What you will learn...
Beta-Alanine is a popular ingredient that is used in many pre-workout supplements. It is responsible for that tingling feeling you get after ingesting some workout supplements.
There is a lot of studies on beta-alanine (well over 100 studies) that prove its significance in bodybuilding.
Beta-alanine is the building block of carnosine, which helps buffer acid in muscles and increases physical performance, especially, in the 60–240-second range.
On ingestion, beta-alanine turns into carnosine, which acts as that acid buffer. Carnosine is stored in cells and released in response to change in the pH of the muscle.
Then there is a tingling feeling called paresthesia, which can be caused by bigger dosages of beta-alanine.
However, it is simply a harmless side effect that usually disappears with time or less dosage.
Beta-Alanine has been revealed to increase power, and endurance, reduce time to fatigue and result in possible fat loss, as well as causes potential increases in muscular hypertrophy.
The basic effects of beta-alanine, mainly being its ability to directly enhance exercise performance.
Beta-Alanine as a Pre-Workout Supplement
The sports benefit of supplementing with beta-alanine as a pre-workout supplement lies mostly in its ability to raise muscle carnosine concentrations.
In fact, beta-alanine is the controlling amino acid in carnosine synthesis, and its presence in the bloodstream is directly tied to muscle carnosine levels.
Every study in which beta-alanine has been supplemented to human test subjects has resulted in a significant increase in muscle carnosine concentration.
This stands in contrast to other popular supplements like creatine. Supplementation with beta-alanine has been shown to increase muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58 % in just a month, and 80 % in 10 weeks.
Also, aside from being a potent antioxidant, carnosine is one of the muscles’ first lines of defense against the buildup of hydrogen ions (H+) during high-intensity exercise.
This rise in hydrogen ions dramatically lowers the pH within muscle cells, resulting in a negative enzyme function. This denotes that a drop in muscle pH is a major contributor to muscle fatigue.
Muscle carnosine concentration is also associated with having a high percentage of Type II fast-twitch muscle fibers, and for that reason, there are higher levels of muscle carnosine among sprinters and natural muscle enthusiasts.
Men also generally have higher muscle carnosine concentrations than women, most likely because the enzyme (estrogen) that breaks down carnosine is more vigorous in women.
Beta-Alanine for Bodybuilding
Studies have shown that using beta-alanine supplements to increase muscle carnosine can help bodybuilders in several ways.
As already stated, carnosine is a small dipeptide that is known primarily for its proton buffering capacities.
In periods of intense physical activity, hydrogen ions are released as by-products of energy metabolism, and the buildup of these hydrogen ions in muscle tissue, causes the muscles to “burn”.
Many people inaccurately believe that lactic acid accumulations are the cause of muscle tiring out or burning, but it is actually the H+ ions accumulating.
Thus, when hydrogen protons accumulate during strenuous exercise, intramuscular pH levels drop to acidic levels, but using beta-alanine for bodybuilding helps fortify muscle tissues with carnosine.
Muscular acidosis causes poor performance and loss of power, as well as the burning sensation in the muscle, which bodybuilders often want to push past, in order to increase muscle tension and promote greater protein synthesis.
Carnosine buffers hydrogen protons from the muscle tissues, and decreasing H+ in muscles prolongs the onset of muscular fatigue, resulting in improved endurance, and certain other performance markers.
Thus, by increasing muscle stamina, bodybuilders can work out more effectively at high intensities and complete more repetitions of their lifts, leading to accelerated muscle gains.
Performance and Physique Applications
Specifically, beta-alanine seems most effective for supporting exercise lasting longer than 60 seconds and has not been shown to be significantly effective in shorter duration bouts of exercise, where the ATP – phosphocreatine energy system is in maximum demand.
In one of the first published studies on beta-alanine and human athletic performance, maximal power output in a four-minute all-out cycling test was significantly increased in two groups that received beta-alanine, against those who received the placebo or creatine only. The most significant improvement was prominent in the first and fourth minutes of cycling.
Furthermore, beta-alanine has been consistently tipped to increase muscle power output, strength, training volume, high-intensity exercise performance, and uttermost oxygen uptake.
Recently, a study found that when players consumed 3.2 g per day of beta-alanine for 12 weeks during a competitive soccer season, their performance was shown to improve by 34.3 %, compared to a decline of -7.6 % change in those consuming a placebo.
When all subject responses were analyzed, those consuming beta-alanine improved by a range of 0 to 72.7 %, whereas those consuming the placebo had a total response range of between -37.5 and +14.7 %.
Certain pre-workout supplements contain beta-alanine, and many bodybuilders prefer to use it prior to working out.
It is also used popularly as an after-workout supplement, as it is believed to help aid recovery.
However, the effects of Beta-Alanine administration are not time-dependent, and serum levels have been noticed to drop to baseline about three hours after taking an oral Beta-Alanine supplement.
For this reason, it is recommended that you divide your daily dosages into several smaller doses to be taken every three hours or so.