Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body and supports the production of carnosine. These compounds play a role in supporting muscular endurance and help individuals who train at high intensities buffer metabolites (by-products of anaerobic training). This help to maintain and increase performance. Let’s dive a little deeper into how you can benefit from supplementing with beta-alanine.
HOW DOES BETA-ALANINE WORK?
Most athletes or individuals that train at high intensities will know the burning feeling or fatigued sensation that occurs locally in muscles during and following HIIT training, after intense training efforts or the final dash to the finish line. This is caused by a build up of lactic acid (lactate and hydrogen ions), the by-product of anaerobic training.
If your body is unable to neutralize the lactic acid, your performance will rapidly decline and you may well begin to feel nauseous, and unwell.
To alleviate this, your body produces a substance (protein) called carnosine in it’s muscles. Interestingly, beta-alanine is one of the amino acids that make up carnosine and it is now known through science, that by increasing levels of beta-alanine in your diet, you increase carnosine. See the relationship here.
HOW TO SUPPLEMENT WITH BETA-ALANINE?
To maximise your muscle carnosine levels, you must load with beta-alanine. This requires individuals to take 4-6g of beta-alanine per day over the space of 6-8 weeks. Because you need to load with beta-alanine, specific timing of when you consume it, does not matter. Beta-alanine is a powder and can be mixed into your pre-workout, with juice, water or with you BCAAs.
HOW SAFE IS BETA-ALANINE?
There is currently no long term studies on beta-alanine and it’s side-effects. Short term studies (4-12 weeks), indicate that the only side effect is the tingling sensation/ itchy feeling (paresthesia) which makes some individuals uncomfortable. This feeling takes a few moments to kick in and can last up to 90min after ingestion. Our recommendation, if beta-alanine makes you feel uncomfortable, split your doses into 2 or 3 servings per day.
WHO SHOULD USE BETA-ALANINE?
Beta-alanine is used for improving athletic performance, and exercise capacity, therefore individuals from a wide range of sports can benefit from beta-alanine. Because beta-alanine primarily is used to help reduce lactic acid, mid-long distance runners, swimmers, track cyclist and athletes who’s sport is intense but intermittent (such as football , basketball or rugby), will benefit most. Gym-goers who do HIIT training or who train intensely and have short rest periods (about or less than 90sec) will also significantly benefit from beta-alanine.
BETA-ALANINE KEY POINTS:
- You must load 4-6g per day. Acute doses prior to training will not provide full effect.
- Beta-alanine can cause itching/tingles (paresthesia) which can make some individuals feel uncomfortable. To reduce or eliminate these symptoms split doses into 2-3 servings per day.
- Vegan & vegetarian diets tend to be lower in beta-alanine. We recommend plant based athletes consider supplementation which may improve their athletic performance.
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