What you will learn...
Beta-alanine is technically a non-essential beta-amino acid that has quickly become anything but non-essential in the realm of athletic performance nutrition and in the world of bodybuilding.
It has become significant and a popular supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts due to the claims that it raises muscle carnosine levels and increases the amount of work you can perform at high intensities.
It’d been shown to enhance performance, as well as benefit overall health, thus, supplementing the diet with the correct beta-alanine dosage can help to prevent and reverse intramuscular acidosis.
When one works out at a high level of intensity, lactic acid begins to build in muscle tissue, releasing hydrogen ions in the process.
This causes a “burning” effect in the muscle, resulting in pain and fatigue which can impede an athlete’s endurance and strength training.
Beta-alanine is a direct precursor to carnosine, which is a dipeptide that is used by the body to buffer away from the positively charged hydrogen ions (H+).
Thus, by decreasing acidity in the muscles, beta-alanine can help to normalize intramuscular pH levels and boost performance.
For a better understanding of the effects of beta-alanine on athletic performance, endurance, and strength, it is required that you understand the best dosage for your particular kind of need.
Beta-Alanine Dosage for Runners and Cyclists
Runners and cyclists are mainly concerned with performance markers like time-to-exhaustion (TTE), VO2max, and oxygen uptake, which are known to be affected by the body’s capacity at any given time to buffer H+ ions.
On that note, Oral beta-alanine dosages between 4 and 6 grams daily are recommended for improving VO2max, time-to-exhaustion, and total work markers.
It is also worth noting that, in order to reduce the risk of experiencing the tingling effect of beta-alanine, many users divide these doses up into equal amounts to be taken every three hours instead of all at once.
Studies have shown that beta-alanine dosages reach peak serum levels about 35 minutes after ingestion, and remain elevated for about 3 hours then return to baseline levels about 3 hours following ingestion.
Other athletes recommend a loading approach to reach recommended beta-alanine dosages.
Meaning, if the desired dosage is 6 grams daily, then you might start out at 1.5 g or 2 g daily for the first week, increase to 4 grams daily for the second week and then jump to 6 gram daily doses for the remainder of the supplementation period.
Beta-Alanine Dosage Research
Multiple research studies have shown increases in serum carnosine levels resulting from oral beta-alanine administration.
In one trial involving enthusiastic male cyclists, 6.4 grams of beta-alanine supplement dosage, which was divided into 4 daily doses of 1600 mg (two 800 mg capsules), was orally administered to them daily.
In another study involving male cyclists, carnosine levels were increased significantly with a loading dosing schedule.
For the first week, 2 grams daily was used and was increased to 3 grams daily in the second week. For the remaining 2 weeks of the 4-week trial, 4-gram daily doses were administered.
In another 4-week research study, skilled runners were found to increase carnosine concentrations with daily doses of 4.8 grams.
A 2010 study which lasted for 7 weeks, involving top rowers used 5 divided grams daily, where 1-gram beta-alanine powder dosages were taken every two hours, 5 times daily.
In a 2009 study involving physically active male subjects, 6.4 grams of beta-alanine increased carnosine levels over a 4-week period, where two 800 mg capsules were ingested four times daily.
In the same study, recreationally active females also showed increased carnosine with 1.5-gram doses of beta-alanine, taken 4 times daily over a 21-days period.
Beta-Alanine Dosage Side Effects
Temporary paresthesia, which is a tingling, burning, itching, numbness, or crawling of the skin is the most common side effect associated with beta-alanine supplementation.
Paresthesia normally occurs in those who overdose or take too much beta-alanine at once.
Temporary paresthesia is a harmless condition which normally goes away on its own within an hour or two, and can be avoided in most cases by dividing beta-alanine dosage levels into equal doses throughout the day.
It is also believed that certain beta-alanine dosage may also cause irritation of the skin, digestive tract, respiratory tract, and eyes, but these side effects are very uncommon.
Appropriate oral beta-alanine doses are rated as possibly safe for short term usage in healthy adults, as 6.4-gram daily doses taken over 10 weeks period have been used without side effects.
General Safety and Side Effects
As mentioned earlier, the most common side effect of beta-alanine is paraesthesia, which is an unusual sensation, is typically described as “tingling of the skin.” It's commonly experienced in the face, neck, and back of the hands.
The intensity of this tingling increases with dosage size, as it usually starts with doses of 800 mg or higher, and disappears within an hour or two after consumption.
There is no evidence that paraesthesia is damaging in any way.
Another possible side effect is a decline in taurine levels because beta-alanine can compete against taurine for absorption in the muscle.
An animal study showed that beta-alanine has the ability to decrease taurine levels by 50%.
As probably the most consistently effective performance-enhancing supplement to hit the sports nutrition market, beta-alanine is an ingredient that is strongly recommended for athletes to keep in their store.
With time and more research, dosing and delivery will be redefined, giving us a clearer picture of beta-alanine's long-term safety and effectiveness, as well as certain ingredients that may boost its benefits.
However, for the moment, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that sportspersons and bodybuilders can benefit by consuming beta-alanine regularly.