completely. So, keeping your muscles in an optimal pH range is immensely important. Staying in this optimal range allows your muscles to keep contracting at the same power level for a longer duration, enhancing strength, speed and endurance.
A researcher, Dr. Roger Harris, believes β-alanine can double the buffering capacity within your muscles. This is a huge statement with big implications for every type of athlete.
Dr. Harris proved his theory in a study he conducted where he reported a monstrous 64% rise in muscle carnosine levels after just 4 weeks of daily β-alanine supplementation. Subsequent studies confirmed his results with one study showing that after 10 weeks, muscle carnosine increased by an average of more than 80%!
Other studies showed a very significant 16% boost in total work capacity performed on a stationary bike. This research shows us that β-alanine is extremely effective in fighting fatigue by boosting the body’s energy systems and vastly increases endurance.
So why not just take Carnosine? Carnosine is digested very poorly. When you ingest it, the body hydrolyzes (breaks it back down) it into β-alanine and Histidine anyway. Then your body synthesizes it back into carnosine again. Since your body usually has plenty of histidine already then it makes much more sense to just take β-alanine.
Benefits of taking beta-alanine supplements
Beta alanine can help increase the body’s performance in many athletic endeavors. Because beta alanine increases the amount of carnosine in the body, it also increases aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
Beta alanine supplements can also increase the size and mass of your muscles. Taking them on a regular basis may increase the strength of your muscles and increase the amount of power they put out.
Beta alanine can also help fitness buffs and bodybuilders train at higher intensities for a longer period of time because it delays the fatigue of your muscles. You can really get the most out of your workout!
Benefits of Beta-Alanine as supported by scientific studies:
* Increase Muscular Strength & Power Output.
* Increases Muscle Mass
* Boosts Muscular Anaerobic Endurance
* Increases Aerobic Endurance
* Delay Muscular Fatigue- Train Harder & Longer
Effective Dose of Beta-Alanine?
Research has shown that you can take an amount between 3.2 grams and 6.4 grams per day to significantly boost carnosine levels and improve performance and bring about lean muscle gains. The most recent research is now using 4-5 grams a day and showing comparable performance improvements to those using 6.4g daily. Standard daily doses of beta-alanine are between 2,000 – 5,000mg.
Large doses of beta-alanine may result in a tingling feeling called paresthesia. It is a harmless side effect, but can be avoided by using a time-release formulation or taking smaller doses, between 800-1000mg, several times a day.