Carnosine : The First Line Of Defence Against Muscle Fatigue

What happens to our body and metabolic pathways when we exercise? The list is as exhaustive as it is complex to describe, however what is inescapable is the burn, ache and quite often, cramping that accompanies extreme physical exertion…right!? I’m sure we can all relate to the ‘burn’ felt when exercising, it’s a marmite thing i.e. you either love it or hate it! I love it, at least until it starts to hinder my performance!

So how can you go about minimising the proton build up that leads to acidosis (increased acidity) and fatigue within your muscle? Well, the first line of defence is to reduce the build up of Hydrogen ions within the muscle because this is what causes an acidic environment. Once the hydrogen ions accumulate (as a bi-product of energy metabolism) in the muscle, it almost instantly leaks into your blood/circulatory system…this is your 1st and 2nd target for maximising endurance respectively.

Carnosine is an interesting dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine and is highly concentrated in the brain and muscle. Tipton and Luc van Loon (2013) suggest that carnosine could be your body’s first line of defence against fatigue because it helps to buffer the hydrogen ions in the muscle before they leak into the blood stream.

Consider supplementing with beta-alanine and/or an amino acid in order to increase the synthesis of carnosine.


Tipton, K, D & Luc van Loon, (2013). Nutritional Coaching Strategy to Modulate Training Efficiency. Nestle Nutrition Institute. Basel: Karger.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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