Supplements

Beta-Alanine – What is it, how to take and… Works?

A complete guide to Beta-Alanine

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

If you have used or have used a pre-workout supplement, this name is probably not strange to you, as Beta-Alanine is increasingly a regular presence in this type of product.

Theoretically, you get greater 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 learn more about this supplement, you need to know more about Carnosine as well, since the role of Beta-Alanine and the mechanism by which it works, is through increased levels of Carnosine.

Carnosine is an amino acid that, by attenuating the increase in muscle acidity, allows them to be exercised for longer, especially in activities of short/medium duration and medium/high intensity, such as hypertrophy training.

In practice, by increasing Carnosine reserves, we get, for example, one or two more repetitions in the flat bench supine, or if you are a fan of HIIT training, a greater tolerance to the sprint phase (and consequently better performance).

So how do we increase carnosine levels?

With a carnosine supplementation?

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Yes, it is possible to increase carnosine levels with the supplementation of the amino acid itself.

But… is 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 get into muscle cells, and be synthesized into Carnosine inside the muscle.

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

And oral beta-alanine supplementation is really effective in this task.

alanine beta3

Benefits

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 various contexts, but not at all.

The greatest benefits occur mainly in moderate/intense intensity activities, with a duration of between 60 and 240 seconds.

That is, if you are a strength athlete and/or train with low repetitions (less than 8), beta-alanine may not be the supplement indicated for you.

Now, if you use eight or more repeats per series, or if you're a fan of superseries, Beta-Alanine can help.

HIIT training is another example where this supplement works.

Beta-Alanine can reduce fatigue, and also the perception of fatigue, i.e. it acts not only at the muscular level but also at the mental level in a positive way. (1)

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

A comparison was made between HIIT training 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, i.e., lean mass gain. (2)

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

In addition to lean mass gains, it also brings benefits in terms of endurance and performance. (4)

To finish, 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 that used Beta-Alanine.

A Beta-Alanine Supplement

There are studies that demonstrate benefits in short-term exercises, but there are also several that show that it is not worth it 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 take one or two more repetitions in your series, especially if you use higher repetitions.

Less than eight repetitions are probably not worth using this supplement, although there may be advantages, apparently 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 go up to 5g daily.

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

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

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

Ideally, if you have this effect, you will divide beta-alanine in several doses throughout the day.

This supplement should preferably be taken for meals, as it is more effective in this way.

Ideally it should not be conjugated with Taurine, as they can "hinder" absorption.

Oh, and you don't need to use Beta-Alanine compulsorily in pre-training, since its effect is cumulative (similar to Creatine), and not immediate, that is, if you take today for the first time the only thing you can notice is the anthill.

You usually start 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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