Beta Alanine

What is it?

Beta Alanine has been a staple supplement for many endurance athletes due to its ability to hinder fatigue and significantly increase performance.

In 2015 the International society of sports nutrition asserted that a daily dose of 4-6g of beta alanine for 2 to 4 weeks will improve exercise performance especially exercises lasting 1 to 4 minutes in duration .

Beta Alanine and Athletic Performance

For this reason, athletes completing high intensity interval training (HITT) or playing sports such as track & field, cycling, rowing and swimming have seen such a significant benefit with beta alanine supplementation.

When the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition investigated the impact that 6g of beta alanine would have on the performance and aerobic metabolism in 46 recreationally active college aged men over 6 weeks, they found that beta alanine significantly improved peak oxygen utilization (V02peak), time to fatigue (VO2TTE) and total work done (TWD).

The body of evidence grew in a 2013 study by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism they investigated the effect of a dose of 80mg per 1kg of body mass of beta alanine on eighteen male recreational club runners, and found that post-supplementation times were significantly faster than placebo at both the 400m and 800m marks of the race. Although beta alanine supplementation was effective during the first 400m, there was an even more pronounced increase in performance during the second half of the race.

Overall, beta alanine supplementation has shown to be effective during intense exercise that relies on ATP synthesis due to its ability to increase aerobic energy creation.

How it works…

When consumed, beta alanine combines with naturally occurring L-histidine in your muscles to form carnosine which is the molecule responsible for increasing performance.

When carnosine is formed the pKa of its histidine imidazole ring is raised to ~6.8, which in turn raises the pH within your muscle cells creating a intracellular buffer for exercise induced lactic acid.

During intense exercise lactic acid and H(+) ions build up in your muscles  until force production is impaired and causes fatigue to set in. Luckily, the pH buffer created by beta alanine is able to delay the onset of the fatigue causing acidity .

How do I take it?

Supplement with 3 to 5 grams of beta alanine per day for maximum benefit. Due to beta alanine being an amino acid that isn’t produced in your body it is the limiting reactant in carnosine synthesis. Although blood levels of beta alanine can be raised by consuming red meat, supplementation is the key to quickly elevating carnosine levels before a workout.

Will only beginners in the gym see a benefit?

Unlike many supplements that may only be effective for untrained subjects, beta alanine has actually shown to be more effective in highly trained male and female athletes. In 2014, scientists investigated whether trained or non-trained athletes would build a higher carnosine concentration in their arm muscles while supplementing with 6.4g/day of beta alanine and found that although non-athletes saw carnosine content increase 47% in their arm muscles, the effect was significantly higher in trained athletes .

The body of evidence in favor of beta alanine grew in 2014, the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism published a double blind study where alpine male skiers either consumed 4.8g/day of beta alanine or placebo for 5 weeks and found that beta alanine improved peak and average power during countermovement jumps (CMJ) and increased ATP production during a 90 second cycling exercise at top speed.

These results were followed up by a 2015 study, where the acute effects of 1.6g of beta alanine showed a significant effect on minimizing professional female cyclist’s perception of fatigue (RPE) over 30 minutes of exercise post supplementation