Supplementation

Beta-Alanine - What is it, how to take it and… does it work?

A Complete Guide to Beta-Alanine

Everything you need to know about Beta-Alanine in one article.

If you use or have used any supplement pre workout, this name is probably not strange to you, since the Beta-Alanine is increasingly common presence in this type of products.

Theoretically, you get more muscle endurance, more strength and an improvement in your body composition with this supplement, but… is it true?

Find out in this article.

What is Beta-Alanine?

First of all, to know more about this supplement, you need to know more about Carnosine as well, as Beta-Alanine's role and the mechanism by which it works is by increasing Carnosine levels.

Carnosine is an amino acid that, by attenuating the increase in acidity in the muscles, allows you to exercise them for a longer time, mainly in short / medium duration and medium / high intensity activities, such as the training of hypertrophy.

In practice, by increasing Carnosine reserves, we get, for example, one or two more repetitions No. flat bench press, or if you're a fan of HIIT training, greater tolerance to the sprint phase (and consequently better performance).

So how do we increase Carnosine levels?

With Carnosine supplementation?

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Yes, it is possible to increase Carnosine levels by supplementing the amino acid itself.

But… it's not the most effective way.

Muscle cells cannot effectively absorb Carnosine, so Carnosine, which is a “combination” of Beta-Alanine and L-Histidine, is transformed into these two precursors to be able to enter muscle cells, and be synthesized in Carnosine within of the muscle.

The most effective way to increase Carnosine levels within the muscle (where we need it) is through the supplementation of Beta-Alanine, which when entering muscle cells is synthesized in ... Carnosine!

And oral Beta-Alanine supplementation is really effective in this task.

beta alanine3

The main benefits of this supplement are:

  • More performance
  • More lean mass
  • Less fatigue
  • More resistance

But is it effective?

Yes, apparently it is effective in many contexts, but not in all.

Os biggest benefits they occur mainly in moderate / intense activities lasting between 60 to 240 seconds.

That is, if you are a strength athlete and / or training with low repetitions (less than 8), Beta-Alanine may not be the right supplement for you.

Now if you use eight or more reps per set, or if you're a fan of superseriesBeta-Alanine may help.

O HIIT training This is another example where this supplement works.

Beta-Alanine can reduce fatigue as well as the perception of fatigue, ie it acts not only on the muscle level but also on the mental level in a positive way. (1)

There are several studies proving the effectiveness of Beta-Alanine and let's take a look at some of them.

A comparison was made between training HIIT with and without Beta Alanine for 6 weeks. Both groups lowered the percentage of body fat, but in the group that used Beta-Alanine there was also an increase in mass, that is, gain in lean mass. (2)

It was also concluded that supplementation with Beta-Alanine plus Creatine leads to greater gains in lean mass than just Creatine(3)

In addition to lean mass gains, it also has strength and performance benefits. (4)

Finally, Beta-Alanine supplementation was tested in conjunction with resistance training, in which the protocol used was 6 sets of 12 repetitions in the squat. (5)

The result?

A difference of 22% in the total number of repetitions, favorable to the group using Beta-Alanine.

A Beta-Alanine supplement

There are studies that demonstrate benefits in exercises of short duration, but there are also several that show that it is not worthwhile in this type of activity (6), that is, there may or may not be a benefit.

If your goal is to increase lean mass, what you will notice with this supplement is above all a greater ability to do one or two more repetitions in your sets, especially if you use higher repetitions.

Less than eight repetitions is probably not worth using this supplement, although there may be advantages, apparently they are not significant, or at least that's what scientific studies say!

How to take Beta-Alanine? 

The dosage should be at least 2g daily, and can be up to 5g daily.

One of the side effects of Beta-Alanine is a tingling sensation in the body, if you have already used a pre-workout supplement with Beta-Alanine you probably already know this effect.

Calm down… this only happens in some people, and usually in high doses.

Moreover, this effect has no negative consequences, it is harmless.

Ideally if you have this effect, you should take Beta-Alanine in several doses throughout the day.

This supplement should be taken preferably with meals as it is most effective in this way.

Ideally, it should not be combined with Taurine, as they can “get in the way” of absorption.

Oh, and you do not need to use Beta-Alanine necessarily in pre-training, as its effect is cumulative (similar to Creactin), not immediate, that is, if you take today for the first time the only thing you can notice is the anthill.

You usually begin to feel its effects after 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the dose used.

Have you tried it? Leave your opinion in the comments.

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3 comments

  1. Should you take it every day even if you don't train? And by the way, should you stop for example 1 week after 8 weeks?

  2. Do you need to stop taking about 1 or 2 weeks if you have been using 8 weeks in a row for example?

    1. Hi Diogo

      There is not much information related to long term use (+ 12 weeks), however, it seems ideal to take a break after 8-12 weeks of use.

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