Most pre-workout supplements take pride in having Beta-alanine as one of the ingredients. It is often highlighted and accompanied by slogans such as ‘Gain more muscle’ or ‘Train harder’. What exactly is beta-alanine? What are its benefits? Here’s all you need to know about beta-alanine supplementation.
What is beta-alanine?
Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring nonessential amino acid that is used in the production of Carnosine. Your body combines this amino acid with a component called L-histidine to produce carnosine which helps to reduce the accumulation of lactic acid during workouts.
How does beta-alanine work?
Your body’s levels of beta-alanine are naturally low while the histidine levels are high. This then limits the amount of carnosine that your body can produce on its own. Studies have shown that beta-alanine supplementation can increase the production of carnosine by up to 80%.1
What is the impact of beta-alanine during workouts?
By increasing the levels of carnosine in your body, beta-alanine reduces the overall body fatigue through the following process:
Glycolysis- carnosine helps in the breakdown of glucose into energy which then fuels intensive workouts.
Lactate production- during the workout, your body breaks down the glucose further into lactic acid which is then converted into lactate. The lactate aids in hydrogen production that increases the acidity in your muscles.
Fatigue- the high acidity prevents the breakdown of glucose causing you to feel fatigued.
Carnosine to the rescue- the carnosine counteracts the effects of the high acidity, allowing you to continue with your workouts without feeling fatigued.
Other Benefits of Beta-alanine Supplementation
Using beta-alanine supplements has been shown to increase your body’s level of VO2 max.2 This is the highest amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during workouts. The increase in oxygen levels consumption enables you to exercise for longer without feeling fatigued and ultimately increasing your training capacity.
Since beta-alanine increases your muscle endurance, it goes without saying that you will be able to exercise for longer, resulting in increased gains.
The International Journal of Sports Medicine conducted a study in which one group was given beta-alanine and the other a placebo.3 The group that took the supplement proved to be stronger.
Enhances mental focus
Beta-alanine supplementation helps to improve cognitive abilities. By increasing the levels of carnosine in the brain, it helps you become more alert and maintain focus during your workouts.
Summary of Beta-alanine Supplementation
- Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid
- It helps in the reduction of mental fatigue and increases muscle endurance
- It helps in the production of carnosine.
Links to sources used
- Effects of Beta-Alanine on Muscle Carnosine and Exercise Performance:A Review of the Current Literature -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257613/
- Effects of Six Weeks of β-alanine Administration on VO2 max, Time to Exhaustion and Lactate Concentrations in Physical Education Students -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3429803/
- Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance and muscle fatigue in athletes and non-athletes of different sports: A systematic review - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304910975_Effects_of_beta-alanine_supplementation_on_performance_and_muscle_fatigue_in_athletes_and_non-athletes_of_different_sports_A_systematic_review