Beta-Alanine has been a staple of endurance and strength for athletes for some time now. This is so as multiple reviews report training improvements for bodybuilding, running, cycling, and athletic performance.
Beta-alanine increases certain performance markers, especially in the 60-240 second range, as study after study has proven this nutrient to be highly beneficial for endurance and power sports.
A meta-analysis reviewed published in 2017, employing 65 different exercise protocols and totaling 70 exercise measures in 1461 participants.
This meta-analysis was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and its conclusion was that Beta-Alanine had a significant overall effect, with its greatest benefit being total exercise capacity.
Beta-Alanine is an amino acid combining carnosine and pantothenic acid.
Though it is the carnosine in the body that allows for the enhancement of the muscle functions, it is Beta-Alanine that is the rate-limiting nutrient in this process.
When ingested, carnosine normally breaks down into Beta-Alanine and histidine, but the more effective method to improve carnosine is therefore by ingesting Beta-Alanine instead of carnosine.
This means that, in order to increase carnosine content, one must consume or supplement with Beta-Alanine.
Beta-alanine has become widely accepted as a highly effective nutrient for endurance training and racing, and studies have clearly shown it to be an effective tool to boost endurance training and racing through its improvement on muscle working capacity, VO2 rate, and lactate threshold.
Beta-Alanine for Bodybuilding
Bodybuilders are particularly concerned with their fat mass to lean mass ratio, and reviews for weight lifting and bodybuilding using beta-alanine show increases in multiple performance markers. In some of the research studies, beta-alanine administration has been shown to mildly decrease fat mass.
In one such study involving 37 college football players and wrestlers, 4g daily of beta-alanine dosages saw an improvement in multiple performance parameters.
Increases in shuttle run and hanging arm exercise times were accompanied by improvements to body composition and decreased fat mass.
On power output markers, beta-alanine effects are significantly mild, as shown in one double-blind study, where 8 subjects received 4.8-gram of beta-alanine dosages daily. After one month, increases in power output and work volume were recorded.
Beta-Alanine for Racing
Sprinters and runners need to avoid muscular fatigue if they have to be the best in what they do, and multiple beta-alanine reviews show improvements to anaerobic running times.
The improvements started to date have been clinically significant, even as some experts suggest that it is mild.
Experts have debated on these effects, as some believed that it is due to increased endurance and decreased fatigue rather than to specific cardiopulmonary effects.
However, these positive effects are not guaranteed, even as one double-blind beta-alanine review involving 19 sprinters, saw no improvements reported.
A 4.6-gram daily dose of beta-alanine failed to cause any improvements in a series of five 5-second intermittent sprints.
Beta-Alanine for Cycling
2015 double-blind, placebo-controlled beta-alanine review involved 14 trained cyclists, saw beta-alanine effects on a broad range of cycling performance markers that were studied, among participants who were 18 to 31 years of age.
Prior to the study, blood lactate levels were measured, and directly (5 minutes) after a battery of performance tests.
After baseline blood lactate levels were quantified, the subjects received either a placebo agent or 6.4-gram daily doses of beta-alanine.
It was seen that relative to control results, beta-alanine administration induced significant increases in time to exhaustion TTE, with results showing a 94% likelihood of improvements to 4-kilometer races.
The trained cyclists used in this study also experienced significant increases in supra-maximal cycling time to exhaustion (TTE).
Beta-Alanine Safety Ratings
According to information from the Natural Medicines database, supplementing your diet with beta-alanine is possibly safe in the short term, as oral doses up to 6.4 grams daily have been used for up to 10 weeks with no side effects recorded.
Users that are 55 years old and older also used 2.4-gram doses over 3 months without any adverse effects being noticed.
However, there is not enough data available to rate the safety of beta-alanine supplementation in pregnant or nursing women, and it is highly recommended that you speak with your gynecologist or pediatrician before using beta-alanine supplementation.
The ability to sustain efforts above the lactate threshold is the primary benefit associated with Beta-Alanine supplementation, which should be consumed daily during heavy training blocks.
Based on current researches, a minimum of 4 weeks is required before experiencing any significant increases in intramuscular carnosine levels, as studies have proven that effect is dose-dependent, with an increased dosage pattern throughout the supplementation period.
The buffering effects of beta-alanine can be expected to slowly increase from the beginning of training and sustained throughout the entire training block.
Using this supplementation strategy to improve interval workouts or threshold training workouts is the best method to achieve a lasting physiological change that can be carried over into bodybuilding or athletic performances (races).