Beta-alanine is a non-essential beta-amino acid and was first used as a supplement in the late 1980s since it was discovered that carnosine, which is naturally found in high levels within muscle cells and used as an antioxidant defense system for muscles, contained beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is found in many foods, including red meats, white meats, and fish.

Beta-Alanine increases the concentration of carnosine in muscles. Carnosine acts as a potent buffer against fatigue toxin (lactic acid) production in working muscles. Reduced lactic acid production allows muscles to perform an increased workload before fatiguing.

One study found that those taking beta-alanine supplements had improved maximal power (+44%), work output for a given duration of time (+32%), and the ability to generate rapid force production. The results also indicated less fatigue over time when compared to subjects not receiving additional beta-alanine in their diets. These studies suggest that beta-alanine supplementation can increase muscle carnosine levels by up to 60% which, in turn, can help improve performance during exercise at high intensities by delaying muscular fatigue.

When exercising at lower intensities (50% VOmax), subjects have found that they were able to continue training for longer periods of time with less fatigue when taking beta-alanine supplements. When exercising at high intensities (90% VOmax), subjects found that their exercise times were shorter and they could produce more power in a given amount of time.

It's not clear why this amino acid has such strong ergogenic effects but one theory suggests that increased intramuscular concentrations of beta-alanine may alter calcium homeostasis or act on certain ion channels to modify their function. Studies also suggest that higher levels of carnosine help maintain pH balance and reduce cellular damage caused by free radicals. Enhanced performance from taking beta-alanine supplements could be due to any number of these mechanisms working together.

Combined with a sensible diet and workout regime, Beta-Alanine, therefore, allows you to train harder for longer and stimulate more muscle growth. Beta-Alanine can also help increase performance for high-intensity cardiovascular events such as sprinting and cycling.

How to consume

To take advantage of the fatigue toxin buffering effects of Beta-Alanine, it is best taken 20-30 minutes before working out. Beta-Alanine can be mixed with water or with any other type of supplement. The clinically validated dose of Beta-Alanine is between 3-5 grams per day, taken in either singular or multiple dosages throughout the day.

Beta-Alanine starts working as soon as it enters the bloodstream, which is typically 20-30 minutes after consumption. Consistent use, in conjunction with a sensible diet and workout regime, will see the greatest performance benefits within the first 2 weeks of use.

When using dosages over 2 grams, many individuals will experience an immediate tingling sensation known as paresthesia, a harmless side effect that can be avoided by using smaller dosages.