If you have ever looked on the back of any pre workout container, you will see some consistency in the ingredients list. Most companies have their respective proprietary blend which can include just about anything. However, there always seems to be a few staple supplements within pre workouts. One prominent ingredient is Beta Alanine. This simple amino acid helps with the offset of lactic acid, thereby aiding in endurance at both lower and higher intensities.
What is Beta Alanine?
Βeta Alanine is a nonessential amino acid found in protein sources like poultry and beef. By itself, this specific amino acid doesn’t provide any substantial benefits. Once it has entered the muscle cell however, it offers much greater benefits as it becomes a rate-limiting substrate for Carnosine synthesis. Beta Alanine is the key to the lock, basically.
Carnosine has been associated with athletes with a large number of fast twitch muscle fibers such as sprinters and Olympic weight lifters. It is a major contributor to the muscles’ buffering capacity against H+ ions produced during high intensity exercise. The increase in H+ ions lowers the pH inside the muscle cells. This decreases the production of specific enzyme based reactions and muscle contractions which both result in fatigue.
So what does the even mean?
The greater amount of Beta Alanine results in a greater amount of Carnosine. In every study you look at, researchers documented an increase level of Carnosine which resulted less fatigue. One of these studies demonstrated this during a series of cycle ergometer sprints with an additional 16% of total work done on the ergometer compared to those taking a placebo.
More work at a higher level? Sure, I’ll take that.
Studies involving both trained athletes and average, untrained people both show that a range from 3g to 6.5g per day of Beta Alanine for at least 4 weeks will increase Carnosine levels. Those initial 28 days seem to provide the biggest jump in resistance to fatigue. As supplementation continues to 10 weeks, the rate of that resistance to fatigue begins to taper off with endurance still being maintained well above previous performance. Like Creatine, it is more about consistency with Beta Alanine. Focus less on timing and more on consuming a few grams each day.
The research seems to support the use of this aid. So far, there have not been many reports of long term side effects. Yet, it would still be wise to cycle on and off of Beta Alanine in a similar way to Creatine. You could even cycle the two together. Researchers have seen increases in lean muscle mass while still losing body fat when combining the two. With so many benefits and facts to back it up, Beta Alanine will be a staple in my shaker cup for the foreseeable future.