What you will learn...
As a performance aid, supplementation with beta-alanine is developing quite the reputation for increasing training tolerance and supporting muscle recovery, as a large number of published studies completed using sportspersons have demonstrated these changes.
But a recent study took a slightly different angle of measuring beta alanine’s ability to enhance brain performance too.
Many pieces of research have demonstrated that beta-alanine is effective for increasing concentrations of carnosine in muscle tissue, being even more effective than taking carnosine supplements directly.
Thus, the effects of beta-alanine include improved endurance, improved muscle growth, and athletic performance.
Beta-Alanine Effects on The Brain
A study was completed by researchers at the University of Central Florida. It involved eighteen soldiers from an elite combat unit.
They completed a 30-day supplementation regimen with either placebo or beta-alanine. They also completed a number of tasks that assessed physical and mental faculties, before and after the supplementation.
The result showed that muscle carnosine levels were increased and were correlated to fatigue rate, while changes in the 2.5-kilometer run, one-minute sprint, and marksmanship were, however, not affected.
When supplemented with beta-alanine, the result also showed that participants did improve their performance in the 50-meter casualty carry test and revealed improvements.
Captivatingly, the participants in this test also demonstrated marked improvements in scoring in a cognitive function test.
While these findings can serve as an eye-opener, they do suggest the need for further research.
Furthermore, two independent human trials examined beta alanine effects on the brain, with both using 6.4-gram daily doses of Beta-Alanine over 4 weeks period.
The first study compared brain levels of homocarnosine and carnosine in vegetarians and omnivores separately, while the second study explored beta alanine effects on cognitive function capabilities, in trained athletes, before and after physical exertion.
Results from the first study showed no significant beta alanine effects on either carnosine or homocarnosine in the brain, for both vegetarians and omnivores, and there were also no significant effects noted when data from both subject groups were combined.
Unlike the study at the University of Central Florida, results from the second study showed no significant beta alanine effects on cognitive functioning, prompting researchers to continue to explore the possible roles beta-alanine may play inside the brain and central nervous system.
Beta-Alanine Effects on The Muscles
- Research has shown certain beta alanine effects on muscle tissue which are of particular interest to strength training athletes.
- Oral dietary supplementation with beta-alanine for the short term has been associated with decreased physical fatigue, increased anaerobic running capacity, increased lean mass, increased time-to-exhaustion, and decreased fat mass.
- In a 2015 beta-alanine review published by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the following conclusions were reported:
- Intramuscular carnosine is significantly increased by 4 weeks of beta-alanine supplementation at 4-6 grams daily.
- Consuming 4-6 grams of beta-alanine daily for a minimum of 2 weeks has improved exercise performance in the 60-240-second range.
- Beta-alanine reduces neuromuscular fatigue, even among the elderly.
- Beta-alanine effects may be heightened by combining usage with certain other substances, like sodium bicarbonate.
- Appropriate oral beta-alanine usage is safe for healthy populations.
- The only side effect of beta-alanine is temporary paresthesia (skin tingling), associated with overdosing with beta-alanine.
Negative Beta-Alanine Effects
Temporary paresthesia is the only known side effect linked with beta-alanine usage.
This condition is known by feelings of tingling, itching, crawling, burning, or other skin-based sensations, that can manifest anywhere on the body but are normally centered on the face, arms, and legs.
However, not only beta-alanine can give rise to this condition, as other conditions which apply pressure to nerves, like carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica can induce chronic paresthesia, and can lead to more serious conditions, like permanent nerve damage.
However, the paresthesia which results from using beta-alanine supplements normally goes away in about an hour or two.
No negative interactions between beta-alanine supplements and diseases, drugs, herbal supplements, lab tests, or foods have been reported from clinical studies, making experts rate beta-alanine as possibly safe for short-term, oral usage.
6.4-gram daily doses of beta-alanine have been used in healthy adults for as long as 10 weeks without resulting in any adverse effects.
In people that are 55 years of age, or older, 2.4 doses have been administered every day for 90 days without side effects.
However, to be sure that beta-alanine effects are safe for you, it is recommended that you talk to a doctor who knows about your health before starting up on beta-alanine supplementation.