What is Beta-Alanine? + Benefits and Side Effects

Beta-Alanine is being consumed orally for workouts, improving elderly physical function, building mass and lean muscles, and athletic performance.

beta alanine powder and capsules

What is Beta-Alanine and why is it gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts these days? Well, the increasing use of this supplement is because of its claims that it could enhance athletic performance and overall health. It is generally an amino acid that is non-essential which means that it is naturally made and produced by the body. Unlike essential amino acids that can only be obtained through our diet and the foods we eat, non-essential amino acids do not need to be consumed intentionally. It is the key to making other substantial chemicals and minerals in the body.

Presently, Beta-Alanine is being consumed orally for workouts, improving elderly physical function, building mass and lean muscles, and athletic performance. In this read, we will know more about what is Beta-Alanine and how it works, benefits, side effects as well as dosage recommendations for those who would like to try it out. 

A Beginner’s Guide On What Is Beta-Alanine

As mentioned, Beta Alanine is not used to synthesize proteins in the body. Instead, what it does is produce carnosine together with histidine. It then gets stored in the body’s skeletal muscles. The main function of carnosine is that it reduces the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles during a workout or exercise. This leads to increased athletic performance. 

Here are some of Beta-Alanine known benefits:

  • Increases the body’s time of exhaustion during exercise and workout. 
  • Increase endurance of muscles
  • Boost the volume of training
  • Improved composition of the body
  • Promotes muscle growth
  • Increases carnosine levels which have anti-aging, immune-enhancing, and antioxidant properties.
  • Neutralizes free radicals and reduces oxidative stress
  • Elevates the production of nitric oxide which helps improve heart health and fight the process of aging. 
  • Increase muscle function and quality for older adults. 

Poultry, meat, and fish are top sources of food where you can get Beta-Alanine, and although you can get enough amounts of this nutrient from your usual and daily diet, you can raise the levels of this amino acid by taking supplements. 

Note that Beta-Alanine is considered a modified Alanine which is also an amino acid. Those who have tried Beta-Alanine supplements have reported the ability to perform additional one or two reps when doing their routine exercise. They could also increase their repetition sets to at least 8-15 times more. It’s also vital to know that it could increase cardiovascular performance in exercise for moderate to high-intensity routines.

How It Works

When you ingest Beta-Alanine, it acts as the body’s buffer from the molecule carnosine. It is then stored in the cells and released when there is a drop in pH. When you have increased carnosine storage, it can protect you from lactic acid production and diet-induced pH drops. 

Beta-Alanine contents in the body are naturally low while histidine levels are higher. Remember that both histidine and Beta-Alanine are needed to produce carnosine which is important for athletic performance. When you take Beta-Alanine supplements, carnosine levels are elevated by at least 80%, and here is how it works in the muscles and the body during exercise and workout. 

  • Break down of glucose. Glycolysis happens like this as the main fuel source of the body during workouts that are high-intensity.  
  • Produces lactate. When glucose is broken down, it becomes lactic acid and then gets converted to lactate which is a hydrogen ion. 
  • Muscles then become acidic. When hydrogen ions are produced, pH levels are reduced making the muscles more acidic.
  • Fatigue happens. When there is too much muscle acidity, it blocks the breakdown of glucose and lowers the ability of the muscles to contract- thus, causing fatigue.
  • Carnosine buffer. If you have enough carnosine reserve in your muscles, it could buffer for the extra acid produced and could reduce chances of fatigue and tiredness. Beta-Alanine is usually combined and mixed with supplements like creatine and sodium bicarbonate. 
  • Creatinine. Creatinine increases performance by improving ATP availability during high-intensity exercises. When mixed with Beta-Alanine, you can benefit from lean mass in the muscles and strength.
  • Sodium Bicarbonate. This is also known as baking soda and it works by reducing the acid in the muscles and blood. Combining the two is recommended if you are doing exercises that could produce more muscle adipose which could inhibit performance.

Side Effects and Dosage Recommendations

When Beta-Alanine is taken for a short time and by mouth, it is considered possibly safe. For those who take moderate Beta-Alanine doses, there are no known side effects while those on high doses could experience tingling and flushing. If you want to reduce side effects, you can try tablets instead of powder forms of Beta-Alanine as these are known to have lesser tingling effects. If you are pregnant or a lactating mom, it’s advised that you avoid using it and are on the safe side. Although no known information about taking Beta-Alanine could cause harm for pregnant women, it’s best to be safe than sorry.

Depending on how and what Beta-Alanine is used for, dosage recommendations could also differ. For lesser tingling effects, its’ best to stick with tablet forms of the supplement but you can also use its powder forms to mix with your drinks and food. To improve elderly adult’s physical performance:

Take 800- 1600 mg twice a day for at least 12 weeks or 800 mg thrice daily for 28 days. 

For enhanced athletic performance

For at least 10 weeks, take Beta-Alanine in 2.40 grams to 6.40 grams once daily for 10 weeks. 

Note that although it’s popular for those who do their pre-workout, the taking of the supplement is not time-dependent so as long as you take the recommended dose, you are good to go.  Paresthesia or tingling is a common side effect but it is nothing that you should be worried about as it is harmless. 

In conclusion, what is Beta-Alanine? It has been tested and confirmed for compliance for sports athletes which means that it has been free of almost 200 substances that are not acceptable use for athletic organizations events. Athletes can safely use it and will not nullify them from any competition as it does not contain any steroids, stimulants, narcotics, and masking agents.

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