Beta-alanine is a common ingredient in pre workouts and widely known for “the tingles” that some people experience from it. Many athletes supplement with beta-alanine or look for pre workouts with a hefty dose of it, but what it does and how to use it effectively is not widely known.
A 2017 survey of 570 athletes supplementing with beta-alanine found that only 65 percent could identify its benefits, with only 12 percent taking it every day as recommended. The majority of the athletes didn’t realise the time required for beta-alanine to take effect.
Beta-alanine won’t immediately be effective like ingredients such as caffeine. It takes 4-6 weeks of supplementing with beta-alanine before you notice any effects.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re going to supplement with beta-alanine.
What Is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine is a nonessential amino acid that increases muscle carnosine levels. It is used to improve exercise capacity in the 2-4 minute range. Supplementing with Beta-Alanine has no effect on muscle strength itself so it won’t increase how much weight you can squat or bench press. However it will increase the amount of carnosine in your muscle tissue which helps delay fatigue and lets you work longer.
Carnosine supports your body’s ability to “buffer”, or remove, hydrogen ions caused by intense exercise. Hydrogen ions cause your muscle tissue to become more acidic – and muscles don’t work well in this environment. By helping your body buffer or remove these hydrogen ions, carnosine helps create a better environment for your muscles to work in. This delays muscle fatigue and allows you to do more reps, sets, or intervals
Beta-Alanine Performance Benefits
Beta-alanine is most effective for increasing performance, or work capacity, during activities that last between 2-4 minutes. It won’t have much of an effect on any activities under 2 minutes as your body won’t accumulate enough hydrogen ions in this time cause muscle fatigue.
High-intensity activities that can benefit from beta-alanine supplementation:
- Team sports like soccer, hockey, and basketball
- Weight training
- HIIT and Tabata
After supplementing with beta-alanine every day for at least four weeks you should start noticing benefits. Thes include more energy throughout your workout and needing less rest time between sets. You may also find you can work out harder or longer before those pesky hydrogen ions cause your muscles to start fatiguing.
Beta-Alanine Side Effects
Some people find that taking beta-alanine or a pre-workout containing beta-alanine causes a tingling sensation on their skin. This is often mistaken as a sign that the pre workout is working. In fact, some companies include 1-2g of beta-alanine in their pre-workouts just to give you an instant physical sensation. This tingling sensation is called paresthesia and actually has little to do with the effectiveness of the product.
The typical dose of beta-alanine in most pre workouts is too small to have any immediate effect on performance. To see performance benefits you will need to take beta-alanine every day for at least four weeks to give it time to build up in your system.
If you’re not a fan of the tingling sensation you can get when you take larger doses of beta-alanine, split them into smaller doses of 1.6 grams. The tingling sensation can lessen or even disappear completely with continued use of beta-alanine. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean it isn’t working any more. Your body has simply become used to the beta-alanine and it does not cause this side effect anymore.
Most research suggests that supplementing with 4-6 grams of beta-alanine daily for 28 days can lead to a 40-60 percent increase in carnosine concentrations. As with creatine, you won’t see any immediate performance improvements with just one dose, so make sure you take it every day.
Beta-Alanine Supplement Stacking
If you’re serious about improving training volume, add creatine to your training stack alongside beta-alanine. Creatine’s ability to improve high-intensity exercise makes it a perfect complement to beta-alanine’s ability to help you extend your workouts. In one study, athletes who consumed both creatine and beta-alanine demonstrated better endurance than those who took only one.
A second study found that athletes who followed a 10-week resistance-training program and supplemented with creatine and beta-alanine saw greater improvements in muscle mass and reduction of body fat.
Check out the range of beta-alanine supplements available at Sportsfuel Supplements.