Beta Alanine: FAQ

What is it?

Beta alanine (C₃H₇NO₂) is a modified version of the non-essential amino acid, alanine. As a non-essential acid, we can synthesise it naturally in the human body. It is a common ingredient in pre-workout ingredients, for its ability to raise muscle carnosine levels, for various performance benefits.

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What does it do?

When taken with histidine, beta alanine increases carnosine production in the body. Higher levels of carnosine in muscle tissue benefit performance in several ways. The main claim is that higher levels have been shown to support muscular endurance. This might mean being able to accumulate more volume over the course of a weights training session (for example, more reps performed on a bench press) which can lead to personal bests and muscular hypertrophy. Muscle carnosine acts as a buffer to the lactic acid produced when we carry out intense exercise, allowing us to train for longer. The claims are well studied in humans participating in resistance and team sports, as well as on cyclists, runners, etc.

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Who is it for?

Beta alanine can be found naturally in meat, but getting the same amount that you would from a supplement consistently can be expensive.  It also puts vegetarians and vegans at a disadvantage, as there are no plant sources of carnosine. Supplements are an efficient way to meet recommended needs cheaply and conveniently.

Athletes who will see the most benefit from supplementing beta alanine are those who work the muscles intensely for a short-moderate duration. This includes; bodybuilders, CrossFit athletes, boxers or anyone partaking in some form of high intensity interval training.

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Are There Any Side Effects?

It is common when taking a pre-workout high in beta alanine to experience a 'tingling' feeling, known as paraesthesia. Although harmless, it can be disconcerting for those who are unfamiliar with it. Beta alanine can be taken with food, or split into smaller doses over the day, to negate this.

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What Would You Recommend?

While beta alanine is often found in pre-workouts, and the paraesthesia caused by a large serving at once can cause something of a stimulatory effect, the real benefits come from loading over time. This means, you can take something like The Power of Me Beta Boost whenever it is convenient for you!

Alternatively, for a high dosed pre-workout formula, we would suggest Cellucor C4 Ultimate which provides 3.2g CarnoSyn beta alanine per serving.

About the Author

Savannah Westerby. BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Instagram: @savannahwesterby

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